Easy Money?

Where you'll learn about a couple of ways to bet that will put the odds substantially in your favor in the post-season.  

Have you heard that more than half the best-of-seven series go to at least 6 games, or that the team that wins the second game usually wins in a 5 or 7 game series? Well, it's true - and there's a very good reason for each event.

1) A World Series (any best-of-seven event) can be four, five, six, or seven games long. Many people assume that there is a roughly equal chance of each event, but there is only one way a team can win in four - WWWW. There are four ways to win in five - LWWWW, WLWWW, WWLWW, or WWWLW. A six-game series has 10 ways to win - LLWWWW, LWLWWW, LWWLWW, WLLWWW, WLWLWW, WLWWLW, WWLLWW, WWLWLW, or WWWLLW. A seven-game series win has 20 arrangements - they are WWWLLLW, WWLWLLW, WWLLWLW, WWLLLWW, WLWWLLW, WLWLWLW, WLWLLWW, WLLWWLW, WLLWLWW, WLLLWWW, LWWWLLW, LWWLWLW, LWWLLWW, LWLWWLW, LWLWLWW, LWLLWWW, LLWWWLW, LLWLWWW, LLWWLWW, or LLLWWWW. Because the other team has the same ways to win in 4, 5, 6, or 7 games, that means that there are 70 different patterns of wins and losses that can occur in a best-of-7 series! A coin, randomly tossed, will "win" four straight about 12.5% of the time. There's a 25% to "win" in five, 31.25% in six, and 31.25% in seven. That's a 37% likelihood that a best-of-seven series will be fewer than six games, and a 62% chance that it'll be at least six games.

That, of course, assumes that the two World Series teams are equal, but even if one team has a 60% chance of winning (the equivalent of a 100-62 team playing an 84-78 team), the respective percentages are 15.52%, 26.88%, 29.95%, and 27.65%.  

2) The other "tricky" bet one can make is, before the series starts, say that "the team that wins the second game will win it all." Act like there's something mystical about that second game.

Actually, there's no mystery at all. Think about it. If you bet the winner of the second game will win the whole series, you are guaranteed the team you bet on will be no worse than 1-1 after two games. The other possibility is that your team will be 2-0.

Assuming the teams are equal, if a team is 1-1 after two games, its probability of winning the series is 50 percent. If that team is 2-0, its probability of winning the series is 81.25% [87.5% in a five-game playoff]. After all, the other team needs to win four of the remaining five games [all of the remaining three]. There is a 50-50 chance that either of these situations will develop. So, your chance of winning the bet before the series starts, is 65.625% (81.25 + 50 = 131.25, 131.25/2 = 65.625) - a bettor's dream [68.75%].

In this example, we assumed that the teams are equal. Obviously, they aren't always - but if one team is more likely to win the series, it is also more likely to win the second game. 

The only way you could miss on both of these bets in a best-of-seven series, is a series that goes exactly five games and the loser's only victory was in the second game. 

Through the 2014 World Series, had you bet on the winner of the second game in every post-season series, starting in 1995, when division playoffs started, you'd be 60-20 in division series (best-of-five), and 41-19 in best-of-seven series - 101-39 altogether. Of the 62 best-of-seven series, 34 have gone at least 6 games. In 2014, the World Series is the first postseason series to go more than 5 games. So, through 2014, between those two Easy Money bets, you'd be 135-65 (.675),  with NO losing (you'd have been 5-5 in 2001 and 2014) post-season series in 20 years! After going nine and one in 2011, we were just 6 and 4 in the post seasons of 2012 and 2013, and 5 and 5 in 2014 - 26-14 (.650) over 4 years is not too bad after 7 straight years of 7-3 (.700) , just prior to that.

           Here's the "big picture" on those two bets, since Division Series began in 1995:

            Year     2nd of 5        2nd of 7        at least 6 of 7         Total        

            1995      3-1                3-0                2-1                       8-2

            1996      4-0                0-3                2-1                       6-4

            1997      4-0                1-2                3-0                       8-2

            1998      3-1                2-1                2-1                       7-3

            1999      2-2                3-0                1-2                       6-4    

            2000      4-0                3-0                1-2                       8-2

            2001      2-2                2-1                1-2                       5-5

            2002      2-2                3-0                1-2                       6-4

            2003      2-2                1-2                3-0                       6-4

            2004      3-1                2-1                2-1                       7-3

            2005      3-1                3-0                1-2                       7-3 

            2006      4-0                2-1                1-2                       7-3               

            2007      4-0                2-1                1-2                       7-3

            2008      4-0                2-1                1-2                       7-3

            2009      3-1                2-1                2-1                       7-3

            2010      3-1                2-1                2-1                       7-3

            2011      4-0                2-1                3-0                       9-1

            2012      2-2                3-0                1-2                       6-4 

            2013      1-3                2-1                3-0                       6-4

            2014      3-1                1-2                1-2                       5-5

            Total    60-20            41-19            34-26                135-65

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