The lengthy MLB season is about to really heat up, and we’re not just talking about the action on the field. Before too long, legal single-game wagering could be available in Canada, meaning folks will have additional choices on what to wager on.
At legal sportsbooks, there are a number of options to explore with MLB betting, each of which will have its own odds attached. The odds board can be a little intimidating at first glance, but it’s not all that challenging once you know the basics.
That’s where we come in. This guide to MLB odds will walk you through what you need to know for MLB betting. We’ll cover how the numbers work for all of the major bets and more so you’ll know all your options when it comes time to wager.
Latest MLB betting odds
From opening day to the final game of the World Series, baseball’s schedule is jam-packed. Legal sportsbooks in Ontario will have odds available for each and every game. You can expect to see movement in the numbers right up to the first pitch.
Odds move in response to both betting action and any news that may develop after the release. Our live odds feed makes it easy to stay on top of the market as we pull together real-time data from the top books across the industry.
How do MLB opening lines work?
The MLB schedule is a busy one, but sportsbooks will be at the ready with odds for each game on the docket. The numbers will typically be in by the morning of a scheduled game. These are the opening lines. Once in a while, the lines will be delayed as books await news about the starting pitchers or potential weather delays.
When you examine the odds board, MLB games will appear with the odds for three top bets: moneylines, run lines and totals.
- Seattle Mariners +115 +1.5 (-180) O 8.5 (-110)
- Toronto Blue Jays -125 -1.5 (+160) U 8.5 (-110)
The direction of the numbers points to how sportsbooks perceive the matchup: negative odds indicate favourites, and positive for underdogs. Run lines and totals will have the line that the sportsbook has set — 1.5 and 8.5 — as well as the actual odds for the wager.
For our example, the Blue Jays are the favourite on the moneyline. They’re also favoured by 1.5 on the run line in a game with a total set at 8.5 runs. The underdog Mariners have positive odds on the moneyline, but negative odds if you take them plus 1.5 runs.
Following the initial release, the betting public gets its chance to have a say. When bets begin to come in, a clear preference could emerge, with the majority of the money heading that way. If that happens, books may adjust the numbers to try and level out the liability. You can place your bets soon after the opening lines come out, or wait until closer to game time. Naturally, there are benefits and disadvantages to both approaches.
Bet on the opening line
- Advantage: You’re wagering based on the initial oddsmaker perception of the matchup.
- Disadvantage: There could be new developments that come out later that impact the proceedings.
Place bets prior to first pitch
- Advantage: You’ll have the latest numbers after the market has spoken and all information is available.
- Disadvantage: Lines may shift to levels that you find less appealing than they initially were.
From the initial release up until the first pitch, the movement in the numbers can provide you with some valuable intel. You can tell which way the public is leaning and how the books have responded just by carefully studying the numbers.
Most popular bets in baseball
Let’s now take a closer look at the three main types of baseball bets at sportsbooks.
The moneyline bet is one of the simplest wagers on the board. It makes for a fantastic starting point for those new to sports betting. All you have to do is pick which side you think will win, either the favourite or underdog.
- Detroit Tigers +180
- New York Yankees -280
For this example, the Yankees are pretty big favourites over the Tigers. We can tell that by the range between the numbers: A big difference means a paper mismatch, while a smaller gap points to a tighter game.
To place the bet, you simply have to click on the odds for your selection. It’ll be added to the betting slip automatically. From there, just plug in the amount you want to bet, verify that everything is correct, and click submit.
The sportsbook will display the potential return for a winning wager, but you can also ballpark it by the odds. For negative numbers, that’s how much you have to bet to get back $100 on a winning bet — i.e., $280 at -280. Positive numbers tell you the potential return for a $100 winner — i.e., $180 at +180.
MLB run line
Think of the run line as a wager related to the margin of victory. It’s the MLB version of a point spread bet, which is popular for football and basketball betting. Just like a spread, the side you pick has to cover the run line for your bet to win.
- Minnesota Twins +1.5 (-140)
- Boston Red Sox -1.5 (+120)
In this matchup, the Red Sox are favoured by 1.5 on the run line, as indicated by the negative number. MLB run lines are standard at this number, but sportsbooks may also offer alternatives such as 2.0 or 2.5 in the additional wagers section.
When choosing sides, you also have to factor in the amount of the line. If you like the Sox, that means you expect them to win by two or more runs, while a bet on the Twins calls for them to win outright or lose by a single run.
Regardless of which side you choose, the result will be based on the margin. If the Red Sox win by a score of 5-3, they’ve covered the run line, but they would have failed to do so with a 3-2 victory.
As for payoffs, a winning $100 wager on Boston would return $120 at odds of +120. To win $100 back on Minnesota, you’d have to wager $140 at odds of -140.
The last of the three main bets is the totals wager, aka an over/under. Sportsbooks release an estimated total number of runs scored in the game. Bettors then choose to bet whether the actual total will be over or under that amount.
- Over 8.5 (-110)
- Under 8.5 (-110)
Totals for MLB games can run from 6.5 or less on the low end to 10+ for potential slugfests. The odds for the wager will start at a default of -110 in most spots and then adjust from there in response to betting action.
If you choose the over in our example, you’re looking for nine or more runs to be scored. A final of 6-4 gets it done, but 4-3 doesn’t. For the under, you want to see eight runs or fewer, so the opposite applies.
