Odds for MLB Explained

When you combine the MLB odds and wager types for all 162 games throughout the season, you will come to realize that there are literally thousands of opportunities to bet. Bookmakers are able to form numerous betting lines from the action that goes on within a baseball game, and that makes us fans and bettors very lucky. With the convenience of modern technology, almost anyone and everyone in the USA and abroad can have access to these world class odds at any time. You will be able to find action from the very start of spring training, all the way up to the World Series.

This page is going to break down all of the MLB odds that you can bet on, and explain how they work, when they are posted, how the oddsmakers come up with them, and much more. We will also show you easy ways to calculate the odds even though the best online sportsbooks do it for you. By the end of this page, you will be an MLB odds genius.

MLB Odds And Probability

Many people are unaware of the fact that the odds only reflect one half of the equation when placing a bet. MLB odds reflect the risk (the amount that you will be betting) and the stake (how much you stand to win or lose depending on the risk). This is a huge point to understand, because many bettors assume that the MLB odds are reflective of the probability of which team will win. While that is sort of true in some instances, it is definitely not the major factor going into the betting odds. The odds are there to simply tell you, the bettor, how much you stand to win depending on how much you risk. However, if the oddsmakers don’t add probability in to the mix, the heavy favorite of any competition will get the most amount of bets, which would be bad for the bookmakers because they wouldn’t make any money. In order to make sure both sides of a game get the relatively same amount of action, oddsmakers factor in probability.

Bookmakers add the probability factor in to the odds by adjusting the point spread (run line), over/under (totals), and by having the moneyline reflect probability somewhat. This isn’t just swayed by how much better, statistically, a team is than another. It also factors in popular opinion (a home team might be the underdog, but might still get a lot of bets because they are playing in the town where they have a lot of fans), and many other aspects including how to configure the odds so that the bookmaker makes money. The main fact to take away from this section is this: the MLB odds only reflect what you stand to win relative to how much you bet, and do not necessarily have to do with the probability of which team is going to win. The probability factor is added in to the odds in different ways for different reasons, but mainly to make sure that both sides of the bet get a relatively equal amount of action.

Types Of MLB Betting Odds

In the next section, we are going to break down and explain the common MLB wager lines that you will come across. Whether you are a seasoned MLB betting pro or completely new to wagering, you will definitely learn something here. This is going to be a thorough overview, and after reading the next sections you will be fully prepared to bet on the MLB lines at the best online sportsbooks.

MLB Game Lines

When you want to wager on a single game during the season, the first place to look will be the game lines. These consist of the run lines, money lines, and totals. They are released the day of the game or games that are happening on that specific date, and they are very popular amongst MLB bettors. Let’s take a look at the MLB game lines.

MLB Run Lines

MLB run lines list the odds for you to win a certain amount depending on which team you wager on. These can be very close, and sometimes exactly the same. You may see a run line listed as Houston (-110) Boston (-110). These odds reflect how much you stand to win according to how much you stake, and in this instance betting on either team would payout 90 cents on the dollar. So a $100 bet on either team would return $90.

MLB run lines don’t generally differ greatly. Most margins don’t generally vary much more than (-105) – (-125). In this case, if you bet a dollar on the (-105) team, you would stand to win $0.95, and if you put a dollar on (-125), you would stand to win $0.75. Probability enters the picture of run lines in the form of points added or deducted from each team. A complete run line might look like this:

Seattle Mariners +6 ½ (-110)
San Francisco Giants -6 ½ (-110)

In this example, the Mariners will have 6 ½ points added to their final score, and the Giants will have 6 ½ points deducted from theirs. This is only for betting purposes, and has no effect on the actual game. In order for a team to cover the spread, they must win by a margin greater than what their handicap adds to the equation. So if you bet on the giants and they win the game by 35-30, your bet will still lose because they didn’t cover the 6 ½ point spread (they would need to win by at least six points to do so). As you can see in our example, the risk and the stake are the same for both teams, so the money you stand to win according to how much you risk does not change even though one team is favored over the other. This is because the point spread handicaps it so that both sides of the bet have a relatively even probability of winning.

MLB Money Lines

MLB money lines are much more popular than run lines when it comes to betting on games. This is because baseball tends to be a much lower-scoring game than football or basketball, in which point spreads are generally favored. Money line odds are displayed in similar fashion to points spreads in that the teams will have numbers with (-) or (+)’s next to them, which indicate the odds. These numbers represent exactly how much you stand to win depending on how much you risk. A general money line might look like:

Toronto Blue Jays +120
Baltimore Orioles -140

Here, a $1 bet on the Blue Jays would net you $1.20, and a $1 bet on the Orioles would net $0.71. Another way to look at it is that a $1 bet on the Blue Jays will win you $1.20, and a $1.40 bet on the Orioles would win you $1. As you can see, there isn’t a point spread to handicap the teams. Instead, the probability is somewhat built in with the money line, which is why the teams’ odds are more varied than they would be with the run line. Since the sportsbook wants to get equal action on both sides of the bet, they alter the risk/reward greatly for both teams. In our example, the Blue Jays would be considered underdogs, and therefore their stake is much higher for the risk amount. Vice versa for the Orioles, who are the favorites in this example.

MLB Game Totals

MLB game totals, also known as “over/unders”, reflect the combined amount of runs scored in a game. The bookmaker will list a number that will look something like:

55.5 o -110
55.5 o -110

In this example, you will be wagering on whether the combined total of an MLB game will be over or under 55 points. As you can see, the odds tell you that betting over will payout $0.90 on the dollar, and betting on the under will payout $1.05 for every dollar. Game totals are great if the game looks like it’s going to be a toss-up, and you can’t decide which team you want. You can also take more things into account that affect an overall game than if you are betting on a single team, such as bad weather, defensive trends, and injuries.

