Baseball Betting – The Basics

Baseball betting is not as popular is betting on football or even baseball, but it does draw a lot of attention from the sharper players in particular. Therefore, the oddsmaker needs some sharp lines. The way these lines are laid out does indeed follow a specific format, but there are many variations on baseball betting, and there is little argument that they make the game more interesting to wager on.

The most common form involves who the winner of the game might be. It includes the time of the game, and lists both teams involved. The bottom team is the home team, while the top is the visitor. Let’s take a look at the way this might appear as it is posted at America’s Bookie:

8:05 PM  Team A  (Smith -L)  -140

      Team B (Jones -R)   +120

As you can see, the prop will also tell you who the pitchers are, and will also indicate whether they are a left-handed or right-handed pitcher. These are elements that are very important to handicapping the matchup. And the reason should be readily apparent; the pitcher has at least a certain degree of control on a team’s performance in a game. And depending on which pitcher it is, that degree of control might be greater.

The prop indicates the FAVORITE and the UNDERDOG in the matchup. There are different kind of lines that could be available in terms of their format. The example above might be known as the “wide” line, the “20-cent” line or even the “Western” line, in which there is a 20-cent difference between the favorite and the underdog. In this particular case, the favorite is laying -140, which means that it requires a risk of $1.40 for every one dollar in profit for the bettor. The underdog is +120, which means that a one dollar bet would bring back $1.20 in profit.

You can usually specify that you only want to place a wager on the game if the specific pitchers that are listed in the proposition actually make the start. This may be known as “Listed Pitchers,” or “Pitcher Action.” If one pitcher or the other does not start, this wager is essentially canceled, and money is returned. Of course, you may place the wager on either team regardless of who is pitching, and in that case, you would be getting “Team Action.”

Remember that this basic proposition does not contain a pointspread, as it would in football or baseball. You are simply placing a straight bet on the winner, with the odds posted very clearly. When it comes to a “run line,” that is a subject that is covered on another page. 

These lines usually move according to the action that is played on either side. And the generally accepted principle is that they will move five cents at a time. So if there was excessive action on the -140 favorite, that team may be moved to -145, and so on. Then the +120 underdog may be moved up to +125. If the dog is getting a lot of action, then the price might be moved from +120 to +115. Both of the numbers will move at the same time, in order to keep the consistency of the 20-cent line. If the numbers get higher, the increments will go up to a dime, maintaining the same difference. So in other words, a favorite of -220 may increase  to -230, or even higher than that, with one incremental movement on the part of the oddsmaker.

It also works the other way too. In some cases these days, there are “penny” lines, so you might see numbers like -143 or +123 on the favorite and dog, respectively, after a movement. These betting lines were established as subtle adjustments to reflect action on either team that might be coming in to a bit of a lesser degree.

Sometimes there is no favorite or dog in the game. Therefore, it is known as a “pick ’em” game. That does not mean, of course, that both of these teams are going to go off at even money. Rather, they will be priced at either -110 or -115 on both sides.