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A Comprehensive Guide to MLB Betting

If you want to learn how to bet on baseball like a pro, this MLB Betting Guide is the guide for you. Find out about the different types of bets available and how to make the most of them inside.

Betting isn’t exactly a revolutionary idea in today’s day and age. Even for those among us who’ve never seen a bookie or looked through an online sportsbook, chances are they’ve placed a casual bet on something at some point. After all, what’s a little wager between friends? 

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Everyone has that one friend who’s got to place a wager on every other random, seemingly insignificant event. Whether it’s the food you’ve just ordered turning out terrible or how long you can hold your breath, there’s always a bet on the cards. 

Since most of these wagers are just for bragging rights or for who pays for the first round of drinks, we’re inclined to not think too hard about the defining attributes of these bets. The events themselves are pretty random too, so it doesn’t intuitively appeal to us to think about the fundamentals of these bets.

But that’s the thing. There are always key factors to consider; some critical detail makes one particular side more likely to win than the other. Think about the bet regarding the food you’ve ordered at your table. Did you overhear other customers complaining about the quality of their food as you walked in and got seated at your table? Look around you. Do people at other tables look like they’re enjoying their meals? 

Naturally, anyone can see these details for themselves, so there’s no associated barrier to entry when it comes to this information. Let’s refer to it as public or common knowledge, then; information everyone has access to and is free to use as they see fit. All of the previous questions can be answered by anyone seated at your table, and they can use their answers to inform which side they bet on.

Now let’s look at the other bet regarding who can hold their breath the longest. This one doesn’t have any obvious tells to it (it’s not like you can tell a person’s lung capacity by looking at them), so we can’t rely on public knowledge as much. But let’s say you, by virtue of prior experience with your two contestants, know that one of them happens to be a competitive swimmer while the other is a chain smoker. This is information you’re privy to because of your own unique advantage, in this case, experience with the competitors. Other people might also have access to this information, or one half of it, while others still might not know anything at all.

This is what we call proprietary knowledge. This information is only available to a select few people, and they may or may not choose to disclose it to others. This is the other vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to placing an informed bet.

These two types of knowledge collectively inform what we call the “odds” of a bet. Odds tell you which way a bet is likely to go. While the odds of a casual bet between friends aren’t really worth thinking about (you’re just doing it for fun most of the time, after all), as you up the stakes and head into the world of formal gambling, the odds are just about paramount.

Introduction to Sports Betting

This brings us to the meat of this guide: sports betting. You can place bets on just about any sporting event out there (provided you can find a bookmaker to offer you a bet), and sports betting has about as many caveats to it as the sports themselves.

Baseball is a sport with over a century of celebrated tradition behind it, and plenty of people have grown up with generations of history watching and playing casually. It’s no surprise, then, that the Major Leagues, to most people, the holy grail of baseball, enjoy plenty of betting action during the on-season. 

Baseball’s so old, in fact, that some have credited it with the invention of the prop bet back in the late 19th century. These claims are difficult to verify, though, so we’ll let you make what you want to of them. But one thing’s for certain: MLB betting is an industry to rival the sport itself, if not in pure revenue, then in popularity amongst crowds.

Popular fixtures like the All-star game and the World Series see betting frenzy the likes of which you might not have thought possible for the sport, and you might be surprised to find that the numbers for bets rival the numbers for ticket sales. That’s not to say every fan in the stands has skin in the game; it’s just that there’re plenty of people sitting at home placing their bets and plenty of bets coming in from people who don’t even watch the sport.

Betting wasn’t as big before smartphones, and the internet took over, but now, just about anyone over the legal gambling age can place their bets from the comfort of their homes. Curious about how? We’ve got you covered. 

How to Bet on MLB Games

The MLB is one of the most popular leagues in the United States and even in other parts of the world (did you know that Japan has its own equivalent of the Majors?). We’ve already talked about how the internet has introduced bettors the world over to comfort they couldn’t have expected before. Naturally, this has led to an increase in the number of people placing MLB betting.

If you’re wondering how you can get in on the action, we’ve got all the information you need right here in this guide. Just read on, and you’ll find out everything you’ll need to know. First up, how you can start placing your bets.

