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baseball | Tuesday, October 5, 2021 10:16 AM
How To Bet On The MLB Playoffs: Strategies, Stats, Odds
How To Bet On The MLB Playoffs: Strategies, Stats, Odds
UPI / Alamy Stock Photo

October has arrived and that means one thing for baseball fans, the MLB playoffs have arrived. In this article we will cover the basics when it comes to betting on the MLB playoffs, from tournament format and popular betting markets, to MLB playoffs betting strategies, key stats and which bookmakers are best for betting on the MLB playoffs.

In this how to bet on the MLB playoffs article:

When are the MLB Playoffs?

The first question to answer isn’t so much how to bet on the MLB playoffs, but when to bet on the MLB playoffs. The 2021 MLB playoffs schedule is as follows:

  • Wildcard games will be played Tuesday October 5th and Wednesday October 6th
  • Division Series round begins Thursday October 7th.
  • League Championship round begins Thursday October 15th.
  • World Series begins Tuesday October 26th.

A total of 10 clubs reach the MLB playoffs. Five from the American League and Five from the National League. The five teams from each league consist of the three division winners plus two wild card teams.

This season the following teams reached the MLB playoffs:

American League

  • East Division winner: Tampa Bay Rays (league’s best win-loss record)
  • Central Division winner: Chicago White Sox
  • West Division Winner: Houston Astros
  • Wildcard teams: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees

National League

  • East Division winner: Atlanta Braves
  • Central Division winner: Milwaukee Brewers
  • West Division Winner: San Francisco Giants (league’s best win-loss record)
  • Wildcard teams: St Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers

How do the MLB Playoffs work?

The MLB playoffs begin with the wildcard games. The winners of each wildcard game then progress to play the team that had the best win-loss record in their league through the regular season in the Division Series round, while the remaining two division winners meet in the Division Series round.

While the wildcard round is a single game elimination the Division Series round is a best-of-five games series. The team that is first to win three games wins the series.

The winners of each Division Series then meet in the League Championship round. Unlike the Division Series round, the League Championship round is best-of-seven, with the team that is first to win four games in the series, advancing to the World Series.

The winners of each League Championship then meet in the World Series, which is again a best-of-seven series. The winner of the World Series is crowned champions of baseball.

In all series, the team with the better regular season win-loss record is awarded with home field advantage. In the five game Division Series round, the team with the better win-loss record earns three games at home to their opponents two, while in the League Championship round and World Series, the team with the superior win-loss record earns four home games to their opponents three.

What are popular MLB Playoffs betting markets?

There are many ways to bet on the MLB playoffs. Let’s take a look at the most popular MLB playoff bet types:

  • Moneyline offers you the chance to bet on the winner of a single game. You bet on which team you think will win the game and if they do, you win your bet. Moneyline also includes any extra innings played if the game is tied beyond the 9th inning.
  • Run totals offer you the chance to bet on how many runs you think will be scored in a single game. You can bet over or under a certain run total. For example, if the run total is set at 9.5 runs, you can bet on the game seeing 10 or more runs scored or 9 runs or fewer scored.
  • Run line offers you the chance to bet on a team with a handicap given. The most common run line is plus or minus 1.5 runs. So for example, you can bet on a team with a handicap of -1.5 runs. For your bet to win the team must win by at least 2 runs. Or you can bet on a team with a handicap of +1.5 runs. In this case you win your bet if your team wins the game or if they lose the game by a maximum of 1 run.
  • Individual series winner odds give you the opportunity to bet on which team you think will win a given playoff series. It doesn’t matter how they win the series, whether it’s 4-0 , 4-1, 4-2 or 4-3, so long as they win the series you win your bet.
  • League Championship winner odds allow you to bet on which team will win either the National League or the American League.
  • World Series winner odds give you the opportunity to bet on which team you think will be crowned MLB champions for 2021.

World Series Winner Odds

When it comes to betting on the World Series, it isn’t so much a question of how to bet on the MLB playoffs, but who to bet on? Who is favourite to win the World Series? The odds below are the best odds available for each team to win their league and the World Series entering the 2021 MLB playoffs.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are favourites to win this year’s World Series with a best price of 4.85 entering the playoffs. They are favoured to win the National League with the Houston Astros favoured to win the American League and at odds 7.50 to win the World Series.

Team Odds to win AMERICAN LEAGUE Odds to win World Series
Houston Astros 3.50 7.50
Tampa Bay Rays 3.75 8.50
Chicago White Sox 4.50 8.50
New York Yankees 8.00 13.00
Boston Red Sox 8.00 21.00
Team Odds to win NATIONAL League Odds to win World Series
LA Dodgers 3.10 4.85
San Francisco Giants 4.00 9.00
Milwaukee Brewers 4.75 9.00
Atlanta Braves 8.00 14.00
St.Louis Cardinals 12.00 23.00

MLB Playoffs Betting Strategies

There are a number of things to keep in mind when betting on the MLB playoffs.

