How to Read Major League Baseball Odds
By Loot, MLB Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Baseball lines are easy to understand. At the beginning, the numbers and concepts may seem a bit confusing, but you will quickly arrive at a point when you’ll wonder why you ever thought it was hard. Becoming a capable MLB bettor is the real battle. Not many people can do that successfully. But understanding the basic nuts and bolts of Major League Baseball wagering is actually a piece of cake.
In standard baseball betting, you are picking a team to simply win the game. But almost always, there will be one team is a game that is favored. Odds are brought in to make that accommodation. To bet on the the favorite, you have to bet more than you stand to win. When betting on the the underdog, you stand to win more than you bet.
We are all familiar with the fractional form of odds, where something is 2-to-1, 3-to-1, or 4-to-1. Money lines do the same thing, but the odds aren’t always going to fall on a round number and saying a team is a 42-to-19 favorite would be a cumbersome way to express odds. That’s where the money line comes into play. Let’s look at an example:
Colorado Rockies +200 vs. St. Louis Cardinals -210
Above is a standard baseball bet, using a money line to express odds. Remember this-- a minus-sign (-) always indicates an favorite, while a plus-sign (+) always indicates an underdog. To take it a step further, the number you see next to a minus-sign is how much you must BET to win $100. The number you see next to the plus-sign is how much you WIN if you bet $100. Applying that to the above example--to win $100 on the St. Louis Cardinals at -210, you must bet $210. Meanwhile, a $100 bet on the Colorado Rockies at +200 would yield $200 in winnings. And, of course, you don’t have to bet or try to win $100. That number is used only to make it easier to understand the odds. Here’s another example:
Texas Rangers +145 vs. Detroit Tigers -155
In the above game, you again see a money line. Texas is +145. They are the underdogs. You win $145 for every $100 you bet on the Rangers if they win. Detroit is -155. They are the favorite. To win $100 on Detroit, you must bet $155. Minus means favorite. Plus means underdog. Minus is how much you must bet to win $100. Plus is how much you win if you bet $100. Lock it in!
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Run Lines: Another form of baseball betting getting increasingly popular is run line betting. In this type of bet, the favored team is given a mini point-spread of -1.5, while the underdog is listed at -+1.5. In other words, the favorite must win by two runs, while the underdog team can lose by a run and the bet would win. In explaining any form of baseball wagering, examples are useful:
Run Line Bet:
San Francisco Giants +1.5 (-140) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers -1.5 (+120)
In the above example, you see a run line bet. San Francisco is +1.5 with a money line of -140. If you put $140 on the Giants and they either win the game or lose by only one run, you win $100. The Dodgers are -1.5 at +120. If you put $100 on the Dodgers and they win by at least 2 runs, you win $120. San Francisco at +1.5 means they are getting 1 and a half runs credit, meaning they can lose by one, but a loss by two is a lost wager. Los Angeles at -1.5 means they are giving 1 and a half runs away. Therefore, they need to win by 2 or more runs for a bet to be considered a winner.
Totals: A big part of baseball wagering is totals betting. Next to a game that is available for betting, you will see a number that has been posted by the bookie. That number is called a “total” and is a projected combined number of runs that both teams will score. It will look like this:
Baltimore Orioles -175 vs. Toronto Blue Jays +155, Total: 7.5
The total in the Orioles-Blue Jays game is 7.5 runs. If you think the combined score of both teams will not surpass 7.5, you would bet “under.” If you think the combined score will go past 7.5, you would bet “over.” And often, you will have to bet totals on a betting line of -110, where you have to wager $110 for every $100 you hope to win. And there can be some variation on the money lines with totals, where either the “over” or “under” is favored.
Again, the hard part of baseball betting is showing a profit over the long-haul. The points connected to all the nuances of baseball wagering are endless. The easiest part is simply understanding how to read the odds. At first, it may seem foreign, but it won’t be long before your handling of the odds becomes second-nature.