by Kevin T. Anderson
While most people think about football when talking about betting on major sports, it’s baseball that offers the best chance to the bettor. The reason for the great payoff is the National Pastime is easy to handicap. Since baseball is most often a low scoring game, sportsbooks do not use point spreads in baseball. However, betting baseball does take a little getting used to. There are 3 ways to bet on baseball: Money Lines, Totals, and Run Lines. Let’s take a look at the basics of betting on baseball. To make the basics stand out we will use an example of a game between the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Money Line Sportsbooks don’t use point spreads in baseball. Instead they use a Money Line. The Money Line looks complex to the novice baseball bettor but is simple to understand after learning the basics of how it works. The best part about the Money Line is the gambler only has to worry about picking the winner of the game. No more betting the winner only to lose on the point spread. Let’s take a look at our fictional match-up between the Mets and the Cardinals to help explain the Money Line. The Money Line for this game might look something like this:
New York Mets +120
St. Louis Cardinals -130
The favored team in baseball always has the minus sign in front of their Money Line while the underdog has the plus sign. To bet the underdog Mets in this game you will put up $100 to win $120. Play the favorite by betting $130 to make $100. This example shows that betting the underdog gives a better opportunity to make more money. This example also takes the fear out of betting the Money Line. The Money Line is the biggest difference between betting baseball and other sports like football. Betting football puts your money at more risk due to the point spread. While betting the favorite in the Money Line will give you less payout, there are also fewer variables involved in the bet.
Playing the totals means placing a wager on the total number of runs scored during the game. You place a bet either over or under what the bookmaker’s prediction is. People also call this betting the over/under. Betting totals includes the score in extra innings. Pitchers play a major part in run totals. So both scheduled starting pitchers need to play for the bet to go ahead. The sportsbook will refund your bet if either scheduled pitcher does not start. If you play the totals you really need to pay attention to the starting pitchers. The Majors are full of pitchers with different styles. There are some pitchers who give up runs, but still win games while other pitchers are stingy. Playing totals is very different from betting the Money Line.
Betting the baseball Run Lines is similar to betting on the point spread in football, but the Run Lines are always the same in every game. The favored team is always -1.5 and the underdog is always +1.5. This means that the favored team must win by 2 runs for that bet to pay off. Betting Run Lines is becoming a popular way to make more money on favored teams. If you bet a heavy favorite on the Money Line the payoff is usually not great. Sometimes you will have to bet $300 to win $100. When you bet Run Lines the favored team will often pay off more than your $100 because they have to win by 2 runs. Run Lines look like this:
New York Mets (+1.5) -140
St. Louis Cardinals (-1.5) +120
You can see that the roles are almost flipped, with the Cardinals now paying out $120 for your bet of $100 and the Mets only paying $100 for a bet of $140. Of course, the Mets are the safer bet because they can lose and still pay. The scheduled pitchers must start the game for Run Line bets to move forward.
No other position affects the game of baseball like the pitcher. All of the sportsbooks are aware of this and base the Money Line on who the starting pitchers are going to be. The Money Line may change due to any pitching injuries or roster changes. Due to the importance of the pitcher, you have a few options based on that position when placing bets. You can place a bet that is only based on the “action.” This means that your bet goes down regardless of any pitching changes. The payout may even change due to the pitchers, but your bet stays the same. You may also place a bet based on the starting pitchers and make that bet void if there are any changes in the starting rotation. Finally, you can wager based on one starting pitcher. If you like the starting pitcher for the Mets, you can base the bet on his start and it will still be active even if the pitcher for the Cardinals does not start.
Make a Long Range Plan
When you make the decision to start betting on baseball, take the above knowledge and be intelligent about playing through the long run. Since the Money Line is constantly changing from game to game, your winnings or losses are changing from game to game. This means you need a plan for making a profit. You are laying down more money when you play the favorite team so you will have to win at a higher percentage to make up for any of your losses. Betting on baseball is one of the areas in gambling where you can make a profit by betting the underdog and only winning a decent part of the time. Have a plan going forward to make your betting profitable.
With the baseball season in full swing, this is a great time to take a look at betting baseball. Take advantage of the easy handicapping to win. Pay attention to teams and statistics to enhance your betting opportunities even more. Game time flukes don’t affect baseball betting as much as other sports, so your knowledge of who is playing will give you an upper hand as you place bets.
Kevin T. Anderson is a professional sports handicapping columnist at sports betting service website. Where you can find baseball picks along with expert baseball picks and other sports handicapping information free of charge.
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