How to Bet on the MLB Playoffs

Football and basketball have their traditions, but those sports are brash newcomers compared to Major League Baseball. America’s national pastime has been played for well over 150 years, and the first World Series was held way back in 1903, well before the NFL and NBA were even born. Now that the playoffs have arrived, it’s time for a quick refresher on how to bet on MLB baseball at Bovada Sportsbook. Here’s what you’ll see when you’re browsing the MLB odds board at Bovada:

MLB Moneyline

This bet is the most popular choice on the MLB Vegas odds menu, and it’s been around for almost as long as the game itself. Simply bet on which of the two teams will win, and if you’re correct, you’ll be paid out according to the odds listed for your pick, which will look a little something like this:

Milwaukee Brewers +161

Washington Nationals –186

This is the moneyline at press time for the 2019 National League Wild Card game between the Brewers and the Nationals on October 1. The Nationals are the home team, listed at the bottom as is traditional in North American sports. The numbers next to the team names are their moneyline odds, represented at Bovada using the American odds format; the Nats are –186 favorites, meaning they will pay out $100 for every $186 wagered (smaller and larger bets are allowed), while the underdog Brewers will pay out $161 for every $100 wagered.

MLB Runline

The runline concept in MLB betting is similar to the point spread in football and basketball. The favorite will be given a handicap, usually 1.5 runs, and they’ll have to win by more than that number of runs in order to pay out. This is the runline for the 2019 NL Wild Card game:

Milwaukee Brewers +1.5 (–130)

Washington Nationals –1.5 (+110)

The numbers in parentheses refer to the vigorish, or juice, charged for each bet – once again using the American odds format. For the Nationals to cover the runline, and pay out $110 for each $100 wagered, they would need to win by at least two runs. The Brewers, on the other hand, will pay out $100 for every $130 wagered even if they lose by a run.

MLB Total

Totals have become increasingly popular in sports betting, particularly in low-scoring sports like baseball. Will the two teams in question combine to score OVER or UNDER the posted total of runs? This is the third of the three “single” or “straight” bets on the World Series odds board, and it looks much the same as the moneyline and runline:

Milwaukee Brewers O 7.5 (–120)

Washington Nationals U 7.5 (EVEN)

It doesn’t matter which team is which here; the total they have to reach together is 7.5 runs. What does matter is that the OVER is listed on the top, with the capital O included here for ease of reading, and the UNDER listed at the bottom with the capital U. Again, the numbers in parentheses refer to the juice for each line. If Milwaukee and Washington combine to score at least eight runs, the OVER will pay out $100 for every $120 wagered; otherwise, the UNDER will pay even money.

There will be times when the posted total (or the runline) for a baseball game is a whole integer, with no half-runs included. If this happens, and the final result is exactly that amount – say, the Nationals beating the Brewers 5-3 with a total of eight – the bet results in a “push” and all monies are returned. Note that moneyline wagers are considered official once five innings have been played, or 4.5 innings if the home side is winning, while totals and runlines are ruled “No Action” if the game doesn’t go the full nine innings (8.5 if the home side is winning).

MLB Series Prices

The three different straight bets will scoop up most of the betting action, but you should expand your horizons if you want to know how to bet on the MLB playoffs. Each of the seven postseason series (four Division Series, two Championship Series, and the World Series) will have a betting line attached for each team to win. For example, the Chicago Cubs were –195 favorites in their 2016 NLCS matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which the Cubs won four games to two.

MLB Innings Lines

Football and basketball games allow you to bet specifically on the results of the first or second half, or any of the four quarters. The structure of baseball games makes that a little harder, but 5-inning lines are available at Bovada for the moneyline, runline and spread. The result is based on the score at the end of five complete innings, or 4.5 innings in a shortened game where the home team wins.

MLB Live Betting

This is the hottest commodity in World Series betting, and throughout the regular season for that matter. Click or tap the LIVE button on the top-right of your display when you visit the MLB odds page at Bovada, and you’ll see all the games available for live betting. These odds will be updated throughout the game; you can place the usual straight bets mentioned above, or you can bet on the outcome of the next plate appearance (Single, Walk, Strikeout, and so on), as well as other live wagers.

MLB Props

The first proposition bets (“prop bets” for short) on record were made at Boston’s Fenway Park in the 1910s, between fans in the right-field pavilion. Now you can bet on MLB props anytime you like at Bovada Sportsbook. These are bets that you place on things other than the outcome of the game itself, like whether a certain player will get a hit, or whether the starting pitcher will record at least 10 strikeouts. As the playoffs continue and the games get more important, more props will be posted.

MLB Futures

Wondering how to bet on the World Series right now? No matter what time of year it is, you can bet on who will win the next championship; odds to win the World Series are posted almost immediately after the previous title has been won – sometimes even before then. You’ll find these odds on the MLB futures market at Bovada. Futures bets in sports deal with any event that won’t be resolved until sometime in the future, including the winners of the six MLB divisions and two leagues. For example, the Houston Astros went into the 2019 MLB playoffs as –115 favorites to win the American League pennant, and +210 favorites to win the World Series.

Once you have a handle on the different ways you can bet, your chances of making a good pick will increase substantially. So will your enjoyment of the game. Of all the MLB betting tips we could give you, remembering to have fun might be the most important. Betting on sports should be done primarily for entertainment; this is a game, played by human beings. Don’t get too wrapped up in the results, or blame yourself or the players if you get your pick wrong. As always, only bet as much money as you can afford to lose, and once the game is done, move on to your next wager. Consult our FAQ and Help guides at Bovada for more information on baseball betting – we’ll see you on the diamond.

*For odds and info on the MLB postseason, head to our MLB Betting page!