Take me out to the ball game…take me out to the crowd…Ahh, there really isn’t anything as exciting as a nice afternoon baseball game with a dollar hotdog and a beer. Well, if you ask us, things do get a little better when you throw sports betting into the mix. Not only do you get to enjoy watching the game (even if you’re watching from home or the office), but you get the satisfaction of knowing that if your team pulls off the win, you get paid.
But, did you know there are more baseball betting options than just betting on which team is going to win the game? Out of all the major betting sports, baseball has some of the most unique and exciting different types of bets. Not only are these bets exciting and fun to make, but they give you a lot more opportunities to capitalize on your expertise and predictions and make money.
In this guide, we’re going to show you all of the different types of baseball bets that you have to choose from. As we’ll harp on plenty, you certainly do not have to use all of these different types of bets if you don’t want to. You can be just as profitable only using one type or using all of them. But, being aware of the different options is important so you can be sure you’re crafting the best and most profitable baseball betting strategy possible.
One of the more popular baseball bets you can make is the moneyline bet. The good news about moneyline bets is that they are also the simplest baseball bet you can make. Step one – pick a team you think is going to win a game. Step two – if they win the game, you win your bet. Rinse and repeat.
Yes, it really is that easy. A moneyline bet is nothing more than a wager on a team to win a baseball game. It does not matter if they win by 100 runs or by 1. It doesn’t matter if it’s a gorgeous win for the record books or an ugly win that they’re not proud of. It doesn’t matter if the win is in 9 innings or 16. Get the point here? It’s really that simple. All you have to do is pick the baseball team you think is going to win the game, and if they win you win your moneyline bet.
The only caveat to this that you need to be aware of is that every baseball moneyline bet does not pay out the same. The sportsbook adjusts the payouts based on how big of a favorite or underdog a particular team is. If a team is favored to win an upcoming baseball game, you’re usually going to get paid less than even money on a correct bet. If a team is an underdog to win an upcoming baseball game, you’re usually going to get paid better than even money on that correct bet.
The reason for this is that the sportsbook wants as balanced of action as possible on all the baseball games they offer action on. When they do this, they’re able to pay the winners with the losers money and take a little off the top as their house rake and profit. If they didn’t adjust the payouts this way, everyone would bet the favorites in every single baseball game and the sportsbook would be out of money overnight. But, by enticing people with more money to bet the underdogs, they’re usually able to get balanced action.
If you’re looking for more details about how moneyline bets work, we’ve got a separate guide that is dedicated to just that. In that guide, we talk more about how moneyline bets pay out, what it takes to win them, and the tips and strategies you need to crush with them. If you’re considering making moneyline bets, we highly recommend you check out the guide linked below.
Another fan-favorite when it comes to baseball betting is the totals bet. This is a bet on the total number of runs that are going to be scored by both teams in a baseball game. The sportsbook will lay out what they think the total number of runs will be and then you will get to bet on whether it will be over or under that amount. If you are correct, you’ll win your bet.
It’s important to make sure that it’s clear that the total number of runs means the cumulative total of what both teams score. For example, if the final score of a game is 7-2, then the total runs scored is 9. If the total score is 2-0, then the total runs scored is 2. If the sportsbook sets the total line at 7 runs, 8 or more runs would be a win for the over and 6 or fewer runs would be a win for the under.
If exactly 7 runs are scored in this example, then the bet is a push, and everyone gets their money back. To prevent this from happening, the sportsbooks will often set the line at something like 7 ½ or 6 ½ instead of 7. This way it ensures that there are no ties. If the line is set at 7 ½, then 8 or more runs is still a win for the over bet. But, instead of only 6 or fewer being a win for the under, 7 or fewer is now a win for the under.
Just make sure that you realize it does not matter who scores the runs or who wins the game. You are only betting on the cumulative run total. One team can score all the runs, or both teams can score them evenly; it does not matter.
A handful of the time you will see the same payouts on either side of the baseball totals bet, but there are times where they will shift the payouts when they aren’t ready to shift the totals number. Just make sure that you take the time not only to look at the totals number but also the associated payouts. If they’re not even, this may help to sway which side of the bet that you take.
If you’d like to learn more about totals bets, we have a dedicated guide linked below. This totals bet guide takes what we’ve taught you here today a lot of steps further. They break down every nuance and characteristic of the bet that you need to be aware of. We definitely recommend you take a few minutes to read it if you are interested in getting involved with totals bets.
