What is the one sport that bookmakers hate and players love? You guessed it – baseball. Why is that? Because baseball is a sport that the players can beat. During the long hot summer months over in Las Vegas the books don’t have much action other than baseball. Baseball is different from other sports because there is no point spread involved. Baseball is based on a money line. All your team has to do is win.
You may have to lay a higher price but all you have to worry about is the win. Let’s say you like the Patriots over the Bears in football. You’ll probably being laying 7 pts. In baseball you lay money. If you like the Tigers over the White Sox you’ll just have to win the game. It might be -250, meaning you have to put up 250 dollars to win 100. But all you have to worry about is winning the game.
Another advantage that the players have is streaks. In basketball the Heat might run off 10 wins in a row but only be 5-5 against the spread because they are laying 10 pts or more every night. In baseball if your team wins 10 in a row you win every time. It is just a matter of putting up more money to win. And I for one like having to worry about just winning and not worrying about the garbage TD my team gives up late in the game.
Sports betting online establishments don’t like baseball because they just don’t get the volume of action that football or basketball provide. Fans all around the world are much more likely to bet on Monday night football than to bet on Saturday afternoon baseball during the summer. Another reason that books hate baseball is that wise guys continue to play even though the so called public may take the summer off. It does not make for good two way action.
I’ll go over the basics you need to know when betting baseball and later throw in some tips to help you. I talked about the money line already in baseball. The one thing I didn’t mention is the take back on the underdog. Let’s say that the Rangers are playing Houston. If you like the Rangers you have to lay -250 to win 100. If you like Houston you would get anywhere from +190 to +210.
Sportsbooks around the world set their take back on the underdogs anywhere from 10 cents to as much as 70 cents or more. So when betting on baseball remember to choose a sportsbook that offers the lowest line possible. The most common are 10 cent and 20 cent lines. If you bet a lot of baseball find the book that has the 10 cent line.
Run Lines and Totals
Two other areas of betting baseball are run lines and totals. Run lines are where the team you are betting is either laying a run and a half or getting a run and a half. It looks like this -1.5 or +1.5 The advantage to this is that in the case of our example earlier you probably only have to lay 140 to win 100 dollars laying the 1.5 on the Tigers instead of the 250 dollars to win 100.
So on those big favorites, many times people like to lay the extra run at the cheaper price. Just remember to hold your breath in the late innings and hope your closer doesn’t ruin your night by letting in a meaningless run. That hurts when you win 3-2 instead of 3-1. It turns a winner into a loser but that is the price you pay when laying the extra run. But it is something to consider.
Totals in baseball betting have become more popular over the years with the higher scoring games and the ball flying out every night. Home runs are a fascination of nearly everyone and they sure help your cause when you bet the over. Totals in baseball betting are the total runs scored by both teams in the game.
Usually you will see numbers like 9.5 under or 8.5 over. The over or under means that you have to lay -120 on that side. Say you like the under. You put up 120 dollars to win 100 if you like the game to go under the 9.5 runs. If you like the over you get even money - 100 for 100. Totals are usually based on a 20 cent line - the difference you see in 120 to 100.
How to Handicap Baseball Games
Those are the quick basics to baseball betting. Now - How to win betting baseball? Without question the most important aspect and the key starting point when betting baseball is the starting pitcher. That is why you see the starting pitcher listed in every baseball betting line you see.
Let’s say the Yankees are playing the Red Sox in Boston. The line you see would look something like this. Boston Lester -200 Nova 8.5 over. So if you like Jon Lester and want to bet on Boston you pay a healthy price. Let’s say though you look at the statistics and find that the Yankees do well against Lester and you want to bet New York. You’ll probably find a +170 out there and if the Yankees win you have found good value for your money.
I may go in depth with baseball betting at another time but for now here are some things to keep in mind. Look at the starting pitchers and their statistics first.
Second - look at how the teams are playing in their last few games. I know that it is hard for me to bet on a team that has lost their last few games and is not playing well no matter who is pitching. The exception to that might be when I have my stopper going for me. That is the pitcher on the staff the team knows stops losing streaks.
Third - look at how the teams matchup head to head. Some teams just own other teams. For example the Royals just never seem to beat the Yankees. Those type of things are general things to look at. In a future article I’ll go in depth on what pitcher stats are important and other things to look at.
For now - remember the basics and one final point. You can trust your gut. All the stats in the world shouldn’t keep you off a winner. If you get the feeling that a team will win - go for it.