With 30 teams and 162 games per season, MLB baseball offers handicappers a ton of games to bet on. A stats driven sport, baseball can be dissected in an almost unlimited number of ways. This is the main benefit that professional handicappers have for betting on baseball, because linesmakers set the odds primarily based on pitching. With so many games every day, most betting sites don’t have the resources it takes to research all of the details.
For those committed to it, handicappers can find value in baseball every day of the season.
How To Bet On Baseball Online
The most popular way to bet on individual baseball games is on the money line. Money line bets are straight-up bets where all you have to do is pick the winner. Run line, over/under, first inning, and first 5 inning bets can also be made.
Most betting sites offer a large volume of prop bets and futures bets as well. With all this said, possibly the most fun bets for casual handicappers is live betting. In live betting, bets can be placed during the game, on almost every at-bat. At sites that offer mobile betting, you can even place live bets while you sit in the stands.
Money Line Baseball Betting
Money line bets are straight-up bets on who will win the game. The favored team is represented with a negative (-) money line, followed by a number. The underdog is represented by a positive (+) money line, also followed by a number. The numbers following the – or + are based around the $100 figure, but they mean different things.
The number after the ‘-‘ represents the amount of money that would need to be wagered in order to win $100 in profit. So, a -150 money line means that a bet of $150 would be required for a $100 win ($250 total return). For a positive money line, the number following the ‘+’ represents the amount of money that would be won from a $100 wager. So, a +130 means that a wager of $100 would result in a $130 profit ($230 total return).
When betting on the money line, always compare odds at different betting sites. It’s common to find variation of 5-10% on baseball money lines, and that difference turns into a huge number over the course of a season. This alone can be the difference of being a winning or losing handicapper.
Run Line Baseball Bets
Run line bets are similar to puck line bets in hockey. Instead of betting the teams straight-up, the underdog is given 1.5 runs, or the favorite has to give up 1.5 runs. When the underdog is given 1.5 runs, they usually become the favorite on a run line bet. Here’s how it works.
- New York Yankees -150 money line, or -1.5 (+230) on the run line.
- Boston Red Sox +130 money line, or +1.5 (-250) on the run line.
In the scenario above, the Yankees are favored on the money line, but when they have to give up 1.5 runs on a run line bet, they become the underdog.
For bets picking the Yankees, the Yankees would need to win by 2 or more runs. If the actual score of the game was 5-4 Yankees, then the score becomes Yankees 3.5, Red Sox 4, for a Red Sox win. If the actual score is 6-4, then the run line becomes Yankees 4.5, Red Sox 4, for a winning run line bet on the Yankees.
For the Red Sox, they can lose by one run and still win the run line because they’re given 1.5 runs. A 5-4 Yankees win becomes Yankees 5, Red Sox 5.5.
Total (Over/Under) Bets
Total bets are simple wagers based on the combined score of both teams. If the final score is 3-2, the total is 5. If the score is 5-3, the total is 8. In totals betting, online betting sites set a number they think will be the combined score, and your job is to decide if that number is too high or too low. If you think it’s too high, you would bet the under. If you think it’s too low, you’d bet the over.
Most over/under bets you’ll see on baseball will have a vig of 10% (-110 on each side), although they’re often split as -105 and -115 as well.
Baseball Prop Betting
Prop bets are wagers that don’t fit into any of the standard betting categories. While some of them are fairly normal, others can be quite bizarre. For casual bettors, a lot of fun prop bets can be found. Many betting sites also offer live betting, where dozens or even hundreds of props can be placed during a single game.
Since a lot of betting sites charge a high vig (juice) on prop bets, serious baseball handicappers need to shop for the best price. Register and fund accounts at several of the top sports betting sites, and always compare odds & vig.
Some typical baseball prop bets include:
- Will player X hit a home run tonight?
- Over/under on how many strikeouts a pitcher will record.
- Over/under on how many runs a single team will score.
- Over/under on how many pitches a pitcher will throw.
MLB Baseball Futures Bets
A futures bet is a bet placed well in advance of the outcome. In baseball, it means bets on divisional, NL & AL, and World Series Champions.
Since you’re reading this page, you’re probably a baseball fan. If so, then you know that feeling we all get during spring training and we all think our teams are going to the World Series. Well, if you honestly believe that, you can bet on it.
The benefit of a futures bet is the great odds you can get. Before the season starts, favorites are usually in the +600 to +800 range, while other contenders are in the +1000 to +1500 range. The downside to a futures bet is that it even if you win, it takes all season long until you get paid. So, don’t place futures bets if you have a small bankroll to work with.
MLB Baseball Parlay Betting
A parlay bet is a where 2+ teams are picked to win their games, and placed onto a single ticket. Every team on a parlay ticket must win, or the entire bet is lost. The benefit to a parlay bet is the increased odds. While parlay bets can offer huge odds for winning tickets, they can also be sucker bets – for a couple of reasons.
