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The Down and Dirty on MLB Betting

If you’re going to bet on professional baseball and have not done so before, you’ll need to understand exactly how the three standard bets work. MLB offers wagering opportunities through the runline, moneyline and over/under.  Baseball bets are similar to standard NFL bets, but different enough to deserve some special attention.

The moneyline bet and runline bet both focus on picking which team will win a specific game. A typical moneyline bet may have San Francisco at -126 and Pittsburgh at +116. In this scenario, the Giants are favored as they are listed in the negative, while the Pirates are the underdogs as they are posted on the plus side. If you wager on the Giants, you need to bet $126 (-126) to win $100, while betting on the Pirates involves wagering $100 to win $116 (+116). This is a standard bet where the winner of the game is the team that pays off.

However, if you decide to bet the runline, which is a combination of the point spread and moneyline wagers, you’ll find that you have very different odds. The runline gives runs to one team and takes them away from the other. The line is always 1½ runs. With the runline, the same game listed above would be offered in this way—San Francisco (-1½ runs) +129 and Pittsburgh (+1½ runs) -140. With runs being taken away, the Giants now pay $129 on a $100 bet, while the Pirates, who have been given 1½ runs, pay $100 on a $140 wager. Because one to three runs usually decide a baseball game, the runline can change odds drastically.

Finally, the over/under on a MLB game is different than you’ll find in the NFL. Typically, a NFL over/under pays the same, $100 for a $110 bet, no matter which side of the bet you take. This is not true for baseball. With baseball, the over and under wagers are often very different. In the San Francisco and Pittsburgh matchup, the over/under stands at 7½ runs with the over being listed at +100 and the under at -120. Thus, wager on the over and you win $100 (+100) on a $100 bet. Take the under and for a $120 (-120) bet, you would win $100.

Why is baseball so different from football and, by the way, also basketball? It’s because a baseball team’s success is so dependent on pitching. In fact, it is so dependent that each line lists the two starting pitchers. If one of those pitchers listed does not start, then all bets are off and all wagers are returned. That’s how important pitching is when wagering on baseball.

By the way, another way that baseball is different from other sports has to do with how it calculates parlay payoffs. You’ll need to use a parley calculator entering the price of each bet and if the team is the favorite or the dog. Once you input the information, you’ll be told what the potential payout will be. By the way, any sports betting site will give you the same information as you make your parlay wager. You’ll see what they payout will be prior to completing your betting slip and making your wager. Thus, MLB parlay odds vary a lot with long shots paying out much better than favorites.

If you’re going to bet on baseball, you’ll need to be able to analyze pitching and hitting matchups, evaluate the bullpen and determine how good each team’s set up man and closer are. Also, you must pay special attention to the season series as teams play one another many, many times. As an example, within a division each team plays the other a total of 18 times. That means you’re sure to see trends develop between specific pitchers and opponents. Some times a dominant team will have a hard time beating a much weaker one.

It’s a good idea to find specific pitchers on which you can rely and to become an expert on one or two divisions. Look for teams that can score a lot of runs and that beat up on other teams. Teams that lose a lot can be good to bet against and the over/under is often a great bet when a team has weak pitching. Finally, be sure to monitor all trades, injuries and the comings and goings from the minor to the majors. All of these will affect how well a team does at any given time of the MLB season.

Baseball offers sports bettors a long season that runs from April through October with each of the 30 teams playing a total of 162 games. With that being the case, MLB bettors need to carefully pick and choose from which games they will bet. There’s ample opportunity to find good betting bargains each every day of the baseball season.

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