MLB Betting Guide

• Baseball
• MLB
• Sports Betting

How to Bet on MLB

Major League Baseball, or MLB, is a sport that has millions of fans across the United States and around the world. A regular MLB season has over 2,000 games, and many people enjoy watching those games for sheer entertainment value. However, a growing number also learn how to bet on MLB games so that they can give themselves a chance to make money from the action.

Best Sportsbooks for MLB Betting

There are numerous sportsbooks operating in the United States, so many beginning MLB bettors wonder which, if any, is best suited to their needs. The good news is that all sportsbooks that legally operate in the US are great for MLB betting purposes. That's because Major League Baseball is one of the most popular sports in the country, so sportsbooks are only too willing to provides as many baseball betting opportunities as they can.

Of course, while all US sportsbooks might offer a similar range of betting markets, they do differ in other respects. Some offer better bonuses for new bettors, for example, while others will have better mobile sports betting options available.

The easiest way of seeing exactly what each operator has to offer is by reading our reviews, which can be accessed via our online sportsbooks page. In the meantime, here is our hand-picked selection of the best sportsbooks currently operating in the US.

Is Betting on MLB Legal in the United States?

The legality of sports betting in the US varies from state to state. Some states don't allow any kind of betting at all, some allow limited forms of betting, and others permit betting in all forms. Our online sports betting in the USA page provides further information on this important topic and provides access to state-specific articles that explain exactly what is legal and what isn't.

Assuming that you are in a state where online sports betting is legal, you won't have any trouble betting on MLB games. Of course, you will need to be old enough to bet to sign up with a sportsbook (the legal minimum age for betting is 21 in most states). You will also need to be physically located in the state to place bets. If in doubt, check the terms and conditions of the sportsbook you intend to bet with.

MLB Season Betting

Baseball fans who want to place a bet to add a dash of extra excitement to the whole season will find a number of markets that are suitable for the purpose. For example, you can bet on which team will win a certain MLB division, or whether a particular team will reach the World Series. The advantage of these bets is that they don't rest on any individual game. That means the bet will remain in play for the long term, so if your chosen team suffers one or two bad results there is still a chance that they will be able to turn things around.

MLB All-Star Game Betting

The Major League Baseball All-Star Game is a special game that takes place every summer between American League and National League All-Star teams. A roster of players is selected via a combination of voting by players and fans, as well as the decision of managers. This is a highlight of the MLB season and sportsbooks are therefore just as keen to offer betting markets for it as fans are to bet on it. Expect to be able to bet on which players will be selected for the All-Star Game, as well as which team will win it.

World Series Betting

The World Series is the highlight of the MLB season for a majority of fans, so it is something that you can bet on virtually all year round. Of course, you'll need to wait for the World Series to take place at the end of each season to find out if your early bets win, but you can also wait for the best-of-seven competition to arrive before getting involved if you'd prefer to do that. In fact, there are so many ways to bet on the World Series that we've published a completely separate guide to it - check out How to Bet on the World Series.

MLB Game Betting

While betting on long-term outcomes and one-off highlights such as the All-Star Game and World Series are very popular, most MLB betting concerns individual baseball games. For that reason, sportsbooks provide plenty of betting markets for each and every game throughout the season. The key markets that you are most likely to be interested in are the moneyline, run line, totals and prop bet markets, so let's now explore how each one works.

MLB Moneyline Betting

The moneyline betting market is one of the simplest to understand, and that makes it a perfect starting point for beginning bettors. In this market, you need to bet on which team will win the game in question. Each team will be presented with the odds that will be paid should you bet on them and win. Consider the following example:

Baseball betting lines will show you the two teams involved in the matchup with a different price for each. 

  • The price for the team that the sportsbook expects to win will be negative (-). You would need to bet that price in dollars to make a $100 profit if the bet wins. 
  • The price for the underdog team will be positive (+). You would need to bet $100 in order to win the price in dollars if the bet wins.

Consider the following:

Toronto Blue Jays-222
Baltimore Orioles+190

In this game, if you believe that the Orioles will win, you would need to bet $190 to achieve a return of $290. That would give you a profit of $100. 

