There's no better way to make America’s national pastime more fun than by betting on it. Bettors have a multitude of options available to them in every Major League Baseball game in which to make a score. Here is a quick guide to betting on baseball for the uninitiated.
Betting on the baseball moneyline
Unlike football or basketball, the majority of wagers placed on MLB games do not involve a point spread. Instead, bettors typically wager on the moneyline, looking to predict the winner of the game straight-up. The betting favorite will always have a “-” in front of their moneyline odds, -150 for example. This means that a bettor would have to wager $150 to realize a $100 profit on the winning favorite. Underdogs typically have a “+” in front of their moneyline odds, +130 for instance. This means if the bettor places a $100 wager on a winning underdog, they will realize a $130 profit. Small-time bettors, fear not – you needn’t risk $100 or more per game. As a rule of thumb, simply drop the zeroes at the end of those figures above if you’re a $10 player to calculate payouts.
Betting on the baseball runline
The less-popular cousin of the moneyline bet in baseball is the runline wager. The betting favorite will be assigned a -1.5 run handicap, but oddsmakers will offer an appropriate amount of “juice” to make laying the 1.5 runs with the favorite more appealing. In our hypothetical favorite -150 and underdog +130 scenario, the -150 favorite may be assigned runline odds that look like this: -1.5 (+160). This means if the favorite wins by two runs or more, those who bet the favorite on the runline will earn $160 for every $100 they risked. Runline underdogs will be assigned a line that looks something like this: +1.5 (-140). This means that if the underdog wins outright or merely loses by one run, bettors will earn $100 for every $140 they risked.
Betting on the baseball total
Totals wagers in baseball work very much like totals wagers in other sports. Oddsmakers will assign an Over/Under figure to every game, leaving bettors to determine whether the game in question will be a home run derby or a pitcher’s duel. Totals of 8.5 runs are typical of MLB games, though totals as low as seven runs and as high as 10 runs will pop up throughout the season. Venue plays a huge part in determining what the Over/Under will be for each game, as well as starting pitching matchups. Overs and Unders can carry a “vig” as high as -120 and as low as even-money, but are usually listed at -110 on both sides.
Betting on the first five innings
MLB bettors need not bet on the whole game result only. Instead, savvy players can cash out on their team after the first five innings. These wagers work just like moneyline wagers, and the lines set by oddsmakers may be the same as the full-game line or only slightly different. Betting a team in the first five innings market is optimal strategy if they have a good starting pitcher going but a lousy bullpen backing him up. There are also totals wagers to be made for the first five innings of a game as well as runline wagers (though the runline will be -0.5 runs for the favorite, not -1.5 runs).
Baseball prop wagers
If a bettor is not sure which team will win a particular game but has a notion about one particular player that night, then prop wagers may be the way to go. Examples of MLB prop wagers available on a daily basis include: ‘How many strikeouts will pitcher X have?’ (Over/Under 8.5) and ‘How many RBIs will player Y have?’ (Over/Under 2.5).
Betting on baseball futures
Betting MLB futures is fairly straightforward as it works just like any other sport. Exceedingly popular in the preseason, bettors can wager on which team will win a certain division, league pennant, or even the World Series.
Payouts can be fairly large if bettors find a live longshot, but the downside is that these wagers offer delayed gratification (hence the name ‘futures’). There are also futures on individual player achievements (such as league MVP and home run king) as well as season win totals to wager on for every team in the preseason.