Home > All > Pete Rose Bet on Baseball and You Can Too: How to Bet on Baseball (Without Getting Banned for Life)

Pete Rose Bet on Baseball and You Can Too: How to Bet on Baseball (Without Getting Banned for Life)

I remember the summer of 1989. I was about to start college and for the first time in a few years, I had nothing to do (except pack). So during the day, I’d either watch or listen to baseball and at night I’d listen to Larry King (because he loved to talk about baseball.)

In between, I’d listen to the local news radio station and try to avoid the heat.

I had heard the rumblings of Pete Rose and the accusation that he had gambled on baseball. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I gambled on baseball (among other things) with friends, so my 17-year-old self didn’t really understand that anything was wrong.

I still don’t 30 years later for the most part.

An investigation supposedly said that in the 1987 season, Rose was betting between $2,000 and $10,000 a day on over 50 Cincinnati Reds games.

Betting on a game where a team you manage can be a problem. If he bet on them to win, I see no problem at all. If he bet on them to lose, as long as he didn’t do anything to negatively affect gameplay, I don’t see it as a major problem. An independent investigation said there was no evidence that he bet against the Reds.

But Major League Baseball had a problem with it. Lawsuits ensued. Rose and the MLB agreed to terms.

On August 24, 1989, Rose voluntarily accepted a permanent place on baseball’s ineligible list. In the agreement, Rose acknowledged that there was evidence supporting the ban. The MLB agreed to make no formal finding with regard to the gambling allegations.

According to MLB’s rules, Rose had the ability to apply for reinstatement in 1 year. When speculation began about a deal, MLB commissioner Bart Giamatti said, “There is absolutely no deal for reinstatement. That is exactly what we did not agree to in terms of a fixed number of years.

In a twist of fate, Giamatti died of a heart attack 1 week after Rose’s ban.

To this day, Pete Rose is banned from participating in the MLB and as a result hasn’t been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Rose would later admit in his autobiography that he did bet on Reds games, but never bet against them.

Rose knew something that many don’t, that there are so many ways to bet on baseball, it’s too fun and (if done right) can be too lucrative to pass up.

Finding a Sportsbook

Finding a baseball betting site isn’t a daunting task. Almost all sportsbooks take bets on baseball. Finding the one that gives the best odds or even takes your particular bet (if you’re looking to do a prop bet) may take a little work.

I’ve found over the years that if I spend a few hours researching, I can get better odds at some sportsbooks than I can others. Sometimes, if I’m betting on multiple games, I may need to spread bets out among different oddsmakers to get the best odds.

In my case, I’ll usually visit 5 to 10 sites and compare them all. I’ll put the odds on a spreadsheet to make comparing easier.

After I see the best odds (or that everyone has given the same odds for the game) I’ll place my bets.

Of course, I try not to spend more time than necessary researching. I wouldn’t spend more than 3 or 4 hours (depending on how many games I’m betting on) researching because of the possibility of the odds changing.

Sometimes, I don’t like the odds given in a game. If that’s the case, I just don’t bet on that game. After all with 162 games and 30 teams, that allows me to bet on 2,430 games each year. That doesn’t even include the 43 possible post-season games or the dozens of pre-season games.

Even though I look for the best odds with the sportsbooks, I also dedicated some time before I placed my first bet with any of them seeing how they operate. Let’s face it, shady operations can exist in any industry, gambling included. So I look to at any site that I bet with to make sure that they’re on the up and up.

Placing the Bets

If you have ever placed a bet on a game, you know that betting on a winner isn’t the only option. As a matter of fact, you aren’t limited to simply betting on a particular game.

When I started betting on baseball, I simply bet on the winner. It was a relatively easy choice for me to make. I knew the teams that I thought would win and I placed my bet accordingly.

What I didn’t know or even understand were the other bets I could make. I really didn’t even understand the type of bet I was making when I bet on a winner. I didn’t look at odds or any type of stats. I simply went with my gut. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t.

As online betting became more popular, I took it upon myself to learn the science behind the odds and betting in general. It made a huge difference.