If you’re making the switch to baseball betting from another sport, you are probably expecting us to talk about spread betting. In baseball, though, there is no spread bet. What they have instead is something known as the run line bet which is similar to a spread bet but with a fixed spread number that does not change. Instead of changing the line, they adjust the payouts on each side of the fixed number.
If you’re brand new to betting at all, disregard everything we just said because it probably confused you. We’ll take a look at things now from the start. A run line bet is wager in baseball that attempts to even the playing field. It gives you the opportunity to bet on a team that you think is going to lose the game by a run which you obviously could not do with a moneyline wager (since the criteria to win that bet is the team must win).
It also gives you the ability to bet on a team you expect to win but more decisively than by just a run. Moneyline bets are great when you think a team is going to win, but if they are heavy favorites, the payout associated might not be as appealing. With a run line bet, you can get a lot better payout by betting that they are going to win decisively.
If you’re still confused, that is okay. The baseball run line bet will make a lot more sense when we look at an example. Let’s say that you’re looking to place a bet on an upcoming game between the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers. Now let’s say you think the Mariners are going to win decisively but when you look at the moneyline payouts, so does the rest of the world. You could bet on them, but you aren’t going to get much of a return unless you bet a lot which you don’t feel like doing.
Well, this is where the run line bet comes in. Here’s what the moneyline might look like for that game.
If you were to bet $20 on the Mariners, you’d get a return of only $6.45. But, let’s take a look at the run line bet for this game.
Now, a $20 bet on the Mariners would pay out $16.67 in profit. But, what do they have to do now to win this bet for you?
Well, because the Mariners are -1 ½ runs, this means that they are favored to win the game outright. But, in order to win this run line bet, they would have to win the game by more than 1 ½ runs. In other words, they have to win the game by at least 2 runs. If they lose the game or win by only 1 run, you’d lose your Mariners run line bet. But, if the Mariners win by 2 or more runs, you would win your Mariners run line bet.
Obviously, this is tougher to do, but you are getting paid much better money if they do it. This is the type of bet you want to make when you think that a team is going to have a decisive victory by at least 2 runs.
On the other side of the game, the Rangers are + 1 ½ runs. This means that they are the underdog to win the game straight up. But, with this bet, they win as long as they outperform the 1 ½ runs they are spotted. So, if they win the game or lose by only 1 run, you would win a run line bet on the Rangers. If the Rangers lose by 2 or more runs, you will lose your Rangers run line bet. As this is easier for them to do than having to win the game (they can now also lose by 1 run), you’re not going to get paid out as well as the straight moneyline.
Let’s look at a few final scores and make sure you’re clear on which side of the run line would win.
A run line bet on the Mariners would win here because they covered the -1 ½ runs.
A run line bet on the Rangers would win here because they lost by fewer than 2 runs. Even though the Mariners won the game, they did not cover the – 1 ½ runs so a run line bet on them would be a lost bet.
A run line bet on the Rangers would win here because they “lost by fewer than 2 runs.” Remember, winning is better than losing by 2 runs so this would be a victory for the Rangers run line bet.
Make sure when you make a run line bet that you fully understand what has to happen for you to win your bet. Also, make sure that you take the time to look at the payouts. It’s very common for you to have a team that is favored on the moneyline (to win the game) but is an underdog on the run line (winning by more than 1 ½ runs). They may be favored to win the game, but winning by more than a run is a totally different story. This is what you would see in what the sportsbook thinks is going to be a close game.
A reverse run line bet in baseball is a wager where the favorite and the underdog are flipped. Let’s take a look at what this would look like with our last example between the Mariners and the Rangers. The normal run line would look like the following:
It would be set this way because the Mariners are favored to win the game. But, here’s what the reverse run line might look like.
As you can see, the plus and minus signs are switched, and the payouts are now wildly different. With the standard run line, the Mariners who are favored to win the game have to win by more than 1 ½ runs in order for you to win that bet. But now, they are on the other side of the aisle and just have to lose by fewer than 1 ½ runs. So, if they win the game or lose by only one run, you would win your reverse run line bet on the Mariners. This is obviously much easier especially when they are already the favorites to win the game, so the payout line is adjusted accordingly.
