Sports Betting 101 – How to Bet on Baseball

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Mike Trout
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How to bet on baseball during the season is similar to that of other sports in that the most popular betting options are on the moneyline (ML) – who will win the game – and the total – over/under total runs scored. For the latter, you bet on whether the total runs will be over or under a number set by oddsmakers. If the over/under for the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies is 7, you'll need at least 8 runs scored to win the over and a max of 6 runs scored to win the under. Given that baseball is a predominantly moneyline sport, point spreads are secondary for this game compared to that of say football or basketball betting in North America.

Baseball games still have point spreads though, albeit, they are all the same as the favorite is priced at -1.5 (typically) which is essentially a question bettors have to ask themselves of whether or not said team will win by two runs or more with their MLB bets.

Every sportsbook offers plenty of baseball odds throughout the year, so betting on baseball is as easy as going to your favorite shop and putting a few bucks down on whatever you deem to be a good play.


As predominantly a moneyline sport, baseball odds are quite easy to understand. Oddsmakers put out a price on both sides to win the game, and bettors can ultimately convert that into a percentage that's said team's likelihood of winning. For example, you could have a game between the Boston Red Sox (-145) and Tampa Bay Rays (+125), and those are the odds you'd get to back either team. You'd have to put up $145 to win $100 if backing Boston, while a $100 bet on Tampa Bay would net you $125 in profits were they to win.

Regarding converting it to a likely winning percentage, aka implied probability, a -145 price converts to the suggestion that Boston should win that game about 59% of the time. If a bettor believes that percentage is correct, it's easy to pass betting on the game, while if a bettor believes that's a low number – say they believe Boston wins 65% of the time – a bet on Boston should be made. Conversely, if you believe that number is high, a wager on Tampa Bay should be the course of action. Betting on baseball doesn't seem that hard, right?



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As explained earlier, the moneyline is the price offered on which team ultimately wins the game. It really is as simple as that, and in a moneyline sport like baseball, it's predominantly the way to bet outcomes on the side. Prices are always relevant to the implied probability a certain team has in a particular matchup, and it's up to the bettor to decide whether or not they agree with that offering with their MLB bets.


After grinding your way through the long MLB regular season, the next challenge MLB bettors have to tackle is MLB playoff odds. Ultimately they end with World Series betting odds between the last two teams standing, and there are various ways to attack that championship series from a betting standpoint.

One baseball betting tip is to look at the odds to win the World Series and bet the series as a whole. In this instance, individual moneyline prices and results don't specifically matter in that one game's result won't cause you to win or lose your bet (unless it's the final game of the series).

Series prices are offered before Game 1 of the World Series begins, and it doesn't matter how your team ultimately gets there. As long as they win four games and lift that trophy at the end, your MLB bets end up a winner.

MLB championship odds are also available at sportsbooks throughout the season if you are interested in more of a 'futures' approach, as these are always plus-money (+125, +200 etc) odds for teams to go deep in the postseason. Betting on the World Series winner isn't just the only way to do things too, you can get futures prices on things like the AL and NL pennant, which is where you back a team just to get to the World Series.

How to Bet on the World Series
(Getty Images)


Future wagers are exactly as they sound in that they are wagers that aren't going to be paid off until sometime down the road. In MLB betting, that could mean taking a team to win the World Series months before the playoffs even start or backing a squad to win their respective division or their respective pennant. Future wagers even exist for the individual with things like Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards among others.


Betting the MLB playoffs is a matter of personal preference in terms of whether or not a bettor prefers to predominantly go with series wagers or on a game-by-game basis as you would with any game during the regular season. Obviously, bettors aren't restricted by a one or the other approach and can incorporate both, and most times it's prudent to do so.

(You know what else is prudent? Plenty of sportsbooks offer welcome offers, like with the BetMGM promo code; definitely a good idea to use one when signing up with a new sports betting platform.)

Postseason MLB betting in baseball brings a bit of a different element to things on a game-by-game basis relative to the regular season, though, as it's the best of the best in terms of starting pitching rotations and lineup constructions. There are really no inherent potential edges based on a manager's lineup construction to simply give a player a day off like he would in the middle of August, and money lines and series prices are priced accordingly.

Totals for MLB playoff games are always available as betting options as well, but with the best of the best taking the mound for each side, they do tend to be lower numbers than what MLB bettors see throughout the regular season. That, and colder October temperatures could play a part in what numbers are released for totals as well.


Moneylines and totals are the most popular ways to bet on baseball, but they aren't the only ways. The spread – otherwise known as the run line in baseball – is another way to get action down on games. Many sportsbooks allow you to buy or sell points on this wager as well if you would prefer more of a safety net to cash – ie taking +2.5 runs on a team – or a bigger payday – ie taking -2.5 on a team to win by 3+ runs.


Over-Under bets are the same in baseball as they are in any other sport. They are put up as a number of what oddsmakers believe is a fair combined score for a particular game, and bettors decide whether to go above (over) or below (under) that posted number.

A total of 9.5 for a baseball game would need to see 10 combined runs scored for an 'over' bet to hit, while 9 or fewer total runs would connect on the 'under. Over-Under win totals for the season are a very popular baseball bet that you can follow for the entire regular season.


