How To Bet On Baseball
Baseball is a great sport to bet on as there so many value opportunities to found each season. For one thing, there's so many games played each club in Major League Baseball plays 162 games a season. And that's not even counting the playoffs. Learning how to bet on baseball can prove to be profitable year in year out.
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Betting On Baseball Rules
Baseball Leagues To Bet On
Baseball Betting Explained
Baseball Odds Explained
Betting On Baseball Moneylines
Betting On Baseball Pitchers
Run Totals And Run Lines
Betting On Baseball Moneylines
Bookmakers For Baseball Betting
Baseball Live Streaming
Strategies For Betting On Baseball
Following Baseball Betting Tips
Recognizing Value Bets
5 Tips For Early Season Baseball Betting
Betting on baseball has been a virtual rite of passage in the USA and Canada for more than a century. Its popularity is now becoming a global phenomenon. There are some of the longest leagues in any team sport in the world. They're are literally thousands of games played throughout the year. No sport offers more betting opportunities than baseball.
You might believe that baseball history originated from an early form of the English game Rounders in the 17th century. Or, you are one of the growing number who believe its origins can be traced way back to France and the 1300s. It was certainly the British who introduced baseball to the United States in the mid-18th century. This is where the baseball rules, regulations and structure we see to this day were laid down.
Baseball’s popularity spread like wildfire. It's extended into Cuba and Central America and even Japan and China. For most of the 20th century baseball was the most popular sport in the US. That popularity has only been rivaled in recent decades by the NFL.
Soccer, basketball, the NFL, and baseball are by far the four biggest sports in the world. MLB teams like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants are as wealthy and powerful as such NFL juggernauts as the Dallas Cowboys or soccer powerhouses like Real Madrid.
Baseball has also produced some of the most famous and iconic names in sports history. Most sports fans are familiar with the names of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle. In recent years stars like Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez have made the headlines. Doing so as much for the size of their multi-million dollar contracts as much as their on-field activities.
The Game of Baseball
Baseball is played by two teams of nine players. These teams take turns playing offence and defense. Offense means batting and then running from base-to-base in order to score runs, or points. Defence comprises of pitching. This is throwing the ball with speed and accuracy toward the catcher. The catcher is crouched directly behind the batter. Defence is also fielding. There are a total of nine innings played in a baseball game. The visiting team is always first into bat.
The pitcher’s job is to throw the ball with such speed and spin as to cause the batter not to connect with the ball. This causes a strike. If a batter misses the ball three times, they are out. Their innings is over. Hence the phrase “three strikes and you’re out!”.
If the batter makes contact with the ball, it is then the fielders job to catch it in-flight to get the batter out. Or, to get out any of the players running from base to base as they try to “steal home”.
The winner of a game is the team with the most runs on the scoreboard. Baseball scores can appear complicated when seen on a sports website. The result is that which is listed under “R” for runs. The home team always listed on the bottom.
The most exciting moment in a baseball game is the home run. This is when a batter connects with such force that the ball reaches the boundary of the ball-park. The batter is then able to run a complete circuit of the four bases and get home.
Many sports fans associate baseball purely with North America and MLB. The sport of baseball is actually played and followed in many parts of the world. There are even small leagues in Germany, Italy and Ireland.
Baseball is hugely popular throughout Central America and South America.
Here are some of the most high profile professional baseball leagues from around the world.
Major League Baseball (MLB)
Major League baseball or MLB is the biggest and richest baseball league in the world by a long distance. 30 teams from both the USA and Canada are split into two leagues. These are the National League and the American League. They are then divided into regional divisions, East, Central and West. These teams play a total of 2,430 games in the regular season alone. A full MLB season stretches from the first week of April until the opening week of November. This gives bettors access to an unrivaled number of matches and championships to wager on.
There may only be only five teams in each division. However, these teams play a total of 162 regular season games each just to determine the Divisional Championships. Each team plays the other teams in their division a total of 19 times. There is also one home series (seven games in a series) and one away series against the other ten teams in their League. They will also play several series’ of games against a select number of rivals from the opposing league. These teams rotate each season.