First, large parlays (tickets with a lot of teams on them), are very difficult to win. Baseball games are very unpredictable, so it’s tough to win parlays with more than 4 or 5 teams on them. If you’re betting large parlays, you could place a lot of these bets before winning one.
Second, as more teams are added to a parlay card, the odds get relatively worse. Handicappers get closer to true odds when they stick to small, 2-4 team parlays than they do on larger ones. While it’s exciting to go after 1000/1 parlay odds, you might never win one in your lifetime. You might as well go buy a lottery ticket.
We recommend keeping your parlays down to 2-3 teams. If you have more teams you’d like to parlay, put them onto a separate ticket and give yourself multiple chances to win. Your wins will be smaller, but they’ll come more often, keeping your bankroll replenished and spirits up.
Parlay bets can be combined with other sports as well. So, if you have an NBA game you like, and a baseball game you like, they can be added to the same ticket.
First Inning Bets
First inning bets are great for action junkies who want results now. Betting sites use .5 as the over/under, and your job is to figure out if any runs will be scored in the first inning. If you pick the over, you need one or more runs to be scored in the first inning. If you pick the under, you’ll win if no runs are scored.
The strength of the starting pitchers dictates the odds you’ll pay. Most over bets will be set at -120, and most unders will be set at -110, with variation depending on the pitchers.
First Five Inning Bets
Similar to betting the first half of a basketball or football game, first five inning bets allow you handicappers the ability to bet on a game as if the end of the fifth inning is the end of the game. There are some benefits to these bets, including added predictability. Most starting pitchers will go at least 5 innings unless they’ve been hurt. This is another benefit for bettors, not having to research bullpen staffs.
Theoretically, a longer game should benefit the favorite. Underdogs can win a short series, but to win in the long run is more difficult. Teams need to be deeper, with better bullpens and backup players. Since lines don’t vary much between first five inning bets and full game bets, this theoretically gives a slight advantage to those betting on the underdog.
One of my favorite bets to make is on the underdog road team when two teams are closely matched up. The road team will often be the underdog, but the home advantage means less in baseball than in other sports – especially in 5 inning games when you’re taking the dog and getting better odds.
MLB Playoff And World Series Betting
Every online betting site offers MLB playoff and World Series bets, and most expand their betting options. Beyond the standard betting choices, most betting sites add a number of fun & interesting prop bets. Also, those that don’t offer them during the regular season, now offer first inning and first five inning bets.
In any short baseball series, a fluke here or there can be the difference. You cannot assume that the favored team will win a short series, and this makes playoff betting a challenge. Also, teams with great hitting can go through slumps, completely changing the expected outcome.
A big key to betting on short series’ like you’ll find in the playoffs, is pitching. Teams with deep starting rotations will generally fair better than those who don’t. During the regular season, most teams carry a staff of 5 starting pitchers. Because of the days off during the playoffs, teams can do well with 4 strong starters. However, if a team only has 3 starters they trust, the ace will often pitch an extra game with fewer days off. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Bullpens are critical as well. When a manager has a deep bullpen that he trusts, he has more ability to stop a rally before it gets out of hand. Also, he can blowout a guy tonight, knowing he has other good relievers that can play tomorrow.
Baseball Online Betting Tips
Before anything else, compare odds at several sports betting sites and look for something out of whack. If you notice one site is offering something considerably different from the other sites, you’re generally looking at value. For example, if six of the top sports betting sites have the Yankees around -230, and one has them at -180, this could be a great line to take.
Stats, stats, stats. With so much information available to you, use it to get an advantage. Most linesmakers consider pitching more than anything else, which is understandable of course.
However, pitching doesn’t always decide a game. How do these teams do in day games, night games, on the road or at home? How do the teams hit against lefties or righties? If one team steals a lot of bases, see how the opposing catcher is at throwing out runners. Get into the details and make a checklist of points for & against each team. With a broader picture of the game, you’ll place smarter, more profitable bets.
Give pitchers less credit at the beginning of a season. Most pitchers take several starts before they get into the groove. Also, they typically throw fewer pitches early in the season, meaning that their team will get to the bullpen quicker. If you’re betting based on a top pitcher, figure he’ll face fewer batters, and who is going to relieve him.
Mock-bet your teams early in the season, rather than actually placing bets on them. Early in the season, different lineups, relievers, and rookies are being tested. As the season progresses, more of these elements can be counted on, helping you record more wins.
When you bet on favorites, you need a higher percentage of wins to break even. In baseball, the worst teams will win 40-44% of their games. The best teams will win 56-60% of their games. Since you’re paying less to win more, your underdogs don’t have to win as often in order to break even or be a winner. Since the betting sites base their odds on starting pitchers, do more research than they’re doing and dig out the underdogs that have a good shot at winning.
Consciously look for good underdog bets.
Always check for injured players and players getting a day off for rest. If Albert Pujols isn’t going to be in the lineup tonight, don’t you want to know that before you place your bet on his team? Players who are getting a day of rest will often be mentioned on team websites.