How To Bet On Baseball - Baseball Betting for Beginners

OddsChecker's complete guide for how to bet on Major League Baseball games
Published: May 06, 2021 - Estimated Read Time: 3 minutes

The Major League Baseball (MLB) season is well and truly back and so too are the MLB betting markets. If you one of your wagering goals is to learn how to bet on baseball and win, you've come to the right place. This betting guide will teach you how to read baseball betting lines, understand the terminology that's unique to the world of MLB, the most popular MLB betting markets and much more.

How to read baseball betting odds

If you want to know how to bet on baseball as a beginner, the first odds you'll need to master in the MLB are the moneyline odds. The moneyline is the most popular market in most major league sports and probably the easiest to grasp too. A moneyline baseball bet requires you to pick a team to win the game outright. Just decide whether the underdog or favorite will win and place your moneyline bet, it really is that simple. Let's take a look at a quick example of an MLB moneyline market to learn how to bet on baseball and win on the moneyline:

New York Yankees -150

Houston Astros +200

The Yankees are the negative number, which means they are the moneyline favorites. The Astros are the positive number, making them the moneyline underdogs. The +200 odds means that if you wagered $100 on Houston, you would win $200, plus your initial stake. The -150 odds require you to wager $150 on New York to win $100.


Understanding the terminology

Now that you have mastered how to read baseball betting lines for the moneyline market, let's take a look at five additional betting markets that are particularly popular with MLB bettors:

Runlines

Also known as betting against the spread, runline markets are one of the most liquid baseball betting markets across all the major US sportsbooks. It's known as a handicap market, whereby sportsbooks give underdogs a pre-game head start and bettors need to decide whether the favorites are good enough to "cover the spread" and beat the handicap.

Let's provide you with a clear example:

Chicago Cubs +1.5

New York Yankees -1.5

For the Yankees to "cover the spread" they would need to beat the Cubs by at least two runs. For a runline bet on the Cubs to win, the Cubs only need to avoid defeat by two or more runs.

It's worth noting that almost a third of games in the history of the MLB have been decided by only one run.

Betting on the top half of the game (first 5 innings)

During the initial stages of the regular MLB season, it takes some teams longer to get into the groove than others. A combination of new-look rosters and coaches finding their feet means that some teams are slower to start. That's why betting on the top half of the game is a useful option in the early season. You're betting on the opening five innings of a game in a moneyline-style format. These type of bets are often labelled as "F5 Bets" with US sportsbooks. You can use F5 bets to bet against notoriously slow starters or teams that have made drastic changes to their roster in the offseason and will take time to find their feet.

Betting on the combined score

Also known as an "MLB Totals" wager, you can also bet on the combined score i.e. the total number of runs scored in a game. Let's say that your chosen sportsbook was offering the chance to bet on Over 8.5 and Under 8.5 runs in an MLB Totals market. It's up to you to decide whether both teams are capable of scoring nine runs between them. If you believe they are incapable of doing so, or the weather conditions will make it difficult to score home runs, you could take the Under 8.5 odds. If both teams are full of big-hitters and the wind is in their favor, you could take the Over 8.5 odds.

MLB prop betting

If you want to know how to bet on baseball in a more creative fashion then look no further than MLB prop bets. Prob betting gives you a chance to bet on very specific outcomes. It's possible to wager on specific players, such as betting on the number of strikeouts a starting pitcher will rack up in the next game or how many home runs a big-hitter will make. It's a chance for MLB enthusiasts to use their knowledge of player form and team statistics to find value prop bets that can improve your betting returns without having to directly influence the final outcome of a baseball game.

MLB parlays

If you prefer to go for small bets with the biggest possible payoffs then parlays are one of the best additions to any baseball betting system. MLB parlays enable you to bundle multiple selections into a single wager. You can combine multiple prop bets or even multiple moneyline bets into one parlay and get a much bigger payout if all of your selections win. Think of a baseball parlay as the high-risk, high-reward addition to your baseball betting strategy.


5 easy tips to bet on baseball

Now that you've got to grips with the key terminology to help you learn how to bet on baseball, we've put together five baseball betting tips that are the perfect takeaways to help inform your baseball betting system:

  1. Don't dive in and bet on big pre-game favorites One of the biggest mistakes that recreational bettors make when betting on MLB is to dive in and wager on pre-game favorites at very short odds. The reality is that the leading US sportsbooks are conscious of the bias towards big pre-game favorites and usually move to cut their lines on them to reduce their value further still. This is particularly common when it comes to the most iconic MLB franchises, such as the Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs. Although a pre-game favorite like the Yankees should be priced at -200 on the moneyline, some sportsbooks will cut it further still to -250 as they know that recreational bettors will take those odds anyway.
  2. Pay close attention to wind strength Weather conditions can play a key role in influencing bets on many other major league sports and this is equally the case in the world of MLB. The strength of the wind can play havoc with MLB totals markets. If the wind is howling and blowing into the stadium, this is likely to increase the chances of a match being low scoring. It makes it harder for batters to hit home runs and puts the advantage in the hands of pitchers. Meanwhile, if the wind is blowing out of the stadium, at speeds of 8mph or greater, the overs statistically beats the unders price more than 50% of the time.
  3. Unders markets are increasingly a savvy play The reality is that recreational bettors that wager on the MLB want exciting games to watch. That's why most amateur bettors will opt for overs when betting on the combined score of MLB games. However, the clever play is to look at unders instead. Sure, no-one wants to watch a snoozefest, but there are plenty of occasions when strikeouts, 1-2-3 innings and double-plays occur and the fielding teams dominate. According to the MLB's Sabermetrics, the unders market has becoming increasingly dominant in recent years, winning 51.7% of the time.
  4. Take the home plate umpire into consideration Savvy MLB bettors will also look at the home plate umpire pre-game to help inform their bets. Although betting on an outcome based solely on the umpire isn't recommended, the appointment can be used to influence your final decisions. Certain aspects of MLB umpiring are very subjective. Some umpires will operate with tight strike areas, which will result in more runs and overs markets winning. Meanwhile some umps subconsciously favor the home team to keep the fans on side.
  5. Always shop around for the best MLB odds Another big mistake that recreational MLB bettors make is using the same sportsbook time and again for their wagers. This means that bettors are forced to accept whichever odds their chosen sportsbook is offering. Instead, savvy MLB bettors use comparison portals like OddsChecker to shop around for the best available lines. Although getting odds of +150 instead of +120 might not seem like a huge deal at the time, these bigger value winning bets all add up over the course of an MLB season.

List of states that you can bet legally in the US

It's been more than two-and-a-half years since the Supreme Court's ruling opened the door for US states to regulate and legalize their own sports betting industries. Since then, more than a dozen have legalized betting on sports like baseball, although some states restrict wagers to in-person betting only. Below, we've put together a list of US states where you can bet legally on baseball:

  • Oregon (online and in-person)
  • Nevada (online and in-person)
  • Colorado (online and in-person)
  • Iowa (online and in-person)
  • Illinois (online and in-person)
  • Indiana (online and in-person)
  • Tennessee (online and in-person)
  • West Virginia (online and in-person)
  • Pennsylvania (online and in-person)
  • New Jersey (online and in-person)
  • Rhode Island (online and in-person)
  • New Hampshire (online and in-person)
  • Montana (in-person only)
  • New Mexico (in-person only)
  • Arkansas (in-person only)
  • Mississippi (in-person only)
  • Michigan (in-person only)
  • New York (in-person only)

0Betslip

Almost there!

We are loading your bets, and they will be here in a second.