How to Bet on MLB Baseball
Baseball: America’s greatest pastime. From spring training to the Fall Classic, baseball brings joy to millions of sports fans and gamblers in the United States every year.
Baseball’s got a big schedule, tons of teams and endless options when it comes to stats and historical data. All of that adds up to make Major League Baseball one of the best sports to bet on.
For sports betting enthusiasts, baseball has it all. With each team playing a lengthy 162 games per year, and with managers constantly shuffling through pitching rotations and bullpen changes, the potential for skilled wagering is abundant. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, baseball betting can pay off big.
In this article we thoroughly examine all the angles and help you become a short and long term winner betting MLB.
First we’ll tackle the core elements of how different forms of betting work, what the lines and odds represent, and explain some of the key wagering terminology. From there we’ll dive into some MLB betting tips and strategies that can turn your research into dollars.
Before we begin, let’s take a look at how sports gambling laws are transforming across America and what it means for you.
Is MLB Betting Legal?
The short answer is yes, in some states. After a recent Supreme Court decision, the US is poised to see lots of states legalize sports gambling in the coming months and years.
America’s sports gambling laws are in a state of change. More than a quarter century ago, 1992 to be precise, the U.S. government passed a law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). This broad sweeping federal law prohibited sports gambling across all of America with a few strict exceptions specific to Nevada where single game wagers were allowed in closely monitored, licensed, and sanctioned locations.
In 2018, however, this all changed as the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a PASPA appeal request from the state of New Jersey. The new ruling allows every state to decide their own course of action with regard to laws around sports gambling.
Since this barrier to entry has now been lifted, many states have already started to make moves. As it stands to date, five states are regulated and licensed for legal sports gambling: Delaware, Montana, Nevada, New, Jersey, and West Virginia. It is expected that several others will begin to follow suit.
While we don’t know specific time frames for each state yet, it is certain that more and more Americans will be able to legally bet on sports, and soon.
How Does MLB Betting Work?
Baseball bets come in many forms and punters can place wagers on a wide variety of events. All you need to do is look at ther MLB bets offered by a sportsbook and choose one to wager on.
If you’re wager proves correct, you win. The amount you win is determined by the odds of the contest which are set by oddsmakers working for the sportsbooks.
Oddsmakers determine who is favored in a game and then establish payout odds at an amount which they believe to be an accurate estimation on the bet’s chances of winning
Here’s a brief explanation of the main kinds of MLB bets. We’ll go into each in more detail later in this guide.
- If you want to bet on who you think will win a game, straight-up, it’s called betting on the Moneyline. If your team wins the game, you win your bet and your payout depends on the team’s odds.
- If you want to be more adventurous and pick a winner who also covers a margin of victory, you can bet on the Point Spread. In baseball the point spread is often called the Run Line and it’s always exactly -1.5 runs for the favorite and +1.5 runs for the underdog.
- Finally, you may choose to bet on Totals, also called Over/Under bets. When you’re betting totals you’re trying to predict the total number of runs scored by both teams combined. The sportsbook will set a line and you can bet Over or Under.
At the start of season you can make bets on specific long terms outcomes such as how many games you think a team will win or whether or not a certain team will win their division. The same can be done for individual players.
For example, something like who will be the American League batting champion or who will win the Cy Young Award in the National League. Bets like this that predict outcomes at a far off date are aptly named Futures bets. These types of wagers falls into a broader category referred to as proposition bets, or prop bets for short,which we will touch on in more detail below.
In this article we’ll dig into all the different types of baseball bets and how they are typically offered by sportsbooks.
It is a bit like learning a new language. It can be intimidating at first but don’t worry, we’re going to walk you through it step by step.
How to Sign Up for MLB Betting Online
To bet on the MLB online, the first thing you have to do is sign up for an account.
If sports gambling is legal in your state, use our list of recommended sites to find one that fits your need. Different states will have different rules and in some cases you will need to complete your registration in person at a brick and mortar casino or sportsbook.
When you are selecting the best places to play, be sure to read through and compare all the different deals and services being offered. By taking advantage of signup bonuses and other promotions, you can get lots of value before ever making a bet. For more detail, check out our comprehensive list of the best online sportsbooks available in your area.
After you've completed the registration process, it’s time to make your first deposit. These days certified sportsbooks will accept most payment processor options including credit cards and e-wallets.
How Do MLB Bets Work?
You’re ready to throw some money down on a game but the numbers are confusing. You know who you want to bet on but you aren’t sure what the payout will be because you can’t understand what the odds are.
