Understanding MLB Money Lines is critical if you want to be successful betting on baseball. The margin of victory is so small in many baseball games that it’s impossible to have a point spread. While the point spread is concerned with who wins and by how much, the money line is solely interested in who wins.
The best way to learn how to read MLB money lines is to see an example of it in action, so let’s look at the ML for two rivals:
San Francisco Giants +135
San Diego Padres -145
In this example, the Padres are the favoured team, as signified by the minus sign in front of the 145. The Giants are the underdogs, as designated by the plus sign in front of the 135.
The above baseball betting lines indicates that those wishing to bet on the Padres (favourite) will have to risk $145 to win $100, while those wanting to wager on the Giants (underdog) will risk $100 to win $135.
In point spread betting, the bookmakers hope to have an equal amount of money wagered on each team, which will guarantee a profit. In baseball, however, the majority of people wager on the favourites, which means that the bookmakers typically only make money when the underdog wins.
Baseball run lines are essentially a combination of the point spread and the money line rolled into one.
The run line normally uses a constant spread of 1.5 runs. The team that is favored on the money line will also be the favored team on the run line.
Understanding baseball run lines is always easier when you see an example. On the regular money line we may see odds like:
San Francisco Giants +160
San Diego Padres -170
The example above indicates that Padres bettors are risking $170 to win $100, while Giants bettors will risk $100 to win $160.
But with baseball run lines, we would expect to see the same game looking closer to:
San Francisco Giants +1.5 -130
San Diego Padres -1.5 +120
Now, those people betting on the Giants are risking more money than they will win, in this case $130 to win $100, but they are receiving 1.5 runs. Even if the Giants lose by one run, those betting Giants on the run line will win their bet because of the 1.5 runs.
Baseball Totals (Over and Unders)
Betting baseball totals is just like betting totals for other sports, in that you’re betting the total number of runs is either over or under the bookmaker’s predicted total.
To show you how to read baseball betting lines using totals, let’s look at another example:
Boston Red Sox OVER 8.5 -130
New York Yankees UNDER 8.5 +110
What this means is that bettors wishing to wager that the teams will score more than 8.5 runs will have to risk $130 to win $100, while those wagering on the under will risk $100 to win $110.
For wagering purposes what happens in extra innings counts, both for totals and run line bets.