It’s a great question. “Why can’t I just bet the favorite all the time?” I mean they are the favorite for a reason, right? Plus, favorites win more often than they lose.
From a betting standpoint, betting on favorites will not make your bankroll grow. In fact, betting on heavy favorites, and doing so often will likely put you in the hole.
It pays to understand how a top online sportsbook set lines to understand why you can’t simply bet on the favorite all the time. Odds, which are essentially the price of a given bet, are not set like prices in normal markets.
In the market for any good or service, economics tells us that prices are established by supply and demand. The greater the demand for a certain item, for example, the higher its price will be. The same holds true for an item with a limited supply. Diamonds or gold are scarce relative to water, therefore, they are priced much higher.
In betting markets, prices are set by bookmakers whose sole desire is to take in 50 percent of the action on the favorite and 50 percent of the action on the underdog. In a perfect world, this happens on all wagers and the bookie walks away with his 10 percent juice regardless of who wins or loses.
Betting Favorites & Losing Money
Let’s say you like winners and decide you will bet on the New York Yankees, a consistent favorite. The Yankees are an average favorite of say -200. At those odds, you will have to wager $200 to win $100.
To break even, you will need the Yankees to win 67 percent of their games, which is 108 total. Winning 108 games in a MLB season isn’t easy. As good as the Yankees have been through the years, they have only surpassed 108 victories three times.
At 108 wins, you just break even. You really don’t win any substantial money unless the Yankees get closer to the MLB record (116) for wins in a single season.
To make it even simpler, let’s take any sport and wager on a -300 favorite for 10 games. Remember, you need to lay out $300 to make $100. In these 10 games your winning percentage is 70 percent. Winning seven of ten bets is outstanding. You should be a winner, right?
So, you won seven bets and made $100 on each one. That is a profit of $700. Now, you lost three of your bets. You wagered $300 on each, which means you lost $900 total. Despite winning seven of ten bets in this example, you still come out in hole $200.
That is why you simply can’t wager on favorites all the time. In the long run, betting on favorites over and over will cost you money.
If you really want to have success as a sports bettor, you have to hone the skill of finding betting value. A value bet occurs when the probability of an outcome is greater than what the odds suggest.
Finding value in NFL bets is often the result of learning some new information. The Baltimore Ravens are a huge favorite over the Pittsburgh Steelers, for example. Ravens QB and NFL MVP Lamar Jackson gets hurt in practice and will not play on Sunday.
The Steelers are a +100 underdog, but suddenly they now appear the favorite. There is serious value in that +100 bet on the Steelers to win.
As a sports bettor, it pays to find value and just randomly bet on favorites all the time.