If you believe that the Blue Jays will win, you would need to bet $100 to achieve a return of $222. That would give you a profit of $122.

MLB Run Line Betting

The biggest problem with the moneyline market is that fans of the favorites have to bet more than fans of the underdogs to stand a chance of making a similar profit. That stands to reason because the favorites have - according to the sportsbook - the best chance of winning.

In an effort to balance things out a bit more, sportsbooks also offer MLB run line betting markets. These assign an artificial handicap to the favorites and a corresponding advantage to the underdogs, as in the example below.

Baltimore Orioles+1.5-120
Washington Nationals-1.5+100
MLB Run Line Betting Market

Here you can see that the odds of the two teams are quite different. Bet $120 on the Orioles and if they win or lose by no more than one run (thanks to the +1.5 run advantage) you will win $100 for a total return of $220. Bet $100 on the Nationals and they will need to win by at least two runs (to overcome the -1.5 run handicap) for you to win $100 and get a total return of $200.

MLB Totals Betting

Baseball fans who want to bet on a game but can't or don't want to predict which team will win can consider MLB totals betting instead. This is where you bet on the total number of runs that will be scored by both teams combined, and not having to take sides makes it a great market for neutral spectators. An example market might look something like this:

Under 11-103
Over 11-115
MLB Totals Betting Market

Rather than having to predict exactly how many runs will be scored in the game, all you have to do is say whether the total number of runs will be over or under the number quoted by the sportsbook. In the example above, the sportsbook has predicted 11 runs, the odds are at -103 and 115 respectively.

This means that you need to bet $103/115 to make a profit of $100 if the bet succeeds. Bet Under and there would need to be 11 runs or less scored in total. Bet Over and there would need to be 12 runs or more for your bet to win. As always, if your bet wins you would also get your stake back, giving you a total return of $203/215.

MLB Prop Betting

The final type of MLB betting that we will discuss here is prop betting. This is where you bet on an aspect of the game or its participants which isn't dependent on the result of the game. For example, you could bet on whether or not a particular player will strike out or hit a home run. Or you can bet on what the score will be after a stated number of innings have been played.

Prop bets can be some of the most difficult to win with, so few bettors focus on these markets for day-to-day betting. That said, prop bets for modest stakes can be an interesting way to supplement more serious bets in the main moneyline, run line, and totals markets.

Check out more odds and offers at HowToBet MLB Live Odds

#1 - Navigate to the Required Market

The first thing you will need to do is navigate to the betting market that you want to get involved in. Simply visit your online sportsbook and log in, then look for Baseball or MLB in the menu of available sports. 

Many sportsbooks have tabs for the most popular sports at the top of the screen, in which case you will probably find a tab marked MLB. Click it - or follow the MLB link in the sports menu - and you will be presented with a list of games that you can bet on. Look down the list to find the game that you're interested in, then click on that to get to the betting market that you want.

#2 - Select the Outcome

When you have navigated to the required market, you next need to select the outcome that you want to bet on. You can usually do this by clicking the odds of that outcome or the outcome itself. This will add the outcome to a virtual betting slip which will appear on the screen. If you ever make a mistake and add an outcome to the betting slip that you don't really want there, there will be a button that allows you to delete it just as easily.

#3 - Stake, Check and Submit

The third step is to enter your stake, which is the sum of money that you want to bet, on the betting slip. You can only ever bet money that you already have in your account, but you should still check that the sum you have entered is correct. This will protect you from accidentally betting more than you really intended on the outcome. When you have checked the bet, including the stake you have entered, make any changes that are required and simply click the Bet or Submit button to place the bet.

Follow the Form

The first and most important strategy to adopt is to bet according to the past form of the team involved. While the past does not determine the future, it can often point to the most likely outcome. A team that has been winning consistently all season is, therefore, more likely to win its next game than a team that has been losing just as consistently all season.

A common motto of many successful sports bettors is 'winners bet winners'. While betting on underdogs isn't always doomed to failure, it is usually far more profitable to side with teams that have a proven ability to win and are currently enjoying a good period of form. Of course, even a good team can go off the boil at certain points during the season, so don't think that winning form is sure to continue forever. No favorite is ever a sure thing, no matter what the odds say.