The MLB Post Season or playoffs pits the best teams from each League (the three Divisional champions plus the three strongest runner-up teams) against each other in a knockout competition. This is to decide the National League and American League champions. It's traditionally known as the National and American League Pennant winners.
The World Series is baseball’s best-of-seven Super Bowl. Both Pennant winners go head-to-head for the most famous trophy in baseball.
Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB)
Until the arrival of the J.League (Japan Professional Football League) in 1993, the only professional sports league in Japan was the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league. Soccer has become massively popular in Japan in the ensuing decades. The NPB, however, still holds firm as the sport with the biggest following. It also has the highest TV ratings. Japanese baseball is second only to the MLB in terms of commercial revenue generated. It's also second in quality of stadia and money that can be earned both on and off the field. It’s no surprise that it has proven to be very popular with players from the US and Central America.
Among the biggest teams in the NPB are the Yomiuri Giants of Tokyo. They are regarded as Japan’s New York Yankees. Fierce rivals the Hanshin Tigers from Osaka are also up there. Hiroshima Toyo Carp too. They are owned by the mega wealthy Matsuda family, world famous for the Mazda car brand.
Many Japanese players feature in MLB, and vice-versa. The NPB is a preferred destination for a host of disgruntled MLB players. In recent seasons stars like Wladimir Balentien, Alex Cabrera, Tuffy Rhodes, Goose Gossage, Wily Mo Pena and Matt Murton have played in the NPB.
Just like in football, tennis, rugby, cricket, the NFL or indeed most sports that adhere to a league or competition format that remains the same every year, in baseball we have the option of long term bets (betting on the winners of specific competitions) and short term bets (betting on individual games, scores, runs etc.).
Here are some of the more popular markets in baseball betting:
There are an awful lot of baseball competitions decided in a calendar year, and some even run into the following year – the Australian Baseball League for example.
In the MLB alone, there are nine Outrights, or individual competitions to wager on;
Six Divisional Titles
There are two leagues in MLB, the American League and the National league, and each is broken down into three separate divisions - East, Central and West. The winners of these divisional titles are decided at the end of the regular season in late October.
Of all the outrights to bet on, the divisional titles are theoretically the most straightforward, and will give the bettor a greater insight in to what will happen in the Post Season.
Two Pennant Titles
The Post Season or playoff round sees the best teams in each league battle it out in a straight knockout format for the American and National League Championships, also known as the Pennants. For those of us who love to wager on baseball games online, this is the most exciting period of the MLB season.
The World Series
The two Pennant winners will then contest the World Series – a best-of-seven game series usually played out in the first week of November.
The Japanese NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) league adheres to the same basic structure as the MLB, with a regular league season, followed by a playoff and then a showpiece final, in this case, the Japan Series.
The same competition structure also applies to the bigger leagues in Minor League Baseball (MiLB) like the Mexican MLB (Liga Mexicana de Beisbol).
Run Totals Over/Under
Let’s return to that fictional Giants vs Cardinals matchup. We believe it will finish 4-3 to the Cardinals – a combined total of seven runs in the game. If we think there is a possibility that there will be MORE runs or LESS runs, we can bet on that assumption using the Over/Under Run Totals market.
If we think there will be more than seven runs in the game, we bet Over 7.5, and if we think there will be less than seven we bet Under 7.5.
In every form of sports betting the odds are key, and that rule applies to baseball betting also. The odds determine how much you the bettor will win from a wager, providing of course that you have correctly predicted the outcome!
On most websites relating to sports betting - be they online bookmakers or betting advice sites - the odds relating to an event will be displayed in three ways; in fractions – widely used in the UK and Ireland, in decimals which is popular across Europe and the Southern Hemisphere and in the form of a moneyline which is mainly used in North American sports betting.
Because human beings are fallible, sports betting will never be an exact science – no matter how knowledgeable you or your preferred tipster may be. That said, betting odds reflect probability, and the laws of probability tell us that if something is more likely – or less likely to happen, don’t bet against it!
What Do Baseball Betting Odds Mean?
Let’s looks at decimal odds first. If the Toronto Blue Jays have odds of 2.25 (American odds +125) to defeat the Texas Rangers during a regular season game, what does this actually mean? The odds in betting reflect a likelihood, or the ‘implied probability` of an outcome occurring.
