There are few good sports betting books out there. Stanford Wong’s Sharp Sports Betting and King Yao’s Weighing the Odds in Sports Betting are two of the better ones. The rest are typically garbage. Most are from touts who want to build up credentials for their business. The main goal of these writers isn’t to teach the sports bettor; it is to show how sharp the writer is and turn the book buyer into a client.
Wong and Yao’s books aren’t like that. They are more like textbooks, showing a bettor the methods of handicapping. Betting Baseball by Richard Nichols belongs in this category as well. It comes at sports bettors from two directions: a beginner’s guide to the advanced sabermetric stats now available in today’s game, and how to use those stats to create your own line and build your own model. It shows specific formulas in Excel, and explains nicely how baseball and bookmaking works in general. A baseball fan with no knowledge of building a model will have no problems following along.
The more experienced bettor will have no interest in building a model or what the xFIP formula means. He or she will already know this. However, the book does offer a lot to these bettors. Nichols discusses a catcher’s impact on the strike zone, and even gives how much a catcher who excels at framing is worth on the money line compared to a regular catcher. He also breaks down the sportsbooks in Las Vegas, splitting the city into sections and showing what sportsbooks are available in each part of town. Even better, he lists what line originator runs what sportsbooks, and how much vig they charge.
There is also a good amount of details on umpires that can be useful to the sports bettor. While not a determining factor in making bets, an umpire can turn a lean into a play, depending on his tendencies. The book lists the career over/under record of each major league umpire, as well as which ump might be influenced by the home crowd or weather conditions.
Another section includes a layout of the ballpark, a good thing to know when it comes to the weather. If the wind is 20 miles per hour out of the west in St. Louis, a quick glance at the book will tell you that the wind will be blowing straight out to right field. I can look that up online, but it will be a lot quicker and easier to have it in a book format.
Overall, this is the best book an aspiring baseball bettor can read to learn the game. One other great benefit: despite a heavy emphasis on math, it is written in plain simple english that even the most math-deficient person should be able to understand.