After the Supreme Court’s landmark 2018 ruling, more states than ever have chosen to legalize sports betting. So if you’re a keen baseball fan and would like to make some money from your passion, why not learn the ins and outs of MLB betting? Just as there are plenty of ways to score a run, you have a range of options when wagering on baseball. MLB betting lines may seem confusing at first, but they can be broken down into simple categories, helping you find the style of betting you’re most comfortable with.
As with any sports betting, you simply need to wager on the team you think will win. In most cases, the favorite must always win by a certain number of points (the point spread). But as you’ll see, there is more than one way to bet on an MLB game.
The most basic form of MLB sports betting is the moneyline, where you simply pick one team to win. The moneyline shows how much you would need to wager on the favorites to win $100, and how much you’d win from a $100 wager on the underdogs.
What does the moneyline look like?
If the Red Sox are hosting the Yankees, and are favorites to win, you will see a betting sheet with the teams under the “moneyline” heading, like this:
NEW YORK +200
The favorite is always listed with the minus sign (-) and the underdog with the plus sign (+). This is because the payout for the favorite will always be less than the amount wagered, while a successful bet on the underdog will be worth more. So, if you put $100 on the Yankees and they won, you would get $200. But to win $100 on the favored Red Sox, you would need to bet $170. All in all, the less likely it seems for the underdog to win, the greater their moneyline. Conversely, betting on heavily-favored teams means much smaller payoffs.
How do I know which team to bet on?
As with any wager in any sport, research is key. For instance, finding out the pitching matchup can be incredibly useful. Even the worst teams usually have one starter who is considered an ace, able to shut down a top team’s offense at any time. Knowing how certain offenses generally fare against lefties or righties can also help you judge which team to wager on. Overall, understanding the likely game flow can go a long way toward identifying a potential winner, especially a heavy underdog that might have a decent chance based on the underlying numbers.
The run line
On baseball betting sheets, there is a second set of MLB odds that look like a moneyline, but also includes what appears to be a point spread. Only this point spread is the same for every game, with one team listed as a 1.5 point favorite. This type of bet is called the baseball run line, and provides greater payoffs on certain underdogs compared to the moneyline odds.
How does the run line work?
The run line favorite must win the game and beat the 1.5 point spread — in other words, win by two runs or more. Compare this to the moneyline: when the bet is a simple win-lose proposition, the favorites may be -340. But on the runline, where they are now required to win by at least two runs, their line could fall to -190, increasing the payout for a winning bet. And if you bet on the underdogs, they just need to stay within one run, so a +280 moneyline might drop to +160.
Is the run line a risky MLB bet?
You would be surprised how often a favored team wins by just one run rather than two, making the run line pretty risky. It is especially tricky when the home team is the favorite. If they are winning by one run after eight innings and send their opponent down 1-2-3 in the ninth, they will only have eight innings to score runs compared to the visitor’s nine. Those extra three at-bats can be critical.
The game total
The game total MLB betting line is baseball’s version of the over/under. Here, you have to wager on the number of runs scored by both teams. Each side of the game total bet will have its own moneyline. For the majority of games, the game total is usually set in the neighborhood of eight runs.
How can I maximise my chances of winning?
Knowledge of the starting pitchers, the quality of bullpens and even the weather is critical to making informed wagers on game totals. For example, whether the wind will blow in or out during the game can have a big impact on the run total.
First five MLB betting
Baseball fans know just how painful it can be when the starter comes out of the game — there’s nothing worse than a bad bullpen, and they can wreak absolute havoc on your well-researched bet. For the bullpen-averse, there is a wager for you: the first five bet. This plays exactly like a regular moneyline bet, with a favorite and an underdog. The difference is that you’re only betting on who will be ahead after the first five innings of the game. In the event of a tie, your wager is simply returned.
How can I maximise my chances of winning?
You need to know your starting pitchers to make first five bets. If Chris Sale is going up against a Triple-A spot starter, you can assume the Red Sox will be heavy favorites in that matchup. But maybe an “ace” starter has a history of giving up runs in the first inning before settling into his groove. That might increase the chances of the underdog team grabbing an early lead and holding it through five innings.
What are prop bets?
If you don’t want to wager on the overall outcome of a baseball game, proposition bets offer odds on other aspects. In fact, the score rarely has any effect on a prop bet. These wagers simply add a little spice to the game, especially in the postseason or the All-Star Game. They are also popular in the Sunday night game, which is the only fixture in that time frame.
What can you bet on?
Examples of on-field prop bets include who will hit the first home run, how many homers a particular player will hit, and what the over/under on a pitcher’s strikeouts will be. There are all manner of weird and wonderful prop bets off the field for MLB fans too. Past examples include wagering on how many times Donald Trump will tweet about a game, whether a player will propose to their girlfriend afterwards, and whether an animal will appear on the field.
What are parlay bets?
For those who want big odds that lead to big payoffs, then picks and parlay bets are made for you. In this type of wager, you simultaneously bet on multiple outcomes, but have to get them all correct in order to win.
How much can parlay bets pay?
A typical three-bet parlay pays 6-to-1, four bets 13-1, and so on. You can see just how quickly the odds and potential winnings can rise. In baseball, you can also combine moneylines with game totals and run lines on a parlay. This can be on the same game, or you can bind the results of multiple fixtures together.
What are live odds bets?
Also known as in-game betting, this involves wagering on a game in real time. For example, you can bet on an outcome of a game that is already in its sixth inning.
What do live odds bets involve?
Say the Brewers are up by four after six innings and the lights-out bullpen is getting ready to finish off the final nine outs. In live MLB betting, you can wager on the Brewers to win. The only difference is that the moneyline on the winning team will be much more difficult to profit from. However, if you think a big comeback is on the horizon, you could get huge MLB odds after six innings. There are also props in live odds betting, like a reliever’s strikeouts.
No action and action bets
There are few things worse in life than making plans, only for them to be cancelled at the last minute. When that happens in baseball, your bets are at risk of being lost. And unlike most other professional sports, MLB games are always at risk of being called off due to rain. Fortunately, there are MLB betting options that prepare for potential changes to the game.
What are no action bets?
These MLB bets are cancelled by a sportsbook if they become obsolete. So, say the baseball game you’ve bet on is called off, your original wager will be returned to you. In this scenario, you do not need to select a no action option yourself, and your money will automatically be returned to you.
Another example of a no action bet is the “listed pitches” option, where you‘re saying that your wager is contingent on the announced starting pitchers actually playing. For example, if Blake Snell feels a twinge in his shoulder while warming up and is pulled from his start, your wager will be listed as “no action” and you’ll be refunded.
What are action bets?
Alternatively, these wagers are actionized no matter what happens to an individual player. Action bets tend to be on a team and not the pitchers, however, therefore waiving the necessity for the announced starters to actually play. So, if you were counting on Snell and his shoulder to help you win your bet, you’ll just have to suck it up.
However, do be sure to check your sportsbook’s terms and conditions. Some will still grade bets on pitchers as action, provided they are on the active roster — even if they do get injured beforehand and can’t actually play.
If you’re eager to lay an MLB wager, you can bet online with Sports Intel today.