Odds are, Phillies' Moyer is a better bet than Halladay

Posted: July 02, 2010

Look no further than the Phillies' pitching staff to discover the cruel arithmetic of betting on favorites in baseball.

Roy Halladay and Jamie Moyer are tied for the team lead in wins with nine, but any fan would agree that Halladay, with an ERA of 2.42 (nearly two runs lower than Moyer's) is the superior pitcher.

That is, unless the two are viewed through the lens of wagering, because in that case, Moyer is the all-star performer.

Assuming $10 bets when the Phils were underdogs and laying whatever odds were necessary to win $10 when the Phillies were favorites, the bottom line on Halladay's 17 starts would be a net loss of $62. The same wagering pattern on Moyer would have yielded a profit of about $35.50 - a swing of $97.50.

There are two reasons. The most obvious is that the Phils are a mediocre 9-8 in Halladay starts (with poor offense being a drag on the record) and 9-6 in Moyer's games.

However, the more important reason is the odds.

In Halladay's 17 starts, the Phils have been the wagering favorite a stunning 16 times. In contrast, when Moyer has pitched, the Phillies have been the favorite just nine times.

Consider, when Halladay lost to Pittsburgh, 2-1, on May 18, the Phillies were favored by more than 31/2-1 (minus-360). So a wager that night on the Phils to win $10 resulted in a $36 loss. To make up for that one defeat, the Phillies would have to win about four other Halladay starts.

Conversely, when Moyer beat the Yankees, 6-3, on June 16, the Phillies were nearly 2-1 underdogs and Phils backers picked up a $19 profit for a $10 bet. That kind of win cushions the inevitable losses.

The lesson: A baseball bettor has no room for error when the wagers are consistently on the favorite.

Philly second again. Following in the footsteps of the Phillies last fall and Flyers this spring, still another Philadelphia-area poker player fell short of a World Series of Poker championship in Las Vegas. So far, three Philly guys have finished second at the WSOP this year.

The most recent Philadelphia near-miss for a championship bracelet belongs to Dan Shak, of Bryn Mawr, in pot-limit Omaha hi-low split, 8-or-better.

Shak's second place was good for $202,142, while veteran player Chris Bell pocketed a little more than $327,000 for the win on June 28. There were 284 starters and a $5,000 buy-in.

Shak occasionally plays in mega-price tournaments, such as one in Melbourne, Australia, in January in which 24 players bought in for more than $92,000 each. Shak won that one, beating superstar Phil Ivey heads-up for a $1.2 million payday.

Earlier at the current WSOP, Bill Chen of Lafayette Hill and Al Barbieri, a South Philadelphia native now living in California, also had second-place finishes.

The WSOP Main Event, the famous No-limit Hold 'em World Championship, will begin July 5, continue through July 17 when a final table is set, and reconvene in November for a showdown of the remaining nine players.

Aronimink odds. According to Las Vegas oddsmakers, the AT&T National being held at Aronimink Golf Club through the weekend features Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, and a bunch of guys named 30-1.

OK, that's an exaggeration, but not by much. Before play started Thursday, Woods was the overwhelming 7-2 favorite, followed by Furyk at 12-1 at the Las Vegas Hilton.

The player with the next-lowest odds was West Chester's Sean O'Hair, obviously because of his familiarity with the course, at 20-1. After that, three players were listed at 25-1, including U.S. Open meltdown victim Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, and Rickie Fowler, followed by a group of seven at 30-1. Then came the real long shots.


Contact staff writer Bill Ordine

at 215-854-2939

or wordine@phillynews.com.

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