How to Bet On Sports > How to Bet on Baseball

“One of the beautiful things about baseball is that every once in a while you come into a situation where you want to, and where you have to, reach down and prove something.” – Nolan Ryan


In this article, we will be explaining the ins and outs of how to bet on baseball. Topics will include wager types, baseball betting terminology, and a guide on which sportsbooks to utilize to make the most of your wagers. By combining this knowledge with the information provided by our live odds product and proven betting systems, you will see how easy it is to become a winning baseball bettor.


“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.” – Yogi Berra

There are many ways to bet on baseball, and each have certain advantages and disadvantages and appeal to different people. The most popular bet by far is the moneyline bet, where you simply pick the winner of the game. The following is an example of a moneyline bet:

New York Yankees -150
Boston Red Sox +140

Since some teams are much better than others, the odds on a moneyline bet can vary drastically; for instance, you may have to lay -300 odds (meaning you would have to bet $300 to win $100) if betting the moneyline on a big favorite. On the other hand, you may be given large odds in your favor if you back a significant underdog because you would be taking a big risk. Historically, the public tends to bet mostly favorites throughout the baseball season.

5-Inning Lines

“Life will always throw you curves, just keep fouling them off…the right pitch will come, but when it does, be prepared to run the bases.” – Rick Maksian

A 5-Inning line is a moneyline that uses the score after five innings to determine the winner, rather than the final score. It is similar to betting on the first half of a football or basketball game. Odds on a 5-inning line will usually be very similar to the regular moneyline odds; however, due to the shortened nature of the bet, the starting pitcher match-up is weighted more heavily and may sway the odds one way or the other.


The second most popular bet is betting the total, also known as over/under wagering. When betting baseball totals, you are wagering whether a games total score (home team plus away team) will be over or under a predetermined amount of runs, as set by the sportsbook. For instance, you might see a line that looks like this:

New York Yankees/Boston Red Sox Over 9.5 (-110)
New York Yankees/Boston Red Sox Under 9.5 (-110)

This lines stipulates that you can risk $110 to win $100 by choosing if the game will have 10 or more runs scored (over), or 9 or less runs scored (under). Sometimes the odds may be adjusted by the book if they are trying to balance their ledger by encouraging wagers on one side or another. This does not necessarily mean that one bet is more likely to win out over another, and oftentimes can present good value opportunity when used in conjunction with our betting systems and “bet against the public” philosophy.


Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.” – Bob Feller

A runline is very similar to a spread bet in football or basketball, except in baseball the runline is almost always -1.5 or -2.5, meaning the favorite must win by either 2 or 3 to cover. A typical runline wager will look like this:

Team Moneyline Runline
New York Yankees -150 -1.5 (-110)
Boston Red Sox +140 +1.5 (+100)

A runline is offered by sportsbooks to provide a wager with odds closer to 1:1, allowing bettors to avoid the higher odds often found in moneyline wagering. In the above example, the Yankees have a moneyline of -150, meaning you have to wager $150 to win $100, but a runline of -1.5 with -110 odds, meaning that you need only risk $110 to win $100, although the team must by win by at least 2 runs. It would then be your decision as to which bet you feel more comfortable with; if you feel strongly that the favorite will win by at least 2, then the runline offers a good opportunity to increase your payout by laying the runline rather than taking the moneyline with worse odds.

Alternate Runlines

“The best way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until the ball stops rolling and then pick it up.” – Bob Uecker

An alternate runline wager is a runline that has been flipped, making the favorite an underdog and the underdog the favorite. The following as an example, showing the runline followed by the alternate runline:

Team Moneyline Runline Alternate Runline
New York Yankees -150 -1.5 (-110) +1.5 (-250)
Boston Red Sox +140 +1.5 (+100) -1.5 (+220)

Alternative runlines can be a great wagering option in certain scenarios, allowing you to increase your payout when you feel strongly about an underdog or marginalize your risk when backing a favorite. As an example, if you believe the underdog is significantly better than the favorite, you can increase your payout even further by actually turning the underdog into the favorite (in the above example, laying -1.5 on the Red Sox to get +220 instead of +100 on the +1.5 runline).

Futures and Season Wins

“The season starts too early and finishes too late and there are too many games in between.” – Bill Veeck

The final method to bet on baseball is by betting on futures or season wins. These options are somewhat popular before the season starts, but do not get a lot of action because of the long-term nature of the bet, strict betting limits, and the significant odds usually associated with these bets. Futures involve betting on a team to accomplish certain goals in the upcoming season, such as winning their division, their league’s pennant, or the World Series. The odds increase based on how unlikely the event is to occur, to such a degree that a team thought to be terrible in the preseason may receive 200 to 1 odds to win the World Series. Betting on Season Wins is very similar to betting totals, except in this case you would be taking the over or under on total wins for a baseball club in the upcoming season, with odds being roughly around the standard -110, adjusted to the sportsbooks liking.

Strategies for Choosing your Sportsbooks

“Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” – Frederick B. Wilcox

A running theme at SportsInsights is that “all sportsbooks are not created equal”, and that proverb holds true in baseball. One of the most important things to be aware of when placing a moneyline bet is if the sportsbook offers “dimeline” odds. Dimeline odds ensures that the odds on the favorite and the ‘dog will always be separated by 10 cents on the dollar, hence the term “dimeline”. For instance, if a favorite is given -150 odds, then the underdog will have a line of +140, a 10 cent difference.

Dimelines are great because they ensure that a sportsbook can’t over-shade a favorite, or else they risk exposing themselves to very large underdog lines on the back side. Some sportsbooks offer 15 or 20 cent odds, hoping their members are either unaware of dimeline sportsbooks or unwilling to change books. A 20 cent book means that the favorite and underdog will be separated by 20 cents, meaning a -150 line on a favorite will feature a + 130 line on the underdog. Using a 15 or 20 cent sportsbooks puts you at an automatic disadvantage – don’t settle for these lines! Simply by choosing a dimeline book over a 20 cent book you can ensure that your units won will be higher in the long term, regardless of who you bet.

As great as dimeline books may be, there are even better options out there for moneyline bettors. These options are called betting exchanges, and oftentimes they will offer the best lines you can find anywhere in the world. Betting exchanges forego the “middle man” and allow bettors from all over the world to offer lines directly to one another, resulting in lines that are often more favorable than that can be found at any sportsbook. The following is an example taken directly from today’s (3/25/09) moneylines on a preseason game:

CRIS Sportsbook
HOU -155
STL +135
Matchbook Betting Exchange
HOU -150
STL +147

As you can see, Matchbook, a betting exchange, offers a better line on both the favorite and the underdog! In addition, a betting exchange doesn’t “straddle the line” like a sportsbook does (always separating the favorite and underdog line by exactly 10 or 20 cents, essentially the vig). Since a betting exchange’s lines are set by its members, it is not uncommon to find equal (i.e., +150/-150) or near-equal odds on the favorite and underdog – it doesn’t get much better than that!

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Never settle on using just one sportsbook to place all of your wagers. By diversifying your sportsbook memberships, you allow yourself the opportunity to seek out the best lines and get the most bang for your buck. You can often find a line at least 5 cents better than the one at your favorite book by shopping around, and for a $100 bettor who places 50 bets, that would be a $250 swing in profits! For any bettor, it makes sense to belong to at least one betting exchange in addition to your favorite dimeline sportsbooks in order to maximize every dollar wagered.


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