A baseball Over-Under bet is a bet on the number of total runs scored in a game. The game has to go at least 5.5 innings to be official, and all runs count, even in games which go extra-innings. If a game is suspended because of rain or length of play, it will be finished later and your bet will be pending until it is over. If a game is called due to rain (or other unforeseen occurrence) before 5.5 innings it will be made up at a later date. In this case your bet will be refunded.
If you have not walked into a Las Vegas casino which offers sports wagering you will be amazed at how many bets are in fact available, from hockey, football, baseball, golf and European soccer to tennis, college sports, motor sports and others. Nevertheless, during the baseball season from April through October, most of the wagers on the boards will be baseball. And, you wager on run totals, pitchers, parlays, home runs, runs in an inning, strikeouts, fly ball outs, total hits, you name it and some Sportsbook will offer the wager.
Most baseball bets are placed on the winning team, and the books set a money line to even-out the wagers between players, so the favorite maybe -1.50 and the underdog +1.30 As bets on one side or the other dominate, the line will move. Suppose the Sportsbook gets a lot of action on the underdog but not the favorite. When this happens, the line might move to -1.40 and +1.20 to again even out the bets.
Sportsbooks rely on capturing a small piece of the total bets to survive, not on selecting who will actually win. In other words, their job is to gauge how the public will wager. If two teams are perfectly matched for a game, then the team with the most followers will be the favorite. Think of the Yankees vs the Padres. Who is better known and has a larger fan base? Right, the Yankee. If they were otherwise perfectly matched the line will still be something like Yankees-1.35 Padres +1.20 to even out the bets since more people will wager the Yankees so the Sportsbook tries to place a bet on the Padres more appealing. This happens all season long.
A lot of baseball bettors think they should wait until after at least a month of play, since the season is 162 games and they would like have some historical background before placing any wagers. Nevertheless, there are a lot of ways to make money with early season baseball wagers. One of the keys to success is watching each teams talent during Spring Training, and by measuring one teams roster against another teams. If you research, you will find many games like the one above (Padres vs. Yankees) in which the fan favorite is not necessarily the game favorite and the line will provide you a good deal. This can even happen with point-totals, again, early in the season, when a team is expected to hit many home runs and score lots of runs.
A baseball Over-Under total may start at -1.10 for both bets, so the Sportsbook gets to keep a piece of the action. That means no matter which side you select you will be laying 11 to win 10 units. An $11 bet returns $21. That gives the bet a .9090909 return or a house edge of over 9%. Taking an underdog wager regularly is tough, even if you are betting on baseball streaks.
If you use a simple system to guess a game’s total runs (like using the total runs scored for each team and dividing by the number of games played), you may find a game that looks good to bet. Suppose this time the game is the Minnesota Twins and the Baltimore Orioles and the two teams score an average of 4.6 runs and 5.4 each game respectively. With no other knowledge you may guess the game will be 10 runs (4.6 plus 5.4). Now you see the line on the game is Over/Under 10 runs.
Well, what to do. That is how many runs you expected, but will they actually score more, or less? Again, if you knew nothing else about the game, you would look at the odds, which might be Over 10 -1.20 and under 10 +1.10 so now you get more than you bet on a win if you bet the under. Now you go through your checklist:
Things which May Reduce Runs Scored
- Big players rest or hurt
- Rain and wet weather
- Dominant pitchers or pitchers going
- Long road trips recently by one or both teams
- Night game with strikeout pitchers or pitchers
- Inter-league games where the AL pitcher bats rather than a Designated Hitter
Things which May Increase Runs Scored
- Poor defensive teams particularly when replacements are played
- Minor-league call-up pitcher going in first ML start
- Revenge games in which a team wants to score runs
- Off-speed pitcher or knuckleballer in windy weather
- Wind blowing heavily towards outfield walls
Yes, the Sportsbook takes these things into consideration. This list is not for you to find great games to wager, it to help you understand why a game you thought might be at one run total is very different and keep you from betting heavily because you think the line is out of whack.
There are no perfect tried-and-true ways to beat the totals, but keying on a few teams and watching how they play this week, their momentum, their heart and their potential is probably more likely to make you a profit than any other system. As your ability is improved, you can raise the number of teams you are watching and your bets, but understanding casino odds is crucial before you plot your sports-betting future.
You will also likely find that most of the ideas for Over-Under wagers apply to 3-game series bets and you can profit by using your new ability for more than one game during a series.