So if the Blue Jays are listed at 2.25 to win the game, what is the actual likelihood or probability of this occurring? We can answer this question with a simple formula:
Converting decimal odds to implied probability formula:
|Implied probability||=||1 / decimal odds|
So in our example, the chances of the Toronto Blue Jays winning the match at odds of 2.25 are:
|1 / 2.25||=||0.4444||=||44.44%|
Gaining a basic understanding of the laws of probability and how they are expressed in betting odds is fundamental to successful baseball betting. Knowing how to quickly convert odds into their implied probability will only increase your chances of long term success in your baseball betting!
Now let's consider moneyline odds. North American betting odds require a different calculation. Known as moneyline odds, calculating the implied probability depends on whether the odds are plus or minus moneyline odds:
Converting Plus Moneyline Odds to implied probability formula:
|Implied probability||=||100 / (100 + moneyline odds)|
So in our previous example, the chances of the Toronto Blue Jays winning the match at plus moneyline odds of +125 are:
|100 / (100 + 125)||=||100 / 225||=||0.4444||=||44.44%|
Converting Minus Moneyline Odds to implied probability formula:
|Implied probability||=||minus moneyline odds / (minus moneyline odds + 100)|
So in this instance let's say we are looking at the StLouis Cardinals winning a match at minus moneyline odds of -150 are:
|150 / 150 + 100)||= 150 / 250||=||0.6000||=||60.00%|
How Do Baseball Betting Odds Work?
So you've placed a bet on an upcoming baseball game. How much will you win if you place a bet on a team and they win the match?
Calculating Your Profit With Decimal Odds
For decimal odds, this is a very simple calculation:
|Your Profit||=||(Stake * Decimal Odds) - Stake|
So let’s consider our previous example and say that we have placed a £10 bet on Toronto to win their upcoming game at odds of 2.25. How much profit will you make on your bet if Toronto wins?
|Your Profit||=||(£10 * 2.25) - £10|
|Your Profit||=||(£22.50) - £10|
So in our example we would make a profit of £12.50 on our £10 bet if Toronto wins. All very simple.
Calculating Your Profit With Moneyline Odds
Let's then consider moneyline odds. For Plus Moneyline Odds our profit is calculated as:
|Your Profit||=||(Stake * Plus Moneyline Odds) / 100|
So let’s consider our previous example and say that we have placed a £10 bet on Toronto to win their upcoming game at moneyline odds of +125. How much profit will you make on your bet if Toronto wins?
|Your Profit||=||(£10 * 125) / 100|
|Your Profit||=||(£1250) / 100|
Let's now consider Minus Moneyline Odds our profit is calculated as:
|Your Profit||=||(Stake / Minus Moneyline Odds) * 100|
So let’s consider our previous example and say that we have placed a £10 bet on St.Louis to win their upcoming game at moneyline odds of -150. How much profit will you make on your bet if StLouis wins?
|Your Profit||=||(£10 / 150) * 100|
|Your Profit||=||(£0.0667) * 100|
Baseball Odds In Action: An Example
Here’s a dramatic and fun example of baseball odds in action.
In 2004 the Boston Red Sox weren’t only taking on the greatest team in the history of baseball, they were attempting to end an 86-year old “curse”, and to change history itself. And if that weren’t enough, they were also taking on the laws of probability.
The Yankees had won the World Series a record 27 times, the Red Sox had not won since they sold the immortal Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919, sparking what became known as the “Curse of the Bambino”, bambino being Spanish for baby, or Babe. Billionaire businessman John W. Henry purchased the Red Sox in 2001 and set about building a team good enough to win what would be their first World Series in 86 years and finally laying waste to the “Curse of the Bambino”.
Baseball’s Greatest Ever Comeback
In the 2004 season the Red Sox reached the Post Season (also known as the playoffs) after finishing second to the Yankees in the American League East Division. Boston saw off the Anaheim Angels 3-0 in their quarterfinal and the Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins 3-1, leaving the two most famous teams in baseball to decide the winner of the American League Championship in the “Pennant” series.
Historically, the Red Sox record against the Yankees in the playoffs was 0-4, and that looked set to continue when they quickly went 3-0 down in games in the best-of-seven series. No team had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win in the playoffs in MLB history.
