I spend less time betting on sports than I do playing poker or casino games, but I do enjoy betting on baseball. It offers a lot of advantages over some other sports. For one thing, you can find more opportunities to bet for value in a baseball season than other sports.
Every team in Major League Baseball plays in 162 games per season. That’s a lot of games for the bookmakers to keep up with, although most of them are up to the task. But with more games being played, you’ll have more opportunities to find +EV bets than with other sports.
You also have the opportunity to bet on a baseball game every day. Sure, you can bet on football 3 times a week or 4 if you include college games. But baseball is the best sport to bet on if you want to place bets every day.
Besides all that, baseball is America’s pastime. It’s downright patriotic to learn how to bet on baseball games.
This post contains everything you need to know to get started! It also points to other resources that you can use to fill in the gaps in your knowledge.
Most people reading this post will be in the United States and will probably be betting on baseball games there. But I also know that a lot of my American readers bet online, which means they’re able to bet through offshore bookmakers who offer action on baseball leagues in multiple countries.
This means you can bet on Major League Baseball (MLB), yes, but you can also bet on Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). Some sports books also offer action on smaller leagues in other countries. Most international baseball action takes place in Central America, South America, and South Korea.
If you’re hoping to make advantage plays and +EV bets all the time, it might be tougher to do so in some of these smaller countries. I don’t know how regulated the games are there. I think it’s extremely rare for a game to be fixed by gamblers in the United States—at least in the modern United States—but I’m less confident when you start talking about smaller countries.
That’s not meant to sound racist or prejudiced at all. I just don’t know. The other thing is that scouting for countries where you’re not present has to be tougher than scouting in countries where you are present. I know a little bit about plenty of American baseball players, but not so much about baseball players from other countries.
All sports offer both long-term and short-term bets you can place. A long-term bet is a bet on who’s going to win a specific competition. For example, if you place a bet on which team is going to play in the World Series or on which team is going to win the World Series this year, you’re making a long-term bet.
Short-term bets, on the other hand, are bets on individual games. You can even place bets on some games while they’re taking place. Knowing about your different options gives you more opportunities to find value than if you’re only able to bet on a couple of choices.
In Major League Baseball, some of the most common long-term bets include:
In Nipponese Professional Baseball, you have the same basic structure, so you also have the same potential long-term bets available. Their equivalent of the World Series is called the Japan Series.
Some books also offer prop bets (as opposed to the “outright bets” or “season bets” listed above). These can be bets on anything you can imagine. They’re often fun to do as a lark, but it would be rare that a prop bet would offer you a positive expectation.
Most bettors spend more time betting on individual games, though. That way they get almost immediate results on their action, instead of having to wait for the championships at the end of the season. Also, you can bet on individual games during any of the championship events as they’re happening. Those are still short-term bets.
You can also bet on the over/under in a baseball game. This works much like an over/under bet in football. I’ll cover that in more detail in the next section, along with detailed notes about how the odds work for the various bets available in baseball.
“Odds” refers to 2 things:
If I say that an event has 4 to 1 odds of happening, that means there are 4 ways to lose that bet and only a single way to win it. The probability of winning is only 20%. The probability of losing is 80%.
If I say that a bet pays off at 4 to 1 odds, that means that you’ll win 4 units for every unit you risked. If you bet $100 on a bet that pays off at 4 to 1, you’d win $400 if and when you won that bet.
Different sports and different bets use different formats to express their odds. In baseball, the most common bets along with how they represent the odds are listed and explained below:
You can sometimes find games where the run line is 2.5 or 3.5, but those teams are heavily favored or heavy underdogs. You can also bet on the over/under. This is just a bet that the total number of runs by both teams in the game will exceed or come in below a certain number.
Parlays are also popular in baseball. This is a bet on multiple games, and you must pick all the games correctly to win. A parlay enables you to win a bigger prize amount on your action, but it’s harder to win, since you must be right about multiple games.
You can also place shorter-term proposition bets in baseball. For example, you might bet on how many hits a batter will have on a certain day.