That’s understandable. Odds don’t make a lot of sense until you understand a few basic rules.
Let’s start by looking at how odds are listed in a standard table format. For lots of bets there will be two rows of data for each team. The columns across the rows are for different types of wagers like moneyline, run line, and Over/Under:
- When looking at the two rows, understand that the top row is the visiting team and the bottom row is the home team. Online sportsbooks will usually highlight the favorite for you with bold text or an asterisk.
- The categories on top are most often listed, from left to right, as follows: Moneyline, Run Line, Over/Under (Total).
- The columns will have numbers inside each cell. Some will have a plus (+) or a minus (-) written with it.
- A minus sign represents odds for a favorite.
- A plus sign represents odds for an underdog.
- In the Over/Under column there will be numbers representing a necessary point total. This is for the game as a whole.
With the basics in place, it’s time to explain how to read the odds in each category.
MLB Betting Rules for Extra Innings
In baseball, all betting action includes anything that occurs in extra innings up until the game is decided with a winner. The only thing your bet will depend on is who wins at the end or how many runs were scored when the ball game is over.
This is different than some other sports like soccer where extra time and shootouts don’t usually count towards most bets.
MLB Moneyline Betting
Picking a team to win straight up, regardless of the final score, is called betting on the moneyline. The important thing to comprehend with moneyline bets is that most games will have a favorite and an underdog. The more a team is favored, the worse the odds and potential payout. Alternatively, the more of an underdog a team is, the greater the odds and the higher the potential payout.
Blue Jays +125
Yankees - 140
The simplest way to think about the odds is to start with the plus (+) sign and the (-) sign.
- The team with a plus (+) is the underdog
- The team with a minus (-) is the favorite
- A (+) before a number means you win that amount of profit on a $100 wager.
- A (-) before a number means you must bet that amount in order to make $100 profit.
In the example above the Yankees are the favorites and the Blue Jays are the underdogs.
- A successful $130 bet on the Yankees would pay $230 ($130 initial + $100 profit).
- A successful $100 bet on the Blue Jays would pay $225 ($100 initial + $125 profit).
In case you’re wondering why we do everything in relation to $100, it’s just to simplify things and keep the math understandable. You are able to bet any amount you please. If you are betting in person in a sportsbook your ticket will show you how much a win will pay.
With online sportsbooks you can see the payout listing on the screen and can adjust it accordingly. In fact, most online betting sites will let you choose between how much you want to bet or, instead, you can enter how much you hope to win (profit) and it will automatically load the wagering requirement for that payout.
MLB Point Spreads (Run Lines)
With point spread bets, you’re still choosing one team over the other but the bet also takes into account a margin of victory that the favorite must win by to “cover the spread”. The underdog, on the other hand, gets a margin they can lose by and still cover the spread.
Covering the spread is another way of saying the team won the game AFTER the spread’s margin of victory has been taken into account.
To understand why sportsbooks use point spreads, it’s helpful to understand how sportsbooks make a profit.
The house, and the bookmakers that they employ, are always looking to create lines that intrigue bettors on both sides of the action. Since they are earning juice (commission) on every bet either way, if they have an equal amount of money on the winning side as they do the losing side, they still earn their commission regardless of who wins.
Since most games are not an even match up of skill, the bookmakers use a margin of victory to make the outcome as close to a 50/50 as possible.
This margin is called the point spread. In baseball the point spread is called the run line, sometimes spelled runline, and it works the same way as the point spread in other sports.
Baseball run lines are always -1.5 for the favorite and +1.5 for the underdog. The favorite will have to win by at least 2 runs to win on a run line bet while an underdog can either win outright or lose by a single run to cover the bet.
In addition to the spread, each team has odds that work the same way we explained in the previous section on moneyline bets. The odds tell you how much your bet will pay out and it also gives you a rough idea of each team’s chances of winning.
Example Run Line:
Atlanta Braves : -1.5 (+110)
Pittsburgh Pirates: +1.5 (-135)
In this example the favorite is Atlanta. We know this because of where the (+) and (-) on the run line numbers are located. The run line is showing the favored Braves -1.5 and the underdog Pirates are +1.5.
- Betting the run line on the favored Braves means you believe they will win by 2 or more runs. If they lose or win by just one run, they do not cover the run line spread.
- Betting the run line on the underdog Pirates means you think they will either win the game outright or lose by a single run.
- The second set of numbers for each team are the odds.
- Betting $100 on Atlanta will pay out $110 in profit.
- To win $100 in profit on Pittsburgh you must bet $135.