At that point, the Red Sox winning their first World Series since 1918 seemed as far away as ever, and the Vegas MLB odds on them doing so were 120/1, or 121.0 in decimal odds – a long shot up there with Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson (52.0), although not quite as long as the odds of Leicester City winning the Premiership at the start of the 2015/16 season (5,000.0).
Of course, as all baseball fans know, the Red Sox not only did the unthinkable and came back to win the American League Pennant by beating the Yankees 4-3, they then went on to thrash National League Pennant winners the St Louis Cardinals 4-0 in the World Series.
The Red Sox, Buster Douglas and Leicester City
If you had been fortunate enough to place a £10 bet on the Red Sox to win the 2004 World Series when they were trailing the Yankees 3-0 in the AL Pennant Series at odds of 121.0, you would have won the tidy sum of £1,210 - that’s your initial £10 stake plus £1,200 profit. Not bad!
The probability of that happening was less than 1% (0.83% actually) and upsets like the Yankees rebounding to win the World Series, Buster Douglas KO’ing Mike Tyson and Leicester City winning the Premiership only come along now and again, so while one should always look for the value in a bet, keep your eyes, ears and mind open for what could be that next winning long shot.
If ever in doubt, bettingexpert is always there to offer you clarification on baseball betting odds, baseball handicapping, baseball betting systems and any questions or queries you may have on how to bet on baseball and win.
Check out bettingexpert for all of the latest baseball odds today for a feel of how they work. We offer easy baseball strategies and basic baseball betting systems and more complex baseball betting formula to help maximize the winnings on your baseball bets today, and throughout the season.
Unlike other American sports, the most popular betting format in baseball is head to head betting, commonly referred to by U.S sports bettors as the Moneyline or Sides. Betting On Baseball is just like any other form of head to head betting with two possible outcomes, you simply bet on which team you think will win the game.
One thing to keep in mind, is that the difference in overall winning percentage between even the best and worst teams in baseball is much less than in other sports. Often the worst team in the major leagues wins around 40% of their games over the course of the season, while the best can lead the league with only a win rate of 60%. This is important to keep in mind as it can make game to game betting far less predictable than other sports. It's also why many successful baseball bettors will avoid betting on teams at very short odds in a given game.
Match Result or Moneyline Bet
The most tried and tested form of sports betting – picking the winner of a game - works exceptionally well with baseball, where even the very best title winning teams still lose around one-in-three of the games they play, leading to plenty of upset results and high-value matchups. Indeed, the MLB expert picks consensus is that at any given time, the best team in a league can still lose to the worst team, which makes every game competitive and exciting.
The term “moneyline” comes from US baseball betting, and refers to how much a bettor needs to wager on a team in a game to win $100. If the question was “what’s the moneyline for the Yankees to beat the Dodgers?” the answer might be “-120”, which means that the bettor would need to bet $120 on the Yankees, which would win them a total of $220, but minus their initial stake would leave a $100 profit.
Pick a game that you like the look of, check the odds for value and see what the top baseball tipsters at bettingexpert have to say about the game. One team might be missing their star pitcher, the other team may be hitting home runs for fun. A little research can go a long way, but luckily at bettingexpert, the tipsters already do that for you.
In baseball, the pitcher is one of the most critical positions in determining a team's game to game chances of victory. You will often see the starting pitcher for each team noted by bookmakers with bets voided for the game if one of the pitchers expected to start the game does not start. These pitchers are referred to as 'listed pitchers'. Bookmakers will also often offer you odds on the game, regardless of which pitchers start the game.
It is crucial to assess the form of each listed pitcher when placing a baseball bet and there’s good reason why the starting pitchers are listed beside the odds at your chosen bookmaker. Quarterbacks have a great deal of influence in American football, but when it comes to framing odds, there isn't an individual player in any team sport that has as much impact as a pitcher.
But don't get fixated on the starting pitchers. They don't have as much of an impact as yesteryear. In the modern era, starters will pitch 6 innings or fewer. What does this mean? It means that about a third of the pitching in a baseball game will be done by reserve pitchers. So while it's important to assess the form of the starting pitchers, don't overlook the potential of each team's pitching bullpens. Having an understanding of each team's relief pitchers can give you a great angle with which to find value that many other bettors may not possess.
