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Baseball Moneyline Break-Even Chart

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Lets start with a question. Which of these bets would you prefer to place?


$300 to win $100 on a heavy favorite (-300) with a 75% chance of winning.
$150 to win $100 on a medium favorite (-150) with a 60% chance of winning
$100 to win $200 on an underdog (+200) with a 33.33% chance of winning


This is a trick question; the correct answer is that each scenario is essentially the same with an expected return of $0.


In scenario ‘a’, 75% of the time you win $100 but you lose $300 the other 25%.
Expected return = (.75 * 100) – (.25 * 300) = 75 – 75 = 0


In scenario ‘b’, 60% of the time you win $100 but you lose $150 the other 40%.
Expected return = (.60 * 100) – (.40 * 150) = 60 – 60 = 0


In scenario ‘c’, 33.33% of the time you win $200 but you lose $100 the other 66.66%.
Expected return = (.3333 * 200) – (.6666 * 100) = 66.66 – 66.66 = 0


I think you can see the pattern here. To calculate the percentage of wins required to break-even for any moneyline use the following formula:


Required Win % = Amount Risked / (Amount Risked + Amount of Win)

E.g.: a line of –110 implies a risk of $110 to win $100 so….
Required win % = 110 / (110 + 100) = 110/210 = 52.38%



I can hear the collective groan from here as you remember why you hated high school algebra but I implore you to spend a few minutes on this if you want to be profitable at baseball or any other sport. However, let me save you a lot of work by adding in the following chart:


Moneyline
Loss
Win
Win %
Required
-320 -320 100 76.19%
-300 -300 100 75.00%
-280 -280 100 73.68%
-270 -270 100 72.97%
-260 -260 100 72.22%
-250 -250 100 71.43%
-240 -240 100 70.59%
-230 -230 100 69.70%
-220 -220 100 68.75%
-210 -210 100 67.74%
-200 -200 100 66.67%
-180 -180 100 64.29%
-170 -170 100 62.96%
-160 -160 100 61.54%
-150 -150 100 60.00%
-140 -140 100 58.33%
-130 -130 100 56.52%
-120 -120 100 54.55%
-110 -110 100 52.38%
-105 -105 100 51.22%
-100 -100 100 50.00%
105 -100 105 48.78%
110 -100 110 47.62%
120 -100 120 45.45%
130 -100 130 43.48%
140 -100 140 41.67%
150 -100 150 40.00%
160 -100 160 38.46%
170 -100 170 37.04%
180 -100 180 35.71%
200 -100 200 33.33%
210 -100 210 32.26%
220 -100 220 31.25%
230 -100 230 30.30%
240 -100 240 29.41%
250 -100 250 28.57%
260 -100 260 27.78%
270 -100 270 27.03%
280 -100 280 26.32%
290 -100 290 25.64%
300 -100 300 25.00%







“Why is this important?” you ask. Simple. Every time you look at a moneyline, you need to know what winning % you need to break even. If you expect the –300 favorite from scenario a to win 80% of the time, than you’ve got a betting opportunity. If you expect a win only 70% of the time, than you should pass and move on to analyzing the next game.


Although handicappers shy away from big favorites, you don’t have to. Looking back at the first month of the season, I see the Yankees closed as a –210 favorite or higher on twelve occasions. They won 10 of those games. Betting to win $100 on those 12 games would have meant risking a total of $2915 but would have made you $435, a decent return of 14.9%. I am sure I could look through a few other teams and find example where risking the big juice would have resulted in losses, but my point is that you do not need to avoid games just because the moneylines are big. You might choose to, but you don’t have to.


Remember that it doesn’t matter how big the price or how much you get back as long as you know where the break-even point is. Keep this in mind the next time someone says “I never lay more than -140 on a baseball game.” You can now tell them when they should.

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