Known affectionately as America’s Pastime, Major League Baseball remains one of the most popular sports to bet on every year. Unlike the 16-game NFL season, baseball betting is afforded the luxury of a 162-game season where anything can happen.
A pandemic-shortened 2020 baseball season was a tough one to stomach, but sports bookmakers are looking ahead and have posted 2021 MLB futures odds for a welcomed sense of normalcy in the summer months ahead.
When you bet on the moneyline, the goal is to guess which team will win the game.
In baseball betting, a moneyline wager is the easiest bet you can make. This type of wager is not a point spread like the NFL or NBA. The only requirement is you pick which team will win the game. Bookmakers set a moneyline value for each team in every game. The favorite is marked with a (-) and the underdog with a (+) in MLB betting.
For example, let’s say this is the moneyline:
In this MLB betting example, the Yankees are the favorite. The bookmaker set both lines at (-110) in this case. So, you’ll have to wager $110 for a chance to win $100, regardless of which team you pick.
When betting MLB run lines, you don’t necessarily have to choose a winner, but the winning team must win by a specific number of runs.
The run line in baseball is typically set at -1.5 and +1.5 and is essentially the point spread. If the sports bettor picks the Boston Red Sox at -1.5, the Red Sox must win the game by 2 or more runs. If he chooses to wager on the Yankees, New York can lose the game by one run or win outright for the bettor to win.
Here’s an example of how a baseball run line would be laid out:
The Red Sox are the favored team to win, and must win by 2 or more to cover the 1.5 runs they are giving the Yankees.
Betting run totals in baseball is simple. You’re looking at the combined number of runs scored by both teams. This number is generally listed between 7.5-9.5 and you bet on over or under that number.
Here’s a run total baseball betting example. Let’s say the total is set at 7.5 for a game between Boston and New York:
If you believe Boston scores more than 7.5 runs and bet $110, you’ll win $100 plus recoup your original $110 wager. The -110 is the juice / vig on the bet, which means how much you need to bet to win $100. If there is a +110, you’d wager $100 to win $110.
Tip: The first thing to look for when betting a total is to look at the starting pitching matchups and stadium run total betting trends.
A MLB parlay is when you place several various outcome wagers on a single ticket. The payouts on parlays are much larger than that of a straight bet, but have a much higher risk as you must win every game that you bet on.
There are pros and cons of betting parlays. The good is that parlays have larger payouts. The problem with parlays is they are difficult to hit as one bad pick can ruin the entire bet.
Here’s an example of a baseball parlay ticket:
Bet: $50 on the Blue Jays and Astros to win.
In this example, if the Blue Jays win and Astros lose, your parlay bet loses. If the Blue Jays and Astros both win, your parlay hits and your $50 wins $188.64.
A first 5-innings MLB bet allows bettors to wager on the MLB moneyline, runline or total on the outcome of the first five innings of the game. The reason for making a first 5-innings bet is to try and handicap just the starting pitchers and taking the bullpens out of the wager. To win a first 5-inning bet, 4 ½ innings must be completed. The bet is void if a game rains out after three innings.
Here’s an example of a first 5-inning MLB bet:
If the Indians lead by one-or-more runs OR the game is TIED at the end of five innings, they win the bet. If the Astros lead by one-or-more runs at the end of five innings, Houston backers win the bet.
Prop bets allow you to bet on elements of the game besides the final score, ranging from which player scores first, to who sings the national anthem. One of the most popular props is will a team score a run in the first inning. Baseball props are viewed more as entertainment with limits how much you can wager on them.
Some examples of popular baseball props include:
A MLB futures wager is a bet placed on an event that will happen later in the season. These are usually on team standings and individual player achievements. A Houston Astros fan might place a futures’ bet on the Astros to win the World Series, or Alex Bregman to lead the American League in home runs. Future odds can change quickly, but if you get in early, can also be very profitable.
Here’s some examples of MLB futures bets
If you place a $100 wager on the Padres to win the World Series and they do, you win $750.
If you place a $100 wager on Bieber to win AL MVP and he does, you win $600.
LIVE betting in baseball depends on the sportsbook you are using. Every betting site will have in-game MLB moneylines, run lines and totals, but props wagers will vary by sportsbook. Common LIVE prop betting options are runs, hits, or strikeouts in a given inning.
Most baseball bets are on the MLB moneyline, bettors can still find value betting on totals. One big baseball betting factor to consider is the weather. If the wind is blowing out from home plate, the ball is likely to travel further and that can make the difference between a long fly ball and a home run. The same goes for if the wind is blowing in toward home plate. That 10-mph wind can hold a fly ball up just enough to be caught on the warning track.
Umpires are human and like all of us they have inherent biases. For baseball betting, it’s valuable to look at the umpire betting trends before making a bet. Some umpires are influenced by the crowd, which is handy for home teams. Some umpires have tight strike zones leading to more walks, more base runners and ultimately, runs, which is great information if you are leaning towards the over. Meanwhile, others may have giant strike zones, leading to more strikeouts and batters chasing pitches, which benefits under bets.
Sportsbooks know that casual bettors love to bet their favorite team and favorites. That means popular teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Cubs are always a bit overpriced. These inflated lines mean you are going to get smaller payouts when you win and pay more for them.
The run line can help improve the odds in situations like this but anytime you are betting on a public team, like the teams listed above, the line will be inflated with public money from casual bettors. Using the run line to improve odds should be part of your baseball betting strategy.
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There are plenty of options when looking to bet on baseball games, the first thing new sports bettors need to do is find an online sportsbook and set up an account. The next thing you want to look for are bets offered. The most popular baseball betting plays are MLB moneyline bets, totals bets, and 1st 5-innings bets.
Yes, baseball & MLB betting are allowed, as long as the online sportsbook they use are fully licensed, located, and operated outside of the United States. Online sports betting itself is not prohibited by U.S. law, so you won’t go to jail for placing a bet no matter where in the United States you are.
MLB moneyline betting is the most basic baseball wager available. Oddsmakers assign a moneyline figure to each team playing on a given day. The team with the minus symbol (-) is the favorite, and therefore offers a smaller payout in the event of a victory. Moneyline odds work around a base figure of $100, but apply to bets of any dollar amount.
For example, if you were to wager on a team at -150, that number represents how much money you would need to bet to earn a profit of $100. A team at -180 requires a bet of $180 to return $100, and so on. On the flip side, a team with a plus sign next to its moneyline odds is the underdog and will return that amount of profit on a standard bet of $100. So if you were to wager $100 on a team at +170 and that team is victorious, you would earn a profit of $170.
While betting on the moneyline is the most straightforward way of determining which team you believe will prevail straight up, there are several alternate bet options you can choose from. And one of the most popular of these is the runline. The sportsbook gives a 1.5-run betting line while boosting the underdog by the same 1.5-run total. This shifts the odds and increases potential payout.
Of all the factors baseball bettors should consider when making a bet, the starting pitchers are among the most critical. A first glance at the moneyline odds might suggest that team caliber has a lot to do with the final numbers, but a deeper look reveals that whoever starts on the mound have a major impact on the MLB moneyline odds.
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