9 Mar

How to Place a Bet on Baseball

Baseball Betting 101: The Ins and Outs of Betting on Baseball Games

Baseball Betting 101 The Ins and Outs of Betting on Baseball GamesGet your peanuts and Cracker Jacks ready, because baseball just got a lot more interesting! Sports betting is finally legal in The Hoosier State, and there’s no better time to learn the ins and outs of how to place a bet on baseball. But it’s never a good idea to jump in the water if you don’t know how to swim. All it takes is a little preparatory education to give yourself a head start in the right direction.

In this guide, you’ll learn about all the different kinds of baseball betting opportunities available in Indiana’s regulated market. We’ll teach you about the various single-game betting options, like run lines, spreads and totals, along with more valuable (and more risky) multi-game bets, including parlays, teasers and pleasers, and the ultimate guessing game; betting on MLB futures.

This tutorial assumes that you already know some of the most basic rules of betting, like how to read sports odds. Additionally, you may come across some betting lingo you aren’t familiar with. If either of these situations pertain to you, please refer to the following pages for more information.

Legal Limitations of Baseball Betting in Indiana

Before we move on, you need to understand what is and isn’t legal in the state of Indiana. You cant’ just bet on any game, or at any online sportsbook. The bookie must be licensed and authorized by the state to offer land-based or online (or both) bookmaking services. You must be of legal gambling age (21), and to bet at an online sportsbook, you must be physically located within the state of Indiana. Other restrictions and limitations are as follows. 

Is it legal in Indiana to bet on…
Professional Baseball (MLB)
College Baseball (NCAA)
Yes, with limitations
Youth Baseball (under 18)

Professional Baseball: The state of Indiana allows gambling on all pro-level baseball leagues, including Major League Baseball (MLB), Minor League Baseball (MiLB), and International AAA baseball teams. [Learn more about the AAA / MiLB Indianapolis Indians and other professional sports teams of Indiana.]

College Baseball: Indiana law restricts betting on college football (and other college sports) to “NCAA Division I” athletics. Betting on all lower-level collegiate sports, including (but not necessarily limited to) NCAA Division II and III, NAIA, and NJCAA, is strictly prohibited. Furthermore, the criminal code of Indiana prohibits live player prop betting on individual athletes. [Learn more about what the Indiana Code says about college sports betting.]

Youth Baseball: Youth sports includes any sporting activity in which some or all of the athletes are minors (i.e. under the age of 18). Gambling on youth sports is illegal in Indiana.

Changes to Starting Pitchers = Cancelation of Bets

What sets baseball apart from every other sport in the gambling world is the respect given to starting pitchers. When a scheduled game approaches, each the team announces their intended starters. Oddsmakers set their opening lines based on this information. Once bets start coming in, if the starting pitcher for either team changes, all bets are off. This only applies to changes made prior to the first pitch being thrown. Once the game begins, anything can happen. 

Single Game Baseball Betting

Single game betting is just that – placing a bet on a single game. These wagers are as straight forward as it gets. You pick an outcome, then place a bet. If the outcome you chose occurs, you win. If not, you lose. Either way, by the time the game is over, your bet is settled. It’s as simple as that. There are a number of “outcomes” to choose from, which we’ll talk about in just a moment. First, let’s take a look at what a typical baseball line might look like at an online sportsbook.

The chart below shows the competing teams on the left, with all available bets and odds to the right.

Match Up
Run Line
Boston Red Sox
+1.5 (-110)
7.5 (-110) O
Atlanta Braves
-1.5 (110)
7.5 (-110) U

We see here that the Boston Red Sox are playing the Atlanta Braves, and that there are three different ways we can bet on this game:

  1. Win Bet (a.k.a. Moneylines)
  2. Run Line Bet (a.k.a. Point Spread)
  3. Totals Bet (a.k.a. Over/Unders)

Straight Bet to Win

A moneyline wager is the simplest of all sports bets. It is a wager that one team will win. Unlike most sports, moneylines are the most popular form of wagering among seasoned punters, due primarily to two major factors. Baseball is not a high scoring game and, over the last decade, underdogs have won about 45% of the time. Aside from extreme favorites, the odds on most games stay within +/-130, making moneylines more valuable in baseball.

Match Up
Boston Red Sox
Atlanta Braves

In the sample lines above, we see the moneyline odds posted at Red Sox +110, Braves -130. Notice that the payouts for each team are not even. Rarely would you see them match up, because rarely are the two teams evenly matched. The oddsmakers set the lines based on their (highly educated) projections of who will win (the favorite) and who will lose (the underdog).

The positive integer on Boston means they are the underdog, and are therefore expected to lose. Bet on this team, and you stand to win more than you bet; specifically, you can win $110 for every $100 wagered. Atlanta’s negative lines means they are the favorite. As such, you would need to bet a lot on this team to win a little; specifically, betting $130 would net you $100.

