If you want to learn how to gamble on baseball, the first thing you need to do is learning how to read baseball odds, it is as simple as that. Baseball odds will help you to understand what your winning chances are and what kind of a payout you can expect. Moreover, every bookmaker offers different odds: If you learn how to read odds for baseball, you can easily find the best offer to place your bet.
While there are many guides for betting on baseball, the number of guides that show you how to read betting odds is surprisingly low. Well, we aim to fix this mistake: This is the most comprehensive guide you can find about how to read odds on baseball, and it will tell you everything you need to know.
Let’s start: This will be a fun and profitable adventure!
Baseball Odds Explained: The Basics
We already have a guide about how does baseball work, and as you can remember from it, there are many things that can happen during a game. Some of these things are pretty basic and expected – for example, one of the teams will win the match and the other will lose. One of these outcomes will happen no matter what, so this is a pretty “straight” result. However, there are also many other outcomes that can happen: For example, one of the star-level batters can hit the ball so hard, it may land in the crowd. Maybe, a pitcher will miss all of his throws. Or, maybe the game will be canceled due to weather conditions – who knows? In other words, there are also “exotic” outcomes in addition to straight ones, anything can happen during a baseball game.
We can start answering what do betting odds mean question with these outcomes. Each and every one of these possibilities has a probability of happening. Some of these will be high probabilities: For example, if there is a favorite team, everyone expects it to win the match, so this result will have a high probability. But there is also an underdog team – it will be much less likely to win the match. Same can be said for every possible outcome; each and every one of these will have a different probability.
So far so good, right? Well, the baseball odds, which are determined by the bookmaker, represent these probabilities. The bookmaker makes some calculations like anybody else, and if the probability of an outcome is too high, it offers low odds. Why? Because everybody expects that result to happen – by placing a bet for that outcome, you are not taking a high risk. This means you will get paid less, even if you win. But if the probability is too low, this means players betting on that outcome will be taking a higher risk. So their odds (and payouts) will be much more. In a nutshell, these are the basics of baseball odds.
How Does Betting Odds Work?
Let’s continue to explain how to read baseball odds bet topic by explaining “decimal” and “fractional” systems because you will keep seeing these at the online bookmaker sites. Now, you have learned what do baseball odds represent, the probability. It is time to tell you how are they displayed.
Baseball odds are always shown with numbers, but their format will be different based on your geographical region. In this regard, there are two main systems, decimal and fractional. The decimal system is used mostly in Europe, and it is a complex one. If you are seeing straight numbers like 110, 220, or 430, this means the odds are in the decimal system.
The fractional system is mostly used in the US and looks like these: 1/3, 4/2, 6/4, etc. Both of these formats represent two things:
• The probability of that result (Your actual chance of winning)
• The possible payout of that bet (the answer to how much will I win if I bet question)
You will mostly see the decimal system when it comes to baseball betting, even in the United States. And there will always be “+” or “-“ sign next to these odds. We will tell the meaning of them below, but first, let’s list the most common bet types in baseball and explain how do options work in baseball.
How To Bet Baseball: The Short Version
We are not going to teach you how to play baseball, but we must explain how to place a bet topic shortly, in order to show your options. There are three main baseball betting categories:
1) Straight Bets: The most basic version of the baseball bet. The most common example is betting on which team will win the match. These are simple bets with low odds and payouts. This is because they have a high possibility of happening.
2) Exotic Bets: The “advanced” version of baseball betting. Betting on any complex outcome with a low probability of happening falls into this category. For example, if you place a bet on the possibility of a star-level player completing at least two home runs in a single game, this is a pretty unusual outcome. Since it has a low possibility of happening, the odds and the payout will be high.
3) Parlay bets: This means betting on two different outcomes with a single coupon. For example, you can place a straight and an exotic bet at the same time and together. In order to win a parlay bet, all of your picks must win too. These pay pretty big amounts and when done right, parlays are one of the best baseball bets today. However, they are not suitable for beginners and they have a high risk.
So, if you are wondering how to bet on baseball games, this is how you do it: You find a bookmaker, pick one of the categories above, and place your bet. But as you can expect, each category has multiple options. We will explain them below with practical examples, so you can understand how to read baseball odds in different categories.
What Does Money Line Mean And How To Read It?
Basic baseball game rules are pretty straight forward: There are 9 innings and teams win different points according to their actions during the game, such as completing runs, hitting or missing the ball, returning the ball before a run is completed, etc. As a result, one of these teams will get the most points and win the match. Well, money line betting is also pretty straightforward: You are betting on which team will win the match. It is a simple and straight bet, and money line meaning is the minimum wager limit in order to win 100 USD. Sounds complex? It is not, really. Here are two examples of betting on baseball money lines:
• Team USA (-150)
• Team Mexico (+130)
These are actual money line odds, which you can see at all bookmakers. So, how to read odds when it is a money line bet? It is simple, actually. The minus sign shows that the team is the favorite and expected to win the game. And the plus sign shows that the team is a non-favorite (underdog) and expected to lose the game. In this example, team USA is the favorite and team Mexico is the underdog.
