Welcome to the exciting world of betting on Major League Baseball (MLB) games. The information provided on this page will help you better understand the nuances of betting on MLB games. Hopefully, the tips offered in the last section will help you become a winner.
How to Bet on MLB – Straight Bets
Most sports require the bettor to bet on a match or game that has two potential outcomes, either Team A wins or Team B wins. If the two teams tie, all bets are refunded. All MLB games have an absolute winner. If for any reason a game is postponed before at least five innings are put in the books, the game is ruled “no contest” and all bets are refunded. If a game is suspended after five innings with the game tied, the is ruled “no contest” for betting purposes.
For all examples, we will assume the bettor is going to be wagering in $100 USD increments. The favorite in a match will be listed with a minus (-) money line while the underdog will be listed with a plus (+) money line. The minus represents the amount the bettor must bet to win $100. The plus represents the amount the bettor will win if they bet $100.
Bookmakers use money lines when publishing odds on MLB games. Money lines are assigned to the teams as one betting option and the over/under as a second betting option on each game. With an over or under wager, the bettor is wagering on the two teams to go over or under the stated total with the two team’s scores combined. Run line wagering will be discussed in the next section. Baseball money lines are influenced by the starting pitcher matchup and home field advantage as well as the talent level of each team. If the league’s top pitcher from the best team is facing the last place team and its worst pitcher in the first-place team’s home ballpark, the money line odds on the best team could be as low as -300 with the comeback on the underdog as high as +250.
Example: Today’s game is between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox in Boston. The game features decent pitchers from each team. Here’s what the money line odds might look like:
New York Yankees +115 over 8.5 runs –110
Boston Red Sox –135 under 8.5 runs –110
If the bettor bets $100 on New York, they will get back $215 for a profit of $115 if New York wins. If the bettor bets the same $100 on Boston, they will be back $174.07 for a profit of $74.07 if Boston wins. Note: the winnings on a minus money line are calculated by taking the bet amount and dividing it by the money line odds with a decimal placed two digits to the left from the end. In this case, it would be $100/1.35 = $74.07. The same calculation method would be used if the bettor wagered on the over or under at the stated odds.
How to Bet on MLB – Run Line Bets
While bookmakers don’t use traditional point spreads on MLB games, they might offer a “run line” proposition bet. In this case, the bookmaker would list one team with +1 ½ runs and the other team with -1 ½ runs. Money lines are then assigned to both side of the run line wager. Using the same game, the board might look like this:
New York Yankees + 1 ½ –125
Boston Red Sox 1 ½ +105
How to Bet on MLB – Other Propositions
MLB bettors are often given an opportunity to enjoy a nice array of proposition bets on MLB. A fan favorite is the “Grand Slam” wager. This bet allows the bettor to wager on the over/under, using the total runs from the day’s entire schedule of games. Other prop bets might include half-game betting options and total hit+runs+errors (over/under) for a specific team.
How to Bet on MLB – Parlay (Accumulator)
Parlays or accumulators allow bettors to bet on multiple MLB games all within the same bet. The basic requirement is all games must be recorded as winners. That’s a risky proposition. However, it comes with some potentially nice payoffs.
A bet becomes a parlay when the bettor decides to list at least two teams on the same betting slip. Again, it will only be a winning bet if all selections win. If ties are treated as “no contest” bets, a parlay treats the game as “no-action” and relegates the parlay down one level. For instance, a 3-team parlay becomes a 2-team parlay.
While it can get complicated, here’s an example of how a $100 winning parlay would be calculated. Here’s the parlay bet:
New York Yankees +125
St. Louis Cardinals –110
Chicago Cubs –160
New York game: $100 bet + $125 winnings = $225 (carried to St. Louis game)
St. Louis game: $225 bet + $227.27 winnings = $452.27 (carried to Chicago game)
Chicago game: $452.27 bet + $282.67 winnings = $734.94 total winnings for a net profit of $634.94
MLB Betting Tips
The internet is filled with MLB betting tips from self-proclaimed handicappers. Some tips are free and others are available at a price. Tips can be useful if you don’t have time to do your own handicapping. If you do your own handicapping, betting tips might be a good way to see if you have consensus with your own opinions.
Still, you should make every effort to do your own handicapping. Here’s a list of factors you should include in your handicapping process:
- Baseball websites provide mounds of statistics. Use them. In particular, look at each team’s performances against the opponent’s starting pitcher for that day. Likewise, pay attention to how a pitcher historically perform against that day’s opponent.
- Baseball is a game of streaks. Pay attention to winning and losing streaks.
- Read the latest MLB news reports. Sometimes, teamsare having personnelissues, which couldbe interfering with on field performance.
- Review injury reports. Missing key players can affect a team’s performance.
As a rule of thumb, you should never bet more than 5% of your bankroll on a straight bet, 3% on a parlay and perhaps no more than 2% on a proposition. However, you must realize the bookmaker is going to have a significant advantage when you are making proposition bets. Above all, you never want to gamble with more than you can afford to lose. That means pay your bills, put some savings aside and have fun betting on MLB games with whatever you might have remaining. Responsible gambling is the only way to truly enjoy the experience.