Baseball betting can be one of the more rewarding sports gambling activities available. The data-driven nature of the game, wealth of easily-tracked advanced statistics, and 162-game season all create an environment ripe for winning bets. All it takes is a handicapper willing to put the time into analyzing data, a little luck, and the right betting systems or strategies.
There are many different approaches to betting on Major League Baseball games. Most focus on picking underdogs since they win more often in baseball than in any other major sport. However, there are also methods dedicated to run line or totals betting that can be utilized with both favored or underdog clubs.
Additionally, there are systems that specialize in moneyline bets, run line wagers, and many more factors. While no strategy or policy is correct 100% of the time, they can drastically improve your chances of becoming a successful sports gambler.
In this article, we are going to share some baseball betting strategies and proven systems. We will also be discussing the thought processes behind them and why they work. When you’re done here, you should be ready to start breaking down data sets and identifying some smart wagers. If not, we’ve always got more guides to help increase your familiarity and confidence in your gambling.
Sports gambling is all about finding value and mispriced betting lines and exploiting them to generate a profit. People mistakenly believe that picking a high percentage of winners is the path to baseball betting success, but there’s much more to it. Depending on the odds, hitting a high rate of bets may not even be profitable. In fact, there are times when you can increase your bankroll without winning 50% of your wagers.
That’s why people bet underdogs. If you bet on clubs who average out to +130 underdogs, you only have to hit 44% of your bets to break even. That means picking with even 50% accuracy will earn a significant reward.
To make matters even better, underdogs fare better in Major League Baseball than in any other major professional sports league. The gap between the top teams in the league and the worst are narrower than anywhere else. Between the numerous variables to take into account per game and the long, grueling season, there are tons of opportunities to spot upsets, which means tons of opportunities to make money.
After a Low-Scoring Win
Teams that are coming off a big victory against a more favored opponent get a little boost in confidence and performance. Once they’ve shown themselves that they can beat the better team, the momentum from the win seems to carry over to the next contest. It’s such a consistent phenomenon that many baseball-focused handicappers exclusively look to wager on teams coming off a win.
This is a betting strategy that exploits this observation. The key is to identify two factors: first, find an underdog team that won their previous game against the same opponent. Second, only bet on clubs that won that game while scoring three runs or less. The rare offensive outburst game can be an outlier and not very reliable to base future wagers on, but a team that can keep the score low and still win is more promising.
Winning low-scoring games is a sign of having a healthy defense and reliable bullpen. These are the types of qualities that lead to upset victories, which is precisely what we’re looking for. If you’d picked out games that met the criteria as mentioned above and bet them since 2004, your record would come out to 556 wins and 667 losses. That’s a winning percentage of 44%.
If all of your bets during that time were +130 dogs, you’d break even. But the actual games over this time period averaged to nearly +140. That means if you’d made all of these picks while staking the same amount per bet, you would actually earn an almost 8% return on your investment. Long-term, winning at that rate could be extremely lucrative.
After Win vs. Divisional Rival
The previous strategy is particularly useful when dealing with division rivals. Like before, you’re looking for teams that won their last game, preferably without many runs being scored. But if the teams are in the same division, the underdog’s chances of winning improve.
Teams play twenty-four divisional series per season. With each series being four to five games long, and only five teams per division, that adds up to a significant amount of games versus the same opponents. The more familiarity teams have, the better the batters perform as they learn the pitcher’s patterns and tells.
Furthermore, since the majority of the betting public strictly makes their picks based on starting pitching, this is an excellent opportunity to fade the public. You may even be able to find more favorable odds by waiting for their money to move the line.
Over the course of the last fourteen years, there have been 4,749 games that met this description, with the underdog winning almost 45% of the time. So, once again, as long as your picks average moneyline odds of +130 or higher, and you’re consistent with your staking, you’ll grow your bankroll.
Road Dogs Early in the Season
Early in the season, teams are still finding their rhythm and adjusting to live pitching. Similarly, the bookmakers are trying to gauge teams’ potential and price their odds accurately. During this time of the year, they’re liable to overvalue the previous season’s results and rely on their pre-season projections.
Thus, the first two months of the season are prime time for underdog betting. This time, you’re looking for teams with a losing record that are playing on the road and coming off a loss in their previous contest. Furthermore, the favored home team should possess an overall winning record. Lastly, the moneyline odds should be set at +150 or less.
Over the last decade, underdog teams in this exact situation in April or May won approximately 48% of the time. The average odds for these contests came out to +123.2. The outcome is a return of investment that’s just over 7%, which once again means significant earnings, assuming you stick to a staking plan.
Filtering Out the Best Underdogs
There are various approaches to betting on dogs. This is another useful system when you’re searching for a game to bet. The first thing you’re going to look at are the odds being offered. Right off the bat, throw out any games being offered at lines higher than +150. These games may pay out well, but the favored team wins too often to risk it in this simple system.
Take the results you have left and identify the pitcher that will be getting the next start for each opponent. Drop any contest against a top-twenty pitcher. The top aces in baseball are a nightmare to gamble on. The odds are worth betting on them to win, and the probability doesn’t support picking against them. So, find a good baseball statistics site and make sure to avoid these matchups.
