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MLB Underdogs: A Bettor’s Best Friend


Guest Post by Patrick Fisher (@Awsomenessess)

Here’s the “no-duh!” statement of the year: “Underdogs are a bettor’s best friend.”  Actually, that statement should read: “Live underdogs are a bettor’s best friend.” The trick is being able to spot the ‘live’ dogs from the ‘dead’ dogs.  Below I’ll show you why betting on live MLB dogs is a worthwhile venture and point out some traits to look for when trying to differentiate between ‘live’ and ‘dead’ dogs.

Why Bet Dogs?

Let’s look at the following example from Sunday, April 9th (winning team in bold):

CHC (Quintana, -115) @ MIL (Anderson, +105) [losing bet]

NYM (Harvey, +155) @ WAS (Roark, -170) [winning bet]

OAK (Graveman +155) @ LAA (Ohtani, -170) [losing bet]

I chose these because I thought the underdog in each game was live (meaning they had about a 50% chance of winning).  I bet one unit on each dog and as a result I lost 0.45 units. Not good, but not awful as we’ll see later. Had I bet on the favorites I would have won 0.30 units.  Good, but underwhelming for correctly guessing two out of three games. To understand how betting dogs versus betting favorites fares in comparison let’s look at all eight possible outcomes of the games.

IF THE FOLLOWING TEAMS WON (the dog is underlined and profit is shown in units):

CHC, WAS, LAA (-3.00 dogs)  (3.00 fav)

MIL, WAS, LAA (-0.95 dogs)  (0.85 fav)

CHC, NYM, LAA (-0.45 dogs)  (0.30 fav)

CHC, WAS, OAK (-0.45 dogs)  (0.30, fav)

MIL, WAS, OAK (1.60 dogs)  (-1.85 fav)

MIL, NYM, LAA (1.60 dogs)  (-1.85 fav)

CHC, NYM, OAK (2.10, dogs)  (-2.40, fav)

MIL, NYM, OAK (4.15 dogs)  (-4.55, fav)


Correctly picking three dogs yields (4.15 units).

Correctly picking three favorites yields (3.00 units).


Correctly picking two dogs yields (1.60, 1.60, & 2.10 units).

Correctly picking two favorites yields (0.85, 0.30, & 0.30 units).


Correctly picking one dog yields (-0.95, -0.45, & -0.45 units).  

Correctly picking one favorite yields (-1.85, -1.85, & -2.40 units).


Getting all three dogs wrong (-3.00 units).

Getting all three favorites wrong (-4.55 units).


Using this example, on average, getting two of three dogs right yields a return of 1.77 units while two of three favorites yields 0.48 units.  That means you’d have to correctly guess two of three favorites 3.68 times for every 1 time you correctly guessed two of three dogs just to win the same amount.  

The possibilities are too many to list, but hopefully you get the gist.

How to Spot Live Dogs

The (Very) Basics:

1)  Pitching Match-ups (4th and 5th starters versus 1st, 2nd, or 3rd starters) – For example, when a top five team’s fourth or fifth best starter pitches against a ‘middle-of-the-pack’ team’s first, second, or third best starter, it’s likely there’s going to be a live dog.

2)  Streaking Teams –  If a team is streaking (towards the red or the black) you may find a live dog (though I wouldn’t expect the bottom five teams to continue another team’s losing streak).

3)  Get-away Games – It sounds funny but “get-away” games are a ‘thing’.  If a team is at the end of a road trip and they’re playing a game before a day off, sometimes players just want to hurry up and get the game over with so they can enjoy their day off in their own home ASAP.  Advantage: home team. This may help create a live dog.

4)  Situational Betting –  Do you think Shohei Ohtani is a pitching machine that will dominate MLB hitters until they’ve seen him enough to figure him out?  Maybe he is. And if so then when he faces off against Kershaw, Scherzer, Bumgarner, etc. I’m sure you’ll have yourself a live dog.  NOTE: I thought Ohtani would fold under the enormous pressure he’s under, but I was dead wrong.

So there you have it.  A ‘back-of-the-envelope’ reasoning for betting live dogs this MLB season.  If you’d like to add to the conversation please message me on Twitter at: @Awsomenessess.


The Sports Gambling Podcast is your home for uncensored sports betting opinions, analysis, and advice. Since 2011 The Sports Gambling Podcast has picked every NFL game against the spread. They’ve also expanded to cover fantasy football, college football, NBA, college basketball, golf and daily fantasy sports releasing multiple episodes per week. The podcast is hosted by Sean Green (@SeanTGreen), a Philly area native and Ryan Kramer (@KramerCentric) a New Jersey native, who bring a combined 50 years of sports betting experience to the podcast. The podcast, the picks and the posts are all completely free. Tune in to hear NFL picks, college football picks, DFS picks, NBA picks and more! The Sports Gambling Podcast doesn’t sell picks they make em. Let It Ride! SUBSCRIBE ON APPLE | SPOTIFY

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