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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, June 18, 2018 at 4:00 PM

Betting handle is WAY up this year in Las Vegas for Major League Baseball. That’s a bit of a surprise because TV ratings are down, and in-game attendance is down. The media is writing “baseball is slowly dying” stories at a time when gamblers are embracing the sport like never before.

What gives?

From my spot out here in the sports betting capital of the world, I think the answers are pretty obvious.

*First, sports books have really upgraded their experience for bettors. Competition drove them all to put up much larger TV screens and install more comfortable seating. It was no longer an attitude of “gamblers are desperate, they’ll come here to bet no matter what.” Once a few books started upgrading, everybody else had to follow. Watching a game and betting it is now a very enjoyable experience at most Las Vegas sports books. (Just don’t spend your winnings on food, if you’re a local!)

*Secondly, the teams that everyone loves to bet on are mostly winning! All the big-name big-money franchises that were supposed to make the playoffs and make a run at 95-100 wins are still in the hunt. Sure, the Los Angeles Dodgers slumped for awhile. They’re not too far off the pace even after that. The general public loves betting on the Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, and Red Sox year-in and year-out. Houston has joined the list after winning a World Championship and continuing to dominate. To a lesser degree, Cleveland and Washington are still driving action because of preseason reputation. When the popular betting teams are winning…that’s going to drive more betting.

*Thirdly, many elite pitchers are having great years, which drives even more action when they’re on the mound. You like betting Justin Verlander? He’s been fantastic for the Astros. There’s no way right now that anyone who was betting Verlander out of the gate would have any reason to stop. It’s a pitchers year, too, since they fixed the baseballs.

Too many pundits think that baseball betting is driven by “exciting TV games.” Everyone’s talking about how boring the games have become in a year where every offense is just swinging for the fences. But, baseball betting is driven by marquee teams (and pitchers) getting results…and bettors who won coming back to bet again.

One problem the public is having this season is that they can’t resist putting all the big favorites in parlays. That tricks them into thinking they’re getting a great deal. Parlays seem so affordable at first, when you don’t do that math to see how hard it is to sweep every bet. Disappointing results by the Dodgers, Nats, and Indians have hurt that approach. But, bettors focusing mostly on the hottest teams are at least holding their own (though losing with the Yankees Sunday in Tampa Bay killed a lot of parlays). The public would be winning even more if it cut down on the parlays.

What’s getting tricky for smart handicappers is that the lines are getting so high on the favorites that one loss can create a big pothole. Even at a time when laying -250 could be “sound” because the “right” number is -300…that loss still puts you down 2.5 units…and you have to win three other bets to make up for it.

Your homework today, looking only at the games involving Houston, Boston, the Chicago Cubs, and the New York Yankees, chart results from this season only at lines of -200 or higher. Try to learn what the cut off point is for each team…when they stop offering value. Maybe you can lay -220, but not -270. Maybe there still value at -270 because these powers are so dominant vs. outmanned opponents. The point is, YOU kneed to KNOW. Take the “maybe’s” out of it and get answers.

Baseball money lines are only going to get steeper if pennant race pressure continues driving already good teams to maximize THE MOTIVATION FACTOR on a daily basis. Plus, the dog days of summer often see bad teams throw in the towel and get even worse. Get ready for some monster numbers in the next few months. You need to know how to handicap those games.

If you’d like additional assistance, KELSO STURGEON’S BEST BETS can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the Vegas Sports Masters office by calling office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. Ask about packages that take you through the All-Star Break or the full baseball season. Of course, it’s never a bad time to ask about early-bird football too. Summer annuals are already hitting the newsstands. We’ll talk more about football handicapping preparation in the coming weeks.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your attendance and hard work. I trust all the homework is paying off for you. That’s why you keep coming back! Hopefully you’re part of the increase in baseball betting in Las Vegas, and you’re cashing tickets left and right. For those of you in the rest of the country, your time to enjoy legal sports betting is coming soon (or it’s already here if you’re within driving distance of select racetracks in New Jersey and Delaware).

Our next class get-together will be Friday afternoon. See you then with your next homework assignment.

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