The Ultimate MLB Betting Guide
How to Read MLB Odds
MLB game odds are listed similarly to all other American sports. When placing a moneyline bet, you’re wagering on a team to win the game outright. Usually, both teams will have numbers preceded by either a (-) or a (+) in the money/moneyline column that indicate their odds. It will look something like this:
Philadelphia Phillies -210
New York Mets +180
The team with the (-) in front of its odds is the favorite, while the team with the (+) listed is the underdog.
American odds are usually based on a $100 wager. So, if the Phillies are -210, you’d have to bet $210 in order to get a $100 return on a winner. And if the Mets are +180, a $100 wager will give a bettor a $180 return.
Runline Betting Explained
Sports like basketball and football use a point spread to entice bettors to bet on things other than just the outright winner. Baseball’s version of this is called the runline. The runline is always 1.5 runs and will have teams listed as either +1.5 or -1.5.
If the Phillies are -1.5 runs, they need to win by at least 2 in order to cover the runline. Similarly, if a team is +1.5, they can lose by a run and still cover.
MLB Pitching Matchups and Odds
Betting on the MLB is unique in a few different ways, but one of the main differences is its dependence on the starting pitcher listed for each team. Dominant starting pitchers can totally shut down the best offenses in baseball, and the worst starting pitchers can make a terrible lineup look like the 1927 New York Yankees.
Because of this, there are a two main ways to bet baseball, and they’re referred to as “Listed Pitchers” and “Action”
A “Listed Pitchers” bet is the most common wager in baseball and means you lock in the bet you like with the odds listed at the time you placed the bet, but the bet is only valid if both the listed starting pitchers actually start the game.
For the most part, this is never an issue. However, there are times where a pitcher that is tabbed to start will be scratched right before opening pitch for one reason or another. In that case, the bet will be invalid and you’ll be given back your original wager.
An “Action” wager in baseball means that your bet will be valid no matter what pitchers start the game for either team, but the odds of your bet can change up until the opening pitch.
So if you place an “Action” wager on the Yankees against the Blue Jays with Gerrit Cole as the intended starter for New York but Cole is scratched right before opening pitch, you could see the Yankees go from massive favorites to slight underdogs, and you’ll be forced to ride your original Yankees wager with the new odds. If you had placed a “Listed Pitchers” wager on the game, your original amount staked would be returned.
MLB Playoff Odds Explained
One of the more popular futures bets in baseball is wagering on a team to make the postseason. Before the year, oddsmakers release odds for teams to make the playoffs, and they adjust the odds as the season progresses and teams either meet or fall short of expectations.
Teams can make the postseason in a variety of ways. The first, and most straightforward way to make the postseason in Major League Baseball is by winning your division.
The MLB is broken down in to two leagues, the American League, or AL, and the National League, or NL. Each league is then broken down into an East, West and Central division made up of five teams.
The team from each division that finishes the regular season with the best record wins the division and qualifies for the postseason.
The second way a team can qualify for the postseason is by securing a Wild Card spot. The two teams from each league that have the best record but didn’t win their division then make the postseason via a Wild Card berth.
MLB World Series Odds
Similar to a postseason future, World Series odds are very popular among bettors and set before the season by sportsbooks.
The World Series is Major League Baseball’s championship and is a best-of-seven-game series between the winner of the American League and the National League. The NL’s Los Angeles Dodgers are currently the favorite to win it all at most sportsbooks at +375, followed by the AL’s New York Yankees at +400.
Teams can reach the World Series by progressing through the playoffs. The Wild Card round is the first round and is a one-game series between the two wild card teams. The next round, called the Division Series, then features the team with the best record in the league facing off against the winner of the Wild Card Game in a best-of-five series while the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the league also play in a series. The winners of the Division Series then face each other in a best of seven in the Championship Series with a trip to the World Series on the line.
Brian is a sports journalist with close to ten years of experience in the business. A lifelong Philadelphia sports fan with a passion for all things sports gambling.