Moneyline Sports: How Does the House Always Win?
In moneyline sports like baseball, the house wins over the long-haul by offering worse-than-fair odds on both sides of the bet.
An example is that if there are two teams with an exactly 50% chance of winning a game, they offer -110 odds on both sides instead of +100 odds, or even money.
If they get even betting on both teams at -110, they keep their 4.5% by paying out the winners at 90.9% of what they risked while keeping the full risk-amount from the losers.
$110 per bet from Team A | $110 per bet from Team B
Team A wins, bettors get paid $100 each from Team B's stake
$10 per bet from Team B remains | $10 / total stakes of $220 = 4.5%
The same applies even if the teams aren’t even and when you notice the difference on lines between sportsbooks for the same game, that's the house shading their odds based on the volume of bets they are getting on each side.
The house always gets their cut because they aren’t offering fair, even odds. They're never paying out the winners at the same amount they collect from the losers.
Now as I've stated many times, there is a slight advantage to betting underdogs that comes from the fact that most people want to bet favorites and the prices get slightly skewed. But the house is making money either way.
To help illustrate the point, I ran some historical data from the past 20 years or so, and found that the average MLB favorite was lined at -147, while the average underdog in the exact same timeframe was paying back at +131.
In a fair odds situation, the average line on those games would have been -138 and +138 but as the saying goes, the house always wins.
That's where handicapping comes into play and why the ability to find an edge is what separates winners from losers.
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