The guide below covers how to bet on MLB games. Topics include specific types of bets — moneylines, spreads, props, futures, etc. — as well as information on calculating potential profits. Scroll down for step-by-step instructions on how to bet on baseball, including a list of sportsbook options below.   

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MLB betting odds & markets explained 

Here is a rundown of some of the most common options at MLB sportsbooks. The betting lobby will generally contain game lines featuring the three most common types of bets. 

MLB moneyline betting 

This is the simplest way to bet on MLB odds: Just pick a winner and cash your bet if that team pulls through. Sportsbooks will balance moneyline odds according to which team is favored, so underdogs will have positive odds and heavy favorites will have a big negative number.

For example, if the Houston Astros are at home with ace Framber Valdez on the bump against an unproven pitcher, the moneyline will be “juiced” up in Houston’s direction. If the LA Angels are visiting without a strong starter, they could be getting +250 odds or better, while the Astros could be around -250 on the moneyline. 

Los Angeles Angels+250
Houston Astros-265

MLB run line betting 

Since MLB games are often close, books will typically set a line of 1.5 runs, rather than the larger point spread you may see in other team sports. The run line is also juiced in the direction of what the book indicates is the more likely outcome, but it is not as straightforward as moneyline bets. 

An underdog on the moneyline might get negative odds at +1.5 runs, indicating that the team could lose by one run and still cover the bet. Conversely, the favorite on the moneyline could get positive odds at -1.5 runs, which is only a successful wager if that team wins by at least two runs. 

Home favorites can get longer odds to cover the run line, because they would not bat in the bottom of the ninth if they’re leading, which gives them one fewer inning to potentially tack on an insurance run that could cover the line. 

Below is an example of how the run line might look in that same Astros vs. Angels matchup.

Los Angeles Angels+1.5 (-120) 
Houston Astros-1.5 (+110)

MLB total betting 

One way to bet on a baseball game without choosing a side is to take the “over” or “under” on the total combined runs. Online sportsbooks will project the number of runs both teams will score based on a number of factors, including the strength of the starting pitching matchup, the starting lineups, the ballpark, and the weather forecast. 

It’s rare for a total line to fall below seven runs and rare for a line to rise above 10 runs, but games at Colorado’s Coors Field are often over 10 runs due to the increased likelihood of fly balls to leave the yard at altitude. 

Here are a couple of projected totals based on a theoretical pitching matchup and location. 

Away: Pittsburgh Pirates (LHP Martin Perez) O 7.5 (-102) 
Home: San Francisco Giants (RHP Logan Webb)U 7.5 (-120)

The books may assign shorter odds for the game to go under the line of 7.5 runs because San Francisco’s Oracle Park has a huge outfield, and Logan Webb has had success at home throughout his career. 

Away: Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Joe Ross) O 9.5 (-120) 
Home: Cincinnati Reds (RHP Graham Ashcraft) U 9.5 (-110)

Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark has a high home run factor, and the two starting pitchers have struggled early in the season, so here oddsmakers might give bettors shorter odds on the over, despite the higher projected total. 

MLB first five innings betting 

Books often offer all of the above bets for the first five innings of an MLB contest. The moneyline, run line, and spread are all adjusted toward the expected outcome over the first half of the game. The market will also offer longer odds for the game to be tied through five innings, or even longer odds on correctly predicting the score or combining total and moneyline bets in a parlay. 

MLB no run first inning betting 

This bet offers a simple line of 0.5 runs for the first inning only and sets the odds in favor of the over or under based on how likely oddsmakers deem that outcome.

If two ace pitchers are going head-to-head in a premier matchup, the book may offer -120 odds on the two teams to score no runs in the first inning. If two great offenses are set to battle on fast turf in a domed stadium, the book might offer +105 odds for no runs to be scored in the first inning. 

MLB futures, props, and live betting odds

Now that we’ve covered the main bets, let’s take a look at some of the other popular options. Betting on a team to win its division, or win the World Series, is a long-term wager known as a futures bet. There is also a robust market on backing the statistical performance of players both before and during the game (live betting). These are known as player props

Betting on MLB players

To find player props, click on an individual game and select the tab to view the following options, among others. 

Home run props 

There are bets on players to hit a home run at any point during a game or to hit the first or last homer in a given game. Generally, when a player’s odds to homer are closer to even money, oddsmakers like that player’s chances on that given day. Still, it’s rare to see a player get shorter than +300 odds to homer. Backing a player to hit multiple home runs generates very long odds. It’s rare to find a bet on a specific player not to homer (under 0.5 home runs for the game), but there are often odds on whether zero players will homer in a game. 

Strikeout props 

These props usually appear under a label like “pitcher props” since they are the primary bet on starting pitchers. Like a game total, books will assign a number for a pitcher to record — 4.5 strikeouts, for example. The books will then offer shorter odds on the over or under, depending on the projected likelihood. 

A hard-throwing strikeout pitcher, like Tyler Glasnow of the Dodgers, might have a prop of 8.5 strikeouts with -120 odds on the over, while a veteran who pitches to contact, like Martin Perez, might have a prop of 3.5 strikeouts with +120 odds on the over. 

Total bases 

Want to back a player to produce without gambling on a specific outcome? That might lead you to considering taking the over on a total bases prop, which accounts for the number of singles, doubles, triples, and homers a player might accrue. 

If the line is 3.5 bases and a player collects two singles and a double over the course of the game, that player has gone over the line of total bases.

