5 Reasons to Bet MLB Over the NBA

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baseball vs basketball

The NBA seems to be marching back to a degree of prominence that it hasn’t enjoyed since the days of Bird and Magic. The MLB on the other hand, is struggling to capture an audience that once viewed the game romantically as “America’s Pastime.”

One group of people, however, have begun to realize that baseball provides some unique value – sports bettors.

Due to its massive sample size and focus on the moneyline, sports bettors have turned the diamond into a money-making machine. In this article, I’ll lay out the top reasons to bet MLB over the NBA.

1 – All Those Games

The phrase “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” has never been as true as when applied to the MLB season. 162 games (not counting playoffs) can make for an exhausting run for the players, but it gives bettors plenty of time to figure out a system and watch it work. (The 2020 MLB season is only 60 games, so we’re talking about things under normal circumstances.)

Any experiment benefits from more testing, and baseball provides this in droves. I won’t get into the details of all the specific systems that exist, but many involve taking into account a wide number of advanced statistical models – many of which don’t exist in any other sports.

The bottom line is that if you love numbers, and love to use them in your betting strategy, baseball is going to be the perfect arena for you to demonstrate your skill. If you’re the type of person who thinks that they can pick games based on things like “feel” and “hunches,” baseball betting is likely to be more of a struggle.

2 – The Moneyline

Obviously moneyline betting exists in every sport out there. With that being said, it’s hard to really get into it when the outcome of the game, in terms of which team wins and which team loses, is pretty much certain.

Let’s face it – in an NBA game featuring a top-5 team in the league and a bottom-5 team in the league, the bottom-5 team is going to lose just about every time. Sure, there are plenty of exceptions to point to throughout the course of a season, but if you based you consistently bet on the moneyline underdog in these games, there’s a good chance things aren’t going to work out for you.

Baseball is the complete opposite in the sense that any team can reasonably beat any other team on any given night. To put it in other words – even the worst team in the league wins about 60 times per year.

What does this mean for bettors?

Above all, it shows that consistent reliance on the moneyline underdog can actually be a profitable strategy.

I would never suggest doing this outright, but several professional bettors have noted that you can actually just bet the underdog moneyline and come out ahead at season’s end. The risk associated with that strategy might be a little too much for some to stomach, but it proves that there are some unique opportunities with baseball.

In the end, it all comes down to your bankroll and your risk tolerance, but the fact that simply betting on the underdog moneyline is even a viable option says a lot about the sport.

3 – Smaller House Edge

Much like the casinos that house all types of games that make inevitably take money away from the public, sportsbooks have a built in house edge. The good news for baseball bettors is that this edge is slightly smaller when compared to other sports.

Because you aren’t betting on the spread, where the juice is almost always going to be 10% of your bet, you actually receive slightly better odds. In fact, if you calculate the numbers, baseball comes out to be half of what it would usually be with other sports.

Why Do the Sportsbooks Do This for Baseball?

Quite simply, it’s because the action that is received in baseball is just not the same as in football or basketball. To attract more bettors to the sports, the books know that they have to sweeten the deal just a little bit.

The lower house edge isn’t the only bonus aspect of the financials when betting on baseball. Next, I’ll talk about what has come to be known as the “dime line.”

For each dollar bet, there exists a difference of 10 cents between the number required to win $1 on a bet where you take the favorite, and the payout of a $1 bet on the underdog. To break it down into easier to understand terms – as the price of the favorite goes up, the house edge if you bet on the underdog goes down.

In no other sport is anywhere near appropriate to say “when in doubt, just throw your bet on the underdog moneyline,” but in baseball, that’s exactly what you should do.

4 – The NBA Is Too Hard to Predict

I get it, every sport is hard to predict. The NBA just takes it to a different level.

First of all, most NBA bettors look straight to point spreads before placing a bet. This might be mistake number one. It sounds over-simplified, but the game flow of an NBA game makes spreads less reliable than just about any other sport.

The NBA is notorious for having huge point differentials in the fourth quarter of games, meaning that predicting where things will end up is nearly impossible. You might take the position of betting moneyline underdogs like baseball, but unfortunately the odds make it so you would have to pick your spots with an immense amount of accuracy.

To Simplify:

In the MLB, you can simply bet on every underdog moneyline and over time, you’ll likely win or face small losses. This is based on years and years of historical data that shows this is the case. In the NBA, you can take the same approach, but the results are going to be significantly less consistent, which leaves you vulnerable to weeks, months, or seasons, with huge losses.

To be sure, every sport is hard to predict. With that being said, some sports, like the MLB, have somewhat reliable plans that you can rely on when you don’t have a good feeling on a game. The NBA is the sport where a go-to strategy isn’t really available.

5 – The Effort Factor

The NBA is full of enigmatic personalities. Whether you’re talking about coaches, GMs, or players, it’s hard to follow exactly what they’re strategies are night in and night out. For bettors, this is a frightening idea to come to grips with.

On any given night, NBA teams can take the night off. I don’t mean literally, but when a top-tier team barely plays its stars and gets beat by 25 points, there’s no warning given beforehand that tips bettors off. The reason I say “any given night” is because there is often no pattern to it.

Sure, you can say that when it’s a marquee matchup or a primetime game you can expect each team to play to their full capacity, but this really isn’t the case. Plenty of instances can be seen in the past few years of teams taking off what most fans would be considered a “big game.” On the flip side, sometimes it’s a top-tier team playing a bottom-tier team late in the season and they just decide the rest is more important than a win.

It’s no secret that knowing how much effort an NBA team is going to play with on a given night is an inexact science. And if there’s one thing bettors don’t like, it is unpredictability.


At the end of the day, the NBA is about as entertaining as it gets for fans who just enjoy watching the game. For sports bettors, however, it might be best to stay away from betting the NBA heavily or consistently.

If you’re the type of better who prefers controlled systems based on data, MLB betting is the way to go.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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