The Complete Guide To Betting Baseball


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Jim Feist’s Complete Guide To Betting Baseball

By Jim Feist

Baseball is here and I will give you tips on making money in baseball.  There are many ways to bet baseball, unlike years ago when you were limited to either the home or road team and maybe the total. Today, there are a variety of wagers you can make in games.

One thing you have to remember is that the game of baseball has changed over the last 20 or 30 years. At one time, pitchers like Gibson or Koufax would regularly go the distance in their games. Bullpens didn’t have the specialists they have today.

Today, you have pitchers in the pen who only go one inning or slightly more to close out games. These “closers” are some of the highest-paid pitchers today outside starters.  You also get setup men; these are the pitchers who come in to hold a lead in the 6th thru 8th innings to get your team to the closer. Or, they might be tasked with keeping your team close if they are losing.  Today, baseball is about specialists.

The problem is that the lines the oddsmaker put on a game are largely based on those starting pitchers. Today’s starting pitchers rarely go eight or nine innings. This is mainly because managers want their starters to keep a fresher arm later in the season. If you pitch them to long into games you run the risk of blowing out their arms later in the season.

Many pitchers are even put on pitch counts. Once they reach that count, they come out. Much more emphasis is put on bullpens now.

Understanding Money Lines

Unlike football and basketball, lines in baseball are made of money lines. That is a team has a money value and that determines the size of the bet you must make to make one unit of profit.

If the Dodgers are -160, then you have to wager $160 to win $100.  In football and basketball, you have the spread, but the money line is usually consistent at -1.10. In other words, you would need to wager $110 to win $100. This is called the “Vig” or “Vigorish.”

Sure you can find variations in this, but for the most part, this is the standard.  That means your break-even point is about 52% winners.  If you win 52% of your wagers, you are going to break about even. This isn’t true for baseball, where the money line can be anywhere from a dog to a high priced favorite.

That 52% could be lower if you are strictly a dog player or much higher if you play all favorites.  So understanding this will help you determine what kinds of wagers you need to make.

Favorite Parlays

If you are like a lot of players, you like playing the favorites.  Problem is that if you lose, you are put into a bigger hole by the higher Vig.  This is especially true if you are playing -2.00 or higher favorites. And trust me; these big favorites lose all the time. One wager I will make is a two or three-team parlay with the bigger favorites.

Sure, you have to win all your games, but now instead of laying $240 to make $100, you may be paying $100 to win $100.

First 5 Innings

This leads me to one of my favorite types of wagers, the first five innings. Most books now take these bets and when you play a pitcher you like, you can be assured that he will go at least five innings to get that win. That is unless he’s getting shelled, then you likely will lose anyways.

You can’t rely on the bullpens to hold a lead for you or stay close if you are behind. Some pens are overused or they have to rest the better relievers. So when you wager on first five, you can expect your pitcher to go that distance. That is what makes this type of wager one of my favorites.

Moreover, if you are a favorite player, you will lay less with the favorite in five innings then you will for the entire game.

Team Totals

Most people understand that when you play a total in baseball you are wagering on the over or under of the combined runs of both teams.

However, today, you can also play the over/under runs of just one of the teams.  I like these kinds of wagers when I understand how one team will perform with their starting pitcher and bullpen, but the opposing team may be a question mark.

For example, let’s say I like the under in the Dodgers/Giants game, but I don’t like the Giants pitcher necessarily. I can bet the Giants UNDER for the game knowing the Dodgers will keep them down.

That way if the Dodgers win 8-1 or 7-2, I can still collect on an under in the Giants total while I might have lost the combined total.

Playing against overpriced favorites

This is one way I like to bet but takes a lot of work. I look for pitchers that are overpriced and I will play the underdog.  This might require making your own lines on games before they are posted. This gives you a base to see if the favorites are overpriced.

This also may require you to do more homework on teams and pitchers to see if the pens are overused or the starter is only going five or six innings. You look for an edge on the dogs with your handicapping.

Run Line Bets

Runs lines are more of what we would call a combination line. That is a line with both a spread (in this case 1 ½) and a money line.  This is a good way to bet your big favorites. When you lay 1 ½ run, you won’t have to lay as much money or you might even get plus money.

If Kershaw is a 2.40 favorite today, laying the 1 ½ runs might drop that money line as low as -1.30. I know some handicappers that will parlay three big favorites and back that bet up with three-run line bets on the same teams.  Run Lines are also a way to bet the dog, lose the game and still win your bet.

If you take +1 ½ runs and you get +1.20 on the money line and your team loses 4-5, you still make $120 for each $100 unit you bet on that dog.


Coming out of spring training, pitchers are used to the warm temperatures of Arizona and Florida. When the season starts, you have pitchers pitching in some very cold climates in the Midwest and East Coast. It’s always tougher to loosen up pitchers when it’s cold, especially when they were used to pitching in those warm preseason climates.

This year, the season started early and we have seen games with snow and frigid temperatures.  This is an early-season condition you need to consider when doing your handicapping and can often produce some nice dog wins. I personally like to play teams in the early season that play in warmer climates or domed stadiums.

Whatever way you like to bet baseball, be sure to explore more of today’s betting options. These will open up opportunities for you to make money where you might now have been able to in year’s past. Enjoy the baseball season and remember to do your homework.

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