A Complete Guide on How to Bet on Baseball
Baseball has been around for over a century, and the game played on huge fields in the heat of summer and cool of fall is widely regarded as America’s Pastime. Now, these days, the game has seen lots of changes, an in the modern era of technology, a 3-hour baseball game has become very challenging for a lot of people to watch. However, the romanticism of spending an afternoon at the ballpark still lives on, and millions continue to head to stadiums to see their favorite teams and players.
It’s America’s Pastime and a haven for gamblers
Baseball is also a goldmine for gambling and has been for as far back as the sport itself. There have been scandals involving gambling and baseball that go back almost 100 years to the infamous Black Sox match-fixing incident in 1919. With a 162 game schedule and 30 teams, there is a ton of baseball that can be bet on during the summer months, which is good news for American gamblers as the other professional leagues are shut for the summer.
We want to give you a primer on baseball betting – some of this info you may already know, but it is still good to have a refresher of sorts. We’ll cover the following on this page:
- Types of Baseball Bets
- Money Lines
- Run Lines
- Prop Bets
- In-Play Bets
- Series Bets
- First 5 innings bets
- Futures Bets
- Attributes of a Good Baseball Sportsbook
We hope that by the time you are done reading this page, you will have learned something new about betting on baseball that helps you be a winner at your favorite sportsbook.
Types of Baseball Bets
There is no denying that baseball today, even for purists, can be painfully slow. With all the pitching changes and strategy, the game has stretched into the 3-hour range, and while that may be riveting during the playoffs when it is August, and you are watching two teams that won’t make the playoffs, it can be a killer.
Here is where betting comes in to save the day! There are so many ways to bet on baseball that even having a little bit of money wagered on parts of a game can make it infinitely more interesting. Let’s review some of the most common bet types so you see what we are talking about.
The money line in baseball has a slightly different twist to it than with other sports. First off, the money line is a bet that allows gamblers to pick the winner of the game, regardless of score. These bets are listed as a function of $100, so when you see a line it looks like this one:
Detroit Tigers +150
New York Yankees -140
If you want to bet on Detroit, you will win $150 for every $100 you bet, whereas if you wanted to bet on the favorite Yankees, you would need to bet $140 to win $100. Aside from that, all your team has to do is win the game for you to win the bet.
Now, here is where the twist comes in. Baseball lines, especially money lines, is very dependent on the starting pitcher for each team. Most teams have one or two pitchers who are far better than the rest, and a team can be favored in a game with those pitchers even if their team is having a bad season. If that pitcher is scratched for some reason at the last minute, it can have a massive effect on the game. So, for gamblers who want to play it safe, there are two money lines listed for a game at most sportsbooks. The “Listed” line requires the two announced starting pitchers to play. Otherwise, the bet is canceled. The “Action” line is a line for the game regardless of who ends up pitching.
The Run Line for a baseball game is the equivalent of the point spread in football or basketball. This is a bet on the game that is handicapped to make it more even. The typical run line for a game like our example would be as follows:
Detroit Tigers +1.5
New York Yankees -1.5
In this example, the bets cost the same amount, but if you bet on the Yankees, they must win the game by at least 2 runs for you to be paid. The Tigers, on the other hand, do not even have to win the game for you to have a winning ticket. Many people like these bets especially when betting on a heavy underdog.
Parlay Bets are bets where multiple outcomes are combined into one ticket to improve the payout on the overall bet. The minimum number of bets you can put into a parlay is 2, and the maximum is set by the sportsbook you are using. These parlays do not all have to be baseball bets. The tough part of parlay bets is, of course, that you have to win all the games to win the bet. This may sound easy enough, but imagine having a lottery ticket that is off by one number – that is how it can feel for some gamblers.
A Totals bet is just as it sounds – it is a bet on the number of runs that are scored in the game by both teams. This means you don’t need to worry about which team wins the game, as long as the total number of runs matches your bet. These bets are listed with an over and an under option. You bet on one side of the bet and then let the game unfold.
A very popular Totals bet in baseball is called the Grand Salami, which is a bet on the total number of runs scored in every game listed on one day. This has the same option as the individual totals bet, but allows you to have action on every game with only one bet.
Prop betting is very popular in baseball, especially given the speed of the game. Prop bets are wagers on individual aspects of a game, and can include items like the following:
- Will a certain player hit a home run
- Will there be a double play in the game
- How many strikeouts will there be in the game
- Who will get the first hit
There can be dozens of prop bets available for every game, and how many are listed is up to the individual sportsbook.
The speed (or lack thereof) of baseball games also makes them perfect for in-game betting. These bets take place during the game itself and involve a set of lines that are updated in real-time. The odds on who will win can change as the game unfolds, and this is where you can find some value, especially if you think your team is going to make a comeback. Having mobile access to the lines is critical for in-game betting so you can take advantage of the best betting options.
You don’t have to bet on the outcome of an individual game, as most teams play 3 or 4 games against each other at one time. A series bet allows you to bet on the winner of the full series, which becomes even more popular when it comes time for the playoffs. This eliminates the fluctuation of any one particular game, and typically the better teams win series against weaker teams.
First 5 innings bets
With the popularity of halftime betting in other sports, baseball needed to add something for gamblers who didn’t want to wait out an entire game to have a bet paid out. This is where the introduction of the Frist 5 Innings bet took place. This is a bet that focuses on the first “half” of the game, where you bet on which team will be leading after the first 5 innings of play. This means even more focus on the starting pitchers, so will see different odds than for the full game result.
Futures bets are bets you can make on events that will take place in the future. This is a fun bet to make on things like who will win the World Series, who will win the Home Run Race and which players will win the end of season awards. Of course, futures bets require some patience as they take the entire season to pay out.
Attributes of a Good Baseball Sportsbook
Now that you see how many different and exciting bet types are available for betting, it is time to talk about how you should choose your sportsbook. Of course, in the United States, you don’t have many options right now, but some states are going to have regulated sports betting in the coming months and years. When we look for great sportsbooks, we take these criteria into consideration.
Game and Bet Selection
We are always looking for sportsbooks that offer the most bet types for every game, but we also want to find places that offer betting on more leagues than just Major League Baseball. If you are a huge fan of the sport, then you may have interest in betting on minor league games or games from other countries like Japan. These bets will be harder to find, but they do exist out there.
When you are betting in baseball, especially with all the live betting options, you could have a lot of your bankroll in play at any given time. As a result, when you have won a bet, you want that money back in your hands as quickly as possible so you can put back into play (or right back into your pocket).
Being a profitable bettor is not easy, and with so many baseball games to choose from every day, it is easy to get a lot of bets in on a regular basis. We like to choose sportsbooks that reward loyal players with free bets, as these are a way to try to get into the positive column. Many sportsbooks use free bets as a way to attract new players as well, giving players a small bet to start to get their feet wet. As you should always be looking for advantages, you should constantly be reviewing books looking for new offers.
Will there be more scandals?
With regulated sports betting on the horizon in the United States, there have been many discussions about the sanctity of the game, and whether or not we are going to see more Pete Rose incidents. The league will do everything it can to protect the integrity of the sport, and the gambling industry will do their part as well, as a healthy ecosystem is good for everyone involved.