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Have you ever glanced at an odds table and felt like you were deciphering ancient hieroglyphics? Don’t worry, understanding the odds is much simpler than it seems. Whether you’re a newbie to baseball betting or a seasoned pro in need of a quick refresher, we’ve got your back.
We’ll touch on key dates in the MLB season, teach you how to properly analyze MLB betting odds and dive into the nomenclature as well as give you the insight you need to increase your chances of wagering success. Should you want further assistance by the end of this guide, head on over to our MLB computer picks page to find additional tools to help grow your potential profits. But before you place your first MLB bet at an online sportsbook, let’s review what the pros already know.
MLB odds, just as with other sports, are commonly expressed in three different ways:
American odds are the most common format used by top U.S. sportsbooks. Odds start with either a minus (-) or a plus (+) and are always a whole number (-135, +150, +250, -325, etc.).
The odds indicate how much you need to bet and identify which of the two teams is the underdog and favorite.
Say you wish to wager on the favorite with odds of -175. Again, for negative numbers, the value of the odds tells you how much you need to wager to win $100. In this scenario, we need to stake $175 to win $100.
Conversely, perhaps you want to bet on the underdog with odds of +165. The odds represent how much you’ll win if you bet $100. In this example, we win $165. Both betting on underdogs and favorites will return your initial stake on top of your payout with a successful bet.
Used primarily in Ireland and the United Kingdom, fractions show the profit you would receive for a successful bet. In fractional odds, the numerator represents how much a bettor stands to win while the denominator indicates the amount of a stake.
If the numerator exceeds the denominator for a team’s odds, it indicates they are the underdog in addition to the profit being larger than the amount of the wager. If the denominator is higher than the numerator, it shows the favorite team and signifies that the payout will be lower than the stake.
For a $1 bet on an underdog with odds of 4/1, a bettor would win $4 on top of their original stake for a total of $5. For every $4 bet on a favorite with odds of 1/4, a better would earn $1 on top of their original stake for a total payout of $5.
Decimal odds are the most common format used by European sportsbooks. As the name implies, they are decimal numbers and always positive. Decimal odds of 1.59 tell you that the total payout you will receive from a successful bet is 1.59 times the amount of your original wager. A winning $10 bet on odds of 1.59 would see a return of $15.90. When breaking down the calculations for the return, it’s simply 10 multiplied by 1.59.
What’s the difference between profit and return?
The leading online sportsbooks offer 200+ MLB betting options in an individual baseball game, which is quite impressive but may seem overwhelming to some. To help you narrow it down, we’ve listed the most common bets on Major League Baseball.
This is the most straightforward way to bet on an MLB game. It’s a prediction of which team will win the baseball game. The sportsbooks assess the two teams, determine an underdog and a favorite and then release the moneyline odds. For example:
In this example, the New York Yankees are the favorite and the Tampa Bay Rays are the underdog. A $100 bet on the New York Yankees would earn you a $74.07 profit if they won the game, whereas a $100 bet on the Tampa Bay Rays would earn you a $126 profit.
The runline is the closest thing you will find to a point spread in the world of baseball betting. The standard runline is 1½ runs, which is what we will focus on in the following:
In this example, a $100 bet on the Los Angeles Dodgers would earn you a $105 profit if they won the game, whereas a $100 bet on the Los Angeles Angels would earn you an $86.96 profit.
In this example, a $100 bet on the Los Angeles Dodgers would earn you a $105 profit if they won the game, whereas a $100 bet on the Los Angeles Angels would earn you a $86.96 profit.
This is another popular betting market in Major League Baseball. You just need to estimate if the number of runs that are scored in a baseball game will be over an amount set by a sportsbook. Sports betting operators release a total run line on each game.
If you expect the Milwaukee Brewers and the New York Mets to have a combination of at least 8 runs, you can bet on over. If you believe the game will see 8 runs or fewer, you should bet on under.
There will be a standard total run line, but you will also find alternate total run lines (usually valued at around -110 odds.) They allow you to move the line up or down, which changes the odds. Additionally, alternate run lines are available for both baseball teams.
MLB prop bets provide you with hundreds of additional betting opportunities on any given baseball game. Prop bets focus on a proposition – whether something will happen during a game – and they are not always tied to the final result. Proposition bets in baseball often fall into two distinct categories:
Player props concentrate on individual performance stats. You can bet on the total number of walks, singles, doubles, triples, home runs, strikeouts, etc. You can also bet on the following popular metrics: total bases, RBIs (Runs Batted In), hits, hits + RBIs + runs, stolen bases, runs record and if the pitcher will earn a quality start.
Game props might include betting on the highest-scoring inning or first five innings, or whether the game goes into extra innings. You can bet on the following game props: teams with the most hits, walks, home runs and total bases as well as teams with the least strikeouts. You can also bet on the exact score, extra margin of victory and on a team to score the first run.
A parlay bet lets you combine predictions on multiple games into a single wager. For example, let’s say you like these four bets:
If you combined these moneyline odds into a four-team $100 parlay, that’s a potential payout of $1,582. The winnings from each leg roll over onto the next leg, meaning the profit compounds inside the parlay, leading to large payouts. However, if one leg fails, the parlay isn’t successful and you lose the bet.
Alternative parlay options include:
MLB betting sites allow sports bettors to wager on games after they have started. This type of betting is also known as live betting because the moneylines, runlines, total points lines, props and alternate lines will refresh as the game plays out.
You can continue betting until close to the game ending, but make sure to do your research, you don’t want to be betting based on emotion or you’ll quickly strikeout financially.
Let’s say for example the Cincinnati Reds are playing the Arizona Diamondbacks and the odds to start the game are:
In the top of the 8th inning with two outs, the odds have adjusted to reflect the current score (Diamondbacks are the favorite to win at -270 odds, pre-game odds were -133).
As the baseball season for MLB teams is divided into many series of consecutive games against the same opponent, you can also wager on the winner of the series.
Sports betting operators release MLB futures odds on a range of markets before the season begins. These odds update often and will be available to bet on throughout the season. These are often season-long or playoff-long wagers, which do not depend upon the result of a single baseball game.
Examples of MLB futures bets include:
The odds on these markets change over the length of the season, depending on how well or poorly the teams are playing.
You can also bet on a specific inning or on the first five innings (half-time) of a baseball game. Sportsbooks release the same key betting options of spreads, totals, moneylines and props on certain innings and the first five innings within a game. See the following for an example of a first five innings bet:
In this example, the Chicago Cubs are the favorite and the San Diego Padres are the underdog. A $100 bet on the Chicago Cubs would earn you a $69.93 profit if they were leading in the first five innings, whereas a $100 bet on the San Diego Padres would earn you a $125 profit. At the end of five innings, if the game is still tied, the wager is canceled and you’ll get the money back from your moneyline.
YouBaseball is a passionate sport in which specific outcomes are not always guaranteed. However, by conducting research on the factors that can influence the likelihood of making accurate predictions, bettors can seriously maximize their potential returns.
Underdog betting is common among baseball fans. Though anticipated to be the defeated team, underdogs frequently achieve victory.
To increase the chances of baseball betting success, bettors must first understand the odds as well as variables that can affect the result of a team, player or game.
Of all the talented teams in Major League Baseball, the consensus seems to be that the New York Yankees are the most popular among fans. This team has a long and enriching history, so this comes as no surprise.
A first five innings moneyline is a wager that only takes into account the outcome of a game’s first five innings.