Are you an experienced gambler in other sports but not so sure about how betting on baseball works? Or a life-long Major League Baseball fan who knows the game inside-out, but you’re looking to start gambling on the action for the first time?
Whether you’re one of those types of people or somewhere in between, you’ve come to the right place. Our MLB Baseball Betting Guide will teach you everything you need to know about how the league works, the best sites for betting on baseball, the different ways you can wager on the action, and even some quick tips on the differences between the National and American leagues.
Even better, you’ll find links to some of our more in-depth content. Whether it’s learning more about the history of the game, knowing the greatest players to ever take to the diamond, or buffing up on some baseball betting strategy (beginner and expert MLB bettors alike are sure to learn something from our strategy articles), you’ll feel even better prepared to step into the batter’s box and take some swings at your bookie this summer.
So grab your peanuts and crackerjack, pull up a chair, and let’s get started!
Whether you’re only interested in betting on baseball or if you enjoy betting on all sports, selecting the proper sites to bet MLB at is incredibly important.
Why’s that? Because of the sheer volume of bets that you’re likely to place. There’s roughly two times as many games in a baseball season as there is in an NBA or NHL campaign and more than 10 times the number of regular-season MLB games than there are in the NFL. With 12-16 baseball games to bet on virtually every night from April to October, your bottom line as a bettor is going to be heavily influenced by your success in MLB – even if you weight your baseball betting units smaller (which is something we recommend).
So how does selecting the right betting sites for MLB help you with this? Well, beyond the obvious of making sure to join the most reputable and secure sites to ensure that your money is safe, baseball is the one sport in which betting odds tend to vary the most from sportsbook to sportsbook. For this reason, it’s absolutely imperative to make sure that you always have access to the best possible lines for whichever wager you want to place, or at least odds that are within a few “cents” of the best.
A great way to measure how good a baseball betting site is is by looking at the margin that they have on their moneyline odds. You do this by subtracting the odds they are offering on an underdog from the odds they’re offering on a favorite and seeing what the differential is. For example, if the Cubs are -130 and the Reds are +120, the oddsmaker has installed a 10-cent profit margin (130 – 120 =10). This 10-cent differential is known in the industry as a dime line (after all, a dime is worth 10 cents), which is something you need to insist on as a baseball bettor.
After all, if another betting site has 20 cents of difference between the two teams, you’re going to get less return on your underdog wagers and have to risk more to win less on favorites. Using this same example, a sportsbook with a 20-cent line might have the Cubs at -135 and the Reds at +115 (135 – 115 = 20). You’re now having to wager $5 more per every $100 you want to win on the Cubs, and you’re taking back $5 less on every $100 you wager on the Reds.
Those small differences in odds (even if they’re just $1 or $2 per $100) will quickly add up over the course of a long baseball season. In fact, the ability to consistently get the best possible odds can end up being the difference between a winning baseball betting season and a losing one, and it’s one of the biggest things that separates the professional bettors from the amateurs.
Safety of funds and best possible odds aside, there are other things you should look for in a baseball betting site as well. A wide variety of betting lines and props for every game is obviously ideal, as are a strong live betting program, convenient banking options, and stellar customer service. Taking all of these factors into account, we’ve come up with this list of the best MLB betting sites.
Major League Baseball is the highest league of professional baseball, not only in North America but the entire world.
While Japan has its own professional league (the Nippon League), no one disputes MLB’s status as the league that consistently features the best baseball players from across the globe. That’s why it’s not really a stretch for MLB to refer to its championship as the “World Series,” even though Major League Baseball consists solely of teams located in North America, with all but one of them in the United States.
The history of Major League Baseball dates all the way back to 1869, when the Cincinnati Red Stockings (now known simply as the Reds) were founded as the first professional baseball club. Set to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2019, MLB is the oldest of the four major North American professional sporting leagues.
MLB is also the only one of those four leagues that is in season throughout the summer months of July and August, and its 162-game schedule spans from early April to late October or even November. Whether it’s because of the hot summer afternoons, cool evenings, or everything in between, Major League Baseball is an American tradition handed down from generation to generation and fully deserving of its nickname as America’s Pastime.
Major League Baseball consists of two leagues, each of which have three five-team divisions. The winners of each of those divisions advance to the playoffs in the fall, while the top two non-division winners in each league play a one-game playoff for the right to earn a “wild card spot.”
Here’s a breakdown of the different leagues and divisions in Major
Baseball betting is a completely different animal from wagering on other mainstream sports such as football and basketball.
While those sports are much higher-scoring in nature and often have greater separation between the favorite and underdog, baseball is relatively low-scoring (by comparison) and features a lot more parity. Because of that, nearly all of baseball betting (at least when it comes to betting on one team or the other) is done on the moneyline, rather than on a point spread that levels the playing field between the two teams and allows for equal risk/return on either side.
