MLB Betting

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MLB Offseason Update

The 2021 Major League Baseball season starts today, and while things aren’t 100% back to normal, it’s pretty close. After playing just 60 regular season games last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the full 162-game slate is back. Just like in 2020, everyone (except the Toronto Blue Jays) will be playing at their home stadiums, doubleheaders will be seven-inning games, and they’ll start extra innings with a runner on second base. 

There’s another important carryover from 2020: The Los Angeles Dodgers are still the No. 1 team on Bovada Sportsbook’s MLB odds board. They’ve got some familiar company, too – but we also have some newcomers waiting in the wings, and their odds to win World Series glory haven’t been this short in quite a while. Can one of these upstarts knock the Dodgers off their perch?



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MLB Odds to Win the World Series

It won’t be easy. There’s already a considerable gap between the Dodgers and the rest of the pack, but it’s a long season, and anything can happen between now and October – especially with the coronavirus still hanging over everything. Here are the top five favorites on Bovada’s World Series odds board at press time:

1. Los Angeles Dodgers: +300 MLB Odds

The Dodgers (43-17 last year) were +400 favorites on the early MLB lines after winning their first Fall Classic since 1981, but their odds got even shorter when they signed Trevor Bauer to a three-year, $102-million deal in the offseason. Bauer won the National League Cy Young Award last year after posting a tiny 1.73 ERA with the Cincinnati Reds; now that he’s in the rotation, there’s so much pitching talent in LA that former Cy Young winner David Price has been moved to the bullpen.

2. New York Yankees: +550 MLB Odds

This could finally be the year for Yankees fans to celebrate their first World Series win since 2009. After limping through the 2020 campaign at 33-27, New York will start the new season with a few important injuries, none more important than 1B Luke Voit, who has a torn meniscus in his left knee. Voit led the majors last year with 22 home runs; he isn’t expected to make his 2021 debut until sometime in May, so the Yankees have signed veteran Jay Bruce (.721 OPS last year with Philadelphia) to hold down first base until Voit returns.

3. San Diego Padres: +800 MLB Odds

The Padres (37-23) are burning up the MLB Vegas odds, shooting up from +1200 in early betting after picking up two top-shelf starters just after Christmas. Blake Snell, the 2018 AL Cy Young winner, was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays after posting a 3.24 ERA last year, and four-time All-Star Yu Darvish (2.01 ERA with the Chicago Cubs) will join him in the rotation after finishing second behind Bauer in the NL Cy Young race. These newcomers will be even more important for San Diego’s title chances after Mike Clevenger underwent Tommy John surgery in November – he won’t be back until 2022.

4. Chicago White Sox: +1000 MLB Odds

Of all the teams on Bovada’s MLB betting lines, the long-suffering White Sox (35-25) appear to be drawing the most interest from savvy baseball fans. They’ve got the reigning Sporting News Executive of the Year in GM Rick Hahn, who helped lead them to their first postseason since 2008. For the most part, they’ll be leaning on the same up-and-coming talent that Hahn has brought to the Windy City, although LF Eloy Jimenez (.891 OPS) will miss about 5-6 months after suffering a torn left pectoral last week during Cactus League action. Andrew Vaughn, the third overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, will reportedly make his major-league debut this year in left field after coming up through the minors as a first baseman.

4. Atlanta Braves: +1000 MLB Odds

The Braves will have a slightly different look after winning the NL East last year at 35-25 and nearly beating the Dodgers for the pennant. Charlie Morton, an All-Star in 2018 and 2019 before spending most of last year on Tampa Bay’s injured list, was signed as a free agent to help solidify Atlanta’s shaky rotation – a rotation that should get much better when Mike Soroka finally makes his return from the torn Achilles that kept him on the shelf for most of the 2020 season. It’s believed Soroka will be back in late April after making his spring-training debut in Tuesday’s exhibition finale.

*Odds as of April 4, 2021


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.

Join now and bet on the 2020 MLB season.