MLB Betting

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2020 World Series Odds: The Favorites

Baseball is full of surprises. The Washington Nationals weren’t supposed to win the 2019 World Series, not after letting former National League MVP Bryce Harper bolt for the Philadelphia Phillies in free agency. The Nationals were +2000 outsiders on the MLB betting lines heading into the new season, and +5000 by the middle of June, when they were 33-38.

Instead of fading into the sunset, the Nationals (who finished the year with 93 wins) became the latest Wild Card team to win it all. They repeatedly came back from the brink during the 2019 playoffs, and won all four of their road games against the Houston Astros to claim their first World Series in franchise history. The moral of the story: Play in the National League. Of the seven Wild Cards who have won the World Series, five played on the senior circuit, avoiding the tougher teams in the American League during the early rounds of the postseason.



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MLB Odds Breakdown

If the Nationals are going to defend their title, they’ll have to make another unlikely run in 2020. They’ve opened at +1500 on the World Series odds board, which isn’t even good enough to join the following list of the top five favorites at Bovada Sportsbook:


1. Houston Astros: +600 MLB Lines

Losing to Washington will be a tough pill to swallow for the Astros (107-55). They were near or at the top of the MLB Vegas odds for most of the 2019 campaign, and their title chances improved with the acquisition of former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke at the trade deadline. Unfortunately for Houston supporters, both Greinke and Justin Verlander struggled during the postseason, opening the door for the Nationals and their dynamic duo of Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer. How well they do in 2020 will depend in part on whether free agent Gerrit Cole returns to the Astros’ rotation.


2. New York Yankees: +600 MLB Lines

TheThe Yankees (103-59) kept pace with Houston during the regular season, despite a series of injuries to their top hitters and relievers. Their odds to win World Series glory for the 28th time looked promising all the way up until they fell behind 2-1 to the Astros in the AL Championship Series; they eventually lost in six games, and face an offseason where as many as eight players could hit free agency – including SS Didi Gregorius, who is on the market after New York decided against extending a qualifying offer that would have paid him $17.8 million in 2020.


3. Los Angeles Dodgers: +800 MLB Lines

The Dodgers were the best team in the National League at 106-56, but for the seventh year in a row, they failed to survive the playoff gauntlet. Losing the short five-game NL Division Series to Washington (after leading 1-0 and 2-1) was extra-painful; former MVP and three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw had another difficult postseason, and the LA rotation could be substantially worse next year if Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill both leave in free agency. The future still looks bright, though, with a monster payroll and blue-chippers like 2B Gavin Lux and catcher Will Smith on the horizon.


4. Atlanta Braves: +1200 MLB Lines

Playing in the National League has definitely helped the Braves (97-65) over the past two seasons – but they couldn’t get past the NL Division Series on either occasion, falling in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals this year after taking a 2-1 lead. Again, this is a team built for the future. 2020 will be Year 3 under GM Alex Anthopoulos, and while they may have to replace 3B Josh Donaldson in free agency, there is a ton of talent waiting to move up Atlanta’s organizational ladder.


5. Boston Red Sox: +1300 MLB Lines

After an incredible World Series run in 2018, the Red Sox (84-78) laid an egg in 2019. Then they fired Dave Dombrowski and replaced him with Chaim Bloom (who will lead Boston’s baseball operations) and Brian O’Halloran (who will handle GM duties). It might be a while before Bloom finds a way to replenish the Red Sox farm system, which is virtually empty after years of trading prospects to make deep playoff runs. His first task: Deciding what to do with Mookie Betts. Will he extend the 2018 AL MVP, or trade him before he hits free agency in 2021?


*Odds as of January 15th, 2020

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How to Bet on the MLB: MLB Baseball Betting Explained


Baseball as we know it was brought to the United States by settlers from England, who had grown up playing similar bat-and-ball games like rounders. These “base ball” games were played as early as 1791 and became a regular fixture in the Northeast by the 1820s. Attending and betting on these games proved popular enough to spawn a completely new industry. The first professional team on record, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was formed in 1869, and the sport’s first professional league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, soon followed in 1871. Others would spring up over the years, including the National League (1876) and American League (1901); these entities began co-operating in 1903, but didn’t officially merge as Major League Baseball until 2000.


