Betting on MLB
With a 162 game schedule for each of the 30 MLB teams, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when betting on MLB.
In this article we’ll describe the different MB betting types, baseball bankroll management and tips for MLB betting.
There is perhaps no other sport that is analysed more than MLB. Some people dedicate their lives the the accumulation and filing of baseball statistics. In the same vein, there are just as many people who have created ‘Models’ for betting on baseball, with everybody thinking they have cracked the code for MLB betting success.
Let’s put it this way, not everybody can be right, and usually very few are.
But, on with the show!
MLB Bet Types
Depending on the bookmaker you use, there will be many different MLB betting markets available, especially in Australia. Here we’ve included the most common MLB bet types.
Line Betting (Point Spread) –
‘Line’ betting is perhaps the most common MLB bet, and offers more value than a straight up Head to Head bet. The ‘Line’ or ‘Spread’ is a handicap given by the bookmakers as to how much a team will win/lose by in an MLB game. The bookies will aim to get around 50% of outlays on each side of the Line market.
The Line is shown in the market as either a (+) or a (-) symbol, with the favourite given a runs handicap that must overcome for the bet to win for the punter.
A Line bet will have odds ranging from $1.90-$1.95 for each team in a game. The higher the odds, the less “Juice” (% of takings skimmed from each bet by the bookmaker).
An example of a line bet –
LA Dodgers__-3.0 ($1.91) | Cleveland Indians__+3.0 ($1.92)
In the above example, the LA Dodgers are heavy favourites, and must win the game by 4+ runs for an outright win, and 3.0 runs for a Push (money back from some bookmakers).
In the same example, the Cleveland Indians must win the game, or lose by 2 runs or less for a winning bet. A loss of 3 runs will make it a Push.
Head to Head (Moneyline) –
Head to Head markets require the punter to bet on the team they think will win the game outright.
Head to Head betting is a riskier than a Line Bet, as there is no room for error if you happen to go for an underdog. Likewise, if you bet on a favourite, you will be getting pretty low odds, and returns.
An example of a Head to Head Market–
LA Dodgers__($1.56) | Cleveland Indians__ ($2.42)
Over/Under (Total Points Over/Under) –
Total Points Over/Under Line markets has the bettor wager on whether the total number of runs in a game (both teams combined) will go over an amount set by the bookmaker.
An example of a Total Points Over Under Bet –
Total Runs Under 9.5__($1.91) | Total Tuns Over 9.5__ ($1.92)
In the above example, the total number of runs in the game must be 10+ for the ‘Total Points Over’ market to win.
For the ‘Total Points Under’ market to result as a winning bet, the number of runs must be 9 or below.
Proposition bets are wagers which predict specific elements and statistic of a game, such as an over/under market on strikeouts that a pitcher will throw during a game.
The most popular type of Proposition bet is the ‘Player Prop’.
Run Lines –
Run Lines rely on the same outcomes as a Point Spread, however the handicap is always set as +1.5 and -1.5 for either team, with odds to suit the markets. Should a game go less than 9 innings due to weather, the bet is Void.
Futures Bets (Propositions) –
An MLB Futures bet is a wager placed that will have it’s outcome determined at the end of the MLB season.
An example of MLB Futures bets include the MLB World Series Winner, MLB World Series MVP Winner and MLB Home Runs Leader.
As the market name suggests, they are determined in the Future, and not the upcoming next night of Major League Baseball.
MLB Betting Advice
- Previous 5-10 game results – Teams go on winning and losing streaks. Checking a team’s form over the last 5-10 games can be an indicator of form coming into a game.
- Take a deep breath, and pace yourself – With 2,430 games on the MLB schedule, it’s important to only wager on a market that you feel has a clear edge. Another thing to consider is only betting on a certain number of games per week. Keeping a level head is key.
- Bet on Over/Under and Head to Head – It’s not unusual for underdogs to win in MLB. Keep an eye out for team performances against each other, and find a weak line.
- Home and Road performance – It’s simple to find statistics for road and home winning % (just look at the MLB ladders).
- Reduced Juice – When a site takes less vig, you will be able to save money from the outset, particularly if you intend to Bankroll (see below).
- Most importantly, keep an eye on the Bullpen! – Starting pitchers will basically win or lose the game. As such, the lines and markets for any MLB game a entirely dependent on the starting pitcher. Take note of a pitcher’s performance against the team they are lined up against. It will be the difference between a winning or losing bet.
MLB Bankroll Management
It’s pretty much accepted that bankroll management is simple to explain and hard to adhere to.
If you are not able to stick to strict a MLB bankroll, you’re going to end up in the red at the end of an exhaustive MLB season. Long term investment is the name of the game, and keeping a cool head is key. (Don’t drink and bet!)
The main thing with MLB bankroll management is to make a plan and stick to it. Do not steer from this plan through losses, wins or otherwise.
Never chase your losses, and never increase the $’s of your units should you hit a winning streak.
The most popular type of MLB bankroll management is a “unit” or a “star” system.
What are star and unit systems in MLB Bankroll management?
Unit and Star bankroll management allocates a confidence rating for each bet.
Allocating stars or units to a bet indicates confidence in a particular bet. A simple way to do this would be to have 3 different levels of confidence –
- i.e 1 star/1 unit, 2 stars/2 units, 3 stars/3 units. (Experienced MLB bettors may go up to 4 and 5 stars/units)
Following this, each star or unit has a $ value attached, with the amount dependent on the total amount of your bankroll. For example –
- 1 star/1 unit ($10 bet), 2 stars/2 units ($20 bet), 3 stars/3 units ($30 bet).
Regardless of the confidence that you have in a bet, you must never deviate from betting within your set unit amount.
There are many theories regarding bankroll management but the general rule is to never bet more than 2-5% of your total bankroll, per bet.
Let’s say the MLB season begins and you allocate $1,000 as your MLB bankroll.
Total MLB Bankroll = $1,000
1% = $10.00 | 2% = $20.00 | 3% = $30.00
After the first week of MLB, your Bankroll has gone up to $1,150, now it’s time to adjust –
Total MLB Bankroll = $1,150
1% = $11.50 | 2% = $23.00 | 3% = $34.50
Should your bankroll increase, don’t get greedy, stick to the plan! If you should lose during the first week, you will need to adjust your star and unit sizes accordingly also in the opposite direction –
Total MLB Bankroll = $800
1% = $8.00 | 2% = $16.00 | 3% = $24.00
Follow your system through good and bad and you’ll have less chance of busting your bankroll. You’ll also have a more enjoyable, less stressful MLB betting season.
If MLB betting is new to you, we perhaps suggest ‘Flat Betting’.
Flat Betting is MLB betting for beginners.
Flat Betting means placing identical dollar amounts on each MLB bet that you take, no matter your confidence in the market.
We recommend Flat Betting to those new to the MLB game, or punters that don’t have the time to put in the research necessary to spot a weak line in the market.
Should you become more knowledgeable of MLB further along, the star or unit system is a great way to build your bankroll. More experienced bettors may extend to a 4 and 5 star/unit system.
Never start your MLB bankroll with more than you can afford to comfortably lose, and never create a new bankroll once the MLB season is underway.
Take these measures, and you’ll have a good time.
MLB betting, final thoughts…
To make a profit from MLB betting you’ll need a combination of patience, bankroll management skills and a lot of luck.
For those looking for an edge, there is an unlimited amount of statistical data and matchup information at your disposal (some through paid services).
We don’t mind the idea of using a paid service for the acquisition of data and statistics, we however do not recommend paid tip services (they are a load of BS).
If you want to be good at this game, do your homework!