We’re constantly preaching the value of betting against the public, and traditionally we have focused on the moneyline when we discuss baseball. Our 2014 MLB Betting Against the Public Report detailed a lucrative system that has earned +110.96 units since the start of the 2005 season; however, many readers have asked us whether this same contrarian approach applies to betting totals.
To find out, we immediately sought help from our Bet Labs software to determine whether there was an edge to betting against the public on MLB totals, and if so, where was the sweet spot for this contrarian betting strategy.
The table below shows the historical record and winning percentage for both overs and unders, and examines whether bettors win more frequently as games are bet in a more and more lopsided manner.
Note: Bet Labs uses closing lines from Pinnacle. Public betting percentages are from our seven contributing sportsbooks.
Public Betting %
Overall (Win %)
|<49%||2,735-2,778 (49.6%)||8,168-7,788 (51.2%)||10,903-10,566 (50.8%)|
|<40%||1,119-,1,166 (49.0%)||5,611-5,441 (50.8%)||6,730-6,6607 (50.5%)|
|<30%||234-226 (50.9%)||2,579-2,537 (50.4%)||2,813-2,763 (50.4%)|
|<20%||20-17 (54.1%)||526-526 (50%)||546-543 (50.1%)|
You can see that there is a slight edge to betting against the public on totals as the overall win percentages are all above 50%, however, the most intriguing takeaway is the profitability of betting overs — specifically at the 30% threshold.
Traditional betting philosophy dictates that the under is undervalued, and the reasoning there is sound. Bettors like to watch high-scoring games, so they are more likely to bet the over purely for entertainment value. This explains why the public bets on the over nearly four times as frequently as they bet on the under.
In the rare cases in which the public is pounding the under, bettors can capitalize by betting on the over. In games in which at least 70% of bettors are taking the under, the over has gone 234-226 for +11.92 units won and a 2.6% return on investment (ROI). While most bettors would assume that we could improve this system by examining low totals, we will continue to take a contrarian approach and find games in which the total was at least 8.5.
The screenshot below displays the system results and results graph from Bet Labs:
With consistent year-to-year results, a significant sample size and a clear cut contrarian hypothesis, this system has the characteristics that we look for in a winning betting system.
We offer a 6-day Bet Labs trial for anybody interested in creating their own winning MLB systems, but Pro customers have full access to our Best Bets which have gone 187-212 for +24.6 units this season.
Have any questions for the staff at Sports Insights? Utilize our live chat to speak with a customer service representative or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
9/12/14 Update: Since publication this system has gone just 1-3 and is now 102-74 (+30.8 units) overall.