Money Line Bets

A money line bet is the most common type of bet. If you look at a game listed on a sportsbook, you may see something like this:

  • Boston Red Sox -185
  • Texas Rangers +165

The plus and minus values represent the favorite and the underdog when place in a bet. In the above example, Boston is the favorite to win at -185. This means you’ll have to bet $185 to win an additional $100. Texas is considered likely to lose this matchup, so a bet of $100 will win an addition $165.

Because the Red Sox are considered the favorite in this game, the sportsbooks will require you to risk more money to place you bet. After all, sportsbooks, and really any gambling enterprises aren’t in business to lose money.

So in this case, you need to bet the $185 because the oddsmakers expect the Red Sox to win. And in most cases, they’ll win with these type of odds.

The opposite is true for the Rangers in the above scenario. The oddsmakers feel that they can’t win this game, so betting on them is more of a risk for the gambler. So, to encourage these bets, a sportsbook is willing to provide those who place a bet on the Rangers a reward for doing so. In this case, $165 on your $100 bet.

Money line betting has become the standard in almost every type of sport. It used to be that potential bettors would see fractional odds, such as 3/1 (3 to 1) or 6/5 (6 to 5) but those have given way to the money line system.

In other sports, you may see point spreads coming into play, and that’s available with baseball too, but point spreads are less common because of the games tend to be low scoring.

In football, for instance, you may see games that have 10 to 20 points between the teams. Since baseball counts one run at a time, the opportunities to run up the score are negligible compared to football.

While this is the most common bet, it’s certainly not the only type of bet that you can make on a baseball game.

Run Line Bets

Run line betting is a very popular type of bet in baseball. I know when I started betting, I had no idea what run line betting was. I had heard of it, but I had no understanding of what it meant, so I tended to stay away.

But I eventually sat down and started reading up on it and got the hang of it.

When you place a run line bet, you choose a team, just like you would do in a money line bet.

Most sportsbooks set the run line for baseball games at 1.5. This means you are betting on a team to win the game by at least 2 runs. If you are betting on the underdog, then you are betting that they will win or lose by only 1 run.

When you look at the run line of a betting site, it may look something like this:

  • Boston Red Sox -1.5
  • Texas Rangers +1.5

In the above example, the Red Sox would be expected to win by at least 2 runs, or the Rangers would be expected to lose by 1 run or win the game.

While most sites will set the run lines at 1.5, some offer run lines of 2.5 or even 3.5. The odds on these type of bets will vary wildly from those with a 1.5 run line.

When you place a run line bet, it is easy to think that a team will win by 2 runs or lose by 1 run. This may lead you to think that a run line bet is a better bet than the money line–especially when run line bets tend to pay higher than the money line.

It is important to know that about 25% of all games end up with only a 1 run difference, which is a lot higher than I expected when I started researching run line betting. So it creates a bit of a challenge when trying to guess which team will beat the run line.

One thing to consider when betting on the run line is that the home team has a disadvantage. If a home team is the favorite to win a game, they have to win by at least 2 runs. But think about the 9th inning of a game. If the home team is winning at the end on the 1st half of the 9th, the 2nd half of the inning isn’t played. Why would they? The home team has already won. But if they are only winning by 1 run, and you placed a run line bet on them, you lose if they were favored to win.

When I place my bets, I tend to bet on the underdog. I think that a 1 run loss or a win is more probably than a 2 run win from the opposing team. I especially do this when the favored team is the home team. There may be some games that I would take the favored team, but not many. In either case, I bet with the intent to win.

Over/Under Bets

Another popular bet when wagering on baseball is the over/under bet.

In each game, oddsmakers determine, based on a number of factors including how the teams have played historically, the total runs that will be scored in each game.

The total is then set as the bar for over/under betting for a game.

For instance

A game may have an over/under of 4.5. This means that in order for someone to win the “over” bet, 5 runs must be scored in total by both teams. In order for someone to win the “under” bet, both teams must score a total of 4 or fewer runs.

When you plan to bet on these games, you really have to know about how the teams play. Teams that have better offenses tend to raise the over/under bar higher. While a great pitcher can keep the over/under low, if he is backed up by a weak offense, that can also raise the over/under. A good defense and great pitcher is usually a sign of a low scoring game.

These types of bets are tough to make. When I bet on these games, I’m looking for a team either on a losing streak or a team that historically loses to their opponent if I am taking the over.

