Baseball may be called the National Pastime in the United States, but in ranks well behind both football and basketball in terms of betting popularity. The main reason for this is that many people believe it’s more difficult to wager on baseball than it really is due to the odds used. In reality, baseball betting is quite simple and there are only a few concepts that need to be understood. There are three basic types of baseball bets; the moneyline bet, the run line bet, and the total.
If you look at the illustration above, one thing you will notice is that each team has its starting pitcher listed. When you place a bet you can specify “listed pitchers” meaning that if either John Lackey or Felix Hernandez do not start the game, the bet is void and your wager is returned. Most sportsbooks do this automatically, but some online sportsbooks give you the option of specifying listed pitchers. The most common baseball bet is simply the moneyline bet and here it’s the one listed right in the middle. The -148 listed for the Mariners means that Seattle is -148 on the moneyline and you are asked to wager $148 to win $100 if you bet Seattle. The +138 for the Red Sox means that you are asked to risk $100 to win $138 on Boston. You can wager smaller amounts, but sportsbooks use moneylines in terms of $100 to simplify things. With a moneyline bet, you’re only concerned with which teams wins. If you bet Seattle and they win, you win regardless of the score. It makes no difference if the Mariners win 1-0 or 10-0. If you bet Boston and they win, so do you. If you bet Boston and they lose, you also lose your bet.
The second bet, the run line bet, is the first one listed above. You can take Boston +1.5 runs, but the odds change to -175, which as you saw in the example above, means that you will be asked to risk $175 to win $100 if you take the Red Sox on the run line. The one advantage is that they can now lose the game by one run and you will still win your bet. If you bet Seattle on the run line you receive +155, so that you are risking $100 to win $155, but Seattle must now win by two or more runs for you to win your bet. If Seattle wins 4-3 you would lose your run line wager because they did not win by at least two runs.
The final bet, the total, is simply the combined runs of both teams. In this case the total is 6, but if you bet the over you are asked to risk $120 to win $100, while if you bet the under the odds are +100, which is the same as even money. If Seattle wins 4-3, those who bet the over would win their wagers, as the combined final score exceeded six runs. If Seattle won 4-1, those who bet the under would win their bets. If the Mariners won 4-2, the bet would be declared a push and your wager would be refunded.