Here’s more information on betting the moneyline in baseball, along with the other most popular betting options when it comes to MLB.
In case you’re not familiar with what a moneyline is, it’s when you’re simply betting on which team will win the game. Unlike a point spread, you don’t need to worry yourself about how many points (runs, in this case) that the favorite will win by, but you also don’t have a chance to win a bet on the underdog if they keep the game closer than the spread.
Moneyline odds are determined by the likelihood of either team winning the game. Any wager on the favorite will require you to risk more than you hope to win (the bigger the favorite, the more you’ll have to risk), while a bet on the underdog gives you the chance to win more than you risked.
If oddsmakers believe the Red Sox have a 60% chance of winning a game, they’ll make the Red Sox a -150 favorite on the moneyline (the American odds equivalent of 60% probability), requiring you to wager $150 for every $100 you hope to win. Conversely, if the bookies think there’s a 40% chance that the Angels pull off the upset, they’ll list the Angels at +150 odds, rewarding you with $150 return for every $100 you risk.
As you may have noticed in our example above, the favorite on a moneyline is denoted by a (-) in front of their odds, while the underdog is indicated by a (+) in front of their odds.
Before we move on to the next way to bet on baseball, we should note one very important thing: when you bet on an MLB moneyline, it’s a good idea to protect yourself by “listing” the starting pitchers as part of your wager. This way, if either team decides to scratch their projected starter at the last minute and go with a different hurler, your moneyline bet will be canceled, and your money will be refunded. If you don’t list the starting pitchers, betting sites have the right to adjust the betting lines as they see fit whenever the pitching matchup changes, and you’ll automatically be assigned odds that you might not really like.
If you do like betting point spreads because of their ability to increase your return on a favorite or your probability of winning with an underdog, you’re in luck. The run line is MLB’s version of the point spread, although it’s almost always at -1.5/+1.5 because of how the majority of baseball games are decided by 1-2 runs.
Again, since most baseball games are so competitive, betting on the favorite on a -1.5 run line drastically reduces your chances of winning a wager on that team. It may not sound like much to expect a heavy favorite to win by 2 runs instead of 1, but favorites in the -200 moneyline range win by 1 run about 18% of the time. On the plus side, the extra risk you take by betting a favorite on the -1.5 run line will be rewarded with a much better payout, often enough to turn a -200 moneyline favorite into even-money range or sometimes even an underdog return.
For those same reasons, betting an underdog on the +1.5 run line will greatly increase your chances of winning that wager. But with that increased win probability comes a much lower return on your bet, typically making it a very unattractive option for casual baseball bettors. Professionals like the security of the +1.5 run line on an underdog and don’t mind laying extra juice to get it as long as the value is there, especially when that underdog is on the road (meaning the home team won’t bat in the bottom of the 9th if they’re leading by 1 through 8.5 innings) and if the total is lower than 9 (it’s harder to blow out a team in a lower-scoring game).
You generally don’t need to worry about listing pitchers for run line bets since almost all betting sites will cancel run line wagers if the starting pitchers change.
We go deeper into run line betting in our Baseball Betting Strategy for Experts article.
If you’re new to baseball betting and prefer the more traditional ways of wagering on sports, here’s some good news: you can bet on Over/Under in baseball, too!
Of course, Over/Under (also known as totals) is when you’re betting on whether the number of points scored in a game will be Over (more than) or Under (less than) a total number of points projected by the oddsmaker. In the case of baseball, you’re wagering on whether the number of runs in a game will be Over or Under the total, which can occasionally be set as low as 6.5 or as high as 12 or 13 (for games in Colorado or when the wind is blowing out at Wrigley Field).
For the most part, baseball totals will be in the range of 8-9.5, and 7 and 9 are both very key numbers because many games decided by one run will land on those numbers exactly (a 4-3 game would feature 7 runs, and a 5-4 contest would feature 9).
One other thing you should take into account when betting on Over/Under is the juice that is assigned to either side. Unlike point spreads or even totals in other sports, the juice on baseball totals is rarely even on both sides because oddsmakers are very hesitant to move the actual number (from 9 to 8.5, for example). Instead, they will adjust the vigorish that they are charging on either side first (Over 9 may go from -110 to -120 to -135 before the oddsmakers adjust their Over/Under to 9.5). Don’t just look at the number of the total that you’re betting against. Also make sure to see that the odds for your bet are favorable as well.
Back in the day (well, actually as recently as 1996), the American League and National League were essentially two separate entities housed under the same Major League Baseball umbrella.