For the under, I will take it if 2 strong defensive teams are playing each other.

Parlay Bets

I’ve been a big fan of parlay betting since my high school days. Parlay betting was the first type of bets I actually made on any sport. I started parlay betting on football when I was about 15. Obviously, these were not bets that a legitimate sportsbook took, but I was young and it was over 30 years ago, so times were different.

I like parlay bets simply because there’s a lot of money to be made. The downside is that these types of bets are not the greatest if you are looking to win all the time.

A parlay bet allows you to bet on the winners of 2 or more games. The more games you choose, the better the payout. The caveat is that ALL the teams you choose must win, or you lose.

If you are going to only choose 2 teams, you may not need to do a lot of research to figure out who to choose.

But if you are like me and like to bet on 5 or even 10 at a time, you’ll waste your money if you don’t research.

When I make my parlay choices, I like to look at the money lines. This gives me a good idea on who is likely to win. But that is not the “end-all-be-all” when choosing my parlay bets.

I also look at who’s pitching, how the teams do against each other historically, how the teams do at home and at away games and how they did in the last week or so. All of these factors can lead me away from parlay betting based on the money line.

That being said, I will put 2 or 3 hours or research into setting up a parlay bet of 5 teams. I will put even more if I decide to do 10 teams.

If I bet on a parlay that pays out a few grand if I get all the pick correct, the time spent researching is totally worth it.

The Grand Salami Bet

While most would (and rightfully so) consider this a prop bet, I like to look at this as in its own universe like I would money line or run line bets.

The grand salami is a bet that allows the bettor to choose the over/under for all games played that day.

To me, this is one of the toughest bets to win. Personally, I’ve only hit it a handful of times out of dozens of attempts.

The easiest time to place a bet on a grand salami is when there are fewer games being played on a given day, such as a Monday. But some dispute this because one blow out game can “upset the applecart”, so to speak.

With new rule changes in 2018, finding days with few games have become easier because all teams are now given 4 days off during the season (not the same day) and games have been limited around the All-Star Game.

While most would think that a sportsbook would simply try to figure out the salami based on the individual over/unders for each game, that is not the case.

In many instances, there could be a 10 run difference in the salami and the total of the individual team over/unders.

The salami is a tough one to predict, no matter how many games are played though. Even just a few games can through off the entire over/under.

The biggest factor I look at in the grand salami is who is pitching and the weather.

If I know that dry weather is going to prevail that day, I will likely bet over.

If I see a lot of rainy games, I’ll bet under, because games can be called after the 5th inning.

As far as pitching, if I see lots of teams using multiple pitchers to finish a game, I will bet over. To me, this is a sign that the pitchers are getting tired. This tends to happen mid-way through the end of the season.

Not all sportsbooks take a grand salami bet, so you may need to look around to place one.

Prop Bets

Prop bets or proposition bets are non-standard bets in a sport. Baseball has a number of prop bets.

Some examples of prop bets that you can make are:

  • Will the game go into extra innings
  • How much will the winning team win by
  • Which team will score first
  • Total hits, runs, errors in a full game for both teams
  • The team that scores 5 runs first in a game
  • Highest single full inning run score

You can even place prop bets on the season such as:

  • Who’ll win the World Series
  • What teams will win the league championships
  • What player will hit the most home runs in the season
  • What pitcher will have the most wins in the season
  • Which team will have the worst record for the season
  • Which team will have the best record for the season
  • Which team will have the highest total attendance for the entire season
  • How many teams will finish above .500 for the season
  • How many teams will finish below .500 for the season
  • How many players will finish with a .300 batting average for the season


As you can see, baseball provides lots of opportunities to place bets. If you were to place 4 bets on every game in a season, you’ll have placed over 10,000 bets.

Betting on baseball adds a dimension of excitement that watching the game alone can’t provide. I know that when I watch a game on television, I may have 4 or 5 instances where the adrenaline is pumping, but the other 95% of the time, I’m watching people play catch.

Going to the game can be a bit more exciting because of the crowd, but for the most part, gambling on it makes me a part of the game.

Even playing the game, Pete Rose needed that extra adrenaline that betting provided. He just made the mistake of betting on his own team

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