As the American saying goes: “It’s as American as baseball, mom, and apple pie.” Ignoring the fact that the first apple pie was baked in England and moms were around a few millennia before

the United States came to be, baseball is indeed uniquely American, with the love affair to match. According to a list from Baseball Almanac there have been more than 250 movies where baseball was featured, with the first being the silent film Right Off the Bat in 1915. Yearly attendance at a Major League ballpark regularly tops the 74 million fan mark and another 2 million youth play Little League baseball. And no less than 80 times has the American president, dating back to William Howard Taft in 1910, thrown out the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game.

So of course despite the optics that suggest football and basketball are more gamble friendly sports, that simply isn’t the case. Baseball bets are not only common, they can be quite lucrative for the intelligent and informed player.

Betting on Baseball

With 30 Major League Baseball teams playing 162 games each over the course of approximately 180 days, there are 2430 baseball games in which you can place a bet. We wouldn’t recommend that you place on bet on each one, but you should absolutely pay attention to all games when deciding where you want to place a bet. With so many games played between the same opponents, and with the same lineups, trends in performance are quick to emerge, giving an edge to the educated eye.

Betting the Money Line

The most common type of baseball bet is a straight win/loss, or money line bet. And as with a point spread bet, there is a designated favourite and underdog. Taking the favourite, however, always pays less than the underdog.

Let’s say the Dodgers are hosting the Giants, and the Dodgers are -200 favourites while the Giants pay +170 as the underdog. The math on this is simple: It takes a $200 wager on the Dodgers to win $100, while a $100 wager on the Giants will pay $170.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind about baseball. Even the very best teams in the league will lose about 40% of their games. So always focusing on the favored team will eventually be a loser. And almost like no other sport, baseball is about the streak. Hot players and teams tend to stay hot, and cold players and teams tend to stay cold. As a general rule, when all other things appear to be equal, bet the streak, both winning and losing.

Betting Runlines

In an effort to curb the perception that betting on other sports was more fun, affordable, and winnable because they had a point spread, oddsmakers created a version of the point spread for baseball known as the runline. So instead of having to bet $200 to win $100 as in the above scenario, you can a $100 to $100 payoff. The only catch is that the Dodgers would need to win by 2 runs, or 3 runs, or whatever the line would be.

This does give gamblers options when it comes to placing baseball bets, and options are always a good thing. But don’t mistake more options for more easy money in your pocket. Bookmakers didn’t create runlines so they could give money away. In fact, most experienced sports gamblers agree that over the long haul there tends to be less value in runlines than in money lines.

When evaluating a runline bet, one thing to keep in mind is that each ballpark is different. The distance to the outfield walls is different. Some have the prevailing winds blowing out, while others have them blowing in. And some, like in Denver where the Colorado Rockies play, are in the thin air of a higher elevation, making the ball travel farther. Not all runs are created equal, with the location of the game playing a big part in the inequality. Always do research on the home ballpark trends when placing a runline bet.

Betting Baseball Totals

MLB totals betting is the same as the over/under betting in other sports, just by another name. It is very simply placing a bet that the total runs scored from both teams will be over 8.5 runs, or under 8.5 runs. Or wherever the oddsmakers set the line.

As with runlines, always check the game’s location when placing a totals bet because, as we’ve already discussed, not all runs are created equal.

MLB Postseason

When the baseball regular season finishes at the end of September an entire October of postseason baseball begins, ending with the World Series that pits the winners of the American and National Leagues in a best-of-7 series.

Baseball betting in October isn’t much different than it is during the regular season, except that all of the teams playing are good, and there are fewer games. As another general rule, the fewer the games, the closer the scrutiny by the oddsmakers, so fewer deals to find. This isn’t to say that betting on the postseason is a riskier proposition. It’s just less likely that the experienced gambler will find a mistake by an oddsmaker that they can then exploit.