What a fun time it is right now to be a White Sox fan, the front office is making more moves than Ex-Lax….they bad! The other day I posted a picture on Twitter from BetOnline showing their posted futures odds for winning the American League Pennant.
I just posted it as a conversation piece, but it got me thinking, some of yous reading this might not understand what it means or even how to interpret what it is saying. You the reader may have never had to measure the probability that in your opinion it is a good bet or not. Given that I have a gambling background (I earned a substantial portion of my income from 2009-2014 or so as an Advantage Player, even Uncle Sam knows that) I figured maybe it would be worth the time to go through the thing step by step and allow the readers to understand how something like this works.
First, the odds. +1600
What that means, is that if you bet $100, you will win (profit) $1,600, plus your originally bet $100 back. The implied probability of such a bet is stated below.
The probability is basically 1/17 or ~5.88% as noted in the chart. That’s the break-even for the bet, if you bet it 17 times and hit it once, you will be EVEN STEVEN! If you don’t want to use excel, just find a handy odds calculator online, I like the one at SBR (I used to participate in that forum a million years ago).
Now you need to figure out how we get to an implied break even probability of those odds. Here is a little chart that we’ll talk through to get the rough idea…
So, a futures bet, is actually a parlay of sorts, you need multiple events to occur in order to cash your ticket. In the case of the odds I posted above from BetOnline, you need the White Sox to win the AL Pennant.That’s right they would have to become the AL Champs. Above shows a variety of steps that’s probabilities must be multiplied together to get to an implied probability to determine if this is a bet or not. SPOILER ALERT, I created a probability that exactly agrees with the betting odds, just as an example.
The White Sox must make the playoffs. There are two avenues for this, win the AL Central or win the AL Wild Card. I took a couple stabs in the dark at these two avenues. Given the limited contenders for the AL Central and that when the White Sox have a win total high enough to win the Wild Card in a very top heavy AL they will likely win the division, I chose a much higher probability for them to win the division. Of course my probabilities are made up, grab a spreadsheet and drop in your own to play with it.
Advance in the playoffs. Let’s look at the times the White Sox make the playoffs as a Wild Card team. I went ahead and assumed they would have the handsome tall fella named Lucas Giolito on the hill and would be a small favorite to win the game. That might be very far from the truth, maybe Gio had to pitch the last game of the season and it’s Reynaldo Lopez turn in the rotation and he has to face Blake Snell in Tampa, the White Sox are probably 37% to win that game or something. You get the idea.
Once the White Sox get to the ALDS (either by winning the division or by escaping the Wild Card game), they must play a 5 game series against one of the best teams in the AL, the likely opponents are, Yankees, Astros, A’s, Red Sox or Rays….less likely would be the Twins or Indians…obviously there is some probability that other teams sneak in there, Angels, Rangers, etc. I threw a 45% probability on winning this series, it’s an approximation of the different opponents they might face. They are likely to get one of the two dominant teams in the league, Astros or Yankees, without the home field advantage, which is definitely worse odds than 45% chance of winning the series, but sometimes in the Monte Carlo simulation the White Sox are a better team than those teams or the White Sox opponent gets a key injury shortly before the series that helps, or a surprise team sneaks into the ALDS vs them that they are clearly favorites against.
Win the ALCS, similar to the White Sox are likely to be underdogs in this series too and are likely to face a very good team. I chose 45% again, as I assume similar conditions as the ALDS, you might be more conservative and use a smaller number to calculate this, OR, you might think, look if the White Sox do win the division, that means, Lopez or Cease really broke out and will dominate to go along with Lucas Giolito, or that the offense is far and away the best in the AL, so they would be a favorite, I dunno.
Multiply the probability of the of each event by each other (as noted in the final line of the table above) and voila, you have our implied probability…..
Let me know on twitter if you have questions or if you enjoy this sort of “gambling” content.