Many gamblers don’t stop to think about where the numbers come from when they’re placing a bet or how the juice can affect their payouts. Not to mention that Major League Baseball lines in general can be a bit confusing when you’re just starting off, so here’s a full explanation of the A to Zs of how they work and what you need to consider before slapping down your cash.
When you open your app or go to an online sportsbook and look at the baseball match ups for the day you will see three standard bets for each game that is offered for wagering on: Moneyline, Runline and Total.
Sportsbook A Sportsbook B
Dbacks -164 Dbacks -160
Marlins +144 Marlins +150
The examples above may appear similar enough to you when you are just starting out but there is a glaring difference that you should be aware of if you’re going to consistently bet on baseball. Sportsbook A offers 20 cent lines while Sportsbook B offers what is known as dime lines (10 cent lines).
It may not look like a big deal but it is a massive difference. In the example above if you are betting Sportsbook A you are costing yourself money on nearly every single bet you make whether you win or lose. We will use this as the first opportunity to point out that it is crucial to have multiple options for where to get your money down if you want to be a successful gambler. This becomes even more important when we get into proposition wagering due to the wildly fluctuating numbers that you can find.
Pirates +1.5 -220
Mets -1.5 +195
What you are betting on when you bet the runline is that either the favorite will win by 2 or more runs or that the dog will lose by 1 run or less (win outright). On your app or offshore site you may notice alternate runlines available and these will be different versions of the above bet.
Pirates Over 8 -105
Mets Under 8 -115
What you are betting on above is the total number of runs both teams combine to score in the game (extra innings included). You’ll notice this number changes wildly based on many factors (pitchers, offenses, weather conditions, etc.). You will also see half numbers in totals but this just means that there isn’t an opportunity to push that bet.
Advanced Baseball Betting
You will also see “first 5” lines offered at every major casino both online and brick and mortar. The same 3 bets will be offered as explained above, but you are only betting on the outcome through the first 5 innings of the game. The runline will be labeled at -/+ 0.5 instead of the standard -/+ 1.5 used for full game lines. Many times, this type of bet takes bullpens out of the equation since they typically don’t appear before the 6th inning.
Inversely, if you are betting offshore you will likely see the option for second half wagering as well. This is not to be confused with in-game wagering. This is a bet made before the game starts in which you can either bet on the side or the total from the 6th inning on, please note that this includes extra innings as well and these bets are always “action”. (We’ll explain action/listed later on in this guide).
Other baseball bets include team totals and first half team totals. If you think you have a feel for how one team will fare that day but unsure about how the other team will do, then perhaps this is a route you’ll want to go. It is very straightforward: either bet a team will score over or under the specified number, again first half will only count innings 1 through 5.
Series bets are another option you may see in the list of possible wagers. This is a bet that will only be available prior to the first game of the series being played and will often list an expiration date that the series must be completed by (in case of postponed games) and will simply void if the series isn’t completed by that date.
Action and Listed Bets
When making a baseball bet you will almost always have to select either action or listed. This means that if you select “action” your bet will be booked even if there is a pitching change. If you select “listed”, if there is a pitching change then your bet will simply be voided. I would always recommend selecting listed because there is a solid chance you wouldn’t have made the same bet if you would have known the pitchers would be different. Alternatively, some sites will cancel your bet anyways if there is a pitching change so always check the sportsbooks’ rules ahead of time to make sure you know their policies.
One last bet you may see is the Grand Salami. This is a bet that will disappear after the first game of the day has started. What you are betting on with this wager is the combined number of runs for every team playing that specific day. This is a hard wager to cash in on but one that’s fun to make every time.