How to Bet on Baseball

Major League Baseball is arguably the most difficult sport to bet. Well, if you don’t know what you’re doing. Experienced baseball bettors will tell you it’s actually the easiest sport to bet once you get the hang of it. Why is baseball considered a difficult sport to bet? There is so much uncertainty with every game. The best team in the league could lose 2-3 games in a row to the worst team in the league easily. It happens frequently throughout the long Major League Baseball season.

Every team plays a 162-game season. Regardless of how talented any team is, there’s going to be days they can’t hit, can’t pitch, and/or can’t field. Good teams often go through 10-20 game stretches of poor play. The best teams lose 60-70 times a year. So it’s not easy to predict the outcome of a baseball game, but that shouldn’t scare you away from betting on baseball.

Why is baseball considered by many experts the easiest sport to bet? Over the long haul, if you play the odds right, you can win some good money. You have to accept that you are going to lose a large amount of games, but if you play the odds, you will win more than you lose and that’s all that matters. The best teams end up with the best records over the course of a 162-game season. Whereas, in football, often the best teams don’t have the best record because football is a sport with a small sample size. If you bet throughout the baseball season, you are guaranteed to win if you play the odds.

Basics of Baseball Betting

Baseball betting differs from football betting. There is no point spread. Instead, baseball has a run line. It’s similar to a point spread but there is a bit of a difference. Football point spreads vary greatly. One game, a team could be a 33-point favorite. In another, a team could be a 1-point favorite. Baseball run lines are usually 1.5 points, but you’ll occasionally see a run line of 0.5 or 2.5. Almost never will the run line exceed 2.5 runs.

The favorite typically is listed at 1.5 runs. So to win the bet, your team must win the game by at least 2 runs (more than 1.5). The odds when betting the run line are usually fairly close to even money, but there’s always a little juice mixed in. Here’s an example of a potential run line:

  • Chicago White Sox –1.5 –105
  • Detroit Tigers +1.5 –120

This means the White Sox are favored to win the game, but the Tigers are favored to beat the run line. If you take Chicago against the run line, they must win by at least 2 runs and a $105 bet profits $100. If you take Detroit, they can’t lose by more than a run and a $120 bet profits $100.

The next main type of baseball bet is on the moneyline. This one is easier to win because all you have to do is pick a team to win the game. But you won’t get as favorable odds on the favorites as you will when betting the run line. Let’s take a look at an example of a moneyline bet:

  • Seattle Mariners +130
  • Texas Rangers -105

In this scenario, Texas is the favorite. A moneyline bet on Texas of $105 profits $100. A moneyline bet of $100 on Seattle profits $130. So, as you can see, betting the underdog pays out more per dollar wagered. Does that mean the smart bet is to bet on the underdog? Not necessarily. Instead of worrying about how much you can win, make your bets based on which bet gives you the most value.

Determine how often you think Team A would beat Team B over the course of a 162-game season. If you think the teams are dead even (81-81), for example, the smart bet is on the team that pays out better than even money (1:1 odds). Let’s take a look at that calculation:

  • 81-81 record (81 wins, 81 losses)
  • 81 wins at even money on a $10 bet profits $8,100 on those games
  • 81 losses at even money on a $10 bet loses $8,100 on those games
  • You don’t win, but you don’t lose

Breaking even is pretty much a waste of time, so if you determine the teams are dead even, you need to receive odds that exceed even money (ie, +120). This is where playing the odds comes into play. You’re going to lose games. Actually, you’re going to lose many games. That’s okay. If you play the odds over the course of the season, you will win. Consistently make smart bets and you won’t lose. Now that you understand how to bet on baseball, try out one of the reputable online sportsbooks we’ve recommended and start making money!