Baseball is one of the most popular sports in the United States and fans love to wager on the action. Legal sportsbooks are springing up all over the country after the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, and they were sure to give MLB the attention it deserves. There are 2,430 games spread across six months of the regular season, and plenty more in the post-season, which keeps bettors extremely busy. These are the main betting options available to MLB fans:
MLB Futures Betting
At the start of every season, the sportsbooks will devote themselves towards analyzing the relative strengths and weaknesses of all 30 MLB teams. They will then release futures odds on each team’s chances of winning the World Series, starting with the favorite and finishing with the rank underdog.
For example, the Boston Red Sox began as the +550 favorite to win the World Series ahead of the 2019 season, with the Houston Astros at +600, the New York Yankees at +650, the Los Angeles Dodgers at +700 and so on, all the way down to the Miami Marlins at +15000.
When you see a plus sign before a set of odds, it tells you how much profit you stand to make from a $100 bet. A $100 bet at +550 would net you $550, whereas a $100 bet at +15000 would net you $15,000. That tells you the sportsbooks thought the Red Sox had a great chance of winning the World Series, while Miami was given little chance of success.
These odds will change over the course of the season, depending on how well each team is playing. The Washington Nationals began the season at +1000 and went into just +115 after reaching the World Series, for example. The Reds went from +13300 at one stage of the season to +6400 after enjoying a strong run of results but then went back to +10200 after losing six of nine.
Before the season begins, sportsbooks will also offer odds on who will win the AL, the NL and each division. These will also change over the course of the season depending on results, injuries and so on.
You can also bet on how many games a particular team will win over the course of the season. You have the option to back either over or under a particular amount of victories, with the line set by the sportsbooks.
You can also make find player futures bets such as who will be named MVP, who will be the home-run leader and the pitcher that will win the Cy Young Award.
MLB Moneyline Betting
This is the most common form of MLB wager and it simply involves betting on the team you think will win a particular game. The sportsbooks will assess the relative strengths of each team, factoring in morale, fatigue, motivation levels, injuries, head-to-heads and so on, before releasing a set of odds on each team.
You might see odds of -120 on the Phillies to beat the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park, with +105 on the Rockies to win the game. When you see a minus symbol before a set of odds, it tells you how much you need to wager in order to generate a profit of $100. In this instance, a $120 bet on the Phillies at -120 would net you a $100 profit if they were to win the game.
A $20 bet on the Phillies at -120 would result in a profit of $16.67 if successful, whereas a $20 bet on the Rockies at +105 would result in a profit of $21. That tells you that Philadelphia is the slight favorite for the game.
You will receive a smaller payout if you bet on the team the sportsbooks perceive to be the strongest in a particular game. You will receive a larger payout if you bet on the supposedly weaker team. Sportsbooks do this to make both betting options as attractive as possible while spreading their risk out. If the majority of bets go on one particular team, the odds on it will shrink, while the odds on its opponent will grow more attractive to encourage bettors to wager on that team, thus spreading the sportsbooks risk out better.
Check out expert MLB predictions
for advice on which teams to bet on when considering a moneyline wager.
Run Line Betting
The run line is a handicap spread that skews the odds by giving the favorite a -1.5 run handicap. You might have the Cleveland Indians as the -115 favourite to beat the Kansas City Royals on the moneyline, with the Royals as the +105 underdog. By giving the Indians a -1.5 run handicap, you might then find odds of +130 on Cleveland covering the run line.
A $100 bet at -115 would earn you a profit of $86.96 if Cleveland won the game. However, a $100 bet at +130 would earn you a higher profit of $130 if Cleveland covered the run line. To cover it, the Indians would need to win by at least two runs. If Cleveland won by a single run, your bet would be a loser.
You would also expect to see odds of around -150 on the Royals to cover the run line. That means Kansas City could either win the game or lose by a single run and your bet would still be a winner. However, a $100 bet at -150 would net you a profit of $66.67 as opposed to the $105 you would have made by backing the Royals at +105 on the moneyline.
First Five Innings Betting
Many sportsbooks allow you to bet on which team will be ahead after the first five innings. This presents you with an intriguing alternative option. Look out for teams that start well and then fade, or start poorly and struggle in the first half of the match. You might also like this option if you do not have the patience to watch an entire game!
Total Runs Betting
This is a great option if you are unsure which team will win an MLB game, but you think it will either be a high-scoring affair or a low-scoring encounter. The sportsbooks will set a total runs line depending on how evenly matched the teams are and how often their games are high scoring.
A common total runs line is 9.5, and you simply have to predict whether the cumulative runs scored by both teams will go over or stay under that figure. Both options are generally priced at -110, or -105 if the sportsbook offers reduced juice.
The MLB picks
on offer will frequently go for total runs, as it is a common bet.
You will often see alternative total runs lines – for example, the official total runs line might be 9.5, but you will also be able to bet on over/under 8.5 and over/under 10.5 – and these skew the odds in different directions. You can either gain more value by veering away from the official line if you feel confident in your prediction, or increase your chances of winning in exchange for lower odds if you are feeling cautious.
A prop bet relates to an incident within an MLB game that does not necessarily pertain to the final result. An example of a prop bet is predicting which team will score the first run or who will have more total bases between two different players. You can bet on which pitcher will gain the most strikeouts, or whether the game will go to an extra innings. These props can be great fun, but they also present serious bettors with an intriguing opportunity to make a profit.
An MLB parlay
allows you to combine a number of different selections into a single bet so that you can rack up greater odds and a much higher potential payout. You could bet on the Red Sox to beat the Braves, the Brewers to beat the Cubs, the Diamondbacks to beat the Padres, the Giants to beat the Rockies and the Twins to beat the Marlins.
All five selections would need to prove correct in order for your bet to be a winner, but if successful you would earn a large payout. It would be far higher than the profit you would make if you simply divided your stake into five and bet on each team individually.
You do not need to stick to moneyline bets when putting a parlay together. You could choose the total points in seven different games, or three different teams to cover the run line, or you could mix and match. You might bet on the Angels to beat the Mariners, over on total points when the Astros take on the Athletics, the Cubs to cover the runline against the Reds and the Dodgers to win after the first five innings against the Giants, all as one parlay. The more legs you add to it, the greater the potential payout you stand to make.