Avoid Personal Bias

While you can of course bet on your favorite teams, don't imagine for a second that your support is any kind of magical charm that will ensure their success. If your favorite team is the underdog in a given game, don't allow your personal bias to blind you to that fact. 

It is easy for some people to tell themselves that the odds-makers have made a mistake just because they are big fans of the team quoted as the underdogs, but the odds-makers work hard to price markets as accurately as they can. 

If multiple sportsbooks and past form all agree that your favorite team doesn't have much of a chance, don't let your liking for the team overrule common sense. If you really must place a bet, you might be better off looking at the totals market than going heavy on the underdog.

Take a Hint

As we said a few moments ago, sportsbook odds-makers work hard to price events as well as they can. You can therefore often take a hint from the opening odds as to how the analysts expect things to go. If the odds for both teams are close, you can probably expect the game to be quite close. Similarly, if the bookies have priced one of the teams far shorter than the other, you can take that as a pretty big hint as to who they think will win. That doesn't mean you should never oppose the bookie's odds, but it does mean you should always have a very good reason for doing so.

Check the Weather

The weather can have a big effect on a baseball game, and the impact of wind can be particularly noticeable. If the wind blowing in from behind the batter, you can expect more home runs than if the wind is blowing against him. That sounds very obvious, and it is, but few people give the weather much thought before betting. While we don't think that you should bet based on meteorological forecasts, we do recommend taking them into account before you put your money on the line.

Seek Out Expert Opinions

Another tip that might prove useful is to seek out expert opinions. We are fortunate in this internet age that we have such easy access to the opinions of experts through blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels, and it would be a shame to not take advantage of this situation. 

Spend some time finding reputable MLB podcasts or channels that you respect and give some consideration to the opinions aired. You shouldn't follow experts blindly, but you can certainly use them to help you evaluate your own opinions about an upcoming game.

Immerse Yourself in the Game

Those of you who want to participate in MLB betting on a regular basis should immerse yourself in the sport as fully as possible. Watch games or listen to them on the radio, read or watch interviews with players and coaches, keep up to date with the latest baseball news reports. The more you know about the game, the more of an expert you will become in your own right, and the better your forecasting ability will be.

Manage Your Bankroll

Our final piece of advice for those of you who are just getting started in MLB betting is to learn to manage your bankroll properly. This is something that will serve you well throughout your betting career, so it makes sense to establish some sensible ground rules from the outset.

The most important rule is never to bet with money that you can't afford to lose. Betting is a risky business, and you will certainly have losing bets no matter how well you know baseball. You should therefore set aside a sum that you can afford to lose in a worst-case scenario and use that as your MLB bankroll.

Another good rule is to only bet a percentage of your bankroll on any one game. Surprises can and do happen, and always when you least expect them. By risking only a percentage of your bankroll on any one game, you reduce the risk of getting wiped out by them.

How To Bet On MLB FAQ

What does MLB stand for?
+

MLB stands for Major League Baseball.

When does MLB season start?
+

The MLB pre-season begins in February with spring training. The MLB season proper starts in April.

What is the run line in MLB betting?
+

The MLB run line betting market assigns a theoretical advantage to the underdogs and an equal handicap to the favorites. This allows the sportsbook to offer closer odds on both teams, but if you bet the favorite they will need to overcome the handicap for your bet to succeed.

How to read MLB betting lines?
+

Reading MLB betting lines is quite easy. The odds preceded by a minus sign (-) represent how many dollars you would have to bet to make a profit of $100. The odds preceded by a plus sign (+) tell you how many dollars in profit you will make if you bet $100.

What does MLB betting mean?
+

MLB betting means betting on the outcome of a Major League Baseball event.

What does F5 mean in baseball?
+

F5 is a symbol for a line on the first five innings of a baseball game. Some bettors prefer the five-inning bet because the pitching is less predictable over the entire game. This is due to the impact of relief pitching and taking the starters out roughly after the sixth inning of the game.

Photo Credits: TOM PENNINGTON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP