Many longtime sports gamblers will say that betting baseball is the easiest of the major sports in which to show a profit, yet it is one of the least bet on sports around.
In the book “Sports Betting: A Winner’s Handbook”, Jerry Patterson writes, “More and more big scores are made betting on baseball than any other proposition.”
The assumption on why sports gamblers do not bet on baseball is that they do not know how to bet. There is no point spread and the odds used for baseball betting look strange to them. But it is quite easy indeed.
The first thing prospective baseball bettors should do is to know how the money line works.
Wise bettors and professional ones will seldom give odds greater than -140 when betting on baseball and always find a reason to bet the underdog. If you wager nothing but underdogs you can gain less than half of your bets and still come out ahead in the long term.
The Run Line The run line is basically a combination between the point spread and the money line rolled into one.
Don’t panic, once you see it in action, it is not nearly as confusing as it first sounds.
The run line uses a constant spread of 1.5 runs, even though on very rare basis, you may see it jump to 2.5 runs. The team that is favored on the money line can be the favored team on the run line.
Let’s take an example of the Royals playing at the Red Sox. On the regular money line we may see odds like:
Kansas City Royals +165
Boston Red Sox -180
As you recall from the money line, this means that Red Sox bettors need to risk $180 to win $100, whereas Royals bettors will risk $100 to get $165.
But when wagering with the run line, we would expect to see the same game like:
Kansas City Royals +1.5 -125
Boston Red Sox -1.5 +105
Now, those people wagering on the Royals risk more money than they stand to win, in this case $125 to win $100, but they will receive 1.5 runs. Even if the Royals lose by one run, those betting Kansas City on the run line will win their wager due to the 1.5 runs.
Looking at another game, this time where the road team is favored, we will go for the Padres at the Giants. For our purposes, let’s say the odds on the game like:
San Diego Padres -115
San Francisco Giants +105
On the money line, Padres bettors risk $115 to win $100, while Giants bettors will risk $100 to get $105. Using the run line, however, we could see odds look like:
San Diego Padres -1.5 +135
San Francisco Giants +1.5 -155
The reason the odds did not change as much for the Padres (-115 to +135) as they did for the Red Sox (-180 to +105) is because the Red Sox are the home team and won’t bat in the bottom of the ninth inning if they lead by one run or they will stop batting in the ninth inning if they go ahead by a run, even if the bases are loaded and there are no outs, if they don’t score by home run.
The Padres, as the road team, will continue to bat all the way through the ninth inning even if they are already ahead, or if the Padres take a one run lead in the top of the ninth, they will continue to swing away and try to add to their lead.
Betting the run like makes sense when you like a huge favorite and can gain them at reduced odds by giving the 1.5 runs.
It is also smart to consider the predicted amount of runs scored in a game when looking at the run line. Absolutely, 1.5 runs is more meaningful in a contest where the oddsmaker predict a total of 7 runs to be scored than it is in a game where the predicted total is 14 runs.
How is the predicted number of runs worked out? Simply by looking at the oddsmaker’s over/under number on the game. If you do not know anything about over/unders, you are in luck, as that is our next topic.
Baseball Overs & Unders
If you are new to overs/unders, more commonly referred to as totals, a good place to start is here.
Baseball totals are just like the totals for any other sports, in that you bet the total number of points (runs in this case) is either over or under the bookmaker’s predicted total.
The one difference is that in many cases you need to risk more than the standard -110 used in football and basketball totals when you make a baseball totals bet. On the positive side, there will be cases in which you get favorable odds, such as +120 when you make a total bet in baseball.
Using our earlier game between the Padres and the Giants for total purposes, it is quite possible we would see a totals proposition of:
San Diego Padres OV 8.5 -130
San Francisco Giants UN 8.5 +110
What this means is that bettors who wish to bet more than 8.5 runs will be scored will need to risk $130 to get $100, while those betting on the under will have to risk $100 to win $110.
As a basic rule, strikeout pitchers typically do better in night games and may be solid under plays, whereas off-speed pitchers who do not register too many strikeouts are usually good over plays when they pitch in the daytime.
There you have the basics to wagering on the National Pastime. Bet wisely and remember that it is a long season and you can be the next bettor to sing the praises of baseball betting.