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Andrews: Inside the betting action for MLB wild-card games

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There is a lot of buzz heading into this week’s start of the Major League Baseball playoffs. Marquee matchups out of the gate with the wild-cards matchups. The whole month of October will be jam-packed with great action.

Let’s start this market report by looking at early betting in those wild-card matchups. I’ll also talk about series prices for divisional round matchups that are already set. Then, we’ll wrap it up with a look at current odds to win the World Series.

Tuesday, Oct. 5

New York Yankees (-117) at Boston Red Sox (+ 107)

Total: 8.5

ESPN, 8 pm. ET

I opened the Yankees -115, Boston + 105. My first bet was on the Sox. I dropped the line to a dime (Yankees -110/Sox EVEN). One of the South Point’s really big customers came in and bet the Yankees. I moved all the way to Yanks -117 (Sox + 107) off that bet. Looks like that’s where the market is settling. I think the public will slightly favor the Yankees. Boston backers will come out of the woodwork if the line rises too high. My opening total was 8.5 runs, with the Over juiced at -120 (Under at EVEN money). First sharp bet was on the Under. I’m now -110 both ways at 8.5 runs. Good pitching matchup with Gerrit Cole vs. Nathan Eovaldi. Note that all bets are “action” at the South Point. We don’t list starting pitchers any more -- bet the team, get the team.

Wednesday, Oct. 6

St. Louis Cardinals (+ 187) at Los Angeles Dodgers (-215)

Total: 7.5

TBS, 8:10 pm. ET

I opened the Dodgers -210, St. Louis + 185. A sharp laid the -210, so I went to -215/+ 187. We’re starting to take back underdog bets at + 187, but not enough to move the line yet. Plenty of time to move in either direction between now and Wednesday night’s first pitch. My opening total was 7.5, with the Over juiced to -115 (Under -105). I took a little action on the Under. I’m now -110 both ways at 7.5.  Another potential pitchers’ duel with Adam Wainwright vs. Max Scherzer.

In the best-of-five divisional round, Tuesday’s Yanks/Sox winner will play Tampa Bay. Wednesday’s Cards/Dodgers winner will play San Francisco Friday. The other two matchups are set.

Here are my series prices in those:

*Houston -125 vs. Chicago White Sox + 105 (time/network TBA Thursday)

*Milwaukee -145 vs. Atlanta + 125 (time/network TBA Friday)

Again, those are series prices, not the odds for Game 1. Limited action so far. For now, the public is much more interested in the marquee franchises facing off in the wild-card games. I think Houston -125 and Milwaukee -145 are good prices. Sharp money didn’t jump in right away to tell me otherwise. I’ll do my best to provide MLB updates in my midweek football reports if space permits, or on Twitter.

Odds to Win World Series

Many fans like placing futures bets on their favorite team to win the World Series. Makes rooting even more fun. Here are my current odds to win the 2021 Fall Classic …

LA Dodgers 3-1

San Francisco 4-1

Houston 6-1

Tampa Bay 7-1

Milwaukee 7-1

Chicago White Sox 8-1

NY Yankees 12-1

Boston 12-1

Atlanta 12-1

St. Louis 15-1

Sharps are less likely to bet futures during the playoffs. Smart money is aware that taking any team in a “rolling parlay” usually provides a bigger return. Take St. Louis for example. Hey, 15-1 is a nice payout! I have a bunch of exposure already to the Cardinals, so I can’t make that price any friendlier. But taking St. Louis + 187 against the Dodgers, then re-investing the full return at a dog price vs. San Francisco, then re-investing that full return in the NLCS vs. either Milwaukee or Atlanta, then re-investing that full return in the World Series vs. the AL representative would likely bring back 20-1 or 30-1. That matters to sharps. They squeeze out every dollar they can. Sometimes this strategy earns a lot of extra dollars.

If you have a favorite team you want to bet this month and you have regular access to a sportsbook so it’s easy to visit before each new round starts, consider the rolling parlay approach.

Quick note about the Giants. When I first posted World Series futures prices late last October, I had San Francisco at 60-1. The Giants bottomed out in late February at 300-1 when offseason media was hyping the Dodgers as a historic power. (Hat tip to the one guy who bet that!). The Giants had such an amazing season, they’re now just 4-1 to win it all.

Best of luck this month to baseball bettors. I’ll have another action report for you before the ALCS/NLCS series.

Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas, and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.

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