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Betting Baseball 101

Discussion in 'The Sports Book' started by blackjack, Apr 4, 2006.

  1. blackjack

    blackjack Monkey!!

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    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.
     
  2. dung bug

    dung bug Low-Roller

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    A lot of good information there. Do you bet baseball alot????
     
  3. blackjack

    blackjack Monkey!!

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    I guess "alot" would be relative. I bet small stakes every day on baseball, basketball, and football depending on the time of year. I look for value & usually will pick a couple of games that I like best & avoid the rest.
     
  4. blackjack

    blackjack Monkey!!

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    Practice for Free

    If you aren't sure about your sports wagering skillz, I recommend going to http://www.intertops.net where you get $1000 in play money at the beginning of each week. Try your luck & possibly win real money prizes. Each week they pay the top 50 people.

    1st Place = $250
    2nd Place = $100
    3rd Place = $50
    4th Place = $25
    5th-50th = $10

    It's a fun way to wager without risking any real money.
     
  5. Cleveland Gary

    Cleveland Gary Low-Roller

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    Great Baseball info. Thanks! I have a baseball betting question. Last trip to LV, we were staying at Orleans and each day I would do a baseball parlay (or lottery). I would bet 3 to 20 bucks on 10 or 12 teams. It was actually great to do the $20 lottery the day I left as I was flying home on AirTran and they had every game on satelite radio. The payout was somewhere around 10k or 20k, I cant remember exactly. I started to get pretty darn excited when the first 7 games had gone my way. Of course I didnt win, but it was fun. I guess my question is how do they come up with the odds on a baseball Parlay? Are they just putting the odds in for each individual game and letting the computer hash it out and figure the actual parlay odds? Thanks!
     
  6. blackjack

    blackjack Monkey!!

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    Correct. Actually the odds are calculated the same as any sport but in football for example most games are fixed at -110 odds meaning you bet $110 to win $100 (10% goes to the house). However, in baseball the odds vary for each game so two separate 3-team parlays will not likely pay the same.

    example: Most 3-team football parlays will pay $60 for a $10 wager. A 3-team baseball parlay where the odds of game #1 are -140, game #2 +125, and game #3 -160 would pay $53 for a $10 wager.

    You can find many parlay calculators online - here is one:

    http://www.pointspread.com/services/parlay_calculator/parlay.php

    If you want to do the math yourself, simply divide the total return by the total risk for each game to get the multiplier. Multiply all results to get the payoff. In our example, total return on game #1 is $240 (risk $140 to win $100). Divide 240/140 to get a multiplier of 1.7142857. Game #2 multiplier is 225/100 (it's plus odds so your risk is only $100) which equals 2.25. Game #3 is 260/160 which equals 1.625.

    Take 1.7142857 x 2.25 x 1.625 = 6.2678571 odds

    A $10 wager x 6.2678571 odds = 62.678571 payout (or $63) minus the original $10 wager = $53 profit

    FYI house edge on a 3-team fixed odds parlay is 12.5%
     
  7. Cleveland Gary

    Cleveland Gary Low-Roller

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    thanks,,,very nice answer:)
     
  8. chinomoreno

    chinomoreno Tourist

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    Blackjack is the man!!!!
    great info!!!!!
    since my wife and i always seem to visit vegas during baseball season and not football season i strictly bet baseball and have a blast doing so! Mr. Blackjack's info is top notch!
    Go TIGERS!
     
  9. blackjack

    blackjack Monkey!!

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    You were doing so well until that "Go TIGERS!" trailer. :Þ

    j/k Thank you very much. I hope you put the info to good use. Now... If only my Indians could string a few together. As long as we give the pen an 8 run lead we are golden!! :rolleyes2:
     
  10. blackjack

    blackjack Monkey!!

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    Got a nice PM from LittleMoney who had some sports wagering questions. With his permission, I am sharing the conversation here since others may have similar questions or perhaps different/better advice for him...

    Thank you for your kind words and good luck on your upcoming trip. As far as the baseball bets go, the late season games are actually easier to handicap if you follow baseball.

    Stay away from two minor league teams. Games on the 27th that fit this category would be Cleveland/Baltimore, Cincinnati/Houston, and San Diego/Colorado. Neither team has anything to play for and chances are half the starting rosters will be guys that were playing for teams like the Toledo Mud Hens a month ago. There will be other games that fall under this umbrella as the date approaches (probably Seattle/Toronto and Minnesota/Kansas City to name a couple more), however those are the only three as of today that I can say for sure to steer clear.

    Stay away from the locks. Teams that have already clinched a division or wildcard that cannot improve upon their position will tend to rest key players late in the season. That is not to say that you should not bet on these games. As a matter of fact, you can sometimes find good value in taking an underdog here. In this case you may have minor league players looking to turn some heads going up against major league players who have already popped the cork and are feeling the hangover. Say the Tigers clinch the division on Saturday night in Chicago. You know that none of those guys are going straight back to the hotel room. The White Sox Sunday afternoon might be a good bet.

    Don’t forget home field advantage and wildcards. I don’t mean for that day – I’m talking playoffs. A good game to keep an eye on might be the Rockies/Cardinals. St. Louis will clinch their division before 9/27, however they will still want to try for the best record and home field advantage throughout the NLDS & NLCS. In the mean time, Colorado is fighting for a wildcard spot. If the Cards clinch home field, they will rest players whereas the Rocks will be playing balls out. If home field is not locked, both teams will have something to play for. In the American League, the game of the day might have been New York/Boston, however the Yankees will clinch home field throughout before they play whereas the Red Sox might be fighting for a wildcard spot.

