USA Baseball Betting Guide

USA Baseball IconCommonly referred to as America's pastime, the sport of baseball has a long and storied history in this nation, and even throughout the world. While Major League Baseball (MLB) may be the height of the sport, let us not forget that baseball is absolutely huge in Japan and in other foreign nations, and that it was also once an Olympic sport (which was removed because America was basically a shoo-in to win every four years). In America specifically, it's sometimes hard to believe how much of an impact this bat-and-ball sport has had on culture. Even if you happen to be reading this betting guide for baseball by chance and aren't a fan of the sport at all, odds are great that you still know big names like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, and even more recent names like Derek Jeter and Barry Bonds. The sport of baseball is about as quintessential Americana as one can get, and it's not all because of the on-field chess matches between teams. Betting plays a very large role in baseball's overall popularity.

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Is Betting On Baseball Legal In The United States?

LegalitiesAs Pete Rose found out, and for which he's still suffering, it's actually legal to bet on sports in America. You just have to find a location that allows it. For Rose, it was with the likes of Vegas bookies and other sportsbooks, long before the days of the Internet. Unfortunately for Rose, of course, Major League Baseball frowned on betting so dramatically that they banned him from baseball completely. While people can take steroids, use hard drugs, beat their wives and commit malicious wounding and still be allowed back in baseball, you cannot bet on the outcome of games in the sport without being thrown out completely. But we digress a bit. The point is that it actually is legal for you to bet on baseball. The trick, of course, is finding a sportsbook that will accept Americans.

Sports betting is only legal in around five of 50 states: Montana, Delaware, Colorado, Oregon, and Nevada (which wasn't legal to have online until a few years ago). However, you're most likely not going to find sports betting options within most of these states, outside of Nevada. It's legal there, but a state like Colorado and Oregon isn't exactly offering anything in the way of betting options. So you'll most likely have to find an offshore site with which to bet. An offshore site is a website that's located outside of the US and thus isn't subject to America's anti-gambling restrictions. There are no laws against you betting there as an American, and so it's perfectly legal. What's illegal is for those sites to set up shop inside of the US. But so long as they stay out of America's jurisdiction, there's no issue at all.

Federal Laws That Affect Wagering In The United States

Let us reiterate very quickly that it is perfectly legal for you to gamble on a sportsbook that will accept you. In no way do we want to leave this area gray. If a site accepts you, you are perfectly within your rights to gamble. But what about gambling being illegal per so many state and federal laws? This is what we want to get into now; this is all about the act of offering gambling being illegal, not the act of gambling itself. In other words, if you open up a gambling site in America, you're breaking the law. If you're in America and join a gambling site, you are not. Apart from state laws, there are three big federal regulations with which to contend, and we'll give you a quick rundown on them now.

The Federal Wire Act Of 1961

In 1961, there were quite a few bookies' shops and the like opened up in America, and you could be in a state like Florida and phone in a bet to Georgia to bet on a game or another sort of odds-based action. To go after this form of interstate gambling, the federal government created the Federal Wire Act of 1961, thereby giving the federal government a way to police people who used the phone (or any wired communication) to accept monetary wagers on games of chance. Don't think that this has lost its potency since the '60s either. The Federal Wire Act was actually used as a template, more or less, for the UIGEA, which we will speak about below. This act is still very much active today.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (Paspa)

PASPA, which is also known as the Bradley Act, arose in 1992 as a way to supposedly protect the integrity of sports and athletes on both the amateur and professional levels. After a hard fight with states, the federal government won, as is almost always the case, and it became illegal in all but four states to offer any sort of sports betting at any competitive level. Montana, Oregon, Colorado and Delaware were exempt from this law, due to lotto-style sports wagering that they had going on at the time, but everyone else was—and basically still is—banished from offering sports betting. Some states, like Nevada, have managed to offer sports betting since, in places like Vegas and Reno, but PASPA is still powerful and this is the one that really almost guarantees that as an American you will have to find an offshore sportsbook with which to bet on baseball.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)

