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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, March 31, 2014 at 4:00 PM

The 2014 Major League Baseball season has begun. As promised, I’m back to outline some general principles for handicapping and betting the bases. I won’t be talking about specific teams or starting pitchers because I have to protect that information for my clients. But, will outline some very important themes that all of you should be applying…particularly to baseball as it’s played in APRIL.

First, you need to remember that this year isn’t last year. Far too many sports bettors just pick up where they left off with their perceptions of teams and starting pitchers. Sure, many of the teams will be playing at similar levels. But, it’s the exceptions that can kill your bankrolls.

*Don’t assume all of last year’s bad teams are going to stay bad. Many made changes in the offseason that will bring them back to respectability (at least). You need to be anticipating what’s going to happen NOW rather than assuming last year is going to repeat. Vegas oddsmakers are often a month to six weeks behind the biggest rags-to-riches surprises.

*Don’t assume all of last year’s contenders are going to contend. This costs casual gamblers a fortune every April because squares don’t mind laying big moneyline prices when they think they have the best team. Too many times they don’t! Be sure you know which reported contenders are at full health (particularly on their pitching staffs), and which won’t be there for a few more weeks. Be sure you know which reported contenders are full of old veterans who are about to hit a wall. It happens every year. Some team that was supposed to make a run at 95-100 wins has a losing April. You need to be fading those teams not throwing good money after bad.

Second, you need to remember that April is one of the most extreme months for weather across the league. Some cities will be dealing with near winter temperatures. Many stadiums have different prevailing winds in April than they do later in the season when summer settles in. Don’t bet Overs in cold weather with the wind blowing in. Don’t bet on home run hitting offenses in those conditions either. Be sure you read the weather reports and adjust your perceptions accordingly.

Third, remember that managers are often cautious with their best starting pitchers, which means you won’t be getting maximum innings from many of the highest priced guys. Aces who have complete game potential whenever they take the mound will be pulled after six or seven innings because managers don’t want to overburden their arms right out of the gate. You can still back these studs if there’s a reliable bullpen behind them. If not, you need to pass or go the other way. April is famous in Vegas sportsbooks for hearing gamblers whine about how they’re getting burned by bullpens. If you bet with the bullpens in mind, that becomes a lot less likely.

I’ll talk a lot more about baseball in the coming weeks. Hopefully many of you longtime readers have printed out the guidance from prior seasons so you have a virtual textbook of strategies at your daily disposal. We have a long season ahead…and a few months where baseball is about all there is to talk about.

Later this week, I’ll talk about handicapping the Final Four. Beginning next week, we’ll be alternating between MLB and NBA handicapping since those sports split up everyone’s attention in April, May, and part of June. Use today’s tips as a starting point for MLB…then get ready for a lot more in the coming days and weeks.

If you’d like some day-to-day help finding the best baseball (and basketball) plays on the board, you can purchase my BEST BETS here at this very website with your major credit card. If you have specific questions about service programs, talk to one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155.

The baseball schedule is loaded this week. Smart bettors will be attacking bad numbers right out of the gate because Vegas oddsmakers are always slow on the draw in this sport. They’re still more worried about March Madness because of betting volume. And, they have a history of taking the easy way out and pricing based on perceptions from last year rather than doing the real work it takes to stay on top of things. Since YOU are a student here in my Advanced College of Sports Betting and Handicapping, I know you’re ready to do that real work.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping is honored to beat at your service. We’ll talk again later this week to preview Florida vs. Connecticut and Kentucky vs. Wisconsin in college basketball’s Final Four.

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