    The point to all this is pay attention to who is playing for what. There are no such things as “locks” no matter how many idiots on the betting forums tell you otherwise. However, you can take advantage of certain situations to pull the odds a little to your favor. Don’t forget the basic 101 rules either. Any team with odds greater than –160 is usually not worth the risk… even if it is a “lock”.

    Talent wise I cannot really comment on the football games that day. I will say, as a general rule, to follow the smart money and fade the public. What I mean by that is pay attention to line movements that don’t make sense. You can spot a game that has smart money if the public is heavy on one side but the line movement is the other way. For example, Indy plays at Arizona Sunday night and the line opens at Indy –3. Smart money gets put down on Arizona +3 yet 80% of the public is on Indy -3. By Sunday afternoon the line is at Indy –2.5 and an hour before the game it is at Indy –2. With 80% of the Joe Six Packs putting their wife’s spa money on the Colts, you would think the line movement would be opposite. The casino is more than likely getting large wagers on Arizona causing them to adjust the line to attract more Indy wagers to make up the difference. Remember casinos want even money on both sides. They are happy to collect their 10% and have no risk. Again, there are no locks and I don’t know what the wise guys know, however if they feel good enough about a game to put down enough money to move a line, that’s good enough for me.

    As far as the parlays go, they are generally bad bets (the casinos love them). Most experts will tell you to stay away… I am not an expert. Don’t pawn the wedding ring and put it on an 8-teamer, however a 5 or 10 dollar 3 or 4-team parlay is entertainment. I like to select 1 or 2 early games and 1 or 2 late games. If the early game(s) hit, it makes those later games a lot more fun to watch.

    I’m not sure when the lines are released for the Thursday college games. If they are posted on Sunday, then yes you can bet them that early.

    Finally, no you do not have to go to Vegas to cash in a Super Bowl future wager. You can mail the ticket in and they will send you a check. The address should be on the back of the ticket. I would suggest priority mail with insurance especially if it is a significant amount of money.

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Blackjack.
     
  11. keno

    keno obsessed with countdown timers

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    While I understand the spirit behind this, the Rocks will be playing the DBacks on Sept 27th and it still should be a game that matters. The Rocks are only 2.5 games behind the Dodgers right now and could still take the division. I hope that the Rocks are out of it by Sept 27 which hopefully means the Giants are going to take the division or more likely the wild card for the NL (of course I hope this since I'm a SF Giants fan).

    besides that, great post. :)
     
  12. blackjack

    blackjack Monkey!!

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    Oops. Good catch Ken. I actually meant San Diego/Arizona. The Rocks play the Cards - that should be a good game.
     
  13. DReynolds86

    DReynolds86 Come On, You Blues!

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    Does Vegas have the prop bets for MLB? Over/under wins in a season, odds to win the Cy Young, etc.?
     
  14. UKFanatic

    UKFanatic The Arbiter of Taste Caviar Kid

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    Every major book has win totals as a bet. For props on awards, I am not certain. You should probably start with the SuperBook or try somewhere off the Strip.
     
  15. DReynolds86

    DReynolds86 Come On, You Blues!

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    I see that Bovada is giving the Pirates over/under 83.5 wins. Over is -125, under is -105.
     
  16. owenstar

    owenstar Tourist

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    Thank you Buster Posey for saving my three team teaser on opening day (Tigers, heat, Giants).
     
  17. Wait til this year

    Wait til this year Newbie

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    Sportsbook betting limits on baseball?

    Hello all! I'll be travelling to Vegas in the near future and am going to be betting a little baseball. I've gotten conflicting information and was hoping someone could tell me what the typical maximum moneyline bet is at a large strip sportsbook (Mirage, Caesars, etc.) Thanks in advance!
     
  18. undathesea

    undathesea Grandissimo

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    You should quantify "many" in that statement. About 30% of baseball games are decided by exactly one run. That's google-able.

    In other words, "many more" games are decided by 2 or more runs than are decided by one run exactly.

    For this reason, I tend to bet more run line bets.
     
  19. Viva Las Vegas

    Viva Las Vegas Ramblin' Gamblin' Man

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    ^^ This.

    You'll get a significant advantage betting run line favorites vs. a money line favorite. I play the ML Favorite on the Run Line, or the ML Underdog.

    For example, Cleveland is -108 tonight vs. KC. I rather lay the $100 to win $195 (total return $295) @ Cle -1' vs. laying $108 to win $100 (total return $208) with the one run cushion. Chances are, if Cleveland will either win by 2+ or lose outright. You are giving up a lot of dollars for the 15%+ chance (30% total 1 run chance, slightly higher than 50/50 the favorite wins by 1 vs. underdog winning by 1).

    For an underdog, I'll always take the ML (unless they are a RL favorite, which is rare but does happen.

    Casinos are aware of these differences, and account for them in their odds, but for an individual bankroll, I always view it best to risk the least amount for the highest possible return.
     
  20. Mrazzo

    Mrazzo Tourist

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    Quick question since I'm new to sports betting. Can I bet on a World series winner AFTER the regular season has started?
    As soon as I tell someone I'm going to vegas they say "hey, can you put $100 on "their team" to win the world series for me?" I don't mind doing it I just don't know if its possible after opening day.
    Thanks!
     
    Turning 40! UGH.....
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