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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, June 25, 2015 at 2:00 PM

We’ve reached the point in the 2015 Major League Baseball season where gamblers are starting to be confronted with really big favorites on a daily basis. The Philadelphia Phillies are playing like a glorified minor league team at this point. A few others franchises haven’t been particularly competitive in recent weeks. Any contender throwing its best pitcher(s) will be prohibitive favorites when hosting the worst teams in the sport.

And, THAT dynamic usually brings some very dumb betting strategies out of the woodwork. Ever since the betting markets first offered run line alternatives, SQUARE…LOSING… DEGENERATE bettors have decided that laying -1.5 runs at a cheaper price with big favorites was the equivalent of inventing the light bulb. They’d figured out the shortcut that was going to make them rich. Wrong!

It happened on Day One many years ago. It’s been happening this week. Squares want to take the best teams vs. the worst teams no matter how horrible the line value is, and they’ll do whatever it takes to be able to root for Cy Young candidates vs. losers. I swear these guys would lay 50 points in an NFL game just to take the Patriots over the Jaguars.

Look, there are times where it’s the value bet to lay -1.5 runs. I do that myself sometimes with my personal betting and on the service plays. But, a certain set of circumstances has to be in play for me to even consider it:

*My pitcher must have shutout potential for at least 6.5 to 7 innings

*My offense must be positioned to score at least 4.5 runs

*My team must have clear motivation to win that day

*The opponent must be a non-contender that’s just going through the motions or is otherwise disinterested

The reason that laying -1.5 runs trips up so many square bettors is that they’re only looking at the name of the favored pitcher, and assuming he’s going to pitch great. They often do! But, if that only gets you a 2-1 or 3-2 victory, you still lose your bet. And, these bets are SUCKER plays in those scenarios because a lot of baseball games do end 2-1 or 3-2. Sometimes, those studs don’t pitch great and their team loses outright.

You need BOTH pitching and offense to consider laying -1.5 runs in a game. Your ace pitcher should be looking at about 7 IP and 2 earned runs allowed as a worst case scenario, while having full shutdown potential. Your offense should have multiple weapons that can exploit the opposing starters’ weaknesses.

Ballpark factors are a hidden key here. It’s amazing how often squares will lay -1.5 runs in pitcher’s parks that inhibit scoring. Do you know how many 2-1 and 3-2 games have been played in Dodger Stadium over the years?! Don’t fall into the trap of laying -1.5 runs in pitcher’s parks unless you’re absolutely certain your offense is going to get runs on the board. If Clayton Kershaw only gets you to a scoreless tie through seven innings, your inflated line becomes a huge problem.

Are there other scenarios where you should lay -1.5 runs? Generally, it’s just best to avoid them entirely because the market does a good job of pricing these days. It is possible to find value if the opposing starting pitcher has been hobbled by an injury, or is particularly in trouble with that game’s weather conditions. Sometimes you can get great prices by laying -1.5 runs against a home run prone pitcher when the wind is blowing out…or against a wild pitcher facing a team that draws a lot of walks. There are “situational” spots like that which come up.

If you’re a regular student here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping, you don’t want to be a square and you do want to develop into a professional bettor. If your “gut” still has you craving big name pitchers on the runline, then you still have some work to do! If you’ve grown out of that phase, you may be well on the way to making a living in this field.

Those of you who’d like help finding the best baseball bets on the board every night can sign up for my personal service. Top releases can be purchased right here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions about extended service can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155.

As always, the Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your hard work and attendance. We’ll continue talking baseball through the summer. But, you can expect some early football homework to be coming up in the very near future. Las Vegas sportsbooks are posting bettable college football propositions as we speak. It’s time YOU started thinking about 2015 football too. See you next time.


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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

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