There are basically three ways to bet baseball – the money lines, the run lines, or the totals. The most common is the money line. Unlike other sports like football or basketball where you place bets against the spread (ATS), baseball lines are assigned odds depending mostly on whom the starting pitcher is. There are other factors that can affect a teams odds but the starting pitcher is always the primary factor. The Money Line No matter what sport you are betting, the sports books want equal money on both sides of the fence. They would like to sit back and collect their vig (percentage on winning wagers – usually 10%) and not have to worry about the outcome of the game. To achieve this in baseball, they must assign odds. For example, the Indians are playing at the White Sox and Jake Westbrook is pitching against Freddy Garcia. The line is Cleveland +135 and Chicago -150. If you bet Cleveland and they win, you would get $13.50 back for every $10.00 that you wagered. If however you like Chicago, you would have to risk $15.00 in order to win $10.00 or $150.00 to win $100.00. One thing to consider is that it is difficult to handicap a bull pen. No matter how good the starting pitcher is, they usually only last until the 6th or 7th inning & then it’s up to the relief pitchers to finish the job. For this reason, many experts will tell you that a money line greater than -160 is usually best to stay away from. If you wager on a -300 favorite and they lose, you must win three games just to get back to even. There are 162 games in the regular season and even the best teams will lose 60 games (38%). The Run Line If you like a team that is a heavy favorite but don’t want to risk the money line, then it is possible to find value in run lines and reduce the initial wager amount. Run lines add or take away 1 ½ runs depending on which way you bet – similar to point spreads in other sports. There are still odds involved but the run lines will reduce the odds and make a wager more affordable. Most run line wagers are placed on the favorite. For example, Houston is playing Florida and Pettitte is pitching against Mitre. The money line on Houston is -230 (you must wager $23.00 to win $10.00). The risk/reward seems too high to take a chance so you may want to look at the run line. Houston -1 ½ reduces the odds to -115 meaning now you only have to wager $11.50 to win $10.00, however in order to win the bet Houston must win the game by two runs or more. Because many baseball games are decided by one run, many experts will tell you that run lines are bad bets. Another thing to consider is that if you are wagering on the home team and they are up by a run in the 9th inning, they will not bat in the bottom half of the inning giving you one less inning to cover that spread further reducing your odds of winning the bet. If you take the underdog on a run line bet, you would get 1 ½ runs and would still win your bet even if your team loses by a run, however you are paying for that cushion and in many cases it is hard to find value in such wagers. The Total Betting on the total score in a baseball game is the same as any other sport. There are odds assigned here as well, however they usually range from even money to -120 & rarely go greater than that. This is a good way for beginners to wager on baseball especially if you have some idea of how a game might play out. Whenever there are two good pitchers going head to head, the total will be lower (usually between 7 and 8 ½ runs) and conversely if there are two pitchers who tend to give up more runs, then the total can increase to as high as 11 or 12 runs. One thing to consider is where the game is being played. There are certain parks that are “hitter friendly” and other parks that are “pitcher friendly”. Some hitter friendly parks include Coors Field in Colorado, Ameriquest Field in Texas, Minute Maid Park in Houston, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Chase Field in Arizona, Rogers Centre in Toronto, US Cellular Field in Chicago (White Sox), Fenway Park in Boston, and Camden Yards in Baltimore. Some pitcher friendly parks include Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Safeco Field in Seattle, Comerica Park in Detroit, Shea Stadium in New York (Mets), Petco Park in San Diego, RFK Stadium in Washington DC, Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Jacobs Field in Cleveland, and Dolphins Stadium in Florida. Another factor to consider if you really want to over analyze a game is the weather. Hot humid weather will favor a knuckle ball pitcher and obviously strong winds blowing to the outfield will favor the batter. The bottom line is look for value and don’t be afraid to bet an underdog. With all of the factors involved, baseball is one of the most difficult sports to wager on. However, if you know the facts & look for value, it can also be one of the most profitable.