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How to bet on Major League Baseball

How to bet on Major League Baseball


Dave Carney 2/2/2021

What’s on the table today?: Thanks to listener Mike B. for being open and honest. He doesn’t know a thing about betting Major League Baseball, and with the season now slated to start April 1st I figured it was time to break it all down.

Betting on MLB can become tricky the deeper and deeper you get into it, however, there are four common, and fairly easy to understand ways to bet on Major League Baseball games which you will find below.

For my money, betting on MLB games is one of the few ways for me to enjoy the game these days as I discussed on my program this morning…it’s simply too long of a time commitment, and the play is simply too boring. Give me back “small-ball” and I’m all in. As it stands, betting on the games is about the only excitement I get from it now (without being able to GO to a game at the park) so hopefully my explanations of these four ways to bet on MLB baseball give you (Mike Byars) a better handle on the whole deal and another way to enjoy pro baseball.

MONEYLINE BETS (STRAIGHT WINNERS):  Moneyline bets in MLB are the same as they’d be for other sports like basketball and football. 

Moneyline bets look something like this (Milwaukee +170) vs (Chicago -200). In the scenario, and we’ll use $100 as the wager amount to make it easy, if you placed a $100 bet on (Milwaukee +170) you’d win $170. Conversely, if you bet (Chicago -200) you’d have to wager $200 to win $100.

Obviously you’d want to win the PLUS money (Milwaukee +170) but that’s the rub…the team is PLUS money because they’re the underdog and aren’t expected to win. 

For most bettors and books, Moneyline bets on MLB play are the most common.

RUNLINE BETTING (COVERING THE SPREAD…SORT OF): Betting the Runline in MLB is pretty much like betting the spread in football or basketball, however in MLB the Runline is always set at 1.5 and would look like this:

San Francisco Giants -1.5

Los Angeles Dodgers +1.5

For the San Fran to cover the run line, they would need to win by two or more runs. For Los Angeles to cover, they would need to win the game outright or not lose by more than one run.

If you’re wondering WHY is the Runline in MLB betting always set at 1.5, it’s because roughly 28% of all MLB games are decided by one run.

FIRST FIVE INNINGS (BETTING ON THE FIRST HALF OF THE GAME): Another popular and common way to bet Major League games to bet the First Five Innings, also what is referred to as an F5 bet in most books.

Betting on the First Five Innings has some advantage especially in the early season games of April and May when guys are coming up and down through the system, and starting pitchers really aren’t going any more than 3-4 innings. When you’re handicapping the game using the First Five Inning strategy you don’t have to worry about trying to figure in relief pitchers and closers, just the starters.

Good friend of the show and author Rob Miech (Sports Betting for Winners: Tips and Tales from the New World of Sports Betting) uses the F5 bets as his preferred MLB strategy. I’d also recommend his most recent book highlighted above as a reference guide to anybody looking to get started in baseball betting.

TOTALS (BETTING ON THE COMBINED SCORE): The fourth most common way to bet on MLB games is the TOTAL which works exactly like the TOTAL plays do in football or basketball. The difference of course is how the scores will look, with the total number of runs scored obviously less than points scored in football or basketball.

A typical TOTAL play in Major League ball looks like this:

Brewers vs Cubs (Over 7.5 / Under 7.5)

In this play you’d wager whether or not the game’s total number of runs scored will be more than 7.5 or less. It’s that simple.

If you’re like me, betting on MLB in 2021 may be the most enjoyable part of the game, but as with anything, the enjoyment you get in betting increases as you understand more of what you’re doing, what you’re up against, and how you like to play.

For my man Mike, I hope this helped!

**For more info on TOTAL plays, OVER/UNDER, and PLUS/MINUS plays, TEASER cards and more, check back through some previous columns for detailed information**

REMEMBER – don’t bet based upon my recommendations. Do your research. Stay in your lane

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