Now, the plus sign means that you will win 130 USD if you place a 100 USD bet. In other words, it shows the payout when you risk 100 USD on team Mexico. If you play such a bet and win, the bookmaker will pay you 230 USD in total (130 USD payout + 100 USD initial wager).
The minus sign, on the other hand, shows how much you need to bet in order to win 100 USD. If you want to place a bet on team America, the minimum amount can be 150 USD. And if this bet wins, the payout will be 250 USD (150 USD initial wager + 100 USD payout).
Simple, right? So, what is the reason for this distinction? Well, we explained the “possibility of happening” topic above. Everybody expects team America to win, so the bookmaker offers low odds and sets a minimum wager limit. Team Mexico, on the other hand, is not expected to win, so by placing a bet on it, you are taking a bigger risk. So, the odds are higher and the entry wager is lower. Basically, baseball odds lines for both teams will always be different, because each game will have a favorite and an underdog team. And this is how to read odds for baseball money line bets – it is not that complex at all.
The Probability Of Baseball Explained
Let’s explain how baseball odds also show your winning chances too because we have talked about this below. There is a simple mathematical formula behind all baseball odds, but it is a different formula for positive and negative odds. First, let’s see the formula of positive odds:
- 100 / (Odds + 100) = Probability Of Happening
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a genius to apply this formula. It is actually quite basic. Let’s use the example above and calculate the probability of team Mexico first.
- 100 / (130 + 100)
- 100 / 230 = 0.43 (or 43%)
Basically, the bookmaker thinks that the probability of team Mexico winning the game is 38%. So, what happens if the odds are negative? We have a different formula for that, which is shown below:
- Odds / (Odds – 100) = Probability Of Happening
Let’s use this formula to calculate the probability of team USA:
- -150 / (-150 – 100) = 0.60 (or 60%)
So, the bookmaker thinks that team USA has a 60% chance to win the match. As we said, simple.
Cautious readers may have noticed that the result of both possibilities surpasses 100%. Indeed, the total is 103% (60 + 43). So, what happens to the rest? Where does the extra 3% go? Well, this is not the purpose of this guide, but let’s say the difference goes to the bookmaker. In fact, this is how bookies make money from gambling on baseball – no matter which team wins the match, they always make a profit.
How To Read Baseball Over Under Odds?
Reading baseball betting lines is not that hard, but the money line is not the only option you get. Baseball over under odds represent the “basic” version of exotic bets – they are easy to understand but hard to guess. Basically, you will be betting on whether a specific team will surpass a certain point total or not. Note that you are not betting on baseball number of games, you are betting on point totals. A team may lose the game, but if it surpasses a certain point, you can still win that bet. Ok, this still sounds complex, so let’s give practical examples based on major league baseball:
• Team USA
• Over (-140)
• Under (+160)
Now, in this example, the bookmaker has set the point total at 7. You can bet on two possibilities: Team USA will surpass this point total (over) or team USA won’t be able to score that many points (under). Both options have different payouts, and we already explained the meaning of plus and minus signs, so we won’t repeat them here.
If this game ends with a score of 3 – 3, the point total will be 6, which is “under” 7. If you placed 100 USD on this possibility, you will be paid 260 USD in total (100 USD initial wager + 160 USD payout). But if the game ends with a score of 5 – 4, the point total will be 9, which means the “over” bet will win. In this case, the payout will be 240 USD (140 USD initial wager + 100 USD payout). This is not a simple baseball odds line bet; the outcome is complex when compared with money line bets. But for the same reason, the odds and the payouts will be a little higher. Over under baseball bets are the next best thing for beginners: Start with money line bets and advance to this option when you have enough expertise.
Baseball Run Line Betting And Odds
Let’s continue with the most common exotic bet type: baseball run lines. These are very similar to point spread bets, so you will also understand how to spread bet successfully once you learn to read its odds. Now, to explain run line bets, we must explain the term “handicap” first. As we mentioned above, each game has a favorite and an underdog. Nobody expects the underdog to win the game, so it has a “handicap”. But the favorite team also has a handicap, because everyone expects it to win, so its odds will be lower. Well, you can bet on these handicaps and get a much bigger payout. Here is how.
