Understanding Major League Baseball Odds

In any Major League Baseball game (MLB), one team will emerge victorious.  Gamblers can take a straight bet and choose the winner, but there’s much more to the action than who will win or lose.  The margin of victory and odds-line opportunities are possible add-ons that can often be much more lucrative.  To better understand how to approach MLB gambling, it’s necessary to take a closer look at everything that’s available. 

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Over the course of the past 15 years, the home team has won 54% of the games it played during the regular season, typical of any sports activity.  This tidbit of data is used when calculating betting odds, and oddsmakers will always try to split the action evenly between both sides of a game to minimize their risk. 

Wagering on baseball is different than it is with other sports.  There is no traditional point spread established for a game like there is in football. Instead, sportsbooks will target run totals, the money line, over/under bets, the run line and prop, or proposition, bets.

The Runline

A runline bet is a spread of 1.5 runs.  It’s unique to baseball and can be very profitable for those gamblers who have taken the time to analyze stats, pitching performances, trends and other factors that could influence the game’s outcome.  A particular team might be a favorite on the money line, but it will see its odds reduced when tied to the runline.  On the opposite end, teams that go into a contest as the underdog according to the money line will see greater runline odds that could make them appear to be the favorites to win.

The Money Line

Money Line and totals wagers are still the preferred options for MLB bets by a large percentage of sports gamblers.  Runline wagers give an added layer of difficulty to the gambling experience and can make wagering more interesting.  As the season progresses, runline wagers can become even more popular, thanks to the increase of stats and betting trends that are being compiled throughout the season. 

When you place a bet on the money line, you are selecting the winner of the game.  A money line wager doesn’t care how many runs are earned or how many a team wins by – the only goal is to see the team win.  However, it can get a little complicated.  Sportsbooks are adept at gauging the proper odds to place and won’t set the same odds for a team that leads the division in a contest as it will a team who is at the bottom of the list.  Sportsbooks also give themselves a little bit of an advantage, incorporating what’s referred to as the “vig” when calculated win percentages.  They will also incorporate the home field advantage into the wagers when they list the lines.

Over/Under (or Totals) Bets

Baseball over/under gambling, to a novice gambler, could seem overly complicated.  However, once the system is understood, it’s easy to track and use.  Over/unders are calculated on the number of runs scored by both teams in a contest.  Since baseball games almost always see lower scores than football or basketball, for example, each run becomes more important to the gambling community.  To compensate, sportsbooks will adjust the odds in order to even out the action.  In any given game, a total score of ten runs might be too high, while a total of 4.5 runs might be too low.  The real money line on ten runs would be -110 each way, but this money line will be adjusted to under -120.  This means that a gambler would have to wager $120, instead of $110, to pick up $100 in winnings.  Taking it further, if the total number of runs exceeds ten, a gambler can pick up even more winnings with a money line of +100. 

Over/under betting is popular, especially in online gambling.  It’s a great way for a gambler to pick up some extra money, provided he or she pays attention to season trends and follows teams closely.  It’s also beneficial to wait until July to start placing over/under bets, since weather often affects games through June.

While there are numerous systems that handicappers will employ to determine whether or not the over or under is a strong play, experts will always pay close attention to the key numbers as they make their picks.  These key numbers for over/under bets are 7, 9, and 11, and they have been chosen for good reason.  Statistically, anywhere from 25%-30% of all MLB games see a final score of 7, 9, or 11 because 3-3, 4-4 and 5-5 ties require just one more run to find a winner. 

This stat has been engrained into oddsmakers’ minds, which is why many games will be listed with a total of one of these numbers.   This is also why gamblers may find different odds despite the total being the same, because oddsmakers don’t want to move off the lines.  Instead, they will increase the juice based on where they expect the action to be. 

MLB Betting Rules

There are a lot of rules that sportsbooks will apply to all forms of sports gambling.  As far as MLB wagers, Las Vegas, as the oldest legal sports gambling city in the country, has established rules that have been adopted by other sportsbooks, both retail and online. 

An “Action Bet” is a wager that sees a gambler select a team regardless of who is the starting pitcher of the team.  The bet still stands, even if a scheduled pitcher is relieved and a new one brought in after the bet is placed.  This contrasts with a “Listed Pitcher Bet,” which will see the bet canceled, and the wager refunded, if pitching changes are made. 

