Regular MLB baseball betting fans understand all the odds data and how to bet the games, but what about new fans curious about wagering? Baseball is primarily a sport where moneyline betting is used, as opposed to football and basketball where the point spread is king. Basically, you are picking one team to win and risking more or risking less depending on which team is the underdog. The payouts are also different, bigger on underdogs, less on big favorites.
OVER-UNDER betting, runline betting (teams to win by two or more runs), 5-inning betting (the same as full game betting but calculated after five innings instead of nine) and World Series futures are also common. Check out the odds chart below from several top legal US sportsbooks and see the MLB odds legend at the bottom for more information and examples.
MLB MONEYLNE – with so few runs scored each game, a traditional point spread doesn’t work for baseball betting. So MLB moneyline is the way to go. The oddsmakers assign a value to the underdog and the favorite, designated with a plus or minus sign. A typical game looks like this:
This means the Yankees are favored and risking $150 on New York would pay out a $100 profit. For Boston, they are underdogs, so the sportsbook will ask you to risk a little less ($100) to earn a $130 profit. You don’t have to wager exactly $100 per game, but that is how the math works out – risk more on the favorite and risk less on the underdog.
MLB RUNLINE – the runline combines the moneyline and spread that means a team must win by two or more runs. The lines can be a little confusing, so here’s how it looks:
|Red Sox||+1.5, (-160)|
So in this case, the Yankees are favored but you get a nice little profit if you bet on them to win by two or more runs. The -1.5 indicates the runs and the +140 indicates the payout. So, if you bet $100 on the Yankees to win -1.5, you would get $140 profit if they win by two or more runs (3-1, 8-4, whatever score).
On the Red Sox, they are +1.5, meaning they can lose the game by one run and you still win your MLB runline bet. The -160 means you need to risk a little bit more ($160 in order to turn a $100 profit). But the Red Sox win the game, you win your bet. If they lose 3-2, you win your bet. The only way you lose is if the Yankees win by two or more runs.
TOTALS – Baseball totals are popular because handicappers like to bet on games where they know the starting pitchers very well. If both aces are starting, the total might be 6.5 or 7 runs. If the game features the two #5 starters who aren’t very good, the total might be 10.5 or 11. This depends on the stadium and the weather and the defenses of each team as well. Basically, you are betting the game will have more than or less than the listed MLB total. And you bet OVER the total or UNDER the total.
5-INNING LINE – Five-inning baseball lines are the same as moneyline bets, except the bets are settled after five innings. So, if you have a team with great starting pitching vs a team that tends to score more runs later in games, you might want to bet accordingly. You can also bet 5-inning totals and the same betting logic applies: some starters are very good through half the game, then get tired and less effective in later innings. Use this information to make winning bets.
WORLD SERIES FUTURE ODDS – You can bet on who will win the next World Series at any time during the year. The future odds will fluctuate during the year, with preseason favorites sometime fading badly and preseason longshots becoming great bets. Try to find teams with good ‘value’ meaning not crazy 100-1 longshots or short 2-1 favorites, but that improved team that just traded for a great hitter which is currently 20-1.