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March 30, 2017

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Baseball lines not created equal

Jeff Haney examines bettor-friendly dime lines: What they are and where you can find them

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Leila Navidi

People watch betting boards and sporting events at Sam’s Town, which, along with other Boyd Gaming casinos, has strong dime lines on many baseball games.

This baseball season, 13 of the 20 distinct sports books in the Las Vegas Valley are employing some form of a 10-cent line, or “dime line,” the most competitive and sought-after wagering structure in baseball betting.

With a baseball dime line, bettors have to risk only $1.05 to win $1 on either team in a game that’s evenly matched according to oddsmakers. If the favored team is listed at minus-140 (risk $1.40 to win $1), for example, the underdog would be plus-130 (risk $1 to net $1.30) on a dime line. The term “dime line” comes from the 10-cent gap, or “straddle,” between the $1.40 and the $1.30 in this example.

Other books use a 15-cent baseball line, giving themselves a bigger cushion to work with. If the favorite is minus-140, the underdog would be plus-125 on a 15-cent line.

Still others use a 20-cent baseball line. If the favored team is minus-140, the underdog would be plus-120 on a 20-cent line. A 20-cent line is the industry standard on most other sports, including football and basketball.

In an evenly matched baseball game on a dime line, the casino’s theoretical advantage, or “house edge,” is about 2.3 percent. Gamblers betting into a 20-cent line on the same game would have to overcome a house edge of about 4.5 percent.

That’s a significant difference to baseball bettors, who in 2007 collectively risked more than $528 million on baseball wagering in Nevada casinos, according to the state Gaming Control Board. That figure represents 20 percent of the nearly $2.6 billion wagered last year in the state’s sports books.

Casinos “held,” or won, about 4.8 percent of the money bet on baseball last season, or nearly $25.4 million, according to the Gaming Control Board.

For avid or high-rolling baseball bettors, betting into a dime line as opposed to a 15-cent or 20-cent line can easily save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the course of a season.

Playing into a dime line can also benefit smaller bettors, such as a gambler who risks $10 a pop on three-team parlays.

For example, consider a three-team parlay made up of three underdogs in games in which the favorite is minus-140.

Betting into a dime line, our $10 parlay player would net $111.66 if his three ’dogs were to come in.

Betting into a 15-cent line, he would net $103.90 — or nearly an entire betting unit less.

Betting into a 20-cent line, he would net only $96.48 — or more than 1 1/2 betting units less than if he had been using a dime line.

Following is a rundown of which baseball betting lines can be found at Las Vegas sports books in 2008:

Strong dime lines

Sports books using the strongest dime lines don’t “break” the 10-cent straddle until the price on the favored team approaches minus-200. Only then do they switch to a less favorable straddle, usually a 15-cent or 20-cent line.

Strong baseball dime lines are available at Boyd/Coast properties, Cal Neva, the Las Vegas Hilton, Leroy’s, the Palms, the Plaza and South Point/El Cortez.

If the favored team is listed at minus-170, for instance, the underdog will be plus-160 at these joints.

All other factors being equal, these are the best places to bet baseball this season.

Modified dime lines

These weaker dime lines start out as 10-cent lines, but “break” to a less competitive structure sooner, usually when the favorite is listed in the range of minus-140 to minus-170.

Sports books using this form of a dime line are the Golden Nugget, Rampart/Cannery, Station Casinos properties, Stratosphere/Arizona Charlie’s properties, Terrible’s and Wynn Las Vegas.

For example, at the Wynn, if the favored team is minus-155, expect the underdog to be plus-140 rather than plus-145.

15-cent lines

Caesars Entertainment properties, Jerry’s Nugget and the Venetian use a 15-cent line. If the favored team is minus-120, expect the underdog to be plus-105.

20-cent lines

Casinos dealing a 20-cent baseball line are the Hard Rock, MGM Mirage properties, Planet Hollywood and Poker Palace. In an evenly matched game, each team would be listed at minus-110.

This is the least competitive form of a baseball betting line. It doesn’t mean you’ll never find the price you’re seeking at one of these sports books. It means these books are working with a heftier built-in profit margin than their competitors in baseball betting — a situation that’s good for the house, bad for the gambler.

Jeff Haney can be reached at 259-4041 or at [email protected]

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