While the other major sports leagues in the United States are on hiatus, the MLB takes front and center stage for many sports bettors. The MLB’s regular season runs from the beginning of April through the end of September and offers bettors large betting cards on a near daily basis with each team in the league playing 162 games. Handicapping and betting on the MLB is an excellent way to get through the dog days of summer.
The most popular way to bet on baseball games is on the moneyline. The moneyline is just another phrase for betting on the game’s winner straight up. Both teams are offered at a price based on their skill, which team has home field advantage, starting pitchers and other factors. Bettors can decide which side they want to bet on and will have their wager locked in at the selected price once they confirm the bet.
For example, say that the San Francisco Giants have Madison Bumgarner projected to start at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw set to pitch. This game might be listed as Los Angeles (1.63) vs. San Francisco (2.40), with the Dodgers going off as the betting favorite on the road due to Clayton Kershaw being tabbed as the starter.
There are some slight variations on moneyline wagers in baseball based on the starting pitchers that are projected to pitch. A bettor that wants to bet on Los Angeles at 1.63 could bet the game “Action”, “Selected Pitchers”, or one selected pitcher. A moneyline “action” bet will have action even if one or both of the projected starters do not start the game. Selecting one or both of the pitchers going, however, would make your bet be graded “no action” and refund your money if a pitcher you select doesn’t start. If you are betting on a game for a specific pitcher or matchup, selecting pitchers is a good option.
Another option for bettors in addition to the moneyline is the runline. Every game on the card offers both a moneyline on who will win the game outright and a runline in which the favorite is listed with a line of -1.5. The runline gives bettors the opportunity to bet on favorites at a discounted price to win by two or more runs, or to pay a premium on the underdog at +1.5 runs.
For instance, in the Los Angeles at San Francisco game listed above, a San Francisco backer might handicap this game as a pitching duel and be interested in betting on the Giants but is too worried about the Dodgers winning a close game. This game offers a runline of Los Angeles -1.5 (2.10) vs. San Francisco +1.5 (1.83). A San Francisco outright win will now pay less than it would have betting it on the moneyline, but all Giants one-run losses are graded as wins instead of losses on the runline.
Similarly, favorites bettors have a great alternative to paying a steep price on the moneyline. The New York Yankees might be going off as a 1.35 favorite to win at home over the Toronto Blue Jays while a bet on New York -1.5 might pay a much more enticing 1.71.
While a rain-shortened moneyline wager will be graded, a runline game that does not go nine innings will become a “no action” bet. Listed pitchers must start on all runline wagers as well.
Many baseball handicappers gravitate towards totals instead of sides. When betting on the total, the team that wins the game does not matter, only how many runs are scored does.
The “total” is a reference to the total number of runs scored in a game. So if the Houston Astros defeat the Seattle Mariners 9-4, the total in this game is 13 runs (9+4=13). A 2-1 final would produce a total of three runs (2 + 1 = 3).
Each game has a posted total before the game which serves as a projection from the sportsbook on how many runs will be scored in the game. Bettors can decide whether they think the total amount of runs scored in the game will go OVER or UNDER this posted total. For example, the total for Houston at Seattle might be set at 9.0 runs, with both the OVER and UNDER paying 1.91.
If this game produces exactly nine runs, it will be graded as a push. Otherwise, a game with eight or fewer runs scored will pay UNDER bettors and a game with 10 or more runs will pay OVER bettors.
MLB futured wagers are bets on events set to take place in the future beyond the current games on the slate. These wagers are often season-long bets that are not graded until the end of the year including bets on which team will win the division, which team will win the American League or National League, and which team will win the World Series. There are also futures bets on individual awards like the MVP and Cy Young awards.
Prop bets are bets on occurrences happening inside of a game. Player props include how many strikeouts a pitcher will register or whether or not a player will hit a home run. A popular game prop is betting on whether or not there will be a run scored in the first inning. The “first 5 innings” prop allows bettors to wager on the team or total of just the first five innings.
Parlaying wagers together is a great way to potentially earn big payouts while putting small amounts at risk. When sides and totals are added to a parlay, every game selected must win or the entire parlay is graded as a loser.
This makes parlay bets more difficult to win with each team or total added, but that difficulty is rewarded with higher payouts. For example, a parlay of Washington -140, Boston -250, Miami +120 and Philadelphia/Atlanta Over 9.5 (-110) would offer a payout of 10.08.