One important factor to remember with run line bets in baseball is that if you are taking a home favorite and they have a late one run lead, you might miss out on three (or more) at-bat attempts (with the hope of more runs to cover the run line spread) since there would be no need to play the bottom of the 9th inning if they are winning after the top of the inning.
The reverse is true if you think the underdog will be able to keep the game close and is on the road.
MLB Over/Under Betting (Totals Betting)
One of the most popular betting formats in sports, called over/under or totals bets, are wagers that don’t even concern themselves with who wins. It’s an awesome way to bet because you get to cheer for top-notch pitching and defense (if you choose to bet the “under”) or for lots of hits and tons of scoring (if you take the often-preferred “over” side of the bet).
Point totals bets can be for the game as a whole or specific to one team. Either way, when you see the line you will have two choices: Over or under.
Let’s look at an example:
- Florida Marlins vs Kansas City Royals - Over/Under line set at 9.5 paying -110 either way
- If you think the game will have 10 or more runs you bet the over
- If you think the game will have less than 10 runs then bet under.
- A winning $110 bet will pay $210 back ($110 initial wager + $100 profit).
- Bets can be for any amount, but it is easiest explained in relation to $100 base unit.
You’ll also see the over/under format used a lot in prop bets. That’s when the sportsbook will pose a question and set a line based on what they expect to happen. Your decision is to wager whether the team or individual can exceed or stay below that number.
MLB Prop Betting
Proposition bets, also called prop bets, are wagers that ask very specific questions about a game or about one athlete’s performance in that game. As well, prop bets can ask longer term questions like how a team or player will do by season’s end. These longer term prop bets are also known as futures bets.
- Futures bets will often be posed as over/under lines where they set lines for total games won in a season or a stats total for an individual like number of RBIs or home runs. You will also seen futures bets listed with moneyline odds that tell you how much the bet pays out. An example would be pre-season MVP predictions or which team will win the pennant.
- Single game prop bets focus on outcomes within that game only. Props are available on individual player and team performance
The following is a list of the most common prop bets in baseball:
- Team to score first run.
- Will there be a run in the 1st Inning?
- Over/under on H+R+E - This means the total number of hits (H) plus runs (R) plus errors (E) in a game. Generally this bet includes stats from both teams combined.
- Will the total number of runs in game be even or odd?
- What tea will score the final run of the game?
- Which team will hit the first home run?
- Will there be a home run in the game?
- Which team will win the series and will it happen in three or four games)?
- A list of potential players who might hit a homerun with moneyline odds listed.
Betting on props is becoming more and more popular. It seems if you can dream it up, it can be bet on these days. The challenge for the sportsbooks is that if they aren’t careful, the sometimes post loose lines, because they don’t always have enough time or people to research every single bet.
This can be a huge advantage for savvy punters if you are able to identify these soft lines and odds.
Before you dive head first into MLB prop betting, it is advisable to read through all of them and get a feel for what they are like. Different websites will have different amounts and different subject matters to bet on.
Be sure to check out our in depth list of top sportsbooks with awesome and fun prop betting. One pro tip, be cautious when you see really alluring and long odds. These are sometimes suckers bets used to persuade punters into making silly decisions while trying to swing for the fences. They may hit once in a blue moon but more often, looking long term, they are a losing proposition.
MLB Futures Betting
Like we touched on earlier, futures bets are long term wagers that predict outcomes that won’t happen until far in the future. You can make these bets before the season starts but they’re also available as the season is playing out.
You can often find good value in these bets if you’re patient enough to wait a full season before an eventual potential payout. Because the outcome is a long way off and therefore unpredictable, the odds and payouts can be huge.
MLB futures bets can be specific to players or teams. You’ll see them posted often as moneyline wagers or totals bets.
Futures bets can be posed as Over/Under lines. For example:
- Seattle Mariners regular season wins 85.5: Over +125 | Under -175
- The Over pays out with 86 or more wins. A $100 wager will pay out $225 ($100 initial + $125 profit).
- The Under pays with 85 or fewer wins. A $175 bet will pay $275 ($175 initial + $100 profit).
Futures bets can be posed as yes/no questions with specified odds. For example:
Team to make playoffs
- Boston Red Sox: Yes +1450 | No -9500
- St Louis Cardinals: Yes -150 | No +140
- Chicago Cubs: Yes -4450 | No +265
Futures bets can be posed as straight selection bets. For example:
2018-2019 MLB Regular Season MVP
- Mookie Betts: +220
- Javier Baez: +420
- Blake Snell: +445
The main thing to consider with futures betting is being able to identify value by recognizing where lines are either too juiced or too thin. This tends to happen most when a team or player is coming off a dramatic season where they over or under-achieved relative to their typical performance.
