Wagering on MLB games can be the most profitable form of sports betting. The reason for this is simple: there are many more MLB games than any other sport. So, if you have a good system or are simply a gifted MLB handicapper, you stand to win a larger volume of money over the course of the season. But first you need to know what you’re doing, and this MLB betting tutorial will cover everything you need to know to be a successful MLB bettor.
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How to Bet MLB Moneylines
The most popular way to bet Major League Baseball is to bet on the moneyline. The Moneyline in baseball works just as it does in other sports. You’ll have to pay extra juice to the book in order to bet on favorites, while underdogs provide you the ability to cash in on more than what you bet.
Some sportsbooks will offer dime lines, while others offer 20-cent moneylines. An example of a dime line is Astros -150, Rangers +140. Dime lines may be rare to find, but if you have a sportsbook that offers them, they can provide the best value depending on what team you like.
An example of a 20-cent line would be Astros -150, Rangers +130. As you can see, there is less value taking the underdog with a 20-cent line. And over the long term, betting on underdogs in MLB will deliver a higher ROI.
Studies have shown that if you bet on favorites of over -150 over the past 15 years, you would have a winning betting record, but would have lost money due to the increased juice. Conversely, if you had just bet on MLB underdogs, you would have a losing record, but a positive ROI.
The reason for this is that the sportsbooks know the public wants to bet on the favorite, so they will increase the juice to a level that makes them unprofitable. Over the course of the season you may see the Yankees at -400 and the Orioles at +380. Of course, the Yankees are going to be more likely to win that game given the talent disparity, but their odds do not equate to being -400 at fair value. And when you notice a plus-moneyline that simply looks wrong, it can pay off to be bold and bet on the dog.
This isn’t to mean that you should never bet on favorites in MLB games. But try to avoid betting on favorites of over -150 and always be on the lookout for undervalued teams at plus money.
Divisional underdogs are often the best teams to play on, as their familiarity with divisional opponents evens the playing field. Look to play on divisional underdogs on the road, as the public overrates the value of home field, and look to play on games with high totals, as this leads to more variance and a better chance that the dog will win.
How to Bet MLB Run Lines
The most common run line you will see is a spread of 1.5 runs. For the favorite to win, they would have to win the game by two runs. If they win by one run the bet is a loss. Betting the run line combines both a spread and a corresponding moneyline to the team you bet on. It is not uncommon to see a team -1.5 runs but +130/-130 in either direction. For more on betting MLB run lines, check out this article on when to bet the run line vs. moneyline in MLB.
How to Bet MLB Totals
When betting an MLB total, the first thing you need to look at is the weather. Wind patterns can have massive effects on MLB games and can mean the difference between a total of 7 runs or a total of 11 runs.
Here’s some context on run scoring for reference. In 2019, the highest scoring team in MLB was the New York Yankees who averaged 5.77 runs per game. The lowest scoring team was the Detroit Tigers at 3.61 runs per game.
Data has shown that the most likely number for an MLB total to fall on is 7. So typically, the run total you are most likely to see in a baseball game is 7 runs.
Knowing the umpires can be equally as important as knowing the weather. Access to umpire data is often found behind a paywall. But if you can find out information about an umpire’s likelihood to go over or under the total, it can become an incredibly valuable too for betting MLB totals.
First Five Innings
One final bet to consider when wagering on MLB is betting the first five innings. This a type of “first half” bet that only factors in the scoring for the first five innings of a game.
When a team has a bad bullpen, they may have value on the first five line. The outcome of the bet is then more evenly attributed to the starting pitchers.