The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Betting on Baseball

Learn the baseball betting basics, with an explanation of baseball odds and tips and strategies to make you a smarter MLB bettor.

Mar 13, 2024 • 08:11 ET
Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman in MLB action.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Baseball betting is massively popular with casual fans and die-hard seam heads for a few key reasons.

For starters, it is one of the only professional sports played during the summer sporting calendar, running from late spring to its postseason in October. During that span, the schedule is stacked each day with teams playing as many as six or seven games a week.

Baseball is also a numbers game, with every contest, inning, and at-bat measured by metrics. That leaves baseball bettors with stacks of data to take advantage of when betting the MLB odds.

How baseball betting works

Baseball betting is one of the most simple sports betting markets to understand.

Due to the low-scoring nature of baseball and the fact that a high percentage of games are decided by one run, the preferred method of baseball betting is simply picking the winner outright, also known as betting the moneyline.

Another popular and simplistic baseball bet you can make is wagering on the total runs scored by both sides in the game, also known as the Over/Under.

Here’s a look at the three most popular ways baseball betting works.

Betting on Who Will Win the Game

Baseball Moneyline Example

The moneyline represents a set of odds for a baseball game based on each team’s implied probability of winning.

These are most often displayed in American odds (hundreds) with a negative value (-) assigned to indicate the favorite, and a positive value (+) to indicate the underdog. The moneyline is bet by wagering on the team you think will win, however, since some teams are stronger than others, the amount of money you can win depends on the risk involved.

For example, the favorite to win the game has a moneyline of -150. That means for every $1 you want to win you must bet $1.50 since the risk involved is lower because the favorite has a greater probability of winning the game. A wager of $150 at -150 has a potential win of $100.

If the underdog for that game has a moneyline of +130, that means for every $1 you bet you can win $1.30, because the risk involved is higher since the underdog has a smaller probability of winning the game. A wager of $100 at +130 has a potential win of $130.

Find out how much money you could win using our easy odds converter & moneyline calculator.

Baseball Spread Betting

Baseball Moneyline Example

The run line is baseball’s version of the spread, in which the number of runs is designated as a handicap between the two teams. The most common run line is 1.5 runs with the favorite to win set at -1.5 and the underdog at +1.5.

That means that the favorite must win by two or more runs to cover the run line and the underdog can win outright or lose by less than two runs to cover the run line. Attached to each team’s run line is a set of odds known as the juice or vig. This is the cost of placing those run line bets.

For example, if a run line favorite is -1.5 and the juice on that is +150 it is shown as -1.5 (+150). That means for every $1 bet on that -1.5 run line you could win $1.50. The run line underdog is +1.5 and that bet has juice of -170, displayed as +1.5 (-170). That means for every $1 you want to win on +1.5 you would need to bet $1.70.

Betting on Baseball Totals

Baseball Totals Example

Over/Under betting in baseball is extremely popular with oddsmakers, who set a projected total of combined runs scored in a game by both teams and bettors pick whether the final score will go Over or Under that total.

The Over and the Under both have odds attached, known as juice or vig. The juice is based on the implied probability of the final score going Over or Under the total.

For example, if a game total is 8.5 runs with the Over 8.5 (-120) and the Under 8.5 (+100). Due to a higher probability of the final score being 9 runs or more, the juice on the Over is set at -120, which means for every $1 you want to win you must risk $1.20. With the probability of a final score of 8 or fewer runs being smaller, the Under is set at +100 which means you win $1 for every $1 risked.

New MLB rule changes

Baseball is continuing to tinker with its rules following sweeping changes a year ago aimed at speeding up games, making base paths safer for runners, and ending infield shifts. Here's what you need to know about MLB’s new rule changes in 2024:

  • The runner's lane has been widened to include the dirt between the foul line and infield grass
  • The pitch clock allotment has been reduced from 20 seconds to 18 seconds when runners are on base
  • A pitcher sent to warm up for an inning must face at least one batter
  • Mound visits have been reduced from five to four
  • The pitch clock will now re-start immediately following a dead ball when the pitcher is in possession of the ball

Four more ways to bet on baseball



MLB parlays consist of two or more baseball bets tied together on one wager. The parlay can include moneyline, run line, and Over/Under bets. The more bets added to a parlay the greater the potential win, but the higher the risk.

For MLB parlays to pay out, all of the bets involved must win. Even if only one of the bets involved in the MLB parlay loses, the entire parlay is graded as a loss.


First five innings odds

Betting first five innings odds in baseball is similar to betting moneylines, run lines or Over/Unders for a full game, however, the bets are graded on the results through the first five innings of the contest.

