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Top-10 ways to bet on baseball

8 April 2013

The Major League Baseball season began last week, and while baseball isn't one of the most popular sports to bet on (lagging far behind football, soccer and basketball), there are still plenty of opportunities to wager on the American pastime. And there can be a lot of value on the board, if you know the sport well and can do a little quick math.

Here are the top-10 ways to bet on baseball. All these wagers are offered by bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook. And since my wife is taking our six-year-old to Fenway for today's Red Sox home opener (while I'll be left to watch the game on TV), I'll use this list and make 10 picks for today's game, just to make it interesting.

10. Lead after X innings
One of the things that can make baseball harder to bet on is the fact that the odds between two teams change dramatically depending on which pitchers are scheduled to start the game. The home team's ace is matched up against a triple-A call-up? Expect the home team to be a big favorite.

The problem is the bullpen can completely undo a gem by the starter, and it can cost you your bet. One of the best ways to avoid this is by betting on who you think will lead after a few innings. bet365 allows you to bet on which team will lead after the second through seventh innings. Or, if you think the game will be tied after a certain number of innings, you can bet on that too.

Because I like long shots, I'll pick a tie after four innings at +400.

9. Team with the highest scoring inning
This is a fun bet where you pick which team will score the most runs in any single inning. The great thing about this bet is that most of the time, all three options (home, away and tie) are better than even money.

I'm going to go with another long shot here and say that it will be a tie at +250.

8. Total hits
This is just a simple over/under on the number of hits for both teams. And with the line set at 17.5, I'll take the over at -125.

7. Hit in the top of the 1st?
This is another very simple bet, and one that will be resolved in the first 10 minutes of the game. If you think there will be a hit in the top of the first, bet yes. If not, bet no.

The top of the Orioles order (particularly Nick Markakis and Chris Davis) started off the season with a bang, but Clay Buchholz was stellar in his first outing of the year. With the rush of the home opener on Boston's side, I'll say there won't be a hit in the top of the first at +140 odds.

6. Odd or even
Since baseball games don't end in ties, and one-run games by definition are odd totals, oddsmakers give the even side much higher odds. Today's slate of games features even totals at +140 to +150, while odd totals are listed at -170 to -180, depending on the matchup.

And once again, I'm going to go for the longer odds here with an even total for the Sox/Orioles game at +145.

5. Last team to score
This is another simple bet: Pick which team will score last. The great thing about this bet is you're most likely betting on the strength of the team's bullpens. If you've been following the two teams in the game and you know who is likely available to the manager, this might be the bet for you.

Both the Red Sox and the Orioles still have plenty of arms left in the bullpen. I think the Sox have the better bullpen here, so I'll go against my trend of picking underdogs and pick Boston to score last at -135.

4. Race to (X)
With this bet, you're picking the team you think will get to a specific run total first. Think the Orioles will get out to an early lead thanks to the top of their lineup? Pick Baltimore in the race to 2. Think it will be a low scoring game and neither team will get more than three runs? Pick neither in the race to 4.

Right now, the Red Sox bats are hot (they scored 13 runs on eight home runs against the Blue Jays in Toronto yesterday), so I'm going to pick the Red Sox in the race to 6 at +220.

3. Run line
The run line is sort of like the point spread in football or basketball, only because baseball is such a low scoring game, sportsbooks can't offer a line in most games that evens out the odds for both teams. So they give the underdog +1.5 and the favorite -1.5. If you take the favorite at -1.5, you usually get better than even money. If you pick the underdog at +1.5, you're laying more to win less.

Approximately 30 percent of MLB games end as one-run contests. If you know which games on the schedule will be that close, you'll do well with this bet.

For today's game, I'll pick the Red Sox -1.5 (must win by two or more runs) at +145.

2. Over/Under
This bet simply allows you to pick whether you think the game will be higher or lower scoring than the line set by the sportsbook. Today's Sox/Orioles over/under is set at 9, and I'll take the over at -115.

1. Money line
This is my favorite baseball bet. Betting on the money line simply means you are picking that team to win. Since baseball teams and pitching matchups are rarely evenly matched, you will have to lay a price on favorites, which means you'll probably be getting better than even money on most underdogs. Do the math and figure out what percentage of the time you need a team to win to make it a profitable bet.

For instance, Baltimore is listed at +128, while the Red Sox are at -138 in Boston's home opener at Fenway today. Baltimore needs to win 44 percent of the time for a bet on the Orioles to be profitable [100/(100+(100*(128/100)))]. The Red Sox need to win 58 percent of the time for a bet on Boston to be profitable [(100/(100+(100*(100/138)))].

If I were in Vegas, I wouldn't bet this game because I think the line is set too well. But for illustration purposes, and because I want my son to enjoy the game, I'll pick Boston at -138.
Top-10 ways to bet on baseball is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Aaron Todd
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.