How to Bet Baseball

The Money Line

Baseball Game
Grant Faint Getty

Betting on baseball is different than betting on football. Since many games are decided by a run or two it is not practical to have a spread as they do in football. Instead, the sportsbooks use a money line for betting baseball. The money line is also used for other sporting events as well.

The money line determines the amount of money laid and the amount of money won when wagering on either the favorite or the underdog.

The highest negative money line determines the favorite team, and the lowest negative money line and all positive money lines determine the underdog. The most common case is the favorite with a negative line and the underdog with a positive one. The money line is listed based on $100 bet. The money line may look confusing to the novice player betting on baseball for the fist time it is really easy to figure out.

Example of The Money Line
Lets say that the Yankees are playing the Red Sox and the Yankees are the favorite. The money line may be listed as:
Yankees -140 Red Sox +120

In this example, if you wanted to bet on the Yankees who are the favorites you would be putting up $140 and if you win you would collect $240 giving you $100 profit. In other words, you risk $140 to make $100.

If you wanted to take the underdog Red Sox you would wage $100 and collect $220 if you won. This means that you risk $100 to make $120.

The Vig
The casinos/sportsbooks make their money on sports bets by collecting a commission on every bet made. This is called the Vigorish or Vig for short. The Vig is the difference between what is wagered and what is won. In baseball betting the sportsbook make their money when the favorite team loses.

In the example above, if the Yankees lost the sportsbook would make $20. They are collecting $140 for the losing bet but only paying out $120 for the winning bet. The sportsbook will adjust the line if one team is heavily favored to make it more enticing to bet the underdog.

Pitching Matters
In baseball, the pitchers are the key to the game. The money line in baseball is made based on the starting pitchers for the games. In the event of a pitching change before the game and unscheduled pitcher starts, the money line may be adjusted. You can bet a baseball game several ways depending on the pitching. In the Yankee-Red Sox game listed in the above example, lets say that the money line was made based on Randy Johnson pitching for the Yankees and Tim Wakefield pitching for the Red Sox.

You can bet the game as “action” which means that the bet is live no matter if the pitchers are changed before the game or not. If there is an unscheduled pitching change the payout may be different than the odds posted for the starting money line but the bet is still active.

You can bet a baseball game based on both of the starting pitchers listed when you make your bet. In the event that one of the pitchers either Johnson or Wakefield does not start the game, your bet will be voided and your original wager will be returned.

You can also bet a baseball game based on a pitcher for one team. If for example you wanted to bet on the Yankees with Johnson pitching and you did not care who the Red Sox were starting then your bet would be active as long as Johnson started for the Yankees.

The Run Line
The run line is used in baseball when one team is a big favorite. A number of runs such as 1 ½ or 2 is subtracted from the score of the favorite team. This is similar to the point spread in Football. However, most of the times if you bet on the run line the favorite becomes the underdog. In the example above the Yankees were -140 if you bet them on the money line but they are +110 if you bet them -1 ½ runs. If the Yankees win by only one run you would lose the bet. If they win by 2 runs or more you win 110 of your 100 wager.

Ask Questions
In the United States sports betting is only legal in the state of Nevada but more wagering is done on sporting events than any other form of gambling. Make sure you understand the bets you are making. If you are placing a bet at any of the Sportsbooks in the casinos in Nevada you can ask questions from any of the employees. They will be happy to help you out explain any bets for you.