To put it simply, a moneyline is a straight bet for one team to win; the positive-paying underdog, or the negative-paying favorite.

Curious Imbalance: Are you noticing a curious imbalance in the moneylines? Are the lines much farther apart than usual? There are only two major reasons why the lines would shift so far. The first and most obvious is when one team really is that much better than their opponent.

If the match-up is that uneven, of course the lines will be farther apart. The other reason is less obvious, but something veterans are constantly watching for. I’m referring to notable line shifts that take place after the opening lines are set.

When the lines open at something like +110/-130, then shift all the way to something more like +150/-170, it’s safe to assume that either the vast majority of money, or the “sharp money”, is being bet on one side. The sportsbook is adjusting the lines to balance its books and protect its bottom line. You can learn more about these situations here.

Run Line Betting – Point Spread

Spread betting in baseball is a little different than most other sports, which is why it gets its own clever title, the “Run Line” (as opposed to “covering the spread”, or betting “against the spread”). You see, when wagering on higher scoring sports, such as Football Betting, the point spread varies. Oddsmakers give the underdog a number of points they believe will fairly balance the playing field. That’s not the case in baseball games.

In baseball, the scores tend to be so low that the run line is (almost) always the same; +1.5 and -1.5. The +1.5 goes to the underdog, and -1.5 to the favorite. In our example, we see:

Match Up
Run Line
Boston Red Sox
+1.5 (-110)
Atlanta Braves
1.5 (110)

So, in order for a bet on Boston to win, the Red Sox need to either win the game, or lose by only 1 point. To win a bet on Atlanta, the Braves need to win by 2 or more points.

Bet on Point Totals – Over/Under

To bet on point totals is to choose whether you think the total points scored by both teams in a game will be “Over” (O) or “Under” (U) the total points projected by the almighty oddsmakers. Let’s take another look at our Boston-vs-Atlanta sample.

Match Up
Points Total
Boston Red Sox
7.5 (-110) O
Atlanta Braves
7.5 (-110) U

The lines predict that the total score will be 7.5 points. You can either bet the Over, meaning you’ll win if the total combined score is 8 or more, or you can bet the Under, winning if the total combined score adds up to 7 or less.

For the record, we all know the score can’t really end with a half-point. If it wasn’t obvious already, that .5 tacked onto the score is there to prevent any tie bets.

What makes totals betting so popular – and it is very popular, especially in baseball wagers – is that it has nothing to do with who wins the game. You get even lines (-110 either way) to predict whether it will be a high or low scoring affair. You might be surprised how many sports fans will bet on totals simply to avoid betting against their own favorite team (i.e. no one likes to admit they expect they’re team to lose).

Multi-Game Betting on Baseball

Like every other sport, betting on multiple games can be quite lucrative. With two dozen teams in the MLB alone, and a regular season consisting of 162 games to be played by each team – and that’s not even including Spring Training and Playoffs – there’s more than enough action to bet on. The trick is applying just the right balance of risk and reward.

It takes a careful combination of skill and luck to pull off a win. How much skill versus luck, you ask? Let’s put it this way. The fewer games you pick, the more you can expect skill to play a role in your success. Conversely, the more games you pick, the more luck you’ll need to win.

That being said, let’s take a look your multi-game betting options. In this case, parlays are the only multi-pick bets on the menu. Due to the low-scoring average in games, teasers and pleasers are not available.

Parlay Bets / Accumulators

A parlay wager (a.k.a. accumulator) is the simplest of all multi-game bets, and the only ones you’ll find at online sportsbooks in Indiana. To place a parlay bet is to pick winners, lines, or totals bet for a number of games, then place a single wager that all of those picks will be correct.

Most sportsbooks allow anywhere between 2 to 12 (sometimes as high as 15) picks on a parlay bet slip. You can pick any combination of bet types – moneylines, run lines and totals. However, you cannot bet different lines on the same game. For example, you can bet that the Braves will beat the Red Sox, or you can bet the run line, picking the Braves to cover the spread, but you cannot pick the Braves to win, and to cover the spread. It’s one or the other – not both.

I won’t go into too much detail here, because we’ve already written an entire guide just for parlay wagers (see link below). The best advice I can give you is to keep your selections to a minimum, only making picks that you are truly confident in. Never lose sight of the fact that if just one of those picks is incorrect, you lose the entire bet. We explain this concept (and how to get around it with Round Robins), as well as other systematic parlay wagers, on the following pages.

First 5 Innings – Partial Game Betting

Partial betting is a lot more common than you may think. It’s not especially popular in baseball, but most sportsbooks do offer it. The idea is that bettors can wager on sections of a game, rather than full games.

