By Phil Simon
When it comes to wagering on baseball there is a unique set of rules that apply. Unlike football and basketball where plenty of points are scored and the games are judged by a point total, Major League Baseball doesn’t have that. Well, it does in a not so major way. We discussed the point spread, or run line, in baseball in another article. The most popular way of wagering on baseball comes in the form of the moneyline. When wagering on MLB you are picking the team you think will win the game outright regardless of the score. Seems easy enough, right? Well it is, but there is a catch. Backing the favorite on the moneyline means you’ll have to win a higher percentage of bets in order to break even.
What is the MLB Moneyline?
Let’s say there is a game between the best team in baseball and the worst team. And we’re at a point in the season when you can actually say Team A is a World Series contender while Team B is ready to bring up the prospects. In this scenario betting on Team A is the likely play. Because of that sportsbooks need to even out the betting handle, which is done by the moneyline odds.
Since scoring is much higher in sports like football and basketball, oddsmakers determine a point spread to even the amount of money wagered on each side in those sports. After all, sportsboooks aren’t in business to lose money. In fact they must be doing quite well considering the number of options available. And that’s another plus for gamblers who can check out different shops for better odds. With no point spread in baseball, it’s going to cost you to back the favorite. For a refresher let’s look at an example of how a betting line would like for a matchup between these squads.
Team A -200
Team B +150
The favored team in a matchup will always be represented by a ( - ) negative symbol while the underdog has a ( + ) sign attached on the betting line. That tells us a few things. First we know what team is expected to win. And second, it gives us the payout information. In the above example Team A is the -200 favorite. That means you would have to wager $200 on Team A to win $100. Should Team B pull off the upset, a $100 wager would pay out $150. The easiest way to factor the risk vs. reward is in terms of $100 bets, but you can risk any amount with the payout being adjusted accordingly, as long as you have a winning ticket.
Moneyline win Probability
Since you are betting on a straight up winner on the moneyline there is a formula to calculate a win percentage based on the odds. This is important since you need to win a higher percentage of games betting on the favorite to actually come out ahead. For recreational gamblers it’s probably not as big a deal since throwing down on the occasional game involving your favorite team isn’t going to affect your bottom line. It’s good knowledge to have nonetheless. To get a win percentage for the favored team you divide the moneyline by that number plus 100. Here’s an example using our game from above:
Team A win percentage: 200 / 200+100 = .666 or 67 percent
To get an implied win percentage for the underdog based on the moneyline divide 100 by the moneyline plus 100:
Team B win percentage: 100 / 150+100 = .40 or 40 percent.
Recent trends and pitching matchups are so important when wagering on baseball that you have to do your research in order to make a more knowledgeable bet. And of course diversifying your betting model will help win more coin.