The bookmaker sets the handicap limits for both teams, again by using plus and minus signs. Each of these signs shows what kind of “extra” performance needed from that team. In order to win this bet, the teams must perform above these limits. Winning the game is not enough: The favorite team, for example, must win the game with a certain difference. Again, this sounds complex, so here are some practical examples:
• Team USA / – 1.5 / + 100
• Team Mexico / + 1.5 / -140
You already know how to read +100 and -140, we explained this above. So let’s focus on the +1.5 and -1.5: What is the meaning of them? These figures actually show the handicap rates determined by the bookie. In this example:
• Team USA must win the game by 2 points or more. Winning the game is simply not enough. For example, if the result is 2 – 1, team USA will win the match, but the point difference is only 1. You will lose such a bet. But if the result of the game is 5 – 2, the difference is 3: Since it is higher than 1.5 points, you will win this bet.
• You can also bet on team Mexico to “lose”. But they must lose with a certain point difference too. In this example, if team Mexico loses the game with no more than 2 points, you will win this bet. For example, if the result is 6 – 2, the difference is 4, and since it is higher than 1.5, you will lose such a bet. But if team Mexico loses the game with a 3 – 2 score, the difference is 1: This is a winning bet.
We tried to explain this as simple as possible, but run line bet on baseball online is still a complex one. And this is not just because there are too many outcomes: Run line bets require extensive knowledge and research on both teams. Note that you are not trying to who will win or lose the game. Your goal is to guess the result of the match and the exact point difference. Betting on baseball games always require research, but run line bets take this to the next level. You are not just placing baseball odds line wagers anymore; you are expected to do more. As a result, run line bets always have high odds and payouts. But they are also “advanced” bets, so beginners should stay away from them until they have enough experience. MLB (Major League Baseball) is the best option for run line bets, as all the teams bring their best and the odds are much competitive for this reason.
• Underdogs are always better. On average betting favorite teams will result in spending more and winning less. This is because their odds will always be lower. Let’s say you are betting on 100 games with an average odd of -130, and you spend 100 USD each time. In total, you will spend 10.000 USD. In order to make a profit, you must win at least 58% of all these bets. And your total profit will be just 340 USD – trust us, we did the math.
Betting on underdogs, on the other hand, will pay more in the long run. With the same budget and the same number of bets mentioned above, you can make a 750 USD profit, and you just need to win 47% of all these bets. Sure, betting on the underdogs will be riskier, but the percentage will be below 50%, which is a good enough ratio in baseball online betting. So, betting against the favorite may be a very good strategy, as long as you do the research. We are not saying “place a bet on every underdog” – this will never work. Do your research and if you are confident that the underdog has a chance of winning, take the risk. In the long run, this will be more profitable.
• Do not place a bet before June. This may sound weird but hear us out: Before June, the weather conditions are too unpredictable. This will affect the performance of all players, including the star-level ones. In other words, all of your research will become meaningless. After June, however, the weather will almost always be good. Moreover, most of the star-level pitchers and batters start “slow” at the beginning of the season. They don’t show their full performance, which makes it hard to make an accurate prediction. After June, they start to show their “true colors”, which means they become more reliable. Plus, you will get a chance to study all the teams in the meantime. This especially affects over under bets, so wait until June to place a bet.
• Compare odds. As we mentioned above, baseball odds will be different at each online bookie. They all have a different method of calculating the odds and there is no single “best bookmaker”. Betting on baseball is not like playing online casino games, you cannot simply pick a favorite website and play at that place all the time. Instead, you must become a member at multiple online bookmaker sites and compare their odds before placing a bet. Learning how to read odds for baseball is not enough, you must also look for the best ones.
• Do not place a run line bet for the favorite team. The first thing that comes to mind is “well, since they are the favorite, they will certainly win this match with that much point difference, so I should play on the favorite”. Thing is, this is usually wrong. Statistics show that the point difference in games is not more than 1, overall. There are lots of reasons for this: Usually, the coaches take off star-level players from the game if victory seems to be guaranteed. There is no reason to “waste” them, right? And since the players of the favorite team also think that they will win the match, they don’t bring their 100% to the game. As a result, they really win the match, but usually with an only 1-point difference. Betting on the underdog is much more reliable. Unlike the favorite team, they have something to prove, so they play harder. Most of the time, the underdog will still lose but no more than a 1-point difference. If you bet on this possibility, you will win more run line bets than usual. Of course, you still need to do your research but the statistics do not lie: You have a bigger winning chance if you bet on the underdog in a run line bet.
Learn How To Read Odds For Baseball, Get The Best Payouts!
Well, now you learned how to read odds ratio baseball, so it is time to put your knowledge to the test. Pick an online bookmaker and start placing those money line, over under, and run line bets! As always, you can simply pick one of our recommended online bookmakers to get the best odds and promotional offers. We still have lots of things to teach you about baseball, so make sure to read our other baseball betting guide articles too. And don’t forget to visit us often: We constantly update our content to offer our visitors the latest news. Learning how to read baseball odds is just a start and we will be with you along every step of your journey: Let’s win those baseball bets together!