5-Inning Betting Lines

Since baseball games don’t have an intermission dividing the event into two halves, it would seem that typical betting lines that apply to the first and second half of a football or basketball game wouldn’t apply. On the contrary, bookmakers have created 5-inning betting lines that allow us MLB fans to divide the game in to relative halves in order to expand our wagering options. Simply put, all of the odds types that we have mentioned above will also be available for just the first 5-innings of a game. Afterwards, the results will come in immediately and the winners will be awarded for their bets. Once the 6th inning stretch hits, the new odds will be posted for the “2nd half” of the game.

MLB Prop Odds

MLB prop lines are created by the oddsmakers to give bettors more choices than simply betting on the outcome of a full game. They are odds that reflect certain results within a game that don’t directly correspond to the final score or which team wins. Depending on the size and popularity of the game, there will either be a few or a whole slew of prop odds available. They are generally broken down into MLB player props, and MLP team props.

MLB Player Prop Odds

MLB player prop lines reflect particular players’ performances throughout a game, or throughout an entire season. Player prop odds can cover a wide range of actions such as number of hits, runs, walks, strikeouts, batting average, and who will be MVP of the year. The good thing is, you don’t need to learn a new odds type when betting on player props. They will be listed in the over/under format, such as the over/under on how many homeruns a player will make all season, or in regular odds format such as +140, -120 etc.

MLB Team Prop Odds

Team prop odds for the MLB are similar to player props except that they reflect actions and milestones for entire teams that don’t have to do with winning a game. However, they can be on how many homeruns a team scores in a game, or even the final score, but not on whether or not they win. Since team props generally only have two outcomes, the odds for both sides are generally about even. This isn’t always the case however, and you will sometimes see lopsided matchups that have MLB team props that payout 2/1 (+200), so you can definitely win big with team prop bets.

MLB Future Odds

MLB futures odds are very important to know about and understand because they are where you can potentially make a lot of money by betting on far away games while the teams’ odds have very high payouts. Think about betting on the World Series during pre-season warmups, or the AL/NL Pennant odds. Most sportsbooks will post futures odds for these events almost a year ahead of time, and the teams odds will generally be much more profitable than when the game(s) actually start and the regular game lines are released. For instance, the Boston Red Sox might be at 14/1 (+1400) odds to win the World Series at the beginning of the season. If they make it to the final game, their odds will be much less fruitful. If you bet on them in the futures, you would receive your 14/1 payout if they win the big game.

How Combining Multiple Bets Into A Parlay Affects The Odds

A great way to take advantage of the odds is to combine multiple wagers to increase your possible payout amount. With parlays, you are combining two or more run lines, over/unders, or money lines and combining them into one giant bet. Parlay odds can give out big returns. Average MLB parlay odds are around 13/5 for 2-team parlays, and up to 9900/1 for 25 team parlays. As you can see, parlay odds can be quite profitable. Parlays are also dangerous, as every bet must win in order for the parlay to win. To learn more about parlays, visit our MLB wager types page.

How To Read MLB Odds And Determine Payout Amounts

Reading the MLB odds and being able to determine the possible payout amount is the most important part of wagering. These days, all online sportsbooks have bet calculators that you can use that require you to do zero math, but it is still important, especially if you are combining multiple bets, to be able to figure it out for yourself. You don’t want to look like a rube if you are betting on a game socially. For an example, you might see a set of lines for a game that look like this:

MLB Regular Season
Seattle Mariners
+1 ½ (-102)
8 ½ (+105)o
Jason Vargas (L)
Oakland Athletics
-1 ½ (-108)
Bartolo Colon (R)

This example has Seattle playing Oakland. With what we’ve learned so far, it shouldn’t take long to take all that information in. You will also notice that the starting pitchers are listed under the team names. This is important for 5-inning betting lines especially, because the starting pitcher will heavily influence your bet. Next to the teams we see the run line, money line, and totals – the MLB game lines.

Looking at the run line, we see that the Mariners are paying out $0.98 on the dollar, and the Athletics are paying $0.92 on the dollar. Those are your odds. You also have the probability factor added in in the form of the point spread. Seattle will have +1 ½ points added to their final score, and Oakland will have the same number deducted from theirs (just for betting, not in real life). This has nothing to do with how much money you stand to win, but it is a visual representation of the handicap that the bookmaker created to make both sides of the bet get a good amount of action.

Moving on, we have the money line. Seattle are going to be considered the “favorites” here just because their risk/reward amount is better than Oakland. The money line tells us, in this example, that Seattle will payout $2.15 for every $1.00 you bet. Those are good odds, a little over 2/1. We also see that Oakland will require a $1.75 bet in order to win $1.00, not great odds. The general consensus is that Oakland is the slight favorite, therefore you will need to risk more to win a decent amount.

Finally, you have the totals (over/under). This is the only game line that doesn’t have odds for either team, it instead reflects the final combined score of the game. At 8 ½ odds, the combined final score would need to be 9 or more to win the over, or no more than 8 to win the under. The payouts are slightly skewed as well, which provide a small additional handicap.

  • Bovada - 10% Unlimited Bonus for MLB Wagering in the USA!
  • BetOnline - MLB Betting Site for Fans from ALL 50 States!
  • 5Dimes - MLB Sports Betting Site Available in ALL 50 States!