On the other side of things, the Rangers who are the underdogs to win now have to win the game by more than 1 ½ runs. So, if they lose the game or only win by 1 run, a reverse run line bet on the Rangers would be a loss. If they win the game by 2 or more runs, then you’d win this reverse run line bet. Obviously, this is significantly less likely to happen as you have the team expected to lose the game needing to win now not by one run but by at least two. But, the payout odds reflect this with just a $20 bet paying out $77 in profit.
This is the type of bet you would make when you think something way out of the ordinary is going to happen. When you think that an underdog team is going to dominate the favorite, the reverse run line bet is going to be your friend.
One last type of run line bet that we want to talk about is the alternate run line bet. Instead of flip-flopping who gets spotted the runs and who has to win by more, this run line just gives you more options and “more extreme” cases of the initial run line. As you already know, the run line is always going to be + – 1 ½ runs. But, you now might have the option of betting a run line of + – 2 ½ runs or maybe + – 3 ½ runs. It all depends on how many alternate run lines the sportsbook wants to offer.
What does it mean if you bet the alternate run line of + – 2 ½ runs? Well, here’s the initial run line again for our example game.
But, here’s what the first alternate run line could look like
Let’s talk about what changed. Now, instead of the Mariners having to win the game by more than 1 ½ runs, they have to win the game by more than 2 ½ runs. So, with a standard run line, as long as they win the game by 2 or more runs (more than 1 ½), you’d win that bet. But now, they have to win the game by 3 or more runs (more than 2 ½). If they win the game by 2 runs now, they will lose with this alternate run line bet. Again, as this is much more difficult for them to do, you would be paid significantly more money for a correct pick.
On the other side of the bet, the Rangers now just have to lose by fewer than 2 ½ runs to win this bet. With a standard run line, if they lose the game by 1 run, you’d win a run line bet on them. But now, if they lose the game by 1 or 2 runs, you’ll win your alternate run line bet. It’s only if they lose by 3 or more runs that you’ll lose this bet. This is much easier for them to do so the payout will be adjusted to a much lower number as you can see in the example above.
The next baseball bet we want to talk about that is quite popular in almost any online or brick, and mortar sportsbook is the first five innings bet. This is a lot like a moneyline bet except the wager ends after the first five innings. So, whoever is winning at the end of the fifth inning is the side of the bet that wins. It does not matter what happens from the 6th inning on and it doesn’t matter who actually wins the game.
As you might expect, there are ties frequently with this bet type. When that happens, you just get your money back as if you never made a bet in the first place. As is the same with a moneyline bet, there will be varying payouts on both sides of this wager. They’re not always going to be “proportional” to the full game moneyline as they are going to be a lot more dependent on the starting pitchers with less or no reflection on the closing bullpens.
There are some online sportsbooks as well that will offer a first five innings totals bet. This works the exact same as the full-game totals bet, but it only deals with the first five innings.
These are great baseball bets to make when you have strong opinions about the starting pitchers and how teams like to come out early in games. You will run into a lot of ties, but there is still a lot of value in these wagers, and if you do run into a tie, it’s not really a big deal as you just get your money back as if there were no bet.
A baseball futures bet is a wager on something that is going to happen that is not decided by one game. The most popular futures bet in baseball is on which team is going to win the MLB World Series. You can make this bet at anytime before the season, during the preseason, during the season, and even into the playoffs. Basically, all you do is select the team that you think is going to be the end of season champion. If you are correct, you win your baseball futures bet, and if you’re wrong, you don’t win.
Each team still alive in the hunt will have payout odds tied to them. As they get closer to actually winning, the odds will shift, and payouts will be lower on that particular team. As that team gets further away and less likely to win, the payouts will get better to try and entice more action. For example, you might get incredible odds on a team at the beginning of the season as they have a long way to go. But, if you go to bet on that same team after they make the playoffs or after they make it into the World Series or even after they win a few games in the World Series, the payouts are going to be much lower.
You’ll also see futures bets on in-season series and also post-season series. You can also usually make futures bets on baseball players to win major awards like the MVP and rookie of the year. If you’d like to learn more about futures bets, check out the fully-dedicated guide we have linked below.
Proposition bets are the group of bets that don’t really fall into any of the above categories. The sportsbook will propose something that may or may not happen in a baseball game, and you will then get to bet on whether it will happen. If you’re right, you win. If you’re wrong, better luck next time. Below, we want to take a look at some of the most popular baseball prop bets that you can make.