A baseball game is deemed valid for bet purposes if five innings have been played, unless the home team is in the lead after four and a half innings.  If a game is suspended or called after a game is deemed valid, the score that was in place at the end of the last full inning determines the contest winner.  However, bets are refunded if the home team ties the game before a suspension.  Additionally, if the home team scores the leading run in the bottom of the inning prior to the game being called, the home team would be the winner.  Suspended games are almost never carried over to the next day.

Over/under and run line betting rules stipulate that the game has to complete at least nine fulling innings, or eight and a half if the home team is ahead, in order for there to be action.  If the criteria isn’t met, the wager is dead and all money is credited accordingly.  If a game goes nine innings and sees a tie score when the match is suspended, all money line bets are pushed, but run line and over/under bets will have no action. 

These suspensions, cancellations and delays can be a little tricky.  An umpire can call a game, if the circumstances allow it, which would have sportsbooks scrambling to make all the necessary calculations based on the types of wagers.  He can also call for the game to simply be suspended but, since wagers can’t carry over to a later date, virtually everything becomes a push. 

Baseball Parlays

Another type of bet that is popular with sports gamblers is the parlay bet.  This is simply a different way of describing two or more bets that are joined together, and a two-, three- or four-team parlay can include a variety of money line wagers, spread or run lines and over/unders.  If a gambler is lucky enough to hit on all components of the parlay, the payout can be huge.  If there’s even one miss, though, the money is lost. 

A two-component parlay payout is based on the odds on the first half of the parlay winnings “parlayed” onto the second half of the bet.  For example, betting a dog at +130 for a $100 parlay becomes $230 if it wins, and that would automatically be placed on your second selection. If the second selection is a heavy favorite at -200 and it finds success, the payout would be $230 divided by the -200 odds, or 2 to 1, which equals $115.  That amount is then added to the original $230 for a $345 total.  In this case, the net profit equals the $345 minus the initial $100 for a final win of $245.

Think of a parlay bet as having a “piggy back” effect of one bet building on the previous, as long as the previous bet is a winner.  This leads to a doubling down of compounded profits that creates an upward swing to a larger payout than would an even-money bet.

It’s a risk-reward proposition, but is different than prop bets since it is used in everyday betting angles in order to achieve greater winnings.  Sportsbooks offer parlay betting on the majority of daily betting schedules and are most often seen with NFL games.  With baseball, a gambling sees a better payout when a +140 or +160 underdog wins and those winnings are parlayed to another underdog or favorite.

Many in the sports gambling community world say that parlay bets are for suckers.  This is because, in many cases, the odds are worse than what true odds should be.  While this is readily evident in basketball and football, this isn’t the case in baseball.  Basketball and football rely heavily on the spread, while baseball doesn’t.  As pointed out earlier, the money line is used heavily in baseball odds calculations, which makes parlay bets more attractive in the sport compared to others. 

MLB Futures

Futures betting has become a popular pastime for sports gamblers.  It is a type of bet that is based on the odds that a team will win a particular game or event, such as a division title or the World Series, that isn’t scheduled to take place until a later time.   Once the wager is made, it sits there until after the outcome is listed by oddsmakers.  Fixed odds are in place when the wager is made and these are normally updated on a weekly basis, with more wagers being accepted throughout the season leading up to the event. 

In order to try to calculate the win amount, the odds are multiplied by the amount being wagers.  For example, the Astros have 20/1 odds to win the World Series.  A $100 bet at those odds with an Astros victory, the amount to be won would be 20/1 x 100, or $2,000.  This would be tacked on to the initial stake of $100 for a total win of $2,100.

Baseball Props Betting

Prop bets are also highly popular and involve specific wagers placed on a specific action – a player making it to second base off a line drive in the third inning, for example, or a hitter getting three strikes in the seventh inning.   Prop bets are found in all sports, but are more popular in baseball since there is virtually no limit on what type of prop bets can be offered. 

The best tip for baseball prop bets is to do the homework. Online sportsbooks generally make and set up their very own baseball prop bets; therefore, a great deal of prop bets will be distinctive on various wagering platforms. Investigate distinctive prop bets and locate the best and most profitable odds.  Ensure you read-up on the players’ status, injuries, substitutions and so on.  

Baseball prop bets offer a fun, alternative type of gambling.  On the off chance that you are hoping to place some intriguing and energizing bets, prop bets may be something to investigate. These wagers may likewise be helpful on the off chance that you need to make numerous bets on a major event, as it were, “broadening” your gambling action by having various kinds of online wagers on a similar game.

There’s a lot that goes into creating a winning sports gambling system and there is much more than what can be covered here.  This gives a slightly detailed overview of different aspects of baseball wagers, with more insight revealed to gamblers as they get more involved in the action.