The World Series was the only time that American League and National League clubs would actually play against each other, and the All-Star Game was the only other occasion when American League hitters would face National League pitchers (and vice versa.) Enhancing the separation between the two leagues was that they had always played by different rules: the National League required the pitcher to bat, while the American League permitted a “designated hitter” to take the pitcher’s place in the lineup.
Although the rarity of seeing players from the two leagues go up against each other made the World Series and All-Star Game just a bit more special, MLB struck down the barriers between the two leagues in 1997 when it introduced interleague play. It began in limited and experimental fashion (when each team annually played a couple of weekend series against an opponent from the other league, typically a “rival” club based on geography or history). But when the Houston Astros moved from the National League to the American League in 2013 and each league featured 15 teams, MLB rolled out a fuller interleague schedule. As a result, there’s nowhere near as much mystique when clubs from the opposite leagues take the diamond together.
But how should you take the different leagues into account when betting on baseball? Here are three key points to remember.
This may sound obvious, but it’s also something that you need to take into account when betting on baseball. An Over/Under of 9 in the American League is not the same as an Over/Under of 9 in the National League, and it’s also not the same when an interleague game is played at an American League park or a National League park (the DH rule only applies to games played in AL stadiums).
When pitchers bat in the National League, it’s virtually an automatic out. There are a few pitchers who can handle the bat pretty well (the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner hit two homers on Opening Day in 2017), but even the best-hitting hurler will struggle to hit higher than .200. Whenever there’s a runner on base and less than two outs, the pitcher will almost always be asked to sacrifice bunt in order to advance the runner, rather than swing away and likely strike out.
When American League pitchers bat in interleague games played at an NL park, they’re even worse. That’s because they bat so infrequently that the only time they even practice hitting or bunting is in the days leading up to the game, as opposed to NL pitchers who spend time working on hitting all season.
The designated hitter, by contrast, specializes in hitting and nothing else. Most teams reserve the DH spot for one of their best power hitters, while the rest will use a poor-fielding player whose bat is too valuable not to have in the lineup. Either way, the DH is able to focus entirely on producing at the plate and is often one of the most dangerous hitters in his team’s lineup. That’s the exact opposite of what we see in the NL with the pitcher batting, which is why American League games tend to be higher-scoring.
With that “automatic out” in the pitcher’s spot at the bottom of the lineup, National League teams manage the games differently.
We already covered how managers will often ask their pitchers to sacrifice bunt, even if it’s not a traditional bunting situation (for example, you wouldn’t typically bunt a runner from second to third when there’s already one out, but you might if the pitcher is batting). Another tactic that NL managers will use is intentionally walking the hitter in front of the pitcher in the lineup (especially if there are two outs in an inning and first base is unoccupied), choosing to face the pitcher instead. And when a team has an opportunity to score runs in the middle of a game, and their pitcher is scheduled to hit, managers have to make the tough decision of whether or not to pinch-hit for the pitcher with a better hitter (meaning that the pitcher is now out of the game).
This last point in particular is why betting on National League games is different than betting on American League contests. Betting lines are heavily based on the starting pitchers, but there’s a stronger possibility in the NL that the starters won’t stay in the game as long, getting lifted for a pinch-hitter instead. As a result, each team’s reserve players (also known as the “bench”) are more important in the National League, and the bullpens can be as well.
When you’re betting on games in the National League or an interleague game in a National League park, take some extra time to look at what each manager’s options are when it comes to their bench and their bullpen. After all, there’s a much higher chance in the NL that the final outcome will be decided by those players and not the starting pitchers.
This isn’t just our opinion. This is based on statistics over a 20-year period of interleague play, a sample size that is easily large enough to make some pretty strong conclusions.
Consider that from 1997-2016:
It isn’t just interleague play in which the American League has gotten the better of its National League counterparts. The AL also owns a significant all-time edge over the NL in the World Series, winning 65 of the first 113 Fall Classics (a .575 winning percentage). And heck, the Junior Circuit has even dominated the MLB all-star game of late, winning the last six showdowns and 16 of the last 19 (excluding a tie in 2002).
So why has the AL been so much better than the NL in these head-to-head showdowns for the last two decades? That’s not an easy question to answer, but we do have a theory: it’s a bigger disadvantage for NL teams to play games with a DH than it is for AL teams to play games when the pitcher bats. After all, National League rosters aren’t built with the mentality of having a spot for a dominant hitter who can’t play defense, meaning that they don’t maximize their benefit from having a DH. Meanwhile, AL pitchers are almost as ineffective at the plate as their NL counterparts, and AL teams can find a way to get their DH into the lineup (maybe as a first baseman) in the few games that they do play in National League parks.