Payouts for totals bets will depend on the odds. In our example, it’s -110 on both sides, so that means you’d have to wager $110 to get back $100. For a straight $100 wager, we’d get back a profit of $90.90.
MLB futures odds
Sports betting options aren’t limited to pregame bets with MLB. You can actually make your picks on how the season as a whole will play out. Known as futures bets, these are wagers on outcomes that won’t be decided until much later. Odds for the top options will come out in the offseason, with the market staying active from there.
- Which team will win the 2021 World Series.
- Pennant and division winners in 2021.
- Teams to make or miss playoffs.
- Over/under on team win totals.
- 2021 award winners — MVP, Cy Young.
As an example, odds to win the next World Series will be available soon after the current Fall Classic is in the books. There will be odds for all 30 MLB teams. The numbers for a few favourites might look like this.
- Los Angeles Dodgers +550
- New York Yankees +750
- San Diego Padres +950
If you make the right call, then you’ve set yourself up for a nice score. A winning $100 bet on the Padres at odds of +950 would return a profit of $950. Futures odds are another great area to shop around with as some books may have better prices than others on your choices.
It’s important to remember that a futures bet requires a long-term perspective as your funds will be tied up. Sportsbooks won’t settle bets until outcomes are final. Futures are a great way to capture some additional rooting interest for the whole season. They’re fun and entertaining bets that pay out nicely if you nail your picks.
Other types of baseball bets
There are several other ways to bet on MLB, as well. You can explore additional opportunities in the prop markets, place live bets as the action plays out, and take a crack at multi-sided wagers with parlays.
Types of prop bets in baseball
You can think of props as a way to get in some side action. If you click the game listing at an online sportsbook, you’ll see a range of other bets. Many will be props, which can revolve around the game, teams or individual players.
- How many hits plus walks for Marcus Semien — over/under 1.5?
- Which side will score three runs first — Blue Jays or Yankees?
- Will the home team bat in the bottom of the 9th inning — yes/no?
You’ll also see some props with multiple choices, such as players to hit a home run or on the exact final score. Player props are very popular and make for a great starting point for those who have experience with fantasy sports.
Betting on live games
Following the first pitch, wagering continues. That’s thanks to live betting, a segment of the industry that has grown from a niche to a top attraction. You can bet in real time based on what’s happening on the field.
- Who will win the game — Mets or Braves?
- Will Aaron Judge reach base in this at-bat — yes/no?
- Total runs scored after five innings will be — odd/even?
Many sportsbooks have dedicated live betting sections on their platforms. It’s a fast-moving market in which the odds and offerings are constantly updating, but apps make it easy to stay on top of what’s happening.
MLB parlay betting
A parlay is a wager in which you include two or more outcomes on a single betting slip. You need to be right on all selections to win, but the returns can be great. As an example, you can pair up three moneyline outcomes on one bet.
- Tigers -120 over Pirates
- Angels +114 over Astros
- Giants -144 over Marlins
- Total parlay odds: +565
While the returns on parlays can be fantastic, winning isn’t easy. If you get just one of your selections wrong, you win nothing. Parlays are high-risk, high-reward wagers, so proceed with caution.
MLB Pro-Line odds vs. online sportsbooks
For years, Ontarians looking for a legal sports betting option were limited to Pro-Line from Ontario Lottery and Gaming. Available both online and at select retail outlets, it lets customers place various parlays: standard Pro-Line, pools, point spreads and props. To play, you have to make multiple selections with the goal of being correct on all of them.
While there are odds and lines attached to certain Pro-Line selections, it’s different from what’s available at legal sportsbooks. At the latter, consumers have more control over what to wager on. They’ll know what the odds are for each individual selection and the potential payouts for winning wagers in an instant.
Additionally, the options aren’t limited to just what’s on the Pro-Line menu. For example, Pro-Line may offer a parlay card for MLB props that will have a few selections to make, and you have to choose several just to play. At a sportsbook, you can focus on the props you like and wager on them individually.
For those looking to place legal sports bets, Pro-Line has at least provided some kind of option for Ontario residents. However, when you look at what’s available in a side-by-side comparison with legal sportsbooks, it’s pretty one-sided. For the lengthy MLB season, more choices present users with a greater chance of finding success.
Common house rules for baseball betting
When betting at legal sportsbooks, there are rules that you’ll need to follow. Known as house rules, they cover settlement and placement of bets, as well as how various circumstances that may impact the proceedings. For MLB, here are some of the major points you need to know:
- The “listed pitcher” bet means that the sportsbook will void all wagers if there is any change to the starting pitcher matchup.
- Bets will remain live in the event of a slight delay due to weather. A full postponement before the outcome is final will lead to books voiding and refunding bets.
- Sportsbooks will also void and refund futures bets in the unlikely event of a complete cancellation of a season. (Read more: Why did the sportsbook refund my bet?)
- If a player is out of the lineup prior to the game, sportsbooks will pull any prop bets on that athlete off the board and refund wagers you’ve already placed.
- All pregame wagers are live at the first pitch, and sportsbooks will settle them based on the odds at the time you placed the bet.
That’s the basic gist of the most important items, but still, take the time to review the house rules whenever you plan to play at a new sportsbook. There may be some anomalies in how one book handles things as opposed to others. Taking the time to review the rules where you play can help you avoid unexpected surprises down the road.