Advanced MLB Betting Strategies

As the pages turn, we now welcome baseball back into the gambling melting pot! While not one of my favorite sports to bet, it was one that I took more seriously last year and was fortunate to have a strong season. One of the reasons for my success was how aligned my MLB betting strategy was to the rules that Major League Baseball has implemented over the years.

MLB Betting Strategy #1: Betting Overs /Unders


With the new extra inning rule, a runner starts on second base in the 10th on for both teams, that was installed a few years back, it forces you to adjust how you play totals. You simply want to make sure you are always on the right side of the rule.

If I am playing Unders, I am betting the game 1st five innings Under. It eliminates some major factors that tend to lean toward the Over. First, I avoid the extra innings rule altogether. If a game is tied after five, the bet is graded, and we do not have to deal with two half innings, likely resulting in runs. Secondly, the Under handicap will likely be based on the starting pitchers. Playing a five-inning Under reduces the variance around those pitchers. We will unlikely see a pitching change unless the Over has already hit. By playing Under five innings, I am limiting the variables I do not control.

If I am looking to Overs, I am betting the full game Over much of the time. Occasionally I will play the first five innings if I like a match vs. a starting pitcher, but I want to capture those late innings in Over bets the majority of the time. You can target starters that do not go deep in games with weak bullpens and get the bonus of possible extra innings.

MLB Betting Strategy #2: Playing Runlines     

When a team is on the road, there is some nuance in playing the 1st Five Run line (generally -0.5) vs. the full game run line (-1.5) since you will have equal at bats in each scenario. You do have the opportunity to cover the -1.5 in extra innings since your team would bat first.

When at home, I will only play the 1st Five Run line unless the price is completely wrong for the full-game run line. When betting a team to cover, not just win, the MLB rules really hinder a home team in late-game situations. You need a walkoff home run in the ninth inning or extras to cover. If you are ahead by one run going into the bottom of the ninth, you don’t bat and lose the run line.

None of these issues exist in the fifth inning. The home team will always bat and be motivated to score.

MLB Betting Strategy #3: Playing 1st 5 Innings

This was the biggest swing to profitability for me. Close to 75% of my bets on baseball last year came from the 1st five innings, up from about 10% the previous season. The reasoning is simple. With any bet, you want to control as many variables as possible. With five-inning bets, you do just that. You will rarely see a pitching change or lineup change in the 1st five innings unless it was planned (bullpen game). That allows you to handicap a game without unknown quantities like managerial decisions, which bullpen pitchers will be used and pinch hitters. You do introduce slightly more luck into the equation since back-to-back bloopers can bust you in some situations, but the trade-off is well worth it.

Best of luck on the diamond!