Another welcome back party awaits West Virginia sports betting fans, enlarging the weekly gambling menu.
The NBA restart begins Thursday and the NHL comes back Saturday, joining the full slate of MLB games and WV live horse racing as an appetizing wagering platter.
Take them in any order you like.
Major League Baseball: A loaded schedule
The absence of full travel days in the new alignment means there are nine Thursday games and a double-figure schedule for the rest of the weekend.
That’s even with the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies having multiple games lost this week because Marlins players tested positive for COVID-19 in Philadelphia on Monday.
Thursday’s best match on paper concerns Ross Stripling of the Los Angeles Dodgers facing Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks. And then it’s on to the weekend.
Teams exceeding early expectations include the San Diego Padres at 4-1.
Under-achieving teams, all at 1-4 by midweek, include the world-champion Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox. Each has projected season win totals targeting them for well over .500. Keep an eye on those teams for a breakout at some point.
MLB betting highlights from opening weekend
Gambling entails a set of rhythms, gut feelings, and the right money placed on the right hunch. It doesn’t matter which state the victory unfolds in; the method is the message.
One DraftKings Sportsbook bettor turned a $50 wager into $2,1113 with a parlay of two home runs on Monday.
Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros and Michael Conforto of the New York Mets both went deep Monday night.
Conforto is a fairly likely home run hitter, while Altuve, an excellent all-around player, doesn’t specialize in long balls.
But he did on this night. And the betting hunch produced a bunch. Two homers, 50 bucks, more than two grand.
What MLB betting fans learned from the first weekend
Avoiding the sweep is a dynamic I have followed for a couple of years. Teams fight hard to avoid three-game sweeps or losing three straight at the start of a four-game series.
Last weekend bore that out.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, +180 at WV online sportsbooks, shrugged off two abysmal performances against the St. Louis Cardinals and salvaged the Sunday game. The Pirates avoided the sweep on the road and maintained something to play for this season.
The Seattle Mariners, blown out twice by the Houston Astros Friday and Saturday, kept clawing back Sunday, rallying from behind in the eighth inning to put a win on the board.
The best news? They were +240 at FanDuel Sportsbook.
The San Francisco Giants outscored 17-2 in two games against the Los Angeles Dodgers, fought hard, and won the next one at odds of nearly 2-1 across the major sportsbooks.
And the Arizona Diamondbacks, at +115, avoided a three-game sweep with a ninth-inning rally to salvage the series finale against the San Diego Padres.
That’s a good betting angle going forward. Watch teams who drop the first two in a three-game set. The law of averages says they are due to win and the team that took the first two games has already locked in a series victory.
Possible exceptions: when the series finale involves an ace like Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees or Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals. The angle is still there, but the enthusiasm may be tempered.
The theory will get tested every week.
The NBA returns — finally
NBA betting activity swirls around the teams who begin an eight-game stretch in Orlando. with no margin of error. There is no home court to speak of.
Keep one betting eye on the Memphis Grizzlies, holding down the final Western Conference playoff spot, and the teams chasing them.
That list includes:
- Portland Trail Blazers
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Sacramento Kings
- San Antonio Spurs
- Phoenix Suns
These teams are in must-win mode from the opening tap and bettors will notice that in the odds.
Witness the Thursday opener between the Pelicans and Utah Jazz.
The Pelicans are -2.5 at DraftKings.
On a neutral court, the Pelicans would not be favored against a team that has 13 more wins than they do. But the Pelicans need the game badly because of the NBA playoff format for the last spot.
The second Thursday game is a must-see. The lines are already moving as the Los Angeles Lakers battle the LA Clippers in a preview of heavy championship favorites. In this game, the DraftKings line moved from the Lakers -4.5 to -3.5 Wednesday. FanDuel has the Lakers as a 4-point pick.
The public has taken must-win status into consideration regarding the Grizzlies.
At BetMGM Sportsbook, Memphis holds the eighth playoff spot and a 3.5 game lead. The bettors, 92% of them, expect them to win at least four of their eight games and keep their playoff position.
The Boston Celtics are expected to win at least six of their matchups, according to 97% of the gamblers.
The Brooklyn Nets, likely to hold the seven or eight playoff spots in the East, are targeted by 97% of the gamblers to win less than three of the eight games. But it probably won’t matter. They are being chased by the hapless Washington Wizards.
Drop the puck, NHL is back
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets are popular among West Virginia sports betting fans, and NHL odds at WV sportsbooks will be posted.
They appear in the NHL’s best-of-five return-to-action playoff sets beginning Saturday, when Pittsburgh battles the Montreal Canadiens, while Columbus tangles with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
All games are in Toronto and Edmonton. No home-ice edge. Winners of the early round advance to best-of-seven sets the rest of the way. The NHL will complete its season by late September or early October.
Mountain State magic for the WV horse betting crowd
Cha-ching! More bells and whistles, figuratively speaking, greeted West Virginia online horse bettors via Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races last week.
Charles Town runs every Thursday through Saturday and Mountaineer goes Sunday to Tuesday, all at 7 p.m. These tracks are worth playing. The combination of low-level races and large fields creates some exceptional payouts.
For the past couple of months, Charles Town is like a slot machine that erupts for a few grand, every week. Only, the victory occurs online for West Virginia gamblers.
Several good superfectas came in last week, each paying well over $1,000. The best return was a $1 superfecta of nearly $17,000 in Friday’s sixth race.
It paid $16,680 for a $1 ticket featuring victorious 6-1 shot Wedding Day Kitten, 24- 1 choice Dynamic Union in second, 60-1 longshot Golden Vale third, and the weary even-money favorite Singindownthelane at fourth.
There was no singing down this home stretch. The favorite had a five-length lead with 200 yards to go but suddenly got heavy-legged.
He had been compromised by an early “speed duel” with another horse. A cavalry of longshots passed him just before the wire. The eventual winner made up 12 lengths in about a quarter-mile of distance.
Besides the superfecta, the $1 trifecta also paid $2,230. It was the race of the week and had all the ingredients we talk about for big collections. It was a low-level race, claiming $12,500, with a big field, 10 horses, and the favorite was not in the top three.