In these cases oddsmakers can make mistakes. No one can predict the future but oddsmakers definitely put a lot of weight on recent performance.
MLB Parlay Betting
If you want to mix things up and hit the proverbial “home-run” wager, consider betting parlays. Just remember that in gambling, your payoff always depends on your risk.
In baseball, parlay bets are two or more bets combined into the same ticket. Essentially you are making one wager that requires multiple outcomes to be correct in order to win. Your costs stay low and your potential payout goes up. The tradeoff is that your risk goes way up too since every individual bet on the ticket must be correct in order to win.
In parlays your odds on each bet are multiplied. In terms of the basic math you need to know, or at least remember, this is what most sites will offer to punters.
Note: For this example we’re assuming that each parlayed wager is an even-money expectation with odds of -110.
- 2 Teams 2/1
- 3 Teams 6/1
- 4 Teams 10/1
- 5 Teams 27/1
- 6 Teams 40/1
- 7 Teams 75/1
- 8 Teams 150/1
- 9 Teams 300/1
- 10 Teams 750/1
- 11 Teams 1,100/1
- 12 Teams 1,800/1
A key factor to keep in mind is that most wagers are able to be parlayed EXCEPT if they contain correlated outcomes. A correlated outcome would be something like betting the run line -1.5 favorite with the over on the totals bet. Most sportsbooks will not allow this since a higher scoring game will affect both bets. Nor will they allow the opposite parlay where you take the +1.5 Run Line underdog with the under on totals.
Hedging Winning Parlays
One great opportunity that comes up when you’ve won a big part of your parlay, but there are still one or more games to go, is called “hedging”.
Hedging is when you bet against your own ticket to lock in a profit regardless of whether you win the remaining bets in your parlay.
An example would be if you did a 3-game parlay and the last game was at a later start time. Let’s say on the first two games you were correct and had two-thirds of a correct ticket going into the night game.
If you wanted to guarantee yourself a profit, you can bet against yourself on the last game on a single-game wager such that no matter who wins you make a profit.
It’s a trade-off because if you win the last game in your parlay, you’ll lose your hedge bet. If you win the hedge bet, you’ll lose the parlay.
You’re essentially sacrificing a bigger potential payout in exchange for a smaller guaranteed profit no matter what the final outcome is.
MLB Round Robin Betting
Keeping with the topic of parlay betting, let’s discuss something called round robin betting. Round robins are similar to parlays but they’re less risky because you don’t have to win every single bet in order to make a profit.
Here’s how MLB round robin betting works. Any time you want to put together a parlay ticket of three or more games you can break down the combination of games into smaller tickets, each with a different combination of which bets have to win.
- Parlays with three teams can be broken down into pairs.
- Parlays with 4 teams can be broken down into pairs as well as multiple 3-game parlays.
- Parlays of 5 teams can be broken down into pairs, groups of 3, or groups of 4.
- The larger the initial parlay, the more combinations you have to form a round robin bet.
Basically, the reason people choose this option is to reduce risk since you can still win if you are wrong about one (or more) game. Unfortunately, that risk reduction comes at a price because you need to pay for all of these new individual parlay tickets.
It’s crucial to conceptualize some key points:
- As mentioned earlier in the MLB Parlay Betting section, so long as wagers are not correlated they can be parlayed. Bets that you can parlay include moneyline odds, run line, Over/Unders, futures bets, and some prop bets.
- If you plan to make a big parlay with a round robin structure, be prepared for a high expense. Remember, you have to pay for each smaller parlay as if it were it’s own ticket.
- The goal is to obviously get every part of the bet correct. If you do that you are in for a big pay day because you will win on every single bet. By having all of these separate smaller bets you can rest a bit easier since missing on just one of the games will still equate to a win on another ticket.
To wrap our heads around what a 3-game parlay as a round robin ticket would look like, let’s see an example.
3-bet round robin ticket: Astros money line, Dodgers run line, Brewers/Orioles Under
If you took these three wagers in a parlay, you’re buying just one ticket and all three bets have to be correct for you to win your parlay.
Round robin betting lets you break down the initial parlay into smaller parts. Those smaller parts become new tickets, separate from the rest. Now, with these smaller two-bet parlays you only need two of out three games to be correct to win some money back.