Total RBIs or runs 

These props offer a line on how many runs batted in a player might accrue over the course of a game or how many times a player might cross the plate. As with most props, there is an option to bet over or under a projected line. 

How to bet on MLB futures

World Series props 

There are props available for multiple levels of postseason success, but you might see a tab for “champion” or “outright winner” that offers odds for betting on the World Series winner. Even the favorites get relatively long odds to win it all in October, and those odds will shift throughout the regular season and postseason based on results, injuries, and other factors. 

There are also futures bets on league winners, division winners, whether a team will make the playoffs, and other specials at different sportsbooks. 

Cy Young winners

Sportsbooks will also offer futures bets that apply to player performance — generally under an “awards” tab or something similar. Books will have odds for both the AL and NL Cy Young award winners. All pitchers typically begin the season with long odds, but a few favorites will generally emerge by midsummer. 

MVP winners

You’ll see options for wagering on the AL and NL MVP winners each season. The pool is typically deep given the number of talented players in each league who must maintain hefty production over the course of a 162-game schedule. Voters tend to favor the top players on teams that finish higher in the standings, but players who have put up truly outstanding individual seasons on also-ran teams have occasionally won, as well.

Rookie of the Year winners

This market might be a little thinner than betting on a Cy Young or MVP winner, since many of the top prospects entering MLB during a given season have been identified as potential stars. Note that players with experience outside of America in professional leagues can still win the AL or NL Rookie of the Year award, with Cubs pitcher Shota Imanaga the favorite to become the latest import to earn that hardware.

How do I read baseball lines?

Understanding how oddsmakers determine lines can help bettors make informed decisions. It’s typical to see odds of -110 for both the over and the under line for the total score of a game. This process — aka charging a “vig” — ensures a profit for the book regardless of the outcome, provided that roughly equal amounts of money came in on both the over and the under. If the over for a given game is closer to even odds, that might mean that people were betting more money on the under, so the book shifted the line in an attempt to attract more bets on the over.

The same action applies to moneyline and run line bets, with the run line showing a little more information. If a road team is getting close to even odds on the moneyline but has a big negative number (-195, say) on the +1.5 run line, oddsmakers are indicating that they think a close game is likely. This information can help inform other wagers on the contest. 

First five inning bets can serve as a more direct estimation of how the book expects each starting pitcher to perform. If a team has short odds to win the first five innings but longer odds on the moneyline for the full game, that indicates a certain level of confidence in that team’s starting pitcher, or perhaps a lack of confidence in the opposing starting pitcher. 

Since MLB teams are becoming increasingly dependent on relievers to chew through innings after starters come out early, bets on the outcome after five innings sometimes can be a more reliable option based on pregame research. 

MLB betting strategies

Baseball is a nuanced game with myriad factors that can inform betting strategies. Weather can play a key role in outdoor stadiums, depending on if the wind is blowing out or in. Temperature can also play a factor both for hitters and pitchers. 

Certain umpires have a wide strike zone, and other umpires tend to call a much tighter zone. Researching data about the home plate umpire for a game can help inform the likelihood of a pitcher’s success in terms of strikeouts or how many total runs the teams might score in that contest. 

Statistics can help provide insight for how a lineup will match up against a pitching staff. Some pitchers thrive against batters of the opposite handedness (often referred to as a “reverse platoon” split), while those who do better in lefty-on-lefty or righty-on-righty matchups tend to be more common.

Pitchers might struggle in a certain environment or against certain batters, but batter vs. pitcher historical data is only scratching the surface when it comes to expected outcomes. Look for analytics that showcase batted ball data, expected ERA, weighted on base average, and other advanced stats

How to bet on MLB games

  1. Choose a sportsbook that is available in your state. Checking multiple books can help you find the best MLB odds for specific wagers. Some options will only be available at certain books. 
  2. Sign up for an account at the selected sportsbook. Please gamble responsibly. 
  3. Choose a deposit method. Most books accept online banking, credit/debit cards, and PayPal. 
  4. Once your account is live, click on the MLB tab and see what lines are available. 
  5. Some books may offer daily promos or odds boosts on featured bets that offer an increased payout if successful. 

Betting on MLB games: Where is it legal?

Any state that offers online sports betting will offer odds on MLB action without any additional restrictions. At the moment, 30 states (plus Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico) allow sports betting via online formats. 

Key MLB dates

MLB betting FAQ

What is the best sportsbook for MLB betting? 

Some of the top sportsbooks in the country include Caesars, BetMGM, BetRivers, and FanDuel. These books stay competitive by offering promos, odds boosts, and a wide variety of wagers on MLB and other sports leagues. 

What is the best MLB bet? 

The above options all have pros and cons when it comes to betting. For instance, taking heavy favorites with short odds on the moneyline will not necessarily generate a big payout, and even the worst teams in baseball history tend to win around a third of their games, so there are no sure things.  

What is a parlay or a same-game parlay? 

Books offer positive odds when bettors connect multiple wagers into a parlay. The flip side to those juicy odds, however, is that the bettor receives nothing if even one of the legs fails to cash. A same-game parlay refers to wagers within one particular contest, and some books may offer bigger bonuses or “SGP insurance” for combining multiple bets from one game. 

When do the MLB playoffs begin? 

Postseason play will begin Oct. 3 with three rounds leading up to the World Series, which will begin Oct. 27 and run to Nov. 4 if necessary. 

Can you bet on the MLB All-Star Game? 

Yes, there will be lines for the MLB All-Star Game, home run derby, and other festivities for All-Star weekend, which will be from July 13-16 this year at Globe Life Field in Texas.