Betting Baseball 101 – Types of Bets

As part of our 101 series we want to introduce you to the types of bets that you have at your disposal.

Most recreational handicappers, or those who most often bet on the primetime games, i.e. Monday Night Baseball, Sunday Night Baseball, Red Sox v. Yankees, or any other high profile match up just want to get a taste of the action and don’t mind dropping $20 on the game so they can have some good water cooler talk the next day. However most don’t actually know what they are betting on or if their bet is actually any good. So lets break down all the options at your disposal. Just a note we will not be discussing prop bets for this particular post as that will be forthcoming.

The key to becoming a better handicapper is to understand what your betting on and determining if its a good bet. How do you know it’s a good bet? Well, what’s important is comparing what you believe the likelihood of an outcome to be compared to what the sportsbook believes that outcome will be. How this works will be discussed in another post. For today lets focus on what were actually betting on moving from the easiest to the hardest.


The Money Line

Money Line
This is the Money line wager comparing 5 different sportsbooks. Two have not established lines but the other 3 have, the best lines are highlighted in green. Money line bets in the United States use a +/- evaluation with Even or +/-100 meaning for every dollar bet if you win you will receive your money back plus the equal amount to your wager. Example Even Money on the Reds for $100 bet you would receive $200. For every point below 100 or in this example -167 you will receive less per winning wager plus your money back. The standard line often does not remain at even money or the house (The Casino) would never win any money. Most commonly in the U.S. -110 is the line wager. So for a $100 bet you would receive $190 if you were to win. The lower the number the more likely an outcoming is expected by the casino. This the scenario above Cincinnati is expected to win. Part of this equation also includes how much the casino has collected in bets throughout the day and the line will move or adjust to compensate for these wagers. On the Positive side every point over +100 you will win your money back plus the amount initially wagered. In the scenario above if the Tigers were to win on a $100 bet you would receive $250 or 1.5x your initial wager plus your initial bet.

The Total

Runs Total

The total line uses similar concepts to the money line. The only difference is instead on betting for a team to win you are wagering the total amount of runs in a given standard 9 inning contest. One item of note; if games end prior to the middle of the 7th inning this will likely void this and other wagers as it is not a full contest per MLB rules. The example provided above outlines a total anticipated runs of 9. You are not betting on a team but the collective effort of both teams. Line totals vary based on pitching rotation, team batting, and location. The easiest example of location is Coors Field for the Colorado Rockies. Due to altitude the ball naturally carries farther creating additional runs per the average of the rest of the MLB. The same wagering principles apply for the total as the money line.


The Run Line

Run Line Total

The run line follows the same principles as the money line wager however the major different is while the money line only a team has to win, on the run line the team has to win or lose by more or less. This example the Reds will need to win by at least two runs in order for your wager to be successful. On the same token the Tigers can only lose by no less than 1 run in order to win your wager. This wager is extensively harder than the money line and the betting amount reflects that with the average being -109 in this scenario compared to -167/+150 in the Money line bet.


Starting small and working your up to more advanced betting techniques is the way to go as you learn. Even the best bettors barely break even. So stay consistent find a methodology that works well for you and determine where you think the value lives.

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