Whatever the reason for the one-sided results in recent head-to-head play between the two leagues, there’s no debating that the American League has had an edge for the past two decades. Don’t forget to factor this in the next time you’re betting on interleague action, the World Series, or even the All-Star Game.
A more informed bettor is a better bettor, especially in a sport that involves as much strategy and intricacy as baseball.
Whether you’re an up-and-coming MLB fan or you’ve followed the game for decades, you’re sure to learn something from the various baseball betting resources pages we’ve compiled on our website.
Here’s a list of the most popular MLB pages on our website, thanks to all of the in-depth information that they provide:
Now that you’ve read through our MLB Baseball Betting Guide and feel a lot more informed about wagering on baseball, you’re probably raring to give MLB betting a shot.
But just in case you aren’t yet quite convinced that baseball betting is for you, here are three big reasons that MLB betting is so great, along with one piece of advice that you definitely need to keep in mind if you’re trying baseball for the first time.
Once the NBA and NHL playoffs conclude in the middle of June, baseball’s left as the only sport to bet on for the next couple of months.
All right, maybe this isn’t entirely true. Betting interest continues to grow in Major League Soccer and the WNBA, the Canadian Football League season kicks off in late June, there’s always the golf and tennis majors, and the NFL preseason gets underway in August.
But there’s no denying that baseball is what drives our betting interest throughout July and August. When MLB shuts down for its annual all-star break in early July, the four-day period is mourned as the deadest days in sports. We wouldn’t want to live in a sports betting world without Major League Baseball, and you don’t want to, either.
One of the best things about the NFL is the smorgasbord of action it serves up every Sunday from September to December. When seven or eight early games kick off simultaneously, it’s a huge adrenaline rush to gamblers across the world who will be glued to the scoreboard for the rest of the afternoon.
Baseball’s just like that, except that they do it every day for six months, not just on Sundays in the fall. All 32 teams in the league are in action from Friday to Sunday, and there are often 16-game slates during the week as well. And although MLB occasionally gives teams a day off in their schedule to rest, travel, or nurse their bumps and bruises, the league does a pretty good job of spreading those off-days around, ensuring that there’s action to bet on virtually every day during the season.
Even better, baseball schedules games throughout the afternoon and evening, including on weekdays. You’ll quickly learn that a day in the office goes by a lot faster when you’ve got a few bucks riding on the outcome of a weekday matinee!
As popular as baseball is in America, the gambling interest doesn’t compare to the volume generated by the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and NCAA football and basketball. As a result, the bookies don’t put nearly as much focus into their MLB betting lines as they do in other sports.
After all, oddsmakers need to be on their toes from September to June while those other sports are in season, knowing that any mistake they make will be quickly pounced on and could cost their sportsbook millions of dollars. When baseball season gets underway in April, the MLB betting lines are virtually an afterthought as bookies focus most on producing sharp lines for the NBA and NHL playoffs. And when the NBA Finals conclude in late June, you can almost hear the sighs of relief all the way from Nevada, as the bookies know they can finally take a bit of a breather for a couple of months.
Many oddsmakers treat July and August as a rare opportunity to take a much-needed vacation, while the ones who keep on working aren’t nearly as focused as they were during the busier months. Not that the bookies can relax for too long, either. With the start of football season around the corner, they’re only afforded a few weeks of relaxation before they need to start getting reacquainted with NFL and college rosters, preparing for the deluge of betting action they’re sure to receive in early September.
The same things that make baseball great for betting can also make them dangerous if you don’t stay disciplined.
If you have a bad Sunday in the NFL, there are usually only two games (Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football) scheduled over the next six days, allowing you to hit the mental reset button and not get carried away trying to immediately recoup your losses. In baseball, however, there’s almost always a full menu of games the very following day, making it easy for one losing day to quickly spiral into another.
This won’t be an issue for you if you’re able to mentally compartmentalize a losing day (which are always inevitable, no matter how good a gambler you are) and not allow it to affect the next. It’s the same skill that baseball players need to have, not letting an 0-for-4 day or a blown save affect their confidence when they take the field the very next night. But if you struggle to put a tough day behind you or find yourself second-guessing your decisions when you’ve hit a cold run, we highly recommend you give yourself a day off from betting now and then during the long baseball season.
Other than that, as long as you’re willing to put in your research and know what to look for in baseball betting (again, our MLB betting guides can help you with this), you stand a decent chance of turning a profit betting on Major League Baseball this season. And even if you don’t end up making money on the diamond, you’re sure to enjoy the summer that much more by having some action throughout the hot days and nights, filling the void until the sports betting season gets into full swing once again when football returns in September. [ Back to Top Sites ↑ ]