How to Bet on MLB Games Like a Pro Bettor

Baseball is sport rich with history and tradition, but it's confusing if you're betting on it. So we've put together a guide so you know how to bet on MLB games.
How to Bet on MLB Games

Baseball, with its intricate strategies and heart-stopping moments (we’ve already seen a few and we’re only a week into the 2024 season at this point), isn’t just America’s pastime; it’s also a favorite for sports bettors aiming to line their wallets with some big bets.

Betting on MLB games can be as complex or as simple as you make it, with a variety of bet types to choose from and numerous strategies to consider. On top of that, there are countless reputable sportsbooks to place your bets with and not all of them are created equal.

Fortunately, that’s why we’re here. We have all the tips and strategies to help you start off on the right foot when betting on MLB games.

Choosing the Right Sportsbook

Before you can place your first bet, you’ll need to find a reliable and reputable betting platform. Some might even call this the most important step; however, since you’re not locked into any single sportsbook, you can try them all and see what you think.

FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM stand out as three of the best sportsbooks in the business, each offering competitive odds, a wide range of bet types, and enticing bonuses for new and existing users. There are more, such as Bet365, FanDuel, ESPN BET, and even Fanatics, but for now, we’re just focusing on these three.

FanDuel

FanDuel is a powerhouse in the sports betting industry. It’s known for its user-friendly interface and generous welcome bonuses. 

It offers live betting, allowing you to place bets as the game unfolds, which adds just a bit more excitement to watching live games. Make your bets inning-by-inning and cash in as the action actively unfolds.

FanDuel Sportsbook
Bet $5, Get $150If Your Team Wins Rated 4.8 Out Of 5.0 Stars
21+ Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-Gambler

DraftKings

Easily one of the most prominent MLB bookmakers, DraftKings, a pioneer in the fantasy sports industry, has smoothly transitioned into sports betting. 

It offers detailed statistics and insights that can help inform your betting decisions, making it a great choice for more analytical bettors. This can be great for those just getting into the market and those who have been around for a while.

DraftKings Sportsbook
Bet $5 and Get $150 in Bonus Bets InstantlyNew Customers In All Other States Rated 4.9 Out Of 5.0 Stars
21+ Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-Gambler

BetMGM

BetMGM combines a comprehensive selection of bet types with regular promotions and a loyalty program. Their loyalty program is simply unmatched by any other sportsbook. You can use your reward points for bonus bets or at any of the MGM properties.

On top of that, BetMGM’s easy-to-navigate app and website make placing bets straightforward and hassle-free.

BetMGM Sportsbook
First Bet Offer $1500Excludes NY, NC, NV and PR | Promo Code: EWBET1 Rated 4.9 Out Of 5.0 Stars
21+ Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-Gambler

Selecting the Game and Bet Type

DraftKings Screenshot of MLB Bets and a Bet Slip

Once you’ve chosen a sportsbook, the next step is to select the MLB game you want to bet on. 

Each platform will present you with a list of upcoming games, including details such as the teams playing, the starting pitchers, and the game’s start time. If the sportsbook you’re playing at offers live or in-game betting, they’ll typically list those games first.

When it comes to bet types, you have a plethora of options—

Moneyline Bets

The most straightforward bet type, a moneyline bet, involves picking the team you believe will win the game.

For example, if the New York Yankees are playing the Boston Red Sox, and you place a moneyline bet on the Yankees, you win if the Yankees win, regardless of the score. It’s simple and straightforward. However, the payouts aren’t nearly as nice as some of the other bets, like the run-line bets.

Point Spread Bets (Run Line in MLB)

Point spread betting in baseball is referred to as the run line. 

This type of bet typically involves a 1.5-run spread that the favorite must cover to win. For instance, if the Los Angeles Dodgers are -1.5 against the San Francisco Giants, the Dodgers need to win by two or more runs for a bet on them to pay out. 

So, just because the Dodgers win 3-2, that means they didn’t cover the spread, and you lose the bet. The distinction here is that the bets pay out more than the moneyline bets.

Totals (Over/Under)

This bet involves predicting whether the total runs scored by both teams will be over or under a specified amount. 

If the over/under for a game between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals is set at 8.5, and you bet the over, you’re hoping the combined score will be nine or more.

These bets are almost always in 0.5 increments, so there isn’t the possibility of a tie or draw. You will either win or lose the bet. These tend to pay 90% of what you bet.

Prop Bets

Proposition bets, or prop bets, focus on specific events within a game that don’t directly affect the game’s outcome.

Examples include betting on how many strikeouts a pitcher will throw or whether a player will hit a home run. As we were putting together this post, the Pirates were playing the Nats, and the score was 3-1 in favor of the Pirates. You can bet on who will score the fifth run, and the odds are changing in real time, so the Pirates were +130 on the next one, but now they’re +205. 

The prop odds for live bets change very rapidly.

Parlays

We’re not big fans of parlays because they favor the house by a wide margin, but they pay out handsomely. A parlay combines multiple bets into one. For it to win, all individual bets within the parlay must win. 

This increases the difficulty but also significantly boosts potential payouts.

Understanding Odds

Odds can seem confusing at first, but they’re simply a way of expressing the likelihood of an event occurring.

In the U.S., sportsbooks typically use American odds based on a $100 wager. They’re expressed in integers as either positive or negative (i.e., -120 or +150). Positive numbers (+) indicate how much you’d win from a $100 bet, while negative numbers (-) show how much you need to bet to win $100.

For example, if the Tampa Bay Rays have odds of +150 against the Houston Astros with odds of -170, a $100 bet on the Rays would win $150 if they’re victorious, while you’d need to bet $170 on the Astros to win $100 if they win. The team with the (+) is noted as the underdog or the least likely to cover the bet.

Placing Your Bet

With your chosen sportsbook, game, and bet type in hand, placing your bet is straightforward. All sportsbooks generally have the same flow: select a bet, and it’ll be added to your bet slip automatically. From there, you can choose to place the bet, which is a confirmation for the most part.

Simply navigate to the game you’re interested in, select your bet type, enter your stake (how much you want to wager), and confirm your bet.

Most sportsbooks also offer live betting, allowing you to place bets after the game has started, with odds that update in real time. You’ll have to be fast with these bets, but don’t worry, if the odds change, the sportsbook will tell you before you confirm your bet.

Now You Should Understand How to Bet on MLB Games

Betting on MLB games offers more excitement than watching baseball games. With a variety of bet types available and the potential for significant payouts, it’s no wonder that it’s a popular pastime for many sports fans and even more so for sports bettors.

By choosing the right sportsbook, understanding the different bet types and odds, and making informed decisions, you can take your MLB viewing experience to the next level and perhaps even win some money in the process.

 

Matt Brown


Head of Sports Betting and DFS

Matt’s love for sports betting and daily fantasy sports, coupled with a deep understanding of football, hockey, and baseball, shapes his innovative thoughts on Hello Rookie. He has a B.S. in Aeronautical Computer Science and a M.S. in Project Management.