Bettors Up! We Look at How to Bet This Baseball Season

Liam ParkerContributor IApril 12, 2009

LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 12:  Major League Baseball legend Pete Rose laughs as he attends the 'Beacher's Madhouse' show at the Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino November 12, 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Some people need beer and hot-dogs to enjoy baseball; others like me enjoy putting a couple bucks on the line to bring out the excitement of America’s pastime.  With 2,430 games a season, MLB gives us literally tens of thousands of props, spreads, moneylines and totals to bet on.

Let’s have a look at how a few bet types work before you risk your hard earned cash in Vegas or with a reputable online sportsbook.


Moneylines are probably the easiest to understand wager offered by sportsbooks, all you have to do is pick the winner and you can start counting your cash.  To read a moneyline there will be a minus sign beside the favorite and a plus sign beside the underdog.

The numbers represent what you will have to risk to win $100 if you take the favorite or how much money you will win if you choose the underdog.

Have a look at this example, by selecting the favored Toronto Blue Jays you will need risk $140 of your money to win $100 of the bookies money. If you are thinking upset you will win $130 from the bookie by risking only $100.

You will notice a $10 difference in the lines; this represents the bookies commission for taking the bet. Often called the juice or the vig, it’s how they get paid.

Detroit Tigers                  +130
Toronto Blue Jays            -140

Listed Pitchers or Action
No player is a bigger determinant on the outcome of your wager than the starting pitcher. Sportsbooks allow you to protect your wager in case of a later scratch. At the time you place your bet you can choose the listed pitchers option.

This puts the condition on your bet that the pitcher listed to start the game must throw out the first pitch for his team otherwise the bet will be cancelled.

Here’s an example, if you like the Blue Jays on the moneyline with Roy Halladay starting so you should chose “listed pitchers” but Doc is scratched and replaced by Scott Richmond your bet will be cancelled. 

As the Jays are playing Detroit and it doesn’t matter who the starting pitcher is because you feel confident any of the Jays pitchers can have a strong outing against the under performing Tigers, you can choose “Action” and your bet stands regardless of who throws out the first pitch.

Keep in mind that the odd you took when Halladay was starting will change to whatever the Jays closing line was.

Because baseball doesn’t big margins of victory like basketball or football bookies offer a fixed spread of 1.5 runs. Favorites will have 1.5 runs deducted from their score meaning they have to win by 2 and underdogs can lose by a single run and you still win your wager.

Detroit Tigers                  +1½ (-140)
Toronto Blue Jays            -1½ (+120)

So if you take the Jays and they win by two you win $120 for your $100 risked and if you take the Tiger you will have to risk $140 to win $100 the high price is for the extra run and a half given to the Tigers.

Detroit Tigers                  Over      8.5 (-120)
Toronto Blue Jays            Under   8.5 (Even)

Total bets allow you to choose whether the combined score of the game will be OVER or UNDER the bookmaker’s handicap. If you can’t pick a winner but you know for sure that the game will be a high scoring affair throw some money on the OVER 8.5 but if the game figures to be a pitching dual put your money on the UNDER.

If the final combined score is eight or less the UNDER wins, nine or higher the OVER wins.

Remember that Runlines and Totals are handicapped heavily on the starting pitchers these bets are always listed pitchers.

Good luck with all your bets and if you have any questions about this or anything else drop me a line at

Stay Gold!