In this case, since there is no specific halfway point in a baseball game, the options are generally condensed to moneyline bets on the “First 5 Innings”. This time frame is important, because it is during these first five innings that both teams should still be using their starting pitchers.

When making a bet on the first 5 innings, you’re placing a moneyline wager on which team will score the most points by the time the 5th inning is over. Nothing during or beyond the 6th inning will have any bearing on the outcome of your wager. If your team is leading after the bottom of the 5th, you win the bet. If not, you lose. Of course, that also means it’s possible for your bet to end in a tie. If that’s the case, the wager is returned – no win or loss.

There are more intricate ways to bet on baseball games as they are happening. These are known as “in-play” wagers. They can get very specific, and may include anything from a specific batter making it to first base, to an outfielder catching a fly ball. You can learn more about live betting here:

Baseball Futures Betting

Futures bets are wagers placed on which teams will go the farthest in the post season. These are difficult bets to win because they can only be placed before the start of the regular season. Believe me, it’s not easy predicting who’s going to win the World Series before the first pitch crosses the plate on opening day. But it sure can be exciting to watch the season unfold after dropping a few dollars on your favorite, and/or a longshot.

There are three prominent ways to bet on MLB futures. You can bet on the winner of a specific AL or NL division, which teams will win the AL and NL pennant race, and of course which team will go on to win the World Series.

World Series Champion

This section should need no explanation. This is a bet on which MLB baseball team will win the World Series. The odds on the favorite (the previous year’s champion) are usually around +350, while the least likely team to win it all could be set at anywhere from +12000 to +18000, depending on how badly the team performed in the previous year, and what trades may have taken place since.

The good news is that, if you pick a team that does manage to work its way into the World Series, you should be able to work hedge betting magic to secure a profit.

Let’s say you place a $100 future bet on a team at +900 odds. That team makes it into the series, but they’re the underdog. The opponent now has -150 odds to win the series. Now you place a $300 bet on the other team to win the series. If the other team wins, you lose the original bet, but win $200 to cover it with a $100 profit. If your original team wins, you lose the $300, but collect $900 on the futures bet. It’s a win-win.

AL / NL Championship

Betting on the winner of the American and/or National League conferences is essentially placing a bet on who will make it into the World Series (rather than who will win it). These bets are somewhat easier, considering there’s only half as many teams to choose from. While the odds are still long, half the risk comes with half the reward, thus the odds tend to range from about +175 to +8000, give or take.

Please refer to the MLB Division tables below to see which teams are eligible for AL and NL future bets.

MLB Division Winners

There are six divisions in Major League Baseball. Each division and its respective teams are displayed below. Prior to opening day, sportsbooks will offer futures odds on each of these team to win their division. The odds on these teams often range anywhere from -300 to +6000 or more. It all depends on past performance, each team’s expectations for the coming season, and the overall difficulty in a given division.

AL Central
NL Central
  • Chicago White Sox
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Detroit Tigers
  • Kansas City Royals
  • Minnesota Twins
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Cincinnati Reds
  • Milwaukee Brewers
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • St. Louis Cardinals
AL East
NL East
  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Boston Red Sox
  • New York Yankees
  • Tampa Bay Rays
  • Toronto Blue Jays
  • Atlanta Braves
  • Miami Marlins
  • New York Mets
  • Philadelphia Phillies
  • Washington Nationals
AL West
NL West
  • Houston Astros
  • Los Angeles Angels
  • Oakland Athletics
  • Seattle Mariners
  • Texas Rangers
  • Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Colorado Rockies
  • Los Angeles Dodgers
  • San Diego Padres
  • San Francisco Giants

College Baseball Futures

Betting on the College Baseball World Series is much the same as betting on the MLB World Series, except that there are a lot more teams to choose from, and therefore a much longer range of odds. There are about 300 NCAA Division I teams, all hoping to join the annual race. Only 64 of them will be invited to participate in the College World Series, culled by double elimination brackets that culminate into best-of-three series.

Unfortunately, most US sportsbooks don’t bother posting lines on college baseball. Even those that do won’t offer every game – just the big ones. Why, you ask? Because quite frankly, they are so hard to predict, bookies would rather not accept wagers on them at all.

As of right now, we haven’t found any legal Indiana sportsbooks that offer college baseball betting, but if that changes, we’ll be sure to let you know.

Additional Sports Betting Tutorials

Interested in learning more? Check out our additional targeted sports wagering pages.

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Legal Indiana Sports Betting in 2021

BetRivers is licensed and regulated on a state level by Indiana to operate legally. It offers a wide range of sport betting options – every popular game is covered. Mobile options are also covered for an “on-the-go” experience. Our editor pick for safe and legal betting in 2021.

Visit https://In.BetRivers.com