MLB Betting

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2020 MLB Betting Update

It took them a while, but Major League Baseball owners and players have finally come to an agreement – of sorts. It’s not really what either side wanted; however, after some acrimonious wheeling and dealing, they’ll be playing a 60-game regular season in 2020, starting Thursday, July 23 (7 PM ET, ESPN) with the defending champion Washington Nationals hosting the New York Yankees. At press time, the Nats are +115 home dogs on the MLB odds board at Bovada Sportsbook.

Now let’s hope the coronavirus doesn’t cause any more problems. Several players have already tested positive, and training facilities have been shut down temporarily at some locations. Otherwise, it’s all systems go for this shortened season, with the standard 10-team playoffs beginning September 29 and the 2020 World Series on October 20.


July 2020 MLB Update

Playing a season this short won’t be ideal for this year’s top favorites. The Yankees are still tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place on the World Series odds list, but they’ve slipped from +325 to +375, while the Houston Astros have taken a step back from +775 to +1200. The Nationals, who were 27-33 after 60 games last year, are third-tier favorites at +2000 odds to win World Series glory again this October.

After the official schedule was released on July 6, the MLB betting lines filled up with team over/unders for regular season wins, and naturally, the top contenders also have the biggest totals next to their names. The Dodgers lead the way at 38.5 wins, with the Over available at even money; the Yankees are very close behind at 37.5 wins with the Over at –110. Houston is next at 35 wins (Over –120), and the Nats are competitive at 33 wins (Over –130).

We should see more totals hit the MLB odds list at Bovada now that it’s confirmed they’ll be playing 60 games. But there’s a long list of season props already on the board, including who will hit the most home runs; Los Angeles Angels CF Mike Trout is the +900 favorite, followed by last year’s surprise leader, New York Mets 1B Pete Alonso, and Milwaukee Brewers OF Christian Yelich, both tied at +1000 on the MLB lines. Alonso hit 53 homers as a rookie last year, well ahead of Trout (45) in fifth and Yelich (44) in sixth.

With all of these tasty season props on the menu, there are hundreds more ways to bet on baseball at Bovada Sportsbook than you’ll ever find on the MLB Vegas odds. And now that the 2020 schedule has been released, we finally have some actual games to bet on. Gerrit Cole has been named the Yankees starting pitcher for July 23; Max Scherzer will respond for the Nationals, giving us a worthy battle of All-Star northpaws for the season opener. Stay healthy, and we’ll see you on the diamond.



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MLB Odds Breakdown

Even though nothing’s happened on the field since last week, there is a new contender among the following top five favorites on Bovada’s 2020 World Series odds board.


1. Los Angeles Dodgers: +375 MLB Lines

The Dodgers (106-56 last year) remain where they were last month, with a share of first place on the MLB Vegas odds after acquiring Mookie Betts and David Price from the Boston Red Sox. For now, players still have access to their spring training site at Camelback Ranch, as well as Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine; they’re also free to return to their homes. But once they get back, Los Angeles are heavy –900 favorites to win the National League West for the eighth year in a row, and +155 to take the National League pennant.


2. New York Yankees: +375 MLB Lines

Also holding steady on the MLB betting lines are the Yankees (103-59), although their path to the Fall Classic isn’t quite as wide-open as LA’s. The Bombers are –450 to win the American League East and +150 to win the pennant. Their division is traditionally one of the toughest in baseball, and the AL is home to three of the five teams on this list. New York has already seen two of their minor-leaguers test positive for the coronavirus, although the first player was reportedly not part of the major-league camp in Clearwater – where the team has decided to hunker down for now.


3. Houston Astros: +900 MLB Lines

It could be the general public’s distaste for the Astros (107-55), or it could be because people are starting to realize how much Houston benefitted from stealing signs, but the 2017 World Series champions have taken another step down from +700 to +900 over the past month. Other teams were obviously more than happy to throw beanballs at the Astros’ players during spring training. If there’s any silver lining for Houston fans, the coronavirus outbreak will give Justin Verlander ample time to recover from the strained back that was going to leave him unavailable for Opening Day. Verlander also had groin surgery on Tuesday and will need about six weeks to recover.


4. Atlanta Braves: +1200 MLB Lines

The Braves (97-65) are still hanging around at +1400, although they have one of the toughest battles ahead of them in the NL East. They lead the way at +175, followed by the defending champion Washington Nationals at +250, then the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies at +300 apiece. The Phillies might be a bit behind those other three teams on paper, but it’s a logjam to say the least, and the Braves haven’t made wholesale changes to last year’s division winners.


5. Minnesota Twins: +1200 MLB Lines

Here are the new kids in town. The Twins (101-61) were one of last year’s pleasant surprises, taking the AL Central by eight games, and it doesn’t look like they were a flash in the pan, either. Minnesota check in at –165 to retain their division title, ahead of Cleveland at +275. The Twins hope the overhaul of their starting rotation will take them deep into the playoffs this year, with both Rich Hill (via free agency) and Kenta Maeda (via trade) coming over from the Dodgers during the offseason.


*Odds as of July 30th, 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.