Baseball run totals are just like any other Over/Under form of betting, meaning they are similar to goal totals in football or points totals in basketball. The total here refers to the number of runs that both teams score for the game. It's important to note that this includes games that extend into extra innings if the game is tied at the end of 9 innings. Run Totals for a baseball game are typically in the range of 8 to 10 runs.
The run line betting is a form of handicap betting in which one team receives a -1.5 run handicap and the other team receiving a +1.5 run handicap. The team receiving the -1.5 run handicap has 1.5 runs deducted from their final run total. If their run total is still greater than their opposition, it's a winning bet. A team receiving a +1.5 run total has 1.5 runs added to their final run total. If after the 1.5 runs is added, their run total is greater than their opposition, it's a winning bet.
What this means essentially, is that the team that is favoured to win must win by at least 2 runs in order for you to win your run line bet, while the underdog must lose by 1 run or win outright for you to win your bet.
Do you think that the San Francisco Giants will win by 2 runs or more against the St Louis Cardinals? Do you think the Cardinals will score win the game or at the very least only lose by a maximum of one run? While not holding the same appeal as NFL line betting or Asian handicap football betting, basbeall run lines offer bettors the chances to bet on a handicap market for a given game..
Simply look to see what gives the better odds and the best value, a plus or minus score, and then bet accordingly: San Francisco Giants -1.5 runs or St Louis Cardinals +1.5 runs.
Often referred to as Futures bets, Season bets are incredibly popular with baseball bettors. You can bet on which team will win the World Series, the American or National League, the winners of individual divisions or the number of wins a team will have in the entirety of the season. For casual bettors, it can be a great way of having an interest for the length of the season for only a small outlay or even if you just want to have a small personal financial investment in the success of your favourite team.
bettingexpert prides itself on its unique network of sports betting tipsters. Among the most consistently accurate and successful are our baseball tipsters who provide you the bettor with high value tips for baseball games throughout the season.
Check the stats – these guys – and girls - know their baseball betting. If you want expertly delivered MLB tips, log on to bettingexpert throughout the baseball season. Even if you feel confident in your growing knowledge of baseball, and want to go ahead with your own picks and predictions, why not compare your choices with those of our expert tipsters before taking the plunge and making that bet?
MLB Expert Picks by Top Tipsters
You might be a lazy sports bettor, someone who doesn’t have the time or even the inclination to do research on baseball games, to study team form and stats in order to maximize your chances of success, and yet you still want to win at baseball betting. That’s fine, and even more reason to use our tipsters.
Our expert team will save you the trials and tribulations of countless hours of research plus years of baseball betting experience. Plainly put – our tipsters have already done the legwork, so you don’t have to!
So there you have it – when it comes to baseball betting, bettingexpert really does have all the bases covered (pun intended!)
In the USA, Latin America, Japan and South Korea, when the baseball season is in play, the games are featured on TV, often with several games covered on different channels at the same time. In other words, a baseball betting fan is spoilt for choice.
The NFL is afforded decent coverage on satellite TV in the UK and Europe, with the Super Bowl in particular granted hour-upon-hour of coverage before, during and after it has taken place.
Why Bookmakers Are no.1 In Baseball Coverage
By comparison, baseball is provided with precious little air time on terrestrial and satellite TV in the UK and Europe, with even the sport’s showpiece event, the World Series receiving only cursory coverage.
Thankfully, the best online bookmakers are now filling that void with some excellent live streaming of MLB games. Online bookmakers like PaddyPower already offer excellent coverage of multiple baseball games, in conjunction with in-play betting. The baseball live stream is often of HD standard, and comes accompanied with expert commentary. Some sites even provide baseball live stream radio. Look for many more top bookmakers to follow suite.
When selecting a bookmaker for your baseball betting, be sure to cover the following bases (excuse the pun):
Choose a Reputed, Legitimate Bookmaker – baseball is primarily a US sport, and there are several online bookmakers that are clearly geared toward US sports, baseball in particular.However, online betting is illegal in the US, so these sites are illegal, and therefore not liable to the same stringent, government enforced rules and regulations that the top UK bookmakers must comply with. The top UK bookmakers have excellent baseball coverage, and will always pay you when you win a bet – the US sites might not!