With this baseball prop bet, you get to bet on how many runs the winning team will win by. Usually, you’ll have an option for 1,2,3,4 or 5 runs, and you’ll also be able to pick the team that wins. In order to win the bet, you will need to get both pieces correctly. For example, if you think the Mariners are going to win by 3 runs, you would bet Mariners to win by 3 runs. If they win by exactly 3 runs and only 3 runs, then you’d win your bet.
This is a very challenging bet to get right, but the payouts are usually pretty lucrative to make up for it. You will also see different odds on each of the different numbers with each team based on the likelihood of it occurring and the bets that have come in thus far.
This is a pretty simple one that operates a lot like an over/under bet. The sportsbook will come out with how many strikeouts they think a potential starting pitcher is going to throw in a particular game. You will then have the option of betting that they throw over or under that number. To prevent ties, you will often see the line set at a half strikeout. Since half strikeouts don’t exist, there can never be a tie.
For example, let’s say that the sportsbook says a starting pitcher is going to throw 5 ½ strikeouts. If you bet the over, if they throw 6 or more strikeouts, you win your bet. If you bet the under and they throw 5 or fewer strikeouts, you’ll win that bet.
This bet does not care how long a pitcher is in the game. As long as they throw the first pitch, the bet is live. If they are pulled prior to the game and don’t throw the opening pitch, then the bet is not live. But after that first pitch, if they throw 1 inning or all 9, the bet is live.
This is a really simple prop bet, but one that a lot of people like to make. You get to bet on whether or not the game will go into extra innings. If you bet yes, as long as they are tied after 9 innings, you win your bet. If you bet no, you need the game to end after the top or bottom of the 9th. It doesn’t matter who wins the game; it just matters when it ends.
Another really simple baseball prop bet is the “Team to Score First” wager. It is exactly what you would think it is. You’ll pick which team you think is going to score the first run, and if you’re right, then you get paid. As you’d imagine, the odds will be different on each side of the bet as both teams have different likelihoods of winning and the away team will also have an advantage as they are up to bat first.
This is one of the most fun bets that you can make when you’re wagering on the MLB. The grand salami is a totals bet but for every single game that is being played that day. Basically, they will set a line, and you will bet on whether the total runs scored by every single team will be over or under that amount. If you’re right, you’re a winner.
Something that may throw you off guard when you go to make your first baseball bet is a question that pops up before your bet is official. It will usually have “the first starting pitcher’s name/the second starting pitcher’s name” on the first line, “the first starting pitcher’s name/action” on the second line, “the second starting pitcher’s name/action” on the third line, and just “action” on the fourth line. In baseball, who the starting pitchers are makes a huge difference in the lines and the bets. Sometimes before a game starts, a pitcher will get pulled and replaced for one reason or the other. When this happens, you may or may not still want your bet to be live.
If you choose the “action” option, your bet will be live no matter who the starting pitchers are. They could switch them out 500 times before the game starts and your bet will still be live. If you choose the first option, your bet is only live if both scheduled starting pitchers start the game. If you choose the second option from above with the first starting pitcher’s name, then your bet will be live as long as that pitcher starts. It does not matter who starts for the other team, your bet will still be live. The third option is the same thing except your bet is only live if the second pitcher starts.
The best option to select here is the first option as your betting prediction should be made based on a close look at both starting pitchers. There are situations where you can select the bet to go live as long as one of the pitchers starts if you think they are so dominant that they will beat anyone the other team could put up. Selecting action is just gambling. If you’re just betting for fun, though, and want a sweat regardless, then go ahead and select the action bet. Most likely the scheduled starting pictures are going to start, but there are a lot of situations where they are switched out before the game at the last minute.
The last thing that we want to make sure you are aware of is this. Just because so many different baseball bets exist does not mean that you are required to use any or all of them. There is a confusing trend that some people think you have to diversify what you bet and try and complicate things in order to give yourself the best chance of turning a profit. This is complete blasphemy.
Many successful professional baseball bettors bet just one type of bet, but they do it well. Many successful professional baseball bettors bet all different kinds of bets, and they do it well. The point is that as long as you are picking winners and betting great value picks, you’re going to crush baseball betting. You do not get any sort of advantage from using a bunch of different kinds of bets unless it somehow fits into your strategy.
Make your predictions on the game and then see what bets fit. If it’s just one type of bet always, that’s awesome. If it’s always a mix of bets, also awesome. If sometimes it’s one bet and sometimes it’s a mix…yea, also awesome. We just want to make sure you don’t feel obligated to utilize every tool that we’ve given you here today.