Being a baseball fan these days can feel more like a chore than a hobby. The MLB season feels like it goes on forever, and the endless pitching tugs at your heartstring. But instead of being totally disheartened, you could try and take pleasure in the sport you love through the use of sports betting. Although it might feel like an extension of fandom, betting on baseball has many differences from just going to the games and cheering for your favorite team. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with a few terms and rules before you start making wagers, but having a general idea of what to expect should put you in good stead for a fruitful betting experience.
What Is Baseball Betting?
Baseball betting is the activity of wagering on the baseball games. Unlike other sports such as football or hockey, the rules of baseball can be rather complicated when it comes to making wagers. You’ll find a lot of information online, but for a beginner’s guide, this page from the New York Sports Bookie website is a good place to start:
- Rule 4.2 – Illegal Participations: Everyone knows that gambling is mostly frowned upon in sports, so much so that the MLB actually has a gambling problem and it’s been ingrained in their culture for so long they don’t see it as a problem anymore. Unfortunately, there are still people who try to get away with it and believe it’s all right to wager on baseball. Don’t be fooled, it’s not okay to gamble on baseball, regardless of whether it is legal or not. The MLB is aware of this issue and is working hard to stop people from participating in this illegal activity. Although they can’t change the past, they are working hard to make sure the future is different. Do your part by reporting anyone you find violating Rule 4.2 so that they can be dealt with appropriately.
- Rule 28 – Betting On Teammates: One of the biggest problems that can arise from betting on baseball is when two or more people bet on the same team. This is obviously incorrect, as it’s against the rules for two or more people to wager on the same team. But it happens all the time, and it’s one of the main reasons why the MLB frowns upon bettors so much. When there’s more than one person involved in a wager, there’s usually some kind of collusion going on. Collusion is defined in Rule 4.3 as “an agreement or understanding among two or more people to exercise improper influence over the game.” Collusion is something that the MLB will not tolerate and is usually punishable by suspension or expulsion from the league. If you find that you’re being influenced by others to place wagers on your favorite team, it might be a good idea to back off and reconsider your strategy. But don’t worry, it’s not you personally – the MLB is always looking out for the betterment of the sport.
- Rule 4.7 – Odds, Spreads, & Moneyline: Once you’re familiar with the basic rules of baseball, you can move on to more advanced topics like odds and spreads. But first, let’s take a quick look at what these words mean.
- Odds: Odds are the chances of something happening or being the case. For example, the odds of a certain team winning a certain game is usually displayed as 10/11 (or one over 11), indicating that the team has a one in ten chance (10%) of winning the game. You might also see odds like 12/1 (or one over one), which means the team has a one in twelve chance (or 12%) of winning the game. These are just examples, but you get the point – you need to do your research before placing a wager. The odds of a game will usually be found in newspapers or online sportsbooks before the season starts. For the best experience, find a site that provides live in-game odds updating during the game. This is especially useful if you’re watching a streamed game – instead of getting odds after the game has ended, you’ll get them as soon as the game starts. The same goes for spreads, which are the chances of a game being won or lost by a certain amount. For example, if the favorite team has a one-point spread over the underdog, this means the favorite team has a 99% chance of winning the game. Getting this kind of information makes placing wagers much easier – if you find yourself struggling with fractions, just remember that the odds and spreads will be rounded down to the nearest whole number for you.
- Moneyline: This is what the baseball world calls a straight-up bet or a pick ’em game. Normally, the favorite wins if the spread is equal to or greater than zero, and the underdog wins if the spread is less than zero. This is how the game is presented to the general public and it makes things much simpler. For example, in the 2014 World Series, the Chicago Cubs were heavy favorites (6,5) against the New York Mets (4,5) and the game was presented as six-to-five in favor of the Cubs. This is the same as saying that the Mets had a five percent chance of winning the game.
- Straight-Up: This is what everyone calls a game where you have to select the winner of the contest simply by choosing one of the two teams. For example, the Oakland A’s and the Kansas City Royals will meet in the playoffs this year for the third and deciding game of their series. Both teams are at least four games behind in the standings and neither has any realistic chance of winning the World Series, so this is a very uninteresting game to watch. The first pitch is going to be thrown very shortly and you’ll have to make a decision whether or not to bet on this game. Even though the game doesn’t have many aspects to it, you still need to make a decision regarding the outcome of the game – do you want to wager on it or not? While many people believe that the best strategy when facing a choice like this is to choose the side with the best odds, this can sometimes be a mistake. If you’re not sure which team to choose, then choose the one with the best moneyline to minimize your risk. In this case, you’ll want to back the A’s because they have a better moneyline than the Royals (4.5 vs 5).
The Basics Of Baseball Betting
Before you start betting on baseball, it’s important to understand the rules and etiquette of the sport. It would be a shame to ruin your enjoyment of the game by violating them, especially since the consequences of doing so can be rather severe. Here are some general guidelines:
While you can enjoy the sport and take pleasure in the outcome of a game without placing any wagers on it, the majority of cases in which you’ll find yourself doing so are going to violate at least one of the existing rules – most likely rule 4.2. In terms of the general public’s opinion of sports betting, it’s still relatively unpopular and the MLB doesn’t look kindly upon it. When the news of a prominent figure’s involvement in a sports betting scandal broke last year, it was a major blow to the legitimacy of sports betting in the United States. Even though the law allows for it, the practice is still considered to be something of a dark spot in American sports culture.
Bet On Leagues, Not Teams
As noted above, the best place to find the odds of a baseball game is usually newspapers or online sportsbooks before the season starts. While it’s not always a bad idea to bet on a team you support or are passionate about, it’s best to bet on leagues instead. Why? It’s all about competition. When you bet on a team, you’re usually placing a wager on the outcome of that game, which means you’re essentially betting on your own personal observation about that performance. But when you bet on a league, you’re betting on the fact that all (or almost all) of the teams in that league are competing against each other, which means that the outcomes will be determined by the talent of those involved rather than by any kind of favoritism or conspiracy.
As we’ve established above, the general public doesn’t like to bet on baseball. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not a good idea for certain situations or for certain groups of people. For example, if you’re a diehard baseball fan who wants to place a wager on the World Series but has no idea how to do so legally, then perhaps you should take a look at the above articles from the New York Sports Bookie and mlb.com to get started with some legal and ethical sports betting. But if you want to enjoy the game without risking your legal status or your money, then it might be best to avoid betting on baseball altogether.