Choose a Bookmaker Who Respects Baseball – Be sure to choose a bookmaker who covers baseball seriously, and provides you with a thorough selection of the most popular markets run totals Over/Under, even MLB picks against the spread. You may ultimately only choose to use a handful of those markets, but it’s better to have too much of a choice than not enough.
Odds Are The Key – Be sure to select a bookmaker who consistently presents you with odds that are among the best on offer for any baseball market. Check the range of odds presented for baseball games covered by bettingexpert, or use a site like oddschecker to see a full range of odds at-a-glance. Odds will ultimately determine how much you win from your baseball betting, so nothing is more important.
Live-Streaming Service – many of the bigger online bookmakers are streaming more and more sporting events live, and several, including PaddyPower are now live streaming baseball free online throughout the season.
In-Play Betting – nothing compliments live-streaming of an event like in-play betting, and that feature is also offered by PaddyPower. So now you can watch the drama unfold and take full advantage of any odds fluctuations when they happen.
For detailed bookmaker reviews, please refer to our bookmaker reviews page. Everything you need to know concerning dozens of online bookmakers.
If you have been bitten by the baseball betting bug and you realize you are in it for the long haul, it’s time to develop a baseball betting strategy, so as to maximize your wins and limit your losses. No matter which baseball leagues you choose to bet on, always implement these simple rules of thumb as part of your Baseball Betting Strategy:
Understand How US Sport Works
Unlike European soccer, where the richest clubs invariably buy the best players and as a result are the main contenders for domestic titles and European cup competitions every year, US sport is a much more level playing field.
In all major US sports, the teams that finish lowest in the leagues get first crack in the annual college draft picks. These are the brightest young stars coming through in the US collegiate system and many will become the superstars of tomorrow. Teams are free to hang on to these players or trade them to other teams. It is this system that insures no team or teams monopolize any US sport. For example, since 2000 there have been ten different World Series winners. In that same time period there have been four Premiership winners and four La Liga winners.
So if you bet on Major League Baseball for example, there’s no guarantee that a team that did exceptionally well the previous season will do the same this year. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because the Kansas City Royals won the World Series in 2015, they will be a force for years to come. Chances are, they won’t be.
Do Your Baseball Homework
Baseball is an intriguing sport with a fascinating history, and the more you learn about it, the more you’ll want to know. Learning about the history of the game is fun and will give you a sense of why it is so beloved, particularly in the US, but it won’t necessarily help you with what’s happening on the field right here and now.
To stay up to speed with the modern game, the comings and goings of players and coaches, how well or badly teams are performing in their divisions, team and player form guides, stats etc., use the always excellent ESPN website plus the official sites for MLB, MiLB, NPB.Jp for Japanese baseball, MILB.com for the Mexican League, and TheABL.com.au for the Australian Baseball League.
Also, never underestimate the power and knowledge of bettingexpert’s team of baseball tipsters. If you need baseball betting tips, baseball betting picks, baseball bets today or baseball tips for tonight, always check out the team of top baseball tipsters at bettingexpert.
Learn to Spot A Team’s Strengths And Weaknesses
If you are a hardcore football fan/bettor, studying stats and form guides will come as second nature to you. Apply that same mentality to your baseball betting, and you will reap the benefit.
Make a habit of studying the stats on teams. What is their attacking lineup (batters) like? How are their pitchers? Fielders? Do they score a lot of runs in games? Do they concede many? How are they on the road? In any type of sports betting, knowledge is power, and forewarned is forearmed!
Look For Baseball Betting Value
At bettingexpert we always emphasize what we believe to be the most important rule of sports betting: always look for value in a bet.
Searching for value in baseball betting - especially during the regular season - is an easier task than in many sports, as at any given time, even winning teams are capable of losing to struggling sides. By checking the head-to-head rivalries of teams in a season, one can forecast how games may pan out. Even if a team is high in their division, playing at home and the bookies favorites to win, their opponents may have a winning record against them and be especially good on the road.