How to Bet on MLB Baseball


In the early days, the most popular way to bet on baseball was the “pool card,” a version of which is still used today. Now there are multiple ways you can bet, whether it’s on a single game or an entire season. Naturally, most of the baseball betting in America is MLB betting; you can also bet on other leagues at Bovada, including the high-quality leagues in Japan and Korea. Your MLB betting options for single games include the popular straight bets: the moneyline, the runline, and the total. For something more exotic, you can bet on MLB props. Want to bet on more than one game at a time? You can fill out an MLB parlay, which is much like the pool cards of yore. And you can bet on who will win the World Series by visiting the MLB futures page at Bovada. As if that weren’t enough, you can do all these things in real time with MLB live betting.


MLB Run Line Betting (MLB Spread Betting)


Most people are familiar with the concept of the point spread, thanks to the popularity of betting on football and basketball. MLB run line betting works much the same way. Whichever team is considered the favorite to win the game will be given a spread of 1.5 runs (other spreads can be used), meaning they have to win by at least two runs to pay out. The underdog, on the other hand, can lose by a run and still beat the spread. This helps make the bet closer to an even-money wager, which makes it easier to manage for both the bettor and the sportsbook.

Here’s the MLB run line explained for a hypothetical game at Wrigley Field between the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs:


  • New York Yankees   +1.5 (–120)
  • Chicago Cubs   –1.5 (+110)


As the home team, the Cubs are listed at the bottom. You can see the spread to the right of the team name; in parentheses, you’ll see the odds attached to each bet. In this case, if you bet on Chicago and they win by at least two runs, you’ll be paid out $110 for every $100 you wager – smaller and larger bets are allowed. If you bet on New York and they don’t lose by more than a run, you’ll be paid $100 for every $120 you bet.



MLB Moneyline Betting


Betting on the MLB moneyline is the original straight bet, and still the most common way to do business. Instead of using a spread, moneyline is a form of fixed-odds betting, where each team is given odds to win the game straight up, and you bet on one side or the other. These odds used to be expressed as fractions, and still are back in the United Kingdom, but here in the States, American odds are preferred. You’ve already seen an example of American odds: the odds that are attached to MLB run lines.


Let’s take that same hypothetical Yankees-Cubs game and convert those odds into a moneyline:


  • New York Yankees   +160
  • Chicago Cubs   -140


Again, the Cubs are favored to win this game at home; if they do, they’ll pay out $100 for every $140 wagered. The Yankees are still the underdogs, paying $160 for every $100 wagered. There might be some slight differences in risk and reward between the runline and the moneyline, especially when dealing with heavy favorites, but for the most part, it’s the same bet being made in two different ways.


MLB Totals (Over/Under) Betting


Instead of betting on who will win the game, you can bet on how many runs the two teams will score together. The sportsbook will set the total (also known as the over/under) at a certain amount, usually between 7-10 runs, and you’ll bet on the final combined score going Over or Under that total. Because scoring is lower in baseball than in football or basketball, and because the runline isn’t quite as popular as the point spread, MLB totals bring in a bigger share of the action than they do in other sports.


Betting on MLB totals looks almost the same as the other straight bets. Here’s how our Yankees-Cubs matchup might look on the MLB odds board:


  • New York Yankees   9 (-125)o
  • Chicago Cubs   9 (-105)u


The total for this game is nine runs; the top half represents the Over, which is priced at –125, and the bottom half represents the Under, which is priced at –105. If the game ends with exactly nine runs scored, it’s a push, and all monies are returned.



