I’m writing this blog post while I am watching the first women’s Master semi-final in Singapore live on TV and the replay of game 3 of the MLB World Series on on-demand TV as I’m in Italy right now and they played last night.
And while Caroline Wozniacki clinches the first set tiebreaker a question comes to my mind: how many players are on a baseball team’s roster?
This is just one of the things that make betting on US sports extremely difficult: the number of players!
For example, let’s take a look at baseball: 25 players on the active roster plus 15 on the 40-man roster. With 30 teams in the league, that means 1200 players in total. Of course, not all of them are stars or even important players but still it’s a lot to think of.
I was in New York a couple of weeks ago and I watched all the Yankees games on TV while I was there (against the Cleveland Indians and the following series against the Houston Astros) as I like watching baseball but now that I’m watching Houston again against the Los Angeles Dodgers, I realize that I do not know a lot about their pitchers, relievers, pinch hitter and so on…
And that’s only one sport of the 4 main US sports! That’s why at www.betzcenter.com our experts are dedicated to a single sport, because we think that quality beats quantity.
Problem number 2: The Number of Regular Season Games.
It’s crazy, let’s have a look:
MLB -> 162 games per team
NHL -> 82 games per team
NBA -> 81 games per team
NFL -> 16 games per team
Apart from NFL, other sports’ schedule is incredibly busy: NBA and NHL have twice as many games as a regular soccer league, MLB is two times that!
This brings a lot to the mix: changes in lineups, tired players, players that are rested for a game, meaningless regular season games and more.
In US sports, it is not rare to see a team that underperforms in a given game and then over performs a couple of days later. This is because of the number of games that they play and, with such a busy schedule, this is a factor that you should take into consideration when betting.
Imagine how important Lebron James for the Cleveland Cavaliers is, what happens to the team if he underperforms? To be honest, James basically never underperforms, but if he is rested for that particular game? Well, Cleveland’s strength drops drastically. And with 81 games in the regular season this can happen more than we imagine.
Also, being the regular season so different from the playoffs, many games are seen as a chance to work on team’s chemistry, schemes, general improvements and to test fresh ideas that could become helpful at a later stage during the season, but may also cost a few extra losses to the teams.
The United States are a big country, flying from coast to coast takes several hours (6 hours to fly from New York to Los Angeles). This is something that we must take into consideration when betting. It is indeed true that professional teams travel in style to say the least, but still, this affects the energy that players can bring to the court.
Does it still not seem like a big deal? That’s all they do in life after all, right? Yes and no. We have to considered that the game is only a small part of a whole: they have training sessions, interviews, long pre-game and post-game press conferences and back to back games (sometimes they play two games in two days). If we sum all of these with the long travels, this can become a crucial factor that can decide close games.
As much as I love the American sports culture, I have to admit that this is one of its biggest weaknesses.
I follow the NBA the most and I will take that as an example: I like the way the drafting system works, it is an awesome way to give weak teams a chance at improving for the following season, but this comes at a cost.
Halfway through the season, if a team is doing bad, it is easy for this team to “tank”, meaning to lose as many games as possible to get a higher chance of a better pick in the draft. Without getting too much into how the draft works, let’s just say that the fewer wins you score during the season, the higher chances you get of having a higher draft pick (so you can get the best rookies for the following season). This as you can I imagine is very good for weak teams, as they can pick amazing players that can change their immediate future; but, this is also a tempatation as a struggling team could decide to lose more games “on purpose” to try to get a better pick.
Statistics / Numbers
There are simply too many numbers for us to analyze. Americans love sports statistics and I do too. The good thing is that it is easy to find all the statistics that you may need. NFL’s, MLB’s, NBA’s and NHL’s websites already provide a lot: they are very specific and they normally split into home games and away games (a very important difference).
You can also find many more websites with other statistics that can surely help you make the right betting decisions. On the other hand, to really take advantage of all the numbers you probably need some artificial intelligence and machine learning stuff, which is still possible but more complex.
Talking about NBA, I normally have three or four key parameters that I like to refer to. Lineups are surely of big importance as the game is only played 5 versus 5, so if someone does not play, that could affect the game a lot!
I found it not so easy to find fresh information on US sports and this is what I mean by that.
Coverage on these sport is great, almost perfect, accessing the latest news is so easy for everyone that we almost never have information that is not yet available to bookmakers, which reduces our already-low margin.
I sometimes find fantasy games website quite helpful to know the lineups but I also find that odds and lines that bookmakers set are almost always very good to say the least. This is a huge difference with tennis for example; or with lower soccer leagues.
That’s it, head to www.betzcenter.com to see our daily picks on US Sports.