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# Why the odds on Chicago Cubs?

20 November 2016

QUESTION: I’m a Cleveland Indians fan and a casino player who doesn’t bet on sports much, but who followed the odds throughout the baseball playoffs.

The Indians were underdogs all the way. Oddsmakers expected them to lose to the Boston Red Sox and even to the Toronto Blue Jays, who got in as a wild card. Even after the Indians took a 3-1 World Series lead, the Cubs were the favorites in Game 5 in Chicago and even in Games 6 and 7 in Cleveland.

What I can’t figure out is why. The Indians kept winning until those last three games, but it didn’t seem like they ever got the respect of the oddsmakers.

ANSWER: I looked at a number of Game 6 lines, and in some the Indians were slight favorites, while they were slight underdogs or a tossup in others.

Nitpicking on one game aside, the thing to remember when looking at betting odds is that oddsmakers are handicapping the betting public as well as the game itself. The line needs to be set so that it draws wagers on both sides. The behavior of the betting public made the Indians underdogs.

The amount of wagers on one side doesn’t necessarily equal the other, but as long as they’re in reasonable balance, the house is assured of making a profit.

Bettors were wary after Indians starting pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar were injured.

The oddsmakers had to keep that in mind as they set lines attractive enough to draw enough wagers on the Indians side of the ledgers.

Incidentally, the most common way to bet baseball games is the money line. If the favorite is listed at -130 and the underdog at +110, it means it takes a \$130 bet to win \$100 on the favorite and \$100 bet to win \$110 on the underdog.

The house edge with a balanced book is variable, but mostly hovers between 3% and 4.5%. On the -130, 110 example, the house edge is 3.98%. At -150, +130, it’s 3.36%. And on a true tossup, where both teams are -110, it’s 4.55%.

When we look at the last five years of baseball betting in Las Vegas, that roughly coincides to what the house is holding.

Comparisons aren’t perfect because totals include run-line wagers at a 4.55% edge and higher-edge bets such as futures, but according to a UNLV report, starting in 2011, Las Vegas sports books held 3.52, 4.34, 4.72, 2.95 and 4.39% on baseball bets.

QUESTION: I had a losing session a blackjack, and had one \$5 chip left. On my way toward the exit, I saw a craps table with empty space and thought I’d just try to double my \$5. I heard 6 and 8 were the best numbers, so I put down the chip and asked for the 6. The dealer said, “You don’t want to do that for \$5. Got another buck?” I gave him the dollar and he put my \$6 on 6. I lost.

Was there are reason for this, or was he just hustling an extra dollar.

ANSWER: Place bets on 6 pay 7-6, provided you wager in multiples of \$6. If you’d won, your \$6 bet would have paid \$7. If you’d persisted and bet your original \$5 on 6 and it won, you’d have been paid only \$5.

When you bet in multiples of \$6, place bets on 6 and 8 have a house edge of 1.52%. When you bet \$5 and are paid at even money, the house edge is 9.09%.
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Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

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John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.