Here are the possible ticket combinations that you can break your parlay down into. Remember, each new combination is a ticket you must pay for with a separate bet.
Combination 1: Astros money line, Dodgers run line
Combination 2: Astros money line, Brewers/Orioles Under
Combination 3: Dodgers run line, Brewers/Orioles Under
So now you have three smaller two-game parlay tickets and the option to purchase the original 3-game parlay as well if you choose.
If every bet wins you have 4 winning tickets and a big payday. But because you gave yourself some insurance you can still win money if you get one game wrong.
The more bets you combine in a round robin, the more different combinations you can buy.
How Does Live MLB Betting Work?
One of the most action-packed and instantly gratifying ways to scratch your MLB betting itch is to learn how live betting works, also called in-game betting. These days, with lightning fast internet speeds, punters can get their fix faster than the pitcher’s fastball reaches home plate.
MLB live betting is simple, fun, and easy. Once a game is underway, a sportsbook will offer an adjusted line (usually different from before the game) that corresponds to how the game is developing. The oddsmakers are watching the game and making decisions on the fly to set the odds. If you plan to live bet on baseball, you should be doing the same thing.
You will see many different forms of live bets offered and some sites offer more options than others. Common examples include:
- First team to score a run.
- First team to a specific number of runs.
- Will there be a hit on the next at bat?
- Specific outcome of next at at (moneyline odds for multiple choices).
- Total number of hits at the end of the game (Over/Under).
- Win margin for the team in the lead.
- Pitches in the next half inning (Over/Under).
- Strikeouts in next half inning (Over/Under).
Due to the fact that oddsmakers have less time to set accurate lines (compared to before a game) they are more prone to error or misjudgement. This means you may find good spots to place value bets. They are more rushed, and are basing their estimations with more haste and emotion than normal.
Try to think like they would and see if you can identify spots where you disagree with their new line and make a wager that can win you cash.
Live Betting Stips and Strategies
Here are some tips to think of when making bets on baseball live:
- Always compare the current line with the original line. This means you need to go in prepared. Either write down all the original numbers or take a screenshot. This information can help you immensely but if you don’t jot it down it can be very hard to find after a game has started.
- Try to think like an oddsmaker and watch the game develop. If you have a different view how the game’s playing out, you can sometimes beat them to the punch and get good value.
- Compare how much the line has moved in relation to how much time is left in the game.
- Make note of any key injuries.
- Did either team have a surprising start? If it’s early this may persuade your judgement disproportionately. Be careful.
- Pitch count is crucial. Even if a pitcher is playing well, if he’s had to deal with long at bats and many pitches per inning, he may either tire soon or get pulled from the game by the manager. This is vital information to consider. How much do you know about each team’s bullpen and managerial tendencies? The more you know, the better.
- The weather, the stadium, or both can hugely impact a game. The same goes for lighting. If it is an outdoor afternoon game and shadows are drifting through the stadium, this can impact hitting and defense.
How to Read MLB Baseball Betting Lines
We’ve covered the main kinds of bets you can make on Major League Baseball and now we want to make sure you understand how to read them when they’re posted by a casino or sportsbook.
Usually the main betting lines will show the three main types of MLB bets: moneyline, run line, and over/under point totals bets.
Here’s how it looks:
- New York Mets: Money line (+300) | Run line +1.5 (-110) | Over 8.5 (-110)
- Philadelphia Phillies: Money line (-460) | Run line -1.5 (-110) | Under 8.5 (-110)
To make sure sure it’s all crustal clear, here’s a rundown of how each bet works in this specific example:
To bet the baseball money line, just pick a winner. It doesn’t matter who is favored or how much they win by. A winning $100 bet on the (+300) underdog Mets would earn you a $300 profit. Betting $460 on the (-460) Phillies to win would earn you $100 in profit.
Run Line Bets
These wagers require the team you back to either win by 2 or more runs if they are favored or lose by less than 2 (or win outright) if they are the underdog.
You will know a team is the underdog because a line of +1.5 will be posted beside their name. The favorite will have -1.5 posted by their name.
A $110 bet on the favorite would win $100 profit if they win by at least 2 runs. A $110 bet on the underdog would win $100 profit if they lost by just 1 or won the game.
Over/Under (Point Total)
Simply count runs in the game. A basic Over/Under bet will combine the runs of each team and you have to decide if there will be more or less than the line set by the sportsbook. There are also totals bets where you can wager on how many runs one specific team will score.
A $110 bet on the Over would make $100 profit if the total runs scored is more than 8.