This was discussed in more detail in the alternative baseball wagers section, as it really is just a point spread of 1.5 for the game. The baseball team that's listed as the moneyline favorite is always going to have the -1.5 attached to their side and usually with a plus-money price tag attached, although it's all relative to the moneyline price that's set. Underdogs at +1.5 will be the “favorite” in terms of price on the run-line, as that bet cashes if said team wins the game outright, or loses by just a single run.


First 5 innings wagers are gaining more and more popularity in the betting markets in recent years, and it's exactly as it sounds; bettors bet on the ML, total and/or run-lines for just the first five innings of the game.

Bettors who prefer to break things down heavily by the starting pitching matchup will tend to gravitate to these first five innings plays, as starters typically only go about 5+ innings in today's game. Cutting off the back half of the game in this nature eliminates more variables like bullpen production. Prices are offered in the same fashion as full game lines.


Going the parlay route in baseball betting is basically the same as any other sport, as bettors have to combine at least two betting selections and go from there. Most sportsbooks will allow bettors to parlay multiple moneylines or totals together, or any combination of those two options. Parlays offer a bigger payday for bettors that feel confident in multiple selections, but again, all selections must win for a parlay to pay out. Should only one game lose on the parlay, the entire ticket gets ripped up.


MLB Prop bets in wagering are vast and extensive, as there are many prop wagers offered for a particular game. Baseball bettors that have more of a fantasy baseball background where things like hits, steals, strikeouts etc matter, will find themselves liking baseball prop bets.

For example, for every LA Angels game there will be odds on how many hits outfielder Mike Trout will get in an over/under fashion, how many bases he'll get with his hits (over/under), as well as how many strikeouts the respective starting pitchers might accumulate during their time on the mound. The amount of MLB prop bets are endless. Also, do not forget about MLB playoff prop bets.

Player props are very extensive offerings for baseball betting, but they aren't the only prop bets offered. Things like 1st inning props of will there or won't there be a run scored (run or no run), or something like a full game offering on hits+runs+errors (adding up total hits, runs and errors tallied by both teams in an over/under setting) are popular plays as well.

Finally, for those that do prefer more totals, there is always the daily prop bet known as the Grand Salami in baseball betting. That is an over-under line on the total combined runs scored for all the games, usually somewhere in the mid-100's based on how many games are being played that day and the pitching matchups they entail.


With the majority in the sports betting industry believing that live betting and in-game wagering are the future of this business, it should come as no surprise that live betting in baseball markets is already predominant and highly popular. It's a discipline that does take some getting used to, but with the nature of baseball in general being that bettors can visually see how an inning or a game is shaping up – say runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out – wagering on what happens next can be quite exciting and profitable all at the same time.

Obviously, MLB live odds are skewed to whatever is more likely to happen. Say in an example with runners on base, the option of run scored – yes – will be favored, but in terms of the bigger picture of things, there are many other in-game wagering opportunities to consider.

For example, say the Pittsburgh Pirates hold a two-run lead as the visitors after the Top of the 7th inning. They were underdogs in the pre-game market and come into the game with the league's worst bullpen. This scenario presents a great situational spot to bet on their opponent on the moneyline because that team was favored to begin with, and now they get to have three innings of at-bats against a very bad bullpen.

So, when you're watching standalone games like ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, or even World Series games, MLB bettors can sit on the sidelines in the pre-game market if they prefer, get a feel for how a game is shaping up and then look to attack in the live odds. It's a method some baseball bettors swear by in today's market.


Next, we’ll answer the most frequent questions from players about betting on baseball.


Yes, sports betting on Major League Baseball games is legal at the federal level across the United States. However, legalizing and regulating local sports betting markets is up to individual states.


Yes, though with some restrictions. Collegiate sports betting isn’t as widely legal as professional sports betting. The NCAA still objects to all forms of college sports betting, actively lobbying for state bans. The organization believes that gambling could end up negatively influencing college sports overall.

A few markets have followed suit, including New Jersey, where college sports betting is restricted. However, in NJ and other states with legal sports betting, you can bet on most NCAA baseball games without any hassle. That includes popular events like the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship.


There are many ways to bet on baseball, each suited to different gambling styles. If you’re a rookie when it comes to baseball, sticking to simple wagers is probably best. Consider making straightforward moneyline bets on specific teams to win, for example.

Advanced fans may want to venture into more exotic wagers, such as parlays and other multipliers. These markets allow expert players to leverage their knowledge to fine-tune their wagers and odds. However, it can all get a tad too complex for players without significant experience.


Yes. During the World Series, you can wager on the matches and overall winner. Plenty of betting markets are available at the time, including live betting markets during the games. It’s an extremely active time for baseball betting fans, and bookmakers make it worth their while.

However, ahead of the tournament, you can still pick your favorites and place your bets, using the futures markets. You can place an outright bet on a specific team to win the World Series before the season even begins.


Baseball is primarily a moneyline sport (picking which team is going to win without a spread) since the runline is always going to be 1.5. Of course, you can also bet on the total number of runs scored, too.


You bet on innings (first five for example) just like you would a full game. This is a good option for bettors who like a particular pitcher or have a strong feeling about the starting pitchers in a game.


Baseball is no easier or harder to bet on. It's really all about your particular knowledge of the sport, trends, etc. At the end of the day, just make sure to manage your bankroll effectively.

Other great sports betting guides you can use to learn how to bet on specific sports:

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