Sign-up for a sportsbook

To start off, you’re going to need to sign up with one of the many available online sportsbooks that offer MLB betting options. Don’t worry; there’s plenty of reliable MLB betting sites out there, so you don’t need to worry about having to nitpick your choice too much. While you’re at it, why not check out our list of the best sportsbooks in the business, ranked for your perusal based on the factors that matter the most to you. We look at a variety of factors to assess credibility, ease of use, convenience, and other important aspects of the betting experience delivered by each site, so you know you’re making the right decision when you base it on our expertise.

Once you’ve signed up for a sportsbook, you can browse through the MLB betting on offer, along with the odds of each individual bet, as well as favored picks in some cases. Before you can start placing bets, though, you’ll need to first deposit money or put down a payment method on file, so be sure you pick a sportsbook that accepts your preferred payment method. 

Once you’ve got your payment method set up, you’re good to go. But as someone who’d new to betting, you might not know which type of bet to opt for or even what each bet means. That’s why we’ll now move on to…

The Different Types of MLB Betting

You’re probably seeing a lot of unfamiliar terms if this is your first time browsing through a sportsbook. We’ve got explanations for each fundamental type of bet, followed by a section on odds so that you can place wagers with peace of mind. Without further ado, let’s dive right into the most basic kind of bet: the Moneyline.

Moneyline Bets

A moneyline bet is basically the simplest form of bet in any competitive sport. Moneyline betting lets you pick the winner in a particular twoway contest, and it’s the same for baseball. You’ll bet on whichever team you feel is more likely to achieve a favorable result, and your bet wins if you bet correctly. 

That’s about it for moneyline bets. As your most simple and straightforward bet, it’s probably the first one you’ll see when you open up your sportsbook’s front page. One team will have positive odds, while the other will have negative odds. If that isn’t the case, both teams might have exactly the same odds, probably -110. If you’re wondering what these numbers mean, we’ll cover that in our section on odds, so skip to it or read on to find out.

Baseball is a low-scoring sport, and as a low-scoring sport, it entertains the prospect of a draw. Some sportsbooks might offer a “draw no bet” option (this is probably the case if you’re only seeing two numbers denoting odds for the moneyline). If they do, then in the event of a draw, your bet is annulled, and you’re simply returned the amount you wagered. Other sportsbooks might offer the draw as a third outcome and let you bet on the likelihood of a draw (such a bet isn’t very common, but you might see one offered for a game that’s already gone into extra innings with the scores tied).

Spread Betting

Obviously, not every outing will be a heated contest, and getting people to bet on the underdog requires bookmakers to offer high odds to entice them to bet, which is an increase in risk that just isn’t worth it. 

To make those one-sided contests into ones that are more bet-friendly, bookies came up with spreads. Spreads let you place your bets while allotting a handicap to both teams, helping to even the scales and make even a one-sided game into anyone’s wager. When you’re talking specifically about baseball, spread bets are called “runline bets”.

While spreads in other, higher-scoring sports aren’t usually fixed, the baseball runline is always (usually) set at a standard 1.5 runs. That’s +1.5 for the underdog and -1.5 for the favorites. What this means is as follows:

Say, for example, that you decide to place a runline bet on a game between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox. The Yanks are favored to win, while the Sox are the underdogs. 

If the final scoreline reads:

Chicago White Sox 1 – 2 New York Yankees

A bet on the Sox would win, while a bet on the Yankees would lose. When calculating the “score” for your point spread, you just have to apply the differential to your team’s score and compare it to the other team’s actual score. So in this instance, A bet on the White Sox would win because 1 + 1.5 = 2.5, which is greater than the Yankees score of 2. A bet on the Yankees would lose because 2 – 1.5 = 0.5, which is less than the White Sox score of 1. It’s that simple. Why don’t you calculate which bet would win if the scoreline read:

Chicago White Sox 1 – 3 New York Yankees

Answer: White Sox Loss, Yankees win

Totals Betting

Baseball also features bets for totals, which are a nice, stress-free alternative to bets on the outcome. Totals bets are pretty straightforward since they’re pretty much your simplest form of bet aside from the moneyline.

When it comes to a totals bet, you’re betting on the total amount of runs the two teams in a contest will score between them. So if the final scoreline reads 7 – 3, the total would be 10, and that’s the number you’d consider against your ticket.

