Many bettors overlook baseball because at first glance, it seems like your options are limited in terms of gambling. For the most part, you choose one side or the other, and that’s all there is to it.
While the moneyline will always receive the majority of the action on a baseball game, I’d argue that there’s plenty of money to be made by betting on other aspects of the contest. It will require you to not scoff at prop bets, so prepare yourself.
In this article, I’ll explain my favorite prop bets in baseball.
1 – The First Inning
Perhaps I just can’t wait three (or more) hours, but I’ve made betting on the first inning of a game a staple in my baseball betting strategy. More specifically, I bet on whether or not a run will be scored in the first inning of a game.
The upside of this bet is that it gives you an opportunity to live bet with house money if you’re able to win. Obviously, the downside is that you could be starting in the hole before the game really gets going. Altogether, I feel the risk is worth it because of the opportunities to use early winnings throughout the rest of the game.
Now, to the actual bet. Is there really any way to get a feel for one side or the other? The short answer is no. But as with most of the betting in baseball, it comes down to the odds.
First inning odds can vary somewhat significantly based on which sportsbook you’re using. With that being said, you’re typically looking around -110 to -125 when it comes to betting on a run not being scored. On the flip side, if you choose “yes” in the question of whether or not a run will be scored, you should be able to get odds around +115.
If you’re betting this play consistently, going with the plus-money option is going to work out best for you over the course of the season. You’d be surprised with how frequently a first inning run is scored.
2 – Home Run (Individual)
The hardest bets to make for most amateur sports gamblers are those with long odds. Anytime something seems unlikely to happen, it can be tough to put money down knowing that there’s a good chance you aren’t going to see it again. However, this is exactly the mentality that online sportsbooks count on to keep taking bettors’ money.
One of the baseball prop bets I’ve found to be the most profitable over the past few seasons is choosing players to hit a homerun in the game. For an above-average homerun hitter (say, a 30-homerun guy), you can enjoy pretty favorable numbers like +400 or even more on an average night.
Somewhat similar to the first inning prop bet, this one is pretty hard to predict with any degree of accuracy. The key is to avoid trying to pick spots, and simply make the bets with regularity and let the odds work their magic.
If you’re betting on a player at +500 to hit a homerun, it means that if you hit on the bet in one out of four games, you’ll make money. As a general betting rule, the more risks you take, the bigger your payout will be over time. Keep that in mind when making this bet.
3 – 1st, 3rd, 5th Innings
Similar to betting on individual quarters in football or basketball, most sportsbooks allow you to bet on what the scores will be at different points in a baseball game. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is another opportunity to capitalize on great odds.
While the moneylines for the full game can vary wildly, betting on the earlier innings can help you play as you go. Additionally, if you’re familiar with a particular team that might be lacking in the bullpen department, you can pick against them late, but still trust the starter to give them a lead early.
As the scores change throughout the course of the game, these smaller prop bets can allow you to actually predict these swings before they happen. For example, taking a lesser team to be up at the 3-inning point, but still lose the game overall, can make for a nice parlay that increases your payout exponentially.
Don’t be afraid to pick underdogs in the inning lines, often times, sportsbooks rely on people hammering the favorite, which means there’s an opportunity to capitalize on the inflated payout.
When it comes to betting futures, there are a number of options available in baseball—both individual and team-oriented. For example, you can pick who you think is going to win the AL East, but if you don’t like the odds, you can choose who will finish as the MVP, CY Young, win the batting title, and much more.
Keep in mind that in the case of individual awards, it can be risky to put your money down on the favorite. Instead, it’s a good idea to “package” a few of the less likely outcomes and hope that if one hits, it’ll cover all your losses and then some.
5 – Total Strikeouts
This one is pretty simple, but I like the aspect that you can put more of your knowledge of the game to work. Betting on strikeouts is just as it sounds. Sportsbooks present a number (almost always a ½ attached as to avoid pushes), and you choose the over or under.
Of course, sportsbooks adjust the number based on who the starting pitcher is, but they typically can’t account for the bullpen pitchers, which are determined by the state of the game in the later innings.
Do some advanced scouting of your own before making these bets and you’d be surprised at how often you can hit on this play. Looking at each team’s batting lineup and bullpen use on the previous night can be strong indicators of how many strikeouts each team will get during the game.
As always, don’t forget to take the odds into account. However, on this one, they’re usually closer to even than on many of the other bets.
6 – Live Bets
Baseball is a game of lead changes and comebacks. These can be turned into huge winnings if you’re able to spot them before they happen.
Live betting in any sport requires a bit more focus as you should be actively watching the game. Huge innings and momentum swings are never going to be easy to spot, but you can gauge if one team seems to be on the brink of a large scoring run by simply paying attention.
One important thing to remember about live betting is that you probably shouldn’t do it if you’ve already placed a wager on the outcome. If you live bet games when you have money on the outcome, you risk contradicting your earlier bet, and it’s not uncommon to lose more exponentially trying to catch up on the fly.
Live betting is a fun way to stay engaged to a game that otherwise might struggle to hold your attention. If you do live bet, make sure to track all your plays along the way.
Baseball might be too slow for some, but if you bet on the right aspects of the game, it’s hard to find another sport that presents as many opportunities.
When in doubt, take the side that provides the most favorable odds. The real gambling money is made by winning more money on your wins, not just on wins themselves. Even a losing betting record can be hugely profitable if you bet wisely.
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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