A $110 bet on the Under would win $100 profit if the combined score was less than 9.
You can also combine single bets into what are called parlay bets (detailed above). Bets placed after a game has started is called Live Betting or In-game Betting (detailed above).
As well you will find early pre-season prop bets for how a team or player will do over the course of a full season. These longer longer term wagers, called futures bets, can be limited to the 162-game schedule or they can include playoffs.
Successful MLB Betting Strategies
Value, value, value. Winning strategy in baseball betting is all about finding value. You don’t necessarily have to win more bets than you lose. What is more important is finding value where you are getting back a higher return compared to the amount you are risking. This is called ROI (return on investment) or EV (expected value).
In order to consistently find a positive ROI you need to be able to determine your own odds for each game compared to what the betting lines suggest.
For example, if you believe two teams are evenly matched yet one team is +110 and the other is laying -110, you will be getting better value with the +110 team. The important part is to trust your own evaluation. This example only truly merits extra value if you sincerely believe it is a 50/50 outcome.
To win in the short and long term requires a well thought out plan and solid strategy. Since there are many forms that MLB bets can be placed, you should find your sweet spot and stick to it. Some people are comfortable betting only on moneyline wagers while other people have a better read on totals bets, for example.
Here are some helpful tips to help you find your baseball betting strike zone and also what to be wary of when you do make your picks:
- Do you like long odds and betting on underdogs? What about safe bets and relying on the favorite to come through? If either one these appeals to you then it probably suggests you are built for the moneyline wager.
- Do you know much about the team’s managers? If you don’t you should start to study. Baseball is a game comprised of thousands of micro decisions, each one chosen by the manager. If you are familiar with how managers run their teams it can give invaluable insight about how things may pan out over the course of a game and throughout a season. This holds especially true for how he likes to use his bullpen and pitching which factors hugely into baseball wagers.
- Be careful when it comes to betting emotionally. In fact, if you find yourself betting with your heart instead of your head, you should probably stop. Gambling, or at least successful gambling, is more about science and math than it is about passion and belief. Always trust your brain over the heart when it comes to betting.
- Again with coaches; monitor which coaches go to their bench sooner and how that team’s bench tends to play compared to the starters.
- Pay attention to location, stadium, weather, and how teams perform at home compared to away.
Another angle to find value can come from the inherent unknowns and uncertainty of baseballs extra long 162 game schedule. With so many things that can transpire over a full season you may find that the futures bets section has a lot of lines you wouldn’t expect and you feel are off.
Futures are unpredictable at the best of times, even for oddsmakers. As a savvy punter, try to use this as an opportunity to either outsmart them or get lucky.
Numbers and Stats for Betting MLB
Bottom line, no matter what types of betting you choose, you need to dig around and found quality information and analyze statistics, especially in baseball where everything comes down to numbers.
Let’s look at some recent data that you can benefit from.
- A comparison of the straight up winners over the last 5 seasons shows that favorites have come out on top 57.5% of the time.
While that might make it seem like you would come out a winner by constantly betting moneyline favorites to win, the opposite, in fact, is true. Since the odds differ in every game on the moneyline, the losses from the 42.5% of the time that underdogs win would nullify gains and put you in the negative.
This doesn’t mean betting the underdog everytime makes money either. It also is a losing proposition in the long term.
The point is that you need to extract value from specific games in order to be profitable.
- Betting on the road underdog with a 10-point or less point spread in games where the home favorite is coming off a win of 15 points or more. 57.5% win rate over 7+ seasons of data.
- Much like futures bets, where oddsmakers struggle to project how a new team will do compared to previous seasons, we also see oddsmakers struggle in early season line making.
Over the last ten years underdogs in April have a 44.43% win rate. Even though that’s less than half the time, since the average odds given to underdogs was +131.3 in those games it actually adds up to great value.
The 1% ROI (return on investment) over that ten year period would give more than $3000 in profit with an average $100 bet per game.
- In conjunction with the above statistics, look for a road underdog in April who is coming off two straight losses to start a series.
As well, if in the first couple months of the season you spot an underdog with a losing record who is playing against a team with a winning record, if the odds are within a +100 to +150 range, this is a good spot to bet.
In the past decade the straight up record of underdogs in these spots is 448-483 (48.1%) and they were laid average odds of +123.2. That would have paid off at a tidy 7.2% ROI.
- Teams returning home from long road trips tend to have success and this increases the longer they are away. This works well with home underdogs. Look for middle-tier teams that have played 8-10 straight games on the road.
