Play Ball! The Basics of Betting on Major League Baseball

Baseball Mar 31, 2021

Today is opening day of the 2021 Major League Season.  

That means we have another sport to bet on all the way through the spring and summer until next fall (hopefully – fingers crossed!).

Many sports gamblers are already familiar with football, hockey, and basketball and how gambling works. However, baseball has lots going on and has some unique wagering situations that offer wise bettors a chance to make a profit.

Here's a primer on the fundamentals Major League Baseball betting, with an explanation of the most common types of bets and terms used when gambling.

Remember to place your bets at SPREADS.CA, Canada's best bet, which has odds, totals, and props on all the games this season.  SPREADS.CA even offers the "Grand Salami."


Baseball betting primarily revolves around the odds for a team to win, also known as a "money line."  Every money line bet is in relation to a base figure of $100.

For example, if the New York Yankees are playing the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yanks might be -175 favorites (and they are on opening day, Apr. 1).  The minus sign denotes that team is favoured team.  It means means that you must risk $170 for every $100 you want to win.  That's because New York is considered to have a better starting pitcher and/or lineup, among other reasons, such as playing at home.  In this example, the Blue Jays are +155 underdogs, which means if you risk $100 on Toronto, you win $155 in profit if they upset the Yankees.


Baseball also has something similar to a pointspread, which is always the same – laying 1.5 runs (or a run and a half).  This is called the "run line."

Using the previous game as an example, in Thursday's season opener the Yankees are -1.5, +115.  That means the Yankees not only have to win the game but they have to win by at least two runs for you to win your bet.  In this case, sportsbooks provide bettor with the option of making New York's win more difficult (the margin of victory must be at least two runs) instead of laying a larger money line (-175).  Conversely, if you want to bet the Blue Jays and get +1.5 runs, you have to lay -135.  So, you would be risking $135 to win $1o0.


As with other major sports, baseball offers totals wagering, or betting "the over/under."  This is simple – you're betting on the total number of runs scored by both teams combined.  In the same Yankees-Blue Jays game the total is 7.5.  If the Yankees win 8-0, the over bet cashes.  If they win 7-0, the under bet cashes. Who wins the game is not relevant.  Totals betting is merely adding the total amount of runs scored by both teams.  Obviously, totals are largely determined by the starting pitchers.  Most baseball totals are in the 7 to 10 range.  

NOTE:  Here's a fun bet for opening day, which is called the GRAND SALAMI.


There's also something called the "first 5."  This line means you're wagering on the outcome of the game's first five innings.  So, the game (or bet) is settled after the bottom of the 5th inning.  

Why bet the first 5?  This usually happens when betting soley on a starting pitching matchup and the bettor wants to avoid bullpens, which can always be unpredictable.  Unlike a regular full game bet, bets on the first five innings money line can tie, or "push."  For instance, if you bet the Blue Jays against the Yankees and the score is 2-2 after 5 innings, that's a push.  When that occurs, bets are refunded.  The odds for these bets are similar to the odds on the full game.  In the Yankees-Blue Jays matchup, New York is -170 on the "first 5" line as well.  Most sportsbook, including SPREADS.CA also offers "first 5" totals, which is exactly what it sounds like.


Then, there are proposition bets, or "prop bets."  

These types of wagers can number from a few dozen on each game, into the hundreds.  Most are on pitching or hitting statistics.  But team props are also popular,  For a starting pitcher, you have the option of betting over or under a certain number of strikeouts.  You can bet a line for a key player's total number of times on base.  Another common prop is the team total – how many runs one team will score.  The possibilities on props are almost endless, which make them fun for baseball enthusiasts.


As with all sports gambling wagers, it's important to know the house rules.  SPREADS.CA is well-known for being fair, honest, and player-friendly.  However, it's always important to know the rules on wagers wherever you decide to place a wager.

For example, for an over/under or run line wager to be valid, the game must go are least 8.5 innings.  Note that the winning home team might not come to bat in the bottom of the ninth.  Let's say Toronto is ahead of New York 10-5 in the 7th inning and then rain forced the game to be called.  Even though the bet is already over the total, all bets on the total (and run lines) are refunded to all players.  Yet, bets on the money line are still graded; however, they are graded according to the last complete full inning.

Additionally, another key element of baseball betting is exercising the pitching option when placing a wager. A starting pitcher plays such a huge role in baseball that sportsbooks allow you to get a kind of insurance on the scheduled pitchers taking the mound.  When placing a wager, you can go what's called "listing" the scheduled starter for either team or both teams. If you do choose an option of listing a certain pitcher and he is scratched (doesn't start), your bet is refunded regardless of the outcome.

Note that most bets do not list pitchers, but that's a good option to use when you are basing a wager largely on the starters.

Remember – place your bets at SPREADS.CA, Canada's best bet, which has all the odds, totals, and props on every baseball game this season.