MLB Betting Strategy - The Snapped Winning Streak
Sports Betting Strategies
MLB – The Snapped Winning Streak
In this article, I am going to investigate the following case:
I answer this question via a thorough statistical study, which relies on a dataset on all Major League Baseball regular season games from the seven (7) seasons covering the 2010 to 2016 period. In total, data is available on over 17,000 games.
Why are the most recent seasons omitted from this research? Simply because I do not own such data.
The rationale behind this investigation is the following: when a team wins several games in a row, the betting public starts noticing it. Once they lose a game, most people expect them to be upset and to rebound in a big way.
As a contrarian, I tend to do the opposite. I have often witnessed good teams go on a good run, and it seems like when the winning streak is snapped they “lose it” and get flustered.
Why not verify this hypothesis scientifically by exploring past data?
1. Basic Exploration
Suppose Team A goes on a winning streak of length “x” before losing a game. Let’s pretend we had placed $1 bets in their following game. What would have been the results from using this gambling strategy over the 2010-2016 seasons?
The table below presents the outcome both from betting Team A and by fading them (where “fading” means “betting against”).
According to my early intuition, it seems like fading Team A is a better option than betting them, as shown by the overall -$12.02 and -$89.96 losses, respectively. However, neither provides a positive profit, which is not necessarily surprising.
We note, though, that fading Team A when the length of the winning streak was five or more yields a +$18.49 profit over 536 games. The return on investment (also called ROI) turns out to be 18.49 / 536 = +3.4%. Let’s call it Strategy #1.
Meanwhile, there does not seem to be a viable strategy with respect to betting Team A. We are losing money across the board, except when the winning streak was 6 or 9, which seems due to randomness.
2. Facing the Same Team or a Different Team
Scheduling in MLB is such that teams often play the same opponent for three- or four-game series.
Do the results above change depending on whether Team A faces the same team again after losing to them, or faces a different team? The next couple of tables give some hints about this issue.
Note: The last row when facing the same team corresponds to a streak length of 10+ versus 8+ when facing a new team because the sample sizes were getting too small under the second scenario.
Supporting Team A is a bad idea in both cases, and no matter the winning streak’s length. There does not seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.
Betting against Team A works better when facing a different team: +$5.47 compared to -$17.49 when playing the same team.
Recall Strategy #1 described earlier: fading Team A when the length of the winning streak was five or more. What was the performance of this method in each of the two scenarios?
- When facing the same team: Profit = +$6.12 over 369 games (ROI = +1.7%).
- When facing a different team: Profit = +$12.37 over 167 games (ROI = +7.4%).
In other words, the system was profitable under both cases.
3. The Road/Home Split
Do the results vary as a function of the location of the game?
First, let’s see what happens when Team A is the road team:
If you focus on the last column of the table above, you’ll discover that fading Team A whenever the length of the winning streak was 5+ and Team A was on the road yields a +$22.06 profit over 281 games (ROI = +7.9%). That’s pretty good! Let’s call it Strategy #2.
Let’s now turn our attention to the situation where Team A plays in front of its home crowd after seeing its winning streak getting snapped in their previous game:
Even though wagering against Team A led to a slight profit overall (+$1.22), this strategy did not do very well when considering only cases where the streak’s length was five or more: profit = -$3.56 over 255 games (ROI = -1.4%).
Therefore, all signs point towards restricting our plays to cases where Team A was on the road, which means we are putting our money on the home team.
Does it make a difference if Team A is facing the same team or a different one? The short answer is: absolutely not!
First, let’s go back to the case where Team A was on the road, but this time splitting the results into the two possible scenarios:
Fading Team A on the road when the length of the winning streak was 5+ and…
- Facing the same team: Profit = +$7.10 over 205 games (ROI = +3.5%).
- Facing a different team: Profit = +$14.96 over 76 games (ROI = +19.7%).
The key point to remember here: both options are good!
How about when Team A was at home? As seen earlier, the system did not do very well under this setting, but perhaps the performance was good depending on the type of opponent? Let’s see:
Nope. Both cases produce losses: -$0.98 when playing the same team versus -$2.58 when playing a new team (again, when focusing on lengths 5+).
Once again, we have strong indications that facing the same team or a different one does not affect the results at all.
4. The Odds Split
All right, so let’s recap the two strategies we have retained thus far:
- Strategy #1: Fading Team A when the length of its snapped winning streak was five or more. Profit = +$18.49 over 536 games (ROI = +3.4%).
- Strategy #2: Fading Team A when the length of its snapped winning streak was five or more, and Team A plays on the road. Profit = +$22.06 over 281 games (ROI = +7.9%).
Do certain sets of odds (money lines) provide situations that are more profitable? Generally speaking, should we focus more on underdogs or favorites?
Let’s break down Strategy #1’s results by odds:
We made good money in the 1.5714 – 1.80 range, and lost outside of this interval. However, I wouldn’t recommend betting only if the money line on Team A was between 1.5714 and 1.80; that seems pretty random.
I prefer observing a nice profit in either ends of the spectrum (i.e. either favorites or underdogs). In this case, we detect losses in the first two and the last two categories.
All in all, I would say there isn’t any interesting pattern or conclusion to be drawn from this table. In other words, the money line should not impact your decision to bet or not.
Let’s now have a peek at Strategy #2’s results broken down by odds:
The system worked well across all odds. We lost a negligible amount of money in the first three categories and made a profit in all remaining categories (except the 1.952 – 2.05 range where, once again, the losses were minimal).
Overall, I would argue that the money line does not affect Strategy #2’s performance.
5. The Season Split
A sports betting system is more reliable if it has a good track record year after year, as opposed to one huge positive season mixed with many mediocre ones.
With that premise in mind, let’s take a look at the past performance of Strategy #1:
I certainly do not like what I’m seeing here: three winning seasons versus four losing ones. Granted, the worst season yielded a fairly small $4.36 loss, whereas the smallest profit among the three winning years was $6.10.
Let’s switch gears and investigate the yearly performance of Strategy #2:
That’s much better! The method’s consistency is good, as shown by the five winning seasons versus only two losing ones. Out of the two years where we finished in the red, one of them ended close to profitability (a $1.94 loss) while 2012 took a good blow to our bankroll with a $8.87 loss. Still, those findings are reassuring.
I would like to end this report with some final advice. Personally, in light of all the statistical evidence, I would go with the second strategy:
Fading a team whose winning streak of length 5+ was just snapped in their previous game. Bet only if that team is on the road (so you are betting the home team).
- +$22.06 over 281 games (ROI = +7.9%)
- Expected profit per season = 3.15 units ($22.06 / 7 seasons)
You won’t get rich from using this single strategy. Indeed, a $100-per-game bettor is expected to earn a $315 profit through one full MLB season.
That is why you need to find and play many different angles from various sports. In this regard, I invite you to take a look at my numerous other posts about some specific sports betting strategies. In the long run, that’s the way to go!
7. How to Thank Me
If there is one single way to thank me for the free articles I publish online, it is this one:
It won’t cost you a penny, and the bookie will give me a commission if you make a deposit with them. A big thank you to those of you who have already done it!
Good luck with your plays!
Disclaimer: I am not telling anyone to go out and bet those angles blindly. There are no guarantees in the sports betting world. This article is presenting findings from past data and then trying to find what seem to be potential winning strategies. Bet at your own risk. I am not responsible for any losses incurred from such wagers.