Multiple totals bets may be on offer for a particular fixture, and you might see some staggering odds if you decide to bet on the higher end. Remember what we said about baseball being a low-scoring game; nobody expects a particular contest to feature 20 runs. So if you bet on Over 20.5, and someone hits a grand slam, along with an abundance of singles and doubles, you might be looking to cash out big (think more than 5 or 6 times your bet).

These aren’t necessarily good bets, though, since you can’t really reliably predict when you’ll be seeing a 20 point game. Depending on the fixture, a good MLB betting strategy would be to bet around the 4 to 8 run mark, over or under. 

Prop Betting

Prop bets are where conventional outcomes are thrown out the window, and you’re just betting on random occurrences within game time, sometimes even about events that have nothing to do with the game or the outcome. 

For example, a popular prop bet in the NFL has to do with the color of the Gatorade Shower the winning coach will receive. While this has absolutely no impact on the game’s outcome or even on individual events within the game, it’s still an event that could turn out one way or another.

In the MLB betting, you have prop bets for all manner of in-game events as well. These could include the likelihood of a grand slam being hit during the game or whether or not one team will be able to shut out the other. Naturally, the chances of such an event are abysmally low, so the odds will reflect that. You can expect very high payoffs for such unlikely bets, provided your bets land. 

There are other prop bets relating to the number of runs a particular batter will bat in or even the amount of fumbles from the team in the field. MLB Betting prop bets can have to do with just about anything that can take place on the field, so don’t be surprised if you see a few surprising calls up for the taking.

Reading MLB Odds

Now we’ll get to the most critical part of any wager: the odds. While they might seem a little iffy at first glance, reading the odds is a piece of cake, and you should have a handle on it in no time as you start getting familiar with the world of online sports betting

Let’s go back to our previous example, with the New York Yankees are facing off against the Chicago White Sox for a playoff game. You discover that the odds for a standard moneyline bet are (+250) for the Chicago White Sox and (-160) for the Yanks.

This means that if you bet $100 on the Sox and they won, you’d get a total payout of $350. In the case of positive odds, the number in the bracket represents the amount you’d win if you’d placed a 100 dollar bet. So in this case, your return is actually 250 percent (The $100 you bet plus your $250 reward).

On the other hand, if you’d bet $160 on the Yankees and they’d won, you’d get a total payout of $260. This is because negative odds are read differently than positive odds. In the case of negative odds, the number in the bracket represents the amount you’d have to bet in order to win $100. This means that you’ve netted a 62.5 percent return on your bet (The $160 you bet plus a $100 reward).

Combining your bets | Parlay betting

Parlays are your gateway to massive earnings since they let you combine multiple wagers to earn way more than you’d have won on separate concurrent bets. Don’t follow? Let us explain.

Say you’ve got three matches on a given day, each paying out (+150) for the teams you’re betting on to win. Now, if you’d just placed three separate wagers on three separate tickets, you’d net yourself a cool $450 on a $300 bet, making your total $750. Parlays are slightly different.

You will just bet your amount once for a parlay, so your initial bet will be reduced from 300 to 100 dollars. That amount will compound and carry over to each succeeding outcome. What this means is that if you successfully bet all three outcomes, your payout would be calculated as follows:

100 + (100 x 1.5) = 250

250 + (250 x 1.5) = 625

625 + (625 x 1.5) = 1562.5

So your final payout on one three-way parlay featuring three underdog bets would be a whopping $1562.5. That’s more than double what you’d have earned on three individual bets, and that too while wagering only a third of the amount. Before you go wagering all your hard-earned cash on parlays, you should know about the catch.

In the case of a parlay, your successful bets roll over to become the bet for your next successive outcome. This means a multiplier effect, which is why your earnings are so much higher than what they’d be with individual bets. However, if any single bet within the parlay fails, your entire amount is forfeit. 

This makes parlays high-risk reward bets that carry a huge potential payout along with a very high chance of failure. If you’re certain about a couple of outcomes, sure, you can earn some big bucks. But if even a single event doesn’t go your way, you miss out on winnings that would otherwise have been guaranteed.

Final Word about MLB betting

That’s it for our comprehensive MLB betting guide. If you’ve got more questions about individual types of bets, you might find answers in one of our bet-specific guides. We have guides relating to almost every aspect of sports betting, so be sure to check them out if you find yourself in a pinch.For details on the best sportsbooks, consider going through our sportsbook guides drafted by a team of experts with years of experience in the online betting world. Good luck with your bets, and here’s to hoping you win big!

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