Once you have filtered out the heavy underdogs and the best pitchers in the game, you’ll want to analyze the remaining options’ recent form. It doesn’t necessarily matter what their records are; you’re looking for streaks. Filter out any underdog team that has lost three or more games in a row. Furthermore, avoid gambling against favorites that have won three or more consecutive games.
The remaining games are promising underdog selections. You’ll want to then apply your staking plan, either betting a flat amount on each game or a predetermined percentage of your overall bankroll. You need to stay consistent with staking to win money long term; otherwise, you may bet too small on your wins and too big on your losses, which will throw off the math that these systems rely on to be profitable.
Now that we’ve covered a few approaches to underdog betting, let’s look at the similarly popular series betting system. The Major League Baseball season is divided into fifty-two individual series. Due to the number of games in a season and travel concerns, teams play each other three or four times in a row over the course of several consecutive days, all at the same ballpark.
This method is similar to the Martingale system, in that you double the amount you stake following losses. For this system to work, you have to find situations in which you’re confident the team you’re betting on will not be swept. If they are, you stand to lose quite a bit; luckily, sweeps aren’t too prevalent.
After choosing your team, ideally a slight underdog, bet one unit (for example $10) on the opening game of the series. If your bet wins, repeat the wager for match two. But if game one is lost, double your stake to two units ($20) for the second contest. Like before, a win brings you back down to one unit, while a loss doubles the stake again to four units ($40).
As long as your team isn’t swept, you’ll come out ahead. If you lost the first two games in the example above, you’d be down $30. But if the third game was successful, and you picked a team paying out even-odds or better, you’d win $40, earning a $10 overall profit.
A site like MLBsweeps.com is a valuable resource to use with this system, as it tracks the number of sweeps each year and organizes them by the length of series. You will find that the longer series are more desirable for betting this system, while two-game series end in a sweep somewhat often.
Run Line Betting System
Run lines are a form of point spread betting in which you may apply a 1.5-run handicap to either team. The underdog side receives the points and is displayed as “+1.5.” The favored team loses runs from their final score, which is expressed as “-1.5.”
Because the applied handicap cannot be higher than 1.5, using the spread does not result in even-money wagers as it does in other sports.
Teams may be favored by more than two runs, so even with the spread, there will still be an underdog and a favorite. The odds play a vital role in determining your staking.
For this strategy, you’re going to take your typical staking amount and split it into two separate wagers. You’ll make one moneyline bet and one run line bet on the same game. The odds being offered will determine how much to risk on the moneyline wager, and the rest will go towards the run line.
Your bets will be organized in such a way that if your team triumphs by two or more runs, both tickets will win and produce a decent profit. If your club only wins by one, the game results in an overall push. This method essentially allows you to create a run line of only -1.0, without that pesky hook.
Here is the formula for determining how much to stake on each half of the wager:
100/MONEYLINE = X X + 1.0 = Y 100/Y = money line wager
So, let’s say the Astros are playing the Rangers. The Astros are favored, so their moneyline odds are -140. If you apply the -1.5 run line, their odds become +150.
- 100 / 140 = 0.714
- 0.714 + 1.0 = 1.714
- 100 / 1.714 = 58.34
In this case, you’d place $58.34 on your moneyline bet and the remaining $41.66 on the run line. A winning moneyline wager would earn a $41.67 profit, while the run line would produce $62.49 in winnings. So, if both bets win, you double your money. If one bet loses, you break even.
Dominant Home Teams System
The Dominant Home Team system is similar to the series betting strategy, just with an added wrinkle. In fact, with some slight adjustments, the two systems can work together very effectively. Like the previous method, we are wagering against the possibility of a series sweep.
Before searching out games that match what we’re looking for, you’ll need to get the home and away winning percentages for each team. Identify teams whose records show that they perform better in their home stadium, preferably by at least 5%-10%.
You want teams that are unaccustomed to being swept in front of their home crowd.
Once you’ve located some franchises with a statistically significant home field advantage, you’ll want to search out series in which they’ve gotten behind by two or more games. It happens numerous times each season that an underdog road team catches the home side off guard, stealing some early contests in the series.
What we’re wagering on is the fact that tough home teams will not give up a series sweep. You may also want to start placing bets on these situations after only one game. If so, utilize the Series System as well, doubling your bet after a loss. The odds of a dominant home team being swept are very low, so this is a reliable method of incrementally growing your bankroll.
Gambling on baseball is made quite a bit easier by following basic betting systems. As long as you do the required research that each method requires upfront, any of these strategies should turn a profit over time. Sure, when it comes to gambling, there are no guarantees, and even the most well-planned strategy will be trumped by a string of bad luck. But if you keep playing the odds, the math will eventually work itself out.
If you consistently make bets at +130 odds that historically have had a 44% or higher likelihood of winning, you are bound to either break even or turn a profit eventually. The tricky part is staying patient and sticking to an organized staking plan.
What all of these systems have in common is that they find positive value. By finding games with odds in the right range and identifying these particular scenarios that are more likely to occur than the implied probability suggests, these methods keep you focused on betting the right way.
Rather than just randomly picking contests and betting on whoever you think will win based on the starting pitchers, it’s all based on math and winning margins. And if you’re approaching your gambling in that way, you’re already well ahead of the casual betting public, which is a very good thing.