  • Every team is motivated. Betting on the MLB regular season routinely involves assessing a team’s motivation. The regular season is a 162 game grind with many clubs losing any hope of reaching the playoffs as early as the midway point. But in the playoffs every club is motivated to win. Every game is meaningful. Even if a team is dominating a seven game series and leading 3-0, they will be eager to win the next game, earn some rest and move on to the next round.
  • Team weaknesses become exposed in the playoffs. If a team has limited depth in pitching, it will be exposed come playoff time. If a team relies on a few hitters to put runs on the board, it will be exposed in the playoffs. The intense format of the MLB playoffs requires teams to perform and perform now and the team with the greater spread of talent, not just the biggest names, is more to do just that.
  • Playoff experience counts. It can’t be emphasized enough. The playoffs are a completely different proposition. Players who have experience in playoff baseball are not only prepared for the intensity of a five or seven game series, but they also provide leadership for players who are new to playoff baseball.
  • Value is harder to find. By the time the playoffs come around, game odds fairly accurately reflect each team’s chances of winning based on a season’s worth of data and analytics. If you are looking for value in the MLB playoffs, you will not find it by crunching data. Instead look for historical playoff betting trends or how individual teams and players match up against each other.
  • Maintain your discipline. With fewer games played during the playoffs than the regular season, it can be difficult for even the best baseball bettors to stay away if there is no value. But this is what is required. Many of the world’s best baseball bettors do not even consider betting on playoff baseball. But while there may still be value betting opportunities in the playoffs, they will be limited. If there is no value, do not bet.

MLB Playoffs Betting Stats

How much is home advantage worth in the MLB playoffs? The table below displays home advantage in the MLB across a number of categories since the 2005 MLB season. Firstly, we see a slight increase in home advantage in the playoffs compared to the regular season, with just over 55% of home teams winning in the playoffs and just under 54% of home teams winning during the regular season.

During a playoff series, home advantage has been greatest in Game 6 with home teams winning almost 74% of the 23 games played, while surprisingly away teams have had the greater share of wins in Game 7, with almost 55% of just 11 games played.

Games Home Away
Regular Season 39,683 53.95% 46.05%
Playoffs 524 55.15% 44.85%
Game 1 129 54.26% 45.74%
Game 2 113 64.60% 35.40%
Game 3 107 53.27% 46.73%
Game 4 85 47.06% 52.94%
Game 5 56 48.21% 51.79%
Game 6 23 73.91% 26.09%
Game 7 11 45.45% 54.55%

What about winning streaks? Home teams on winning streaks of at least three games have dominated at home. On a three game winning streak, home teams have won almost 61% of games played while on winning streak of at least 4 games, home teams have won almost 71% of playoff games since 2005. Away teams have struggled on similar streaks, with visitors winning just over 37% of games when coming in off a streak of three wins.

Streak Games Home Games Away
4 losses + 8 50.00% 7 28.57%
3 losses 25 40.00% 19 42.11%
2 losses 71 50.70% 51 37.25%
1 loss 126 53.97% 147 46.26%
1 win 128 51.56% 127 47.24%
2 wins 66 56.06% 65 47.69%
3 wins 28 60.71% 43 37.21%
4 wins + 72 70.83% 62 50.00%

Let’s take a look at this season’s playoff teams. Below we see the return on moneyline bets for each of the ten teams coming in the 2021 MLB playoffs. We can see that the Giants were the biggest surprises to the bookmaker’s this season. If you had bet on the Giants to win in every game this season, you would have earned a return on your investment of over 22%, with Tampa Bay backers earning 13%. Three other clubs provided a profit this season, StLouis, Boston and Milwaukee.

Rank Team Win Loss ROI%
1 San Francisco Giants 107 55 22.4%
2 Tampa Bay Rays 100 62 13.0%
3 St Louis Cardinals 90 72 9.2%
4 Boston Red Sox 92 70 4.6%
5 Milwaukee Brewers 95 67 4.1%
6 Los Angeles Dodgers 106 56 -0.4%
7 Houston Astros 95 67 -0.7%
8 Atlanta Braves 88 72 -0.8%
9 New York Yankees 92 70 -1.1%
10 Chicago White Sox 93 69 -2.7%

The Giants have also been profitable in playoff games since the 2005 MLB season. If you had backed the Giants in each of their playoff games since 2005, you would have earned a return of almost 46%, while Chicago also out performed the market. Boston, Houston and St.Louis have all likewise returned profits on moneyline bets during the playoffs since 2005.

Rank Team Win Loss ROI%
1 San Francisco Giants 36 17 45.80%
2 Chicago White Sox 13 6 37.50%
3 Boston Red Sox 40 28 15.40%
4 Houston Astros 43 34 7.50%
5 St Louis Cardinals 52 49 4.80%
6 Tampa Bay Rays 27 29 -0.90%
7 Los Angeles Dodgers 54 49 -9.30%
8 New York Yankees 43 43 -14.20%
9 Milwaukee Brewers 12 16 -16.60%
10 Atlanta Braves 14 20 -18%

Betting Tips for the MLB Playoffs

If you’re still not sure how to bet on the MLB playoffs, relax. The bettingexpert community has you covered. If you’re not sure which teams are offering the value during this season’s MLB playoffs, jump over to the bettingexpert MLB tips page and see who our tipsters are betting on. There are a number of profitable MLB tipsters in the bettingexpert community and they will no doubt be keen to share their tips and analysis during this season’s playoffs.

MLB playoffs betting tips

Bookmakers for the MLB Playoffs

Finally, let’s conclude our how to bet on the MLB playoffs article by answering where to bet on the MLB playoffs? There are a number of bookmakers offering a broad range of betting markets for the MLB playoffs. Here are our top five bookmakers for betting on the MLB playoffs. You can read more about each of our recommended MLB playoffs bookmakers on our bookmaker reviews page. Or you can click the links below and be taken directly to that bookmaker.

Each of our recommended bookmakers offers new customers a generous sign up bonus, so be sure to take advantage when you sign up.