You’ll want to come up with your own strategy ideas, but here are some things to consider:
Betting on underdogs often means value, especially with moneyline bets. A lot of people avoid betting on underdogs. Everyone loves a winner, right? One of the other reasons folks avoid betting on underdogs is because they don’t win as often. You definitely won’t win half your bets.
But when you’re betting the moneyline, you win more money when you do win. As long as you win enough money to make up for your losses and show a profit, you’re in the clear. This doesn’t mean every bet on an underdog represents value. It’s just a good place to start.
Would you rather bet on a favorite and win 60% of the time? The correct answer is that it depends on the payout when you win. If you’re risking $300 to win $100, you’d be a fool to be happy with a 60% win percentage. Over time, your losses in that situation will add up fast.
Expected value is about how much you win when you win versus how much you lose when you lose. Any strategy that doesn’t account for both those factors is doomed from the start.
Betting against the public is often the right move, too. Betting on a lot of underdogs is one way to ensure that you’re betting against the public from the get-go. This strategy is as simple as finding out how much of the money is on either side of a match. Then bet against the side where more of the money is. This will usually, but not always, be the underdog anyway.
This isn’t foolproof, either, by the way. But it’s also a good starting point.
If you live in Las Vegas, the easiest way to bet on sports is to find one of the books in one of the casinos that you like and bet with them. Soon, other cities in other states will also have legal and regulated books where you can bet, too. If that’s an option, you should always consider it.
Of course, for most United States citizens, living near a legal, regulated bookmaker operation is a dream. In that case, you have a couple of options. The 1st is to find a local bookie to do business with. The 2nd is to place your bets with an online bookmaker. Some bettors do both.
Finding a local bookie is usually as easy as asking around at the local bar. If there are patrons there drinking and watching sports on TV, you can bet that some of them have action on the game. Get to know some people and ask for a referral. It’s even better to get a referral from a friend of yours who you trust.
If you’re shy, or if you just prefer doing things over the computer, you can bet online at various offshore bookmaking operations. These sites are usually licensed and regulated in their country of origin. They can provide a safe and customer-friendly experience for most sports bettors in the United States.
Be careful, though. When you’re dealing with offshore companies, you’ll sometimes run into a bad apple. My best recommendation is to find an information site—like the one you’re reading now—that recommends vetted offshore sportsbooks. Check out our online sportsbook reviews here!
It’s hard to consider yourself a serious gambler of any kind if you’re not keeping detailed records. When you’re betting on baseball, you should keep up with the following stats throughout your career:
You can track this information in a spreadsheet or an old-fashioned spiral notebook. As long as you’re tracking your results, your results will be better than someone’s results who isn’t keeping up with them.
My boss used to tell me that performance measured is performance improved.
You might be okay with being a recreational baseball bettor. There’s nothing wrong with that. Not everyone is cut out to be an advantage gambler anyway.
But even if you’re just in it for fun and entertainment, you’ll have more fun and find yourself more entertained if you try to win money when you’re doing it. Trust me. I’ve participated in more hobbies than most. I’ve had all kinds of weird careers, too. Everything is more fun if you’re good at it.
The key to winning at baseball betting is to treat it like investing. Your goal is to find valuable investments that cost less than they should. Sometimes these investments (bets) will pan out. Sometimes they won’t.
If you’re right more often than you’re wrong, you’ll eventually show a profit. Even if you try and fail, you’ll lose less money than you would if you weren’t searching for value.
Betting on baseball is probably easier than you think. The best thing about it is that you can make so many bets per season. You just have so many more options with this sport than most others because of the 162 games available per season.
You can also find lots of value when making baseball bets. It’s probably easier to find opportunities to bet on underdogs and bet against the public in this sport than any. This is a contrarian betting strategy, but you’ll be surprised at how profitable it can be as a starting point for your baseball betting activities.
You can and should keep careful records of your results in this hobby. If you win a lot of money at it one year, you’ll need records of your losses, too—for tax purposes, if no other reason. Also, as my good friend once explained to me—performance measured is performance improved.
Want to improve your results? Start writing them down so that you have a record of them. That’s all you need to know about how to bet on baseball games to get started.
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.