Betting the first five innings odds is a great way to get more value from the starting pitchers and avoid late-game collapses by the bullpens.


Prop bets

MLB prop bets are made by wagering on teams and players instead of betting on the final score. Prop bets can be based on individual team performance, such as a team’s total number of runs or hits in the game, as well as individual player performance for pitchers and batters.

Prop bets can be a fun alternative to more traditional betting options and many sportsbooks offer a wide variety of proposition betting markets.



MLB futures are odds based on long-running markets, like odds to win the World Series, league pennants, or division winners. MLB futures can also be set around season win totals and player honors, such as MLB MVP odds and Cy Young odds.

Most MLB futures odds open for betting in the offseason and take action all year, adjusting to results, injuries, and betting action until the market is closed by the sportsbook or the result is decided.

You can see the latest World Series odds here:

Baseball betting tips and strategies

These are some basic baseball betting tips and strategies to utilize when handicapping the MLB odds.

Baseball Icon Pitching matchups and odds

MLB starting pitchers are the biggest factor oddsmakers consider when setting the baseball moneylines, run lines, and totals.

Baseball oddsmakers will look at the current form of both starters as well as home/away results, past performances against that opponent, and how they match up to the current batting lineup (vs. left- and right-handed batters).

See today's MLB matchups

Money Icon Public betting and consensus

Consensus shows the overall betting patterns for a game, displaying the percentage of bets placed on one side or the other. For example, if there are 500 total bets placed on an Over/Under for a game and 350 are on the Over, that would mean that there is a 70% consensus on the Over for that game.

Public betting is used to describe the patterns of recreational bettors, most often when the percentage is high on a particular side.

See today's MLB consensus

On Fire Icon Betting trends

Baseball betting trends are repeating results from game-to-game or in certain situations that can help offer insight into placing your wagers. These trends can be league-wide or team-focused. The best betting trends are based on larger sample sizes and have a narrative or explanation behind their repeated results.

For example, teams may have betting trends around their Over/Under results for home and away or indoor vs. outdoor venues, as well as trends based on the throwing hand of the opposing starting pitcher.

See today's MLB betting trends

Cloudy Icon Watch the weather

Wind speed and direction is something bettors watch for when placing Over/Under wagers. Strong winds blowing toward the outfield can carry fly balls over the fence, while strong winds blowing toward home plate can keep balls inside the park.

Rain can make the ball slick to handle for pitchers and fielders. However, games are often delayed if it is raining too hard.

Humidity can also play a role in the final score. Fly balls hang in the air and carry further in humid climates, particularly in late summer.

See today's MLB weather

Umpire Icon Know the umpires

Every home plate umpire has their tendencies when it comes to calling balls and strikes.

Umpires with smaller strike zones generate more called balls, which produces more walks, forcing pitchers to be more accurate. Look for Over results when the strike zone is tight.

Umpires with bigger strike zones benefit the pitcher and call fewer balls. Look for Under results when the strike zone is more liberal.

See today's MLB umpires

Bandage Icon Watch out for the injury bug

Keeping track of injuries is very important when betting baseball. Injuries are also one of the biggest factors that could shift the odds on a game throughout the day.

While the starting pitchers are the biggest factor baked into the MLB odds, missing key lineup players as well as important relievers or a regular position starter can impact the outcome of a game. Bettors will want to investigate the value of those injured players and if it is reflected in the odds.

See today's MLB injuries

Today's MLB odds

Here are the latest baseball odds on the hottest MLB matchups of the day:

Ready to place a bet?

Depending on your level of readiness for betting on baseball, you can either try your luck at one of Covers’ free-to-play contests for the chance to win cash and prizes or you can start placing real money MLB bets at the best sportsbooks.

Free MLB betting contest

Want to try making real baseball bets without having to deposit real money at a sportsbook? Our MLB King of Covers contest is the perfect place to start. Make moneyline and Over/Under bets on games during the season for the chance to win cash and prizes.
Play King of Covers MLB contest

Best baseball sportsbooks for beginners

At Covers, our team of sports betting experts have extensively poured through the many online sportsbooks available and have identified these as the best baseball betting sites out there to get you started in betting on baseball.

These sites are licensed and trusted sportsbooks that offer great sign-up bonuses, plenty of convenient and quick banking options, and favorable odds for new bettors.

Advanced baseball strategies

Ready to take your MLB handicapping to the next level? Check out these articles for advanced strategies.

MLB betting forum

Another great way to learn more about baseball betting is by talking with other bettors. The Covers Forum is one of the largest sports betting communities in the world and is a great place to get picks, ask questions, and learn from experienced sports bettors.

Join the conversation

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