Betting on Major League Baseball isn’t for everyone.
Unlike other sports, baseball is incredibly demanding, and learning how to profit off of the MLB takes time. Even those of you who have grown up watching America’s Pastime might be surprised how hard it can be to handicap a baseball game.
However, just because it’s technically more difficult than other types of sports betting shouldn’t dissuade you from giving it a shot. In fact, many problems that plague novice baseball gamblers are easy to avoid.
Certain types of gamblers assume that gambling on baseball is comparable to betting on sports like football and basketball. While there are some similarities, gambling on the MLB is quite different.
These differences can easily trip up gamblers who choose to start betting on baseball without adequately preparing to do so.
To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, here are 7 things to focus on when betting on the MLB.
1 ‒ Things to Know Before Committing to the MLB
There are a few things every aspiring sports bettor should know about wagering on the MLB.
If you’re somewhat familiar with the sports betting industry, you might’ve heard that betting on baseball is pointless and not worth your time. This simply isn’t true.
When other gamblers advise you to stay away from betting on certain sports, it’s likely because they’ve been burned in the past. However, their past failures shouldn’t convince you to avoid the MLB.
As I said in the introduction, not everyone is built to gamble on baseball. The skill sets of people who prefer combat sports, and other popular sports might not translate to profitable baseball betting.
Baseball is slower-paced and has a much longer season than other popular sports. Additionally, as the league has shifted to focus on statistics and in-depth analysis, so too must sports bettors.
You see, anyone can bet on a random football game and stand a decent chance of winning money. However, the same cannot be said for baseball.
Sure, you can get lucky betting on a slate of baseball games. But to consistently win money you have to play the numbers game.
So if you can’t devote enough time, energy, and money to betting on the MLB for an extended period of time, it might not be worth it.
Having said that, if you’re gambling for the sake of entertaining yourself, then go ahead and start betting. But if you want to win money, know that you’re going to have to invest in the process.
2 ‒ The Pitching Matchup
The single most important aspect of any baseball game is the pitching matchup.
Now, before you start blindly betting on the team with the better pitcher, there’s a few things to acknowledge.
- Betting on the MLB is a crapshoot
- The best team in the league can lose to the worst team any given night
- Cy-Young Caliber pitchers occasionally have off nights
- Players are prone to go on hot and cold streaks throughout the season
Having said all that, if you’re only going to focus on one thing before placing a bet, it should be the starting pitchers.
Let’s say you’re considering betting on a particular matchup between two teams. Team A has a pitcher who’s 10-3 with an ERA of 3.05 while Team B’s pitcher is 5-7 with a 4.65 ERA.
If everything else is equal (which it usually isn’t) any smart gambler would likely bet on Team A. In a perfect world, gamblers will have time to break down a matchup and analyze things besides the starting pitchers.
However, you’d be surprised to learn how many subpar sports bettors are content to bet on the better pitcher. If you have the time to do so, it’s also crucial to look into the bullpen matchup.
The team with the better bullpen might not win every matchup. However, if the game comes down to which relievers are on the mound, it’s a safe bet to go with the better pen.
3 ‒ Following Line Movement
Learning to follow line movement is a must for sports bettors who want to win money.
For those who aren’t familiar with line movement, it’s quite easy to explain. Oddsmakers release lines/odds to the public that can move over time depending on which side the public is betting on.
Sportsbooks prefer to have a similar amount of money coming in on each side of a matchup. If 60% of the money is coming in on a particular team and that team ends up winning, that can cost the book a fortune.
Instead, a 50/50 split guarantees profit due to the vig sportsbooks and betting sites charge sports gamblers.
So, when a disproportionate amount of money comes flooding in on one side, this can force the books hand and result in them altering the line.
If you’re able to track these line movements in real-time, you can maximize value and increase your chances of winning money. However, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t bet on a matchup just because the line moved.
Before you consider placing money on a particular bet, it’s crucial to understand why the line is moving in the first place. While lines often move because the public is hammering a certain side, that’s not always the case.
4 ‒ Monitor Injuries to Key Players
Handicapping the MLB is often complex and demanding. To get a leg up on the betting public, gamblers often have to engage in rigorous statistical analysis.
However, some bettors can make the process much more difficult than it needs to be. When it comes time to bet on a baseball game, there are a few things that you should always look into.
One of the most obvious ones is a team’s injury report. This goes for any sport but is especially important when it comes to baseball.
In a 162-game season, injuries are bound to happen. Some of these can be more severe than others. Still, something as minor as stomach ache can result in a team giving a star player a day off.
If you bet on a game without checking the IL, or following a team’s roster movement, you’re asking for trouble. Sometimes it’s hard to know which players will be in the starting lineup, but it’s always worth checking for up-to-date information.
5 ‒ High Volume Betting Is Key to Profit
Putting a massive percentage of your bankroll on one baseball game isn’t a sustainable betting model.
Baseball is incredibly unpredictable and bad teams beat superior ones all the time. Finding yourself on the losing side of a bet you thought was a slam dunk can easily blow up your bankroll.
Instead, it’s more intelligent and responsible to stick to volume betting. This style of sports gambling involves placing several wagers of similar values instead of gambling on 1 or 2 games.
Sports bettors are often told to stick to a few matchups that provide the most value. That’s perfectly fine if you plan to wager on sports like basketball or football.
However, there’s too much variance and unpredictability in the MLB to precisely locate this value. Instead, I would recommend spreading your bankroll out and start engaging in volume bets.
There might not be a certain number of wagers you should try to hit every night. However, the more sharp bets you place, the better your chances are of profiting off of the unpredictable nature of MLB betting.
6 ‒ Narrow Your Focus to a Few Teams
Casual sports bettors will find it next to impossible to handicap every team in baseball. There are too many teams, games, statistics, and other variables to monitor.
Unless you’re a professional sports bettor, it’s safer to narrow your focus and specialize in a few teams around the league.
Your baseball-gambling knowledge should be extensive, and you should aspire to learn a great deal of information about every team. That way you won’t run the risk of putting money on a team you had no business betting on.
But it’s challenging to keep up with everything there is to know about every team in the MLB. Instead, try to become an expert on a handful of teams, or even consider wagering on one particular division.
7 ‒ Weather, Location, and Time of First Pitch
Before you even consider placing a bet on a particular game, check the weather report, location, and time of the first pitch. These factors might not seem as important as other aspects of a matchup, but they can make all the difference.
Weather can play a huge role in a game that’s taking place in an open-air baseball stadium. Rain, humidity, heat, and wind can all factor into a game.
Additionally, the time of the first pitch, as well as the location of the game, are important to take note of. Say a team is coming off of a weekend series on the East Coast and have to travel to the West Coast.
Traveling across the country is already brutal enough. But a team flying into the West Coast and playing a game on next to no rest is likely going to struggle to perform at its best.
Betting on the MLB can be quite profitable, despite what you might have heard. Many of the problems that plague gamblers are often in their control and can easily be avoided.
It’s important to note a few things before you start gambling. Betting on the MLB is complicated and requires gamblers to display the ability to analyze stats and past results.
Certain aspects of a game, like the pitching matchup, can help you handicap it to the best of your abilities. However, baseball is unpredictable, and good teams fall to bad ones all the time.
When you start betting on baseball, it might be smart to focus on a few teams and maximize your time.
Finally, make sure to monitor the simple, yet crucial factors that may influence games like injuries and weather.