How Does the Las Vegas Math Work for MMA Betting?

Las Vegas Math is a way of thinking that was made popular in the ‘80s, with the idea being that no matter what the odds may be on any given event, you can always find a way to make money from it. This doesn’t just apply to sports betting, but rather to any type of betting where odds matter, such as horse racing or poker. Let’s examine how this theory works in practice.

The Basics

Las Vegas Math is based on the premise that there is always someone who is willing to pay more for an event than there is someone who is willing to bet on it. For example, say there is a college basketball game between UNC and Duke, with the spread set at three points. A typical sports bettor might want to bet on the Blue Devils, believing they’ll win by more than three points. The problem is that there isn’t anyone out there who is willing to pay more for UNC than there is for Duke. So, in this case, the sports bettor would lose his bet. This is where the concept of ‘never-ending odds’ comes in. It allows the sports bettor to believe that even though the odds are against him (3:1), he can still win big. Of course, the opposite is true. So, while there will always be events where you can make money betting on them, you’ll never be guaranteed to win.

Adjusted Odds is sort of like ‘reverse betting’, except that instead of guessing which team will win, you’re essentially making a guess as to which team will pay out. They are a way of viewing how likely it is that one team will defeat the other, with winning teams having a positive outlook (i.e. they’ll pay out) and losing teams having a negative outlook (i.e. they’ll win). For example, let’s say that you believe that underdogs outperform against the spread more often than not. So, you look at each team’s recent form and notice that the underdogs have beaten the spread in all of their recent games. Now, you can put on a bet against the Browns with a positive adjusted odds of 3.33 (i.e., you believe they’ll beat the spread 69.9% of the time), since 3.33 is greater than 1. As another example, if the overdogs keep winning and you feel that they will keep winning, you can put on a bet with a negative adjusted odds of -2. If the overdogs win more than 70% of their games, you’ll earn a profit. In some cases, this can be a quite substantial profit, as much as 300%. Of course, if the overdogs win by a narrower margin, you’ll have to pay out more to recoup your investment, so there is always a risk in this type of strategy.

Monetary Units

This is probably the most confusing part of Las Vegas Math for non-bettors, as it involves the use of ‘monetary units’, which are essentially a way of expressing odds with a dollar figure. Let’s say, for example, that the total earnings from all of the underdogs is \$1,200. If the overdogs win, you’ll have to pay out \$3,600, which is three times your original investment. However, if the underdogs win, you’ll only have to pay out \$1,200, which is double your initial investment.

Why is this a confusing concept? Well, typically, when people think of odds, they think in terms of comparing one team to another, as in “the line is against the Chiefs”, or “the spread is two touchdowns for Team A, and only one point for Team B”. However, when you start doing this with the dollar figure, it gets a bit tricky. A traditional 1:1 comparison would be betting \$1 on the Chiefs and betting \$1 on them not to score. In that case, you would only have to win \$1, because you would earn \$1 back, plus you would win the \$1 you bet on the Chiefs. However, if you compare that to betting \$1000 on the Chiefs and \$1000 on them not to score, you would have to win \$1000 to earn \$1, because you would lose \$1000 on the other side. It gets a bit convoluted, but you get the point. This is why Las Vegas Math works best when dealing with professional bettors, who are used to comparing everything in terms of money.

Expectancies

This is the heart of Las Vegas Math. It involves looking at a team’s recent form and getting a feel for what they are capable of performing in the current situation. For instance, if you believe that the Patriots will beat the spread often in the coming weeks, you can expect them to keep winning, and use this as a basis to make wagers. Let’s say that you expect the Patriots to win by more than three points in every game over the next several weeks and you want to put on a bet on them, setting the limit at -110 (i.e., you expect them to lose as much as they’ll win). In this case, your maximum potential loss will be \$110, while your gain will be \$200, for a profit of \$90. Of course, if they win by a smaller margin, you’ll have to pay out more, but you’ll still make money. This is the opposite of what you’d do if you had a negative expectation, as in “I don’t think the Pats will beat the spread this year, so I’m placing a bet on them to lose by at least three points”. In that case, your maximum potential loss will be \$300, while your gain will be \$100, for a profit of \$200.

This concept can be tricky to get used to, as you’ll have to put your money where your mouth is. If you’re not used to gambling and don’t have a lot of money to risk, it might be best to wait until you’re sure that you can successfully implement this strategy, or at least until you have enough money to lose, in case it doesn’t work out.

Using These Concepts

So, you’ll want to use these concepts in combination with each other, looking at each team’s recent form, comparing them side-by-side, and putting together a game plan. For instance, you might look at a team like the Cardinals and see that they’ve had a lot of close games lately, with a lot of high-scoring affairs. Based on this, you can decide to bet on them or against them, depending on whether you agree with the direction of the sport or not. If you believe that scoring will increase, you can put on a bet with a positive expectation, as in “I think the Cardinals will score a lot of points this year”. If you believe that scoring will decrease, you can put on a bet with a negative expectation, as in “I don’t think the Cardinals will score many points this year”. In both cases, you’ll want to use a limit to protect yourself from large losses. Of course, this is just a basic overview of how Las Vegas Math works, and there are various nuances involved, which make it sort of like a game of chess. One good place to start is the Wikipedia page for Las Vegas Math, which has a lot of in-depth information, along with many examples that you can copy and use.