Many professional sports bettors say baseball is one of the easiest sports to beat year in and year out yet it still remains one of the least bet on sports especially with the average bettor. The first difference about betting baseball compared to other sports like Football and Basketball is there is no spread instead you bet what’s called a money line.
The best way to think about the money line is as a percentage. What I mean by that is let’s say the Boston Red Sox are playing the New York Yankees and the money line is Boston +130 and New York -140. So if you bet the Red Sox you would bet $100 to win $130 and if you bet the Yankees you would bet $140 to win $100 and I’ll also mention you don’t have to bet $100 you can bet $500 or $10,000 whatever you want $100 is just the easiest example to use when explaining how the money line works. Our next step is to turn our lines into winning percentages. For Boston +130 you would divide your betting amount of $100 by the bet amount ($100) plus the win amount ($130) and that equals 0.435 or 43.5%. So when betting an underdog of +130 on the money line our break even point would be 43.5%. Now we’ll take a look at betting the Yankees -140 on the money line. To turn this into a percentage we basically do the same thing we divide our bet amount of $140 by the bet amount plus the win amount $140 + $100 so it’s $140 divided by $240 which is 0.583. So when betting the Yankees our break even would be 58.3%.
The reason it’s best to think about the money line as a percentage like I just showed you is to think of betting baseball as finding value. Value is the edge we have on a bet. So using our Yankees Red Sox example from above let’s say we think the game could go either way there’s a 50% chance the Yankees win and a 50% chance the Red Sox win. If the Red Sox are +130 which is equal to 43.5% and the Yankees are -140 which is equal to 58.3% and we think the game is 50/50 than we would bet the Red Sox because they only have to win this game 43.3% of the time for us to make a profit and we handicapped them to win 50% of the time so you can say we have a 6.7% edge.
The other ways to bet baseball are the run line and total. The run line is almost like a point spread except its always 1.5 runs so if betting the favourite you would be betting them to win by more than 1.5 runs which is essentially 2 runs or more. When betting the underdog you are betting plus 1.5 runs which means if the teams wins outright you obviously win but they can also lose the game by 1 run and you still win your bet. The total bet is a bet on how many runs will be scored in a game by both teams. The sportsbook will give you a number like 9.5 and you would bet on if you think both teams will combine to score more than 9.5 runs or less than 9.5 runs.
Now that we got the actual how to’s of betting baseball out of the way let’s get a little bit more into making money on baseball. The first thing we want to do when starting to bet baseball is bet at a reduced juice sports bookies or a book that offers dime lines. Juice also known as vig or vigorish is the amount the sportsbook charges you to bet. The standard sportsbook offers 20 cent lines which means in an evenly match game the lines would be -110 for both sides and you would bet $110 to win $100 but using dimes lines also know as 10 cent lines the same game would be -105 for both sides and you would only bet $105 to win $100. That may not sound like a big difference but it is. If you bet 500 games over the baseball season at $100 per game and let’s say you win 55% of your games you would make $1125 more betting 10 cent lines over betting 20 cent lines. That is one simple tip to increasing your profit margin that literally takes no effort at all and could easily be the difference between a winning season and a losing season.
Our next tip is about starting pitchers. I think the biggest mistake when betting baseball is putting too much emphasis on the starting pitcher. The starting pitcher is no doubt the single most important player in on the field and will affect the betting odds most but an average starting pitcher will only pitch 2/3 of the game. Then the bullpen comes into effect so make sure to take a look at what each team has for a bullpen. Also a good rule of thumb about bullpens is a good bullpen is a rested bullpen.
Next take look at the offense and how they have been performing recently. Hitters are very streaky they could go 50 games where they just hit everything the baseball looks like a beach ball to them, they just tear the cover off the ball over that period. The opposite is also true they can go through cold stretches where they can’t hit a thing and the ball looks like a peanut. So if you have a 4 or 5 guys that are really hitting the ball well at the same time especially a couple big power hitters than they can beat almost any pitcher unless they’re up against a true ace but even then it’s probably still worth taking a look at.
Team wise baseball is also a very streaky sport so a good strategy is to look for teams that are primed to make a run and go on a nice hot streak and ride them or fade a team that is primed for a losing streak. When riding hot streaks or fading a cold streak you want to do that as long as it makes sense because the odds makers will catch up and start adjusting the odds. At the start of a hot streak you might have been getting the team at -140 but 10 games later the odds might be -200 and it may not make sense to continue to bet that team.
Another area to look for streaks is with totals and with totals the odds makers are usually not so quick to catch up. Every year there are teams that catch fire offensively and go on a stretch of 20 or 25 games and go over the total in 90% of them. Or a team that will go ice cold offensively while at the same time they’re pitching is on fire just pitching lights out and go under the total 90% for 20 or so games. You can find a lot of value on these streaks because the odds makes won’t make huge adjustments like on the money line for winning streaks. They’ll usually just move the total a half run like from 8.5 to 9.0 after a team goes over the total in 9 of 10 games and then maybe another half run from 9.0 to 9.5 after 10 or so more games where they play 90% over’s and so on. So after 20 games where a team might be averaging 3 or 4 runs more than usual the odds makers only moved the total on average 1 run so there’s a lot of value to be had with situations like this.