It’s only when a season reaches its Post Season stage, when the league format switches to a straight knockout “playoff-style” competition, does the gulf between teams get wider and the MLB series odds reflect that divide. Even so, in a seven-game series, the team that invariably wins and progresses will still lose a couple of those games. Part of the skill of successful baseball betting is accurately predicting when those defeats will happen.
Make Sure There Is Method To Your Madness
It’s human nature to want to bet on the long-shot, the underdog, the potential upset. Winning under these circumstances is always extremely exciting and satisfying, plus the rewards are always greater.
That said, anyone who bases their sports betting philosophy solely on backing long-shots won’t last too long in the game. The occasional long-shot bet is fine, as long as it is done sparingly, and that there is always method to such madness.
For example, the Major League Baseball season is long and arduous, and it is not unusual for teams that are near the bottom of their division at the beginning of the season to come good by the end of it and progress to the playoffs and beyond.
Teams may be waiting on injured players to return, they may switch coaches mid-season, rookie players can suddenly catch fire, veterans can regain winning form. If you spot the signs, or a bettingexpert tipster spots them for you, and you feel a team is going to come good, go for it and back that team to win their division. Just be sure to have a well-researched MLB underdog betting system to base such picks on.
Baseball is no different from any other sport when it comes to betting. If you want to be consistently successful betting on baseball during the course of what will be a long season with plenty of money-making opportunities, you need to remember two things:
- Always look for value in a bet.
- If you are going to back the long shot, have a sound basis or theory in which to do so .
What Is A Value Bet?
But how do we calculate betting value? It’s a very simple calculation:
|Value||=||(Decimal Odds * Your Assessed Probability) - 1|
So let’s say we are betting on the New York Yankees to defeat the Detroit Tigers in an upcoming MLB game, with a bookmaker offering odds of 1.70 for the Yankees to win. We’ve done our research and believe that in our estimation there’s a 65% chance that the Yankees will win this game. Are the odds of 1.70 offering us any value here?
|Value||=||(1.70 * 0.65) - 1|
|Value||=||1.105 - 1|
Whenever the value is greater than 0, we have what is known as a 'value bet'. So given the odds of 1.70 and our assessed probability of 65%, there is 10.5% value in the odds on offer of 1.70 for the Yankees to win this game.
Calculating Betting Value With Moneyline Odds
Calculating betting value with moneyline odds is a different story. Again let's begin with Plus Moneyline odds. The calculation here is as follows:
|Value||=||(((Plus Moneyline Odds + 100) * Your Assessed Probability) / 100) - 1|
Meanwhile, the calculation for assessing betting value with Minus Moneyline Odds is:
|Value||=||(((Minus Moneyline odds + 100) / Minus Moneyline odds) * Your Assessed Probability) - 1|
So why should we only bet when there is value? The key to successful baseball betting, and for any form of betting, is in making more accurate assessments of a given outcome’s likelihood than those presented in bookmaker betting odds. In our example, the Yankees to win is an opportunity to place a value bet because we believe the chances of New York winning the game are greater than the probability represented by the bookmaker’s odds.
For more information on betting value and baseball staking strategies, read the following articles.
Betting on baseball early in the season is tricky. But for sharp bettors, it can also be a great opportunity to profit.
#1 - Prioritize Skill Sets
The modern age of state-of-the-art handicapping features computer simulation models that go very in-depth on a player-by-player basis. That level of sophistication is beyond many of us. But, we can learn from the fundamental lesson taught by the success of those models. Wins and losses are based on player skill sets. Talent wins out over time. If you seriously want to make money betting on baseball you need to possess a more accurate read on true levels of pitching and hitting ability than bookmakers and other bettors do. Betting models win because they start with an accurate read on the components that matter most.
So don’t focus on media hype, don’t focus on team payrolls, don’t focus on the past career stats of aging stars in their decline phase, don’t try to turn baseball into roulette where you’re betting on this team because you think they’re hot, or fading that team because they’re showing a yo-yo tendency and today is their “down” day. Really force yourself to do the work and make proper evaluations of all starting pitchers, key bullpen contributors, and of course hitters.
Most well-informed evaluation systems use career norms, then adjust for age, projecting improvement for young players and decline for players in their 30’s. It’s not hard for serious baseball bettors to find reasonable player-by-player projections from a variety of baseball stathead websites. Doing the proper research will help you focus more intently on true ability.
