Like any of the other major sports, there are plenty of ways for a bettor to wager on baseball. Whereas the most popular way to bet on football and basketball is the point spread, the majority of action in baseball is on the money line.
Betting the Money Line
When betting the money line, the bettor is simply backing the team which will win the game outright; the final score does not matter. Understanding how to bet the money line might seem a little confusing but it is actually quite straight forward. The favored team will have a minus (-) sign in front of a three digit number while the underdog will usually have a plus (+) sign in front of a three digit number. Sometimes if the lines makers have the game close to evenly matched, the underdog can also have a minus sign.
Here is an example of how to bet a baseball money line. The Phillies are playing the Dodgers and the Phillies are listed at -160 whereas the Dodgers are +150. If you were backing the favored Phils, you would have to risk $160 to win $100. If you preferred backing the underdog Dodgers, you would need to wager $100 in order to score a $160 profit.
Since baseball games often don’t go the full distance due to inclement weather, it should be noted that money line wagers will be officially graded after five innings of play is complete, or if the home team is leading after 4 ½ innings.
Betting the Run Line
Another popular way to wager on baseball is the run line, which is basically baseball’s version of a point spread. Since the score in baseball games is often close, the run line is just 1.5 runs. So basically, the favored team is giving the underdog 1.5 runs; much like a football team may give their opponent 7 points. Since 1.5 runs is usually the standard run line no matter how closely matched the two teams are, the juice will be adjusted.
Let’s take a look at how a run line works. Say the favored Yankees are playing their rivals the Red Sox. Since the Yankees are favored, they would be -1.5 runs, while the Red Sox would be +1.5 runs. However, the juice incorporated with the Yankees (-1.5) could be +140, whereas the juice attached to the Red Sox (+1.5) would be -160. Although the Red Sox are the underdogs in the game, they have the heavier juice associated with the run line. In order for the Yankees run line wager to win, the Red Sox must lose the game by two or more runs. If the Red Sox lose by one run or if they win the game outright, Yankees’ run line bets will lose.
In order for a run line wager to be valid, the game must go the full nine innings, or 8 ½ if the home team is leading. If the game fails to go the distance, the run line wager will be ‘No Actioned’.
Betting the Total
Just like football and basketball, baseball bettors can bet on the total, also referred to as the over/under. Whereas in football and basketball, the bettor wagers on the total amount of points scored in a particular game, in baseball the bettor wagers on the total number of runs scored in a specific game. You can either bet ‘over’ the listed number if you think the two teams will combine for more runs than the listed number, or you can back the ‘under’ if you feel the two teams will score fewer than the listed total.
For example, a sports book has the total for the Phillies vs. Mets game at nine runs. If ten or more runs are scored in the game, ‘over’ wagers will win while ‘under’ wagers will lose. If eight or fewer combined runs are scored, ‘under’ bets will cash while ‘over’ bets will be losers. If the total combined runs falls on exactly nine runs, both the ‘over’ and ‘under’ wagers will be ‘No Actioned’ and bets will be refunded.
Just like run line bets, the game must go the full nine innings or 8.5 if the home team is winning, in order for the wager to be valid.
Pay Attention to the Pitchers
Baseball betting odds are influenced greatly by which pitchers are taking the mound. Considering this, there are different ways a sports book could potentially take wagers for the game. Before placing your bets, make sure that you know which type your sports book accepts and of course know the difference between each. Keep in mind, some sports books give you each of the four options while others only permit you to bet one way.
1. Listed Pitchers – This is the most common way to wager on baseball. Basically, in order for the wager to be valid, both of the pitchers that are scheduled to start, must do so and throw at least one pitch. If for whatever reason, one or both of the pitchers doesn’t start the game, the wager will be ‘no actioned’.
2. Action – If you place a baseball wager ‘action’, the bet will be valid no matter who takes the mound to start the game. So if a scheduled pitcher gets injured in pregame warm-ups and isn’t able to start, the bet will still stand.
3. Specify team pitcher – With this option, your bet is valid as long as the scheduled pitcher for the team you back proceeds to start. It does not matter whether the scheduled pitcher for the team you wagered against gets the start or not.
4. Team action against listed pitcher – This is basically the opposite of #3. The wager is valid as long as the listed pitcher for the team you bet against gets his scheduled start; if not, the wager is ‘no actioned’. It does not matter whether the scheduled pitcher for the team you backed actually gets the start.
Those are the basics to betting on baseball. Best of luck!