- Also look for the rare situation where an underdog is playing at home and coming off of a high scoring previous game where they put up 10 or more runs. This situation has paid off at 3.3% return on investment over the last ten season of play.
Why Are Key Numbers So Important in MLB Betting?
Key numbers in baseball refer to the most common scoring outcomes in games and they’re used mostly in regards to over/under point totals bets.
In some sports, like football where the scoring is higher and staggered from different types of scoring (ie safetys, field goals, touchdowns, etc), key numbers also help with point spread data but that’s not really the case in baseball.
In baseball key numbers are more important for analyzing point totals. The table below shows scoring data from the past 14 seasons of play and lists the most common run totals in descending order.
% of Total
As we can see, the most common point totals per game 7, 9, 5, and, 8 and so on down the list. This is why the majority of baseball over/under lines are set at flat 7 and 9 runs. Also of note, since baseball games cannot end in a tie, more of the top results were odd numbers.
Knowing these numbers can help punters make smart over/under predictions.
MLB Betting Markets
The MLB has the basic betting markets that the other main sports have and it also has some that are unique to baseball.
The main three MLB betting markets: moneyline, handicap, and totals. Handicap markets, which in the other leagues are called point spread markets, are called the run line in baseball. The run line will always be a spread of 1.5 runs. The totals market is often alternatively called over/under.
The simplest form of betting. You place a wager on who you think will win. If you are correct you win. The only thing to remember is that the odds will pay out differently depending on which team is favored to win and by how much they are expected to dominate.
In baseball this is a margin of 1.5 runs (called a run line) used in an effort to make the outcome have equal amounts of betting interest such that the outcome likelihood is close to 50/50.
The favored team will need to win by 2 or more. The underdog has to win the game or lose by less than two runs.
This bet focuses on the total amount of runs in a game. The basic format combines both team’s scores. There are also more specific totals bets that only account for one team’s run total.
Baseball also has some unique bets that other sports don’t.
- For example, you can bet on the score of a game after the 5th inning. Anything that happens after is not included in the bet. Some punters like this bet because you have less bullpen pitching to consider and it’s more about one starting pitcher against the other.
- A few sportsbooks are now offering this bet for the first three innings of play as well.
- Baseball also offers double result bets on some sites. These bets are ones where you need to get two components of a wager correct in order to win, similar to a parlay. An example would be betting which team you think will be in the lead after five innings and also betting on who will win at the end of the game.
- Furthermore, some sites offer specific margin of victory bets where you have to say by exactly how many runs a team will win by.
- Single inning bets have become popular as well. They pose questions regarding specific events within a given inning. These can be prop bets or run totals.
MLB Playoff Betting Bracket
The drama and excitement of the Fall Classic has enthralled American audiences for more than a century. What better way to get into the action than participate in a playoff bracket!
The way they work is simple. A (usually) large group of people all enter into a pool where money is collected and selections are made. Each participant makes a prediction about how the playoffs will pan out and whoever has the most accurate prognostication gets to take home top prize.
Depending on how many people entered, there are often prizes paid out to the top finishers as well as the outright winner.
The selection part is where the skill (and luck) plays in. First you pick a winner from both league’s wild card play-in game. The winners will move on to play in a divisional playoff series.
Once you have selected the wild card game winners you now have all of the first-round playoff series match-ups.
Your job is to pick a winner from each divisional championship series as well as how many games you think it will take. The American League Divisional Series (ALDS) and the National League Division Series (NLDS) are both best of five games so you pick a winner in either three, four, or five games.
The winners in the American League go on to play in a best-of-seven series. The same thing occurs in the National League. Select a winner and how many games for each. Both winners meet in a best-of-seven World Series to decide a champion.
Tips and Strategies for MLB Playoff Bracket Betting
- Avoid taking the favorite in every single round. It will separate your selections from others and make it less likely to split a pot in the end if you win.
- Research the results between all the potential teams and see how they performed against each other in the regular season. Compare the pitching in those games and ask yourself if you think it will be the same in the playoffs.
- Respect home field advantage. The higher seed is going to get first crack at home which counts for a lot in a five or seven-game series.
MLB Draft Betting
The MLB draft is the great grand-daddy of all major league sports drafts. It’s the oldest, wisest, and definitely the slowest.
While it may be a bit long in the tooth, lacking the swagger of the other drafts like NFL, NBA, and NHL, there are still a lot of juicy prop bets to be made on baseball’s entry draft day.
Leading up to draft day, you will find odds and lines on many of the day’s events with most of the attention being placed on the first overall pick.