#2 - Monitor Injury Reports
Injuries are the main monkey wrench when it comes to disrupting a player’s expected performance level. If a player isn’t at 100% health, he’s not likely to perform to 100% of your expectations for him. You should always be studying injury reports in all sports to make sure you’re investing in players/teams who can cash your bets. In the month of April, it’s very important to do this because Major League Baseball teams are now very cautious with their high paid stars.
- You don’t want to bet on pitchers who aren’t at full health
- You don’t want to bet on pitchers who will be pulled after 70 pitches for cautionary reasons
- You don’t want to bet on offenses whose star slugger is hobbled
- You really don’t want to pound an opening line, only to find out later your star slugger will be out of action that day!
Before the season starts, your top priority is evaluating skill sets. Once the season begins, it becomes very important to know who can or can’t play to the full expectations of those skill sets.
#3 - Expect Some Early Team “Reversals”
Now that we’ve established what you should focus on, we move to what you shouldn’t be distracted by. April can seem like a very strange month because teams will show dramatic won-lost reversals from the prior season. This is compounded by the fact that most media “prediction” places tend to extend forward from the prior season rather than anticipate reversals. As a result, the consensus view can get shattered in short order.
There are going to be a few dramatic turnarounds…as teams that had thrown in the towel on a lousy prior season get their houses back in order or as teams who had surged to greatness the prior season run into hard times with injuries or a natural decline from aging veterans. And, sometimes it’s just a short-term run of good or bad fortune that generates “surprises” that garner too much media attention.
Many recreational bettors fall into a trap of playing mind games with these developments. Once again, we have an example of bettors treating sports like roulette. Some bettors will continue to bet against a particular team because they are “due” to lose. Don’t worry about “the due theory.” Focus on talent level and the math will take care of itself. The media swirl about surprises can turn into a whirlpool that pulls you down if you’re not careful.
#4 - Stay On Lookout For Innovation
We are currently in an “analytics revolution” in professional baseball. Took long enough! Many teams are now trying to squeeze out meaningful strategic edges with innovation. Sometimes that works! And, you at least need to be aware of which teams are experimenting and which teams are having success with those experimentations.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were a great example of this in 2013. They adopted an advanced approach to positioning their defenders against various hitters. The players bought into it. And pitcher ERA’s plummeted. One of the defining dynamics of baseball betting in 2013 was that many of the smartest bettors kept insisting that Pittsburgh couldn’t keep winning. The Pirates were just enjoying good luck, and that luck was going to run out. Math guys would go pitcher-by-pitcher through the rotation and interpret his stats as lucky.
Maybe there was some luck involved. But, Pittsburgh was only six games over .500 in one run games, 20 games over .500 in games decided by larger margins. An innovative strategy that melded nicely with the skill sets of their roster allowed Pittsburgh to perform better than expected.
This is the sabermetric age. Stay alert for possible articles in the mainstream or stathead literature regarding innovation. You don’t want to be the bettor who’s complaining about bad luck when the next team starts playing smarter.
#5 - Respect the Smart Money
One final tip for staying on the ball in April. Remember that dramatic market line moves from opener to close are generally driven by “smart money” from professional wagerers. The general public doesn’t bet baseball with nearly the passion they have for other sports. When they do bet, sportsbooks aren’t concerned about their action enough to move the line much. If you see a big line move, it was the result of professional money making its presence felt.
Monitoring line moves will tell you very quickly which teams and pitchers are the focus of bettors who make a living in the markets. It will serve you well to learn from their betting tendencies. At the very least, they can confirm what you’re finding with your own methodology. Hopefully, you’ll be alerted to keys you may have overlooked for individual starting pitchers or better than projected offenses. If you find yourself on the opposite side of sharp action, there’s probably a leak in your game you need to get fixed. Maybe you know something the sharps don’t. More often than not, it’s the other way around.
Avid baseball fans in the US consider “Opening Day” a national holiday. Everyone’s a kid again. Hope springs eternal for your favorite team. Baseball bettors know that a long grind is ahead. The better prepared you are at the outset, the larger your profit at the end of the season.