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MLB Futures Betting


Instead of betting on the outcome of a single game, you can bet on the outcome of an event that will be decided sometime in the future – like who will win the World Series. The MLB futures odds at Bovada include World Series odds for each of the 30 MLB teams; these odds are updated throughout the season, and teams are taken off the list as they get eliminated from playoff contention. Odds are also available for who will win the AL and NL pennants, and for who will win each of the six divisions in Major League Baseball.


Again, these MLB futures are typically expressed using American odds. You might find the Yankees priced at +600 to win the World Series, which would put them among the top favorites. The Cubs might be –200 favorites to win the NL Central Division, and +350 to win the NL pennant. When you place a futures bet, remember that you won’t get paid out until the season is over and the winner is declared.


MLB Prop Betting


It’s believed the first proposition bets (aka prop bets) in sports were made in the early 1900s at Fenway Park, during baseball games featuring the Boston Red Sox. Fans in attendance would place bets with each other about things like whether the next batter would get a hit, or whether the next pitch would be a ball or a strike. MLB prop bets like these are still being made 100 years later – and they’re only getting more popular.


You’ll find a healthy selection of MLB props listed under various categories at Bovada Sportsbook. MLB game props are made available for each game, allowing you to bet on things like which team will score first. MLB player props ask you to bet on the achievements of specific players, like how many homeruns someone will hit this year. MLB team props are the same, but with teams instead of players. MLB season props include the very popular regular-season win totals for each club. You might also find a list of MLB specials that don’t necessarily fall into any one of these categories.


MLB Parlay Betting


If you’re planning on making more than one bet at a time, consider combining all those bets in a parlay. Also known as combo bets, MLB parlays will pay out exponentially higher than making a series of individual bets, but only if you get every pick right – otherwise, the bet loses. It’s a high-risk, high-reward bet, with payouts climbing to 2000X and beyond if you can run the gauntlet successfully.


MLB parlays at Bovada have to include at least two betting lines, and no more than 12. The payouts get larger as you add more teams, but again, so does the risk of having one of your picks come up flat. You’ll be able to keep track of your potential payout as you fill out your Bet Slip and enter your chosen combos. If one of your betting lines ends in a push, that line is scratched out and your parlay reduces in size by one team; a two-team parlay with a push reduces to a single bet. On those rare occasions where your parlay reduces to zero, it’s considered a push and you get your original wager back.


There are some limits to which betting lines you can put in your MLB parlay. You can combine the moneyline and the total from the same game, or the run line and the total, but not the moneyline and the run line. You’re also not allowed to use fifth-inning lines (where you bet on the result after five complete innings) in MLB parlays, and you can’t include two props from the same game. Other restrictions may come up from time to time – watch for MLB lines that say “singles only,” for example. This means you can only place a single bet (i.e., a straight bet) on the game in question. Also, keep in mind that the largest payout possible at Bovada Sportsbook is $100,000, so if you’re going for the gusto with a 12-team parlay, don’t place a bet that’s larger than you need for that six-figure jackpot.


MLB Live Betting


Those fans at Fenway 100 years ago had the right idea: Live betting on MLB is more fun. When a game is in progress, you’ll see the LIVE button for that game on the MLB odds board. Tap or click that button to open the Live Betting page at Bovada; you’ll be presented with all the different betting opportunities for your game, with their odds updated in real time. In addition to the usual straight bets, you’ll have a chance to bet on things like the outcome of the next pitch or the next at-bat. The action heats up with live betting, so make sure to keep track of all the wagers you’ve made and how your bankroll is doing.


That’s MLB betting explained in brief. You now know how to bet on MLB baseball, from the basic straight bets to parlays and props. If you’re interested in learning more, you can consult the Sports FAQ at Bovada Sportsbook and our Customer Service desk is available 24/7 if you need further assistance. No matter what time of year it is, there’s always something available for you on the MLB odds board. Get started today by opening an account at Bovada and taking advantage of our generous welcome bonuses, keep watching for more valuable promotions throughout the year, and enjoy Major League Baseball as it was meant to be enjoyed.

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