Here is a list of the most common forms of bets you’ll find leading up to this event.
First Overall Pick
You will see moneyline odds for the most likely first overall selection. If there is no clear-cut consensus #1 pick there will be a list of a select few and you will see how likely they are to be chosen through the odds that the bookmakers set.
There will be wagers comparing two players of similar value and expected to go around the same range in the draft. The sportsbook will ask which player you expect to be drafted before the other.
Over/Under Specific Position
Similar to Higher-Than bets, this type of bet will ask you if you think one specific player will be drafted before or after a certain draft position. If you think he will be chosen sooner than a specific spot you must bet the Under. If you think he will go later, you bet the Over.
Sometimes wagers will be posed pertaining to the number of players who will be selected from a specific school or conference such as “How many players in the first round will be taken from North Carolina?” or “How many Big10 athletes will be drafted in the first round?”
If you are new to draft betting, don’t worry, the sportsbooks will make the choices easy to understand. Your goal is to make informed decisions and find the best value.
Try to get inside the head of each team’s general manager or pretend you are part of the executive staff discussing team needs in the boardroom. Some teams will draft based on team need while others might prefer to take the best player available straight up. With so many rounds (currently 40 rounds of drafting) and so many players, teams have the opportunity to find diamonds in the rough in the later rounds.
Consider each team’s needs. Do they need to improve their bullpen? How is there starting pitching? How are the team’s relief pitchers? How about team defense? Are they weak or strong at every position?
Most of the time, especially with the draft being so deep, young baseball players will remain in the minors for several years before they get called up so your research should consider each team’s long-term plans as well as their short-term needs.
MLB Betting in Vegas
There is a certain excitement that you can only find in a Las Vegas sportsbook. No matter what time of year, there is always a palpable energy and atmosphere in the room when you step inside and check out all the screens and see all the games and betting lines. It’s a really cool experience, especially if you’re a fan of sportsbetting.
Las Vegas has tons of sportsbooks to choose from and if you’ve never been before, you may find it overwhelming at first. Don’t worry. In this section we’ll teach you how to read an odds sheet which is the same as all the numbers you see posted on the big screens at the bigger books.
Here are some key features to remember:
- On the board or on the paper odds sheet, identify the MLB section and familiarize yourself with the list of games posted. It will show all of that day’s games and in each game the home team will be written on the bottom.
- There will be a number written next to each team which you can use at the desk when placing your wager. Alternatively you can simply tell both teams’ names to the cashier.
- Above each pair of teams you will see moneyline, run line, and point totals odds. As explained above, the odds payouts are posted based on $100 measures but you can wager any amount you want.
- After you place your bet you’ll receive a slip that will show you your precise payout and other bet information.
If you get confused or forget what something means, don’t sweat it. The cashiers are professionals and are there to help you. Remember, you can bet any amount you want and your ticket will show you right away what your potential payout is.
It’s also important to remember that even if the odds change after you place your bet, the numbers on your slip are what will count if you win.
MLB Betting Resources
Baseball is a game of numbers and statistics. Every single pitch and swing in a game is contributing to and impacted upon by historical data. To be a winning player, manager, and tea requires doing your homework. The exact same thing is true for sports bettors.
You need to know what you’re looking for and how to find it. It used to be you’d have to head to a library or purchase a sports almanac. Now you can access a seemingly infinite well of data with the click of a button.
You can find podcasters, bloggers, vloggers, professional analysts and dedicated statistics and pick websites offering free or paid services. Twitter and YouTube have tons of sports bettors who post daily on trends and stats that pertain to upcoming betting lines. Find who you like and trust and revisit them.
We have a couple favorites and one of them is focused on fantasy sports. Whether that interests you or not, they research they do is invaluable for any type of wagering.
- www.fantasylabs.com has insights that provides a fantasy sports perspective but is great for classic gambling research as well.
- www.donbest.com offers more specific gambling based data aimed at the betting world, They are an elite destination for line pricing, odds setting, a data breakdowns on all US sports.
Start Betting MLB Baseball Online Now
If you live in a state where sports betting is already legal, you can put these skills to work right now making bets on pro baseball.
Use out list of recommended sites to find a great place to bet online and continue your studies with the comprehensive free betting resources available on WSN.com.
If regulated sports gambling isn’t available where you live, chances are that will change soon. With the 2018 Supreme Court decision opening the door for legalized sports betting in all states, many regions are already seeing more options start to present themselves.
In the meantime, keep studying and check our state by state legal sports betting guides for the latest developments in your area.