The Greatest Angles Ever - #5: All Over in Durango

Most of the money I have made has been on dead obvious angles that could have been bet blind every single day if one only knew what the angles were. Usually these were in small sports or obscure markets. In major markets, all the money I have made has also been on angles, but these angles tend to be more subtle and cannot be bet blind. In either case the only purpose of even having a handicapping model or process at all was so that one could know when the angle was no longer good due to chasers or being overbet.

While the angles in this series mostly do not work anymore, they do provide a roadmap for those looking to make money in the future, as new leagues, markets, and wager types are put up for betting every year.

5: All Over in Durango

In 2017 the Reynosa baseball team in Mexico's LMB, coming off a season where they did not pay their players and went 24-88 with a -2.8 run differential per game, re-located to Durango. Typically Reynosa had played as a neutral or slightly below average run-scoring park, although the team was so bad that it can be hard to get a handle on such things.

Durango, Mexico is at over 6,000 feet in elevation, and the stadium is average in size. In addition, despite being high up it is almost as hot as the rest of Mexico; most games are played in the upper 80s. Taking these factors into account, I set my initial average park factor around 1.10 (10% higher average than the rest of the league) and a home run park factor around 1.3. I don't recall the exact numbers, but they were the highest in the league but not too much higher than the second highest. Rather than making a similar adjustment, in 2017, early in the season the odds on totals of Durango home games were set as if they were playing in the same stadium as last year. This meant that my numbers on Durango games were between 12.5 and 14 depending on the pitchers and weather, while the totals were typically 10.5 to 11.5.

It turns out that my estimates of the park effect were actually too low, plus Durango that year turned out to be a team with much improved but still bad hitting and absolutely horrible pitching. The right numbers were 13.5-15, not 12.5-14. Either way I recall betting over something like 20 games in a row in this stadium before passing a game and winning 16 or 17, with the losers all being horrendous bad beats. Eventually others started to catch on as the openers crept up plus by the time it was possible to bet the game at any decent PPH book you had to lay between -150 and -190. We gladly laid these prices and still covered over 70%.

There were several knock-on effects that made this stadium the driver of even more profits. One, this stadium was so distorting that it drove up the lines on totals at other stadiums, because those making the lines and possibly even other bettors had not figured out this park was the cause, not some league-wide effect. This meant there were strong plays on the under in the pitcher's parks.

Two, there was another team move that year, the Leon team, and new stadium that was almost as good, near Guanajuato, Mexico, probably one of my favorite places in Mexico - all should visit if they have the chance. This stadium was also at high elevation and ended up being a dead "over" park although somewhat cooler weather and a couple of strong pitchers on that team meant it was not quite as good of a blind bet; certainly one would almost always be on the Leon over and never on the under, but there was some chance that it was just a pass on the right day. This had the same distorting effect on the lines at other stadiums.

Three, Mexican baseball is now raped by sharps with everything moving 40-60 cents at the open, but this was not as true in 2017. In fact, in 2017 the opening lines didn't even account for the starting pitchers and there were no listed pitchers. This is not as big of a deal in Mexican baseball, because the starters don't pitch nearly as long. Many will come out after 3-4 innings even in a good outing, plus about 10% of the time the announced starter randomly won't pitch that day and there is nothing you can do about it. But it was still strong enough that it was very easy to beat sides; whenever there was a mismatch, you just bet whatever team probably was going to have the better pitcher that day and ate the 10% of the time it didn't work out for you.

Finally, some books had Mexican baseball marked as "MLB". This meant you could do round-robin parlays on the games, and if you won, unless the agent or book reviewed the individual plays, it would look like you won on "MLB" which certainly would give you much larger runway to stay in action than if it said "Mexican Baseball". Because we could, we always did round-robin parlays (2s and 3s) for full account limit or book limit wherever it was allowed. Usually it is hard to fill round-robin parlays with good plays unless you bet props, where it is never allowed anyway, but in this particular season almost every total was a bet, plus there were often 3-4 plays on sides.

After a moderately winning early season, one weekend the plays went 8 of 9 on Friday and 10 of 10 on Saturday, during a week where we had already snowballed account credit with small wins earlier on meaning the round-robins were of larger than usual size. Some people even actually paid that, but that was pretty much the end of the road for big betting on Mexican baseball.