The UIGEA of 2006 is the one that most people remember. This is the one that hit during the gold rush that was the online poker boom. Not only did millions of gamblers end up losing billions of dollars in sites that instantly shut down and locked them out, but some people even ended up going to jail for hosting these sites. This sweeping act made it illegal for all 50 states to offer online gambling, and it stayed that way until 2011. Today, after a 2011 DOJ ruling, a few states allow for online gambling in limited fashion, like New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware, but most states are still abiding the 2006 act. This made it expressly illegal to offer gambling, including sports betting, so it actually strengthened 1992's PASPA.

More information about each specific law can be found in our laws section and our legal section.

Walking You Through the Betting Process

Okay, so we have the legal stuff out of the way. You now know that so long as you can locate a site that lets you join and bet, it's perfectly legal for you to do so. This isn't trite information; most Americans still believe that gambling is expressly illegal. However, betting on baseball is not as simple as finding a legal site with which to bet. If you want to actually win while betting, you need to understand how to navigate the tough and oft dangerous field of Major League Baseball betting. To prepare you for betting on this sport, let's have a look at the types of betting lines you're going to find on most sportsbooks.

Types of Baseball Lines You Will Find

The Point Spread (Run Lines)

The point spread in a baseball line isn't really telling you which team is the favorite to win and which is the underdog. So never buy into a team that's a "favorite" being the better team. These point spreads are designed for one reason only: To get action on both sides of the bet so that the sportsbook doesn't lose any money no matter which team covers the line. That being said, the point spread is easy enough to figure out. Let's say the New York Yankees are playing the Boston Red Sox, and you see a line that reads Red Sox -1.5, Yankees +1.5. This means that the Red Sox are favored by one and a half runs. Don't be confused by the "half" here; that's just so that there's no push involved. If the Red Sox win 6-4, you win the bet if you take the Sox and the runs. If they only win 6-5, however, the Yankees have covered the spread and you lose. With any halves you never have to worry about a push. However, if the line were Sox -2, and they won 6-4, it would be a push because they would need to win by 3 full runs to cover. As you can see, winning by 3 full runs is a big ask in baseball, so it's up to you to research which end of the point spread to take.

The O/U (Over-Under)

Over-under lines in baseball are all about the final score, but they're a little trickier to bet on since baseball is a lot lower scoring than games like football and basketball. For instance, you may see every single game of the day end up with a score like 2-1, 2-0, 1-0, and other very low scores. So the typical line you might see would be 5, which means that the oddsmaker is setting the baseline for the score at 5 runs. Now, do you think the final score will be more than five runs (over), or fewer than five runs (under)? You're simply going to make your pick here based on which end of the final score you think will be more likely. With this sort of bet, you really need to dig your heels in and look up some vital information, which we will provide for you below in our exclusive betting primer.

The Moneyline

The moneyline bet, often called a straight bet, is probably the easiest to understand, but it doesn't often pay a lot unless you are taking the dog. For instance, let's say that the Yankees are the #1 team in the American League (AL), while the Blue Jays are the last-place team. The Yankees have dominated them all year, and nothing is probably going to change for their next game. So, taking the Yankees is a smart choice. But this is why it pays out a lot less. The Yankees may have a line like -320, which basically means you have to bet $320 to win $100. So while you may be more likely to win, you're going to have to take a much bigger risk to get a reward. The Blue Jays, however, may have a line like +280, which means betting $100 will net you $280 in winnings. Because they're decidedly the underdogs, you'll be able to risk less money and earn more should you win. With 162 games a year, you're going to run across a ton of upsets and instances where a team like the Blue Jays win, so recognizing how to spot potential upsets can be very lucrative.

Additional Baseball Wagering Options

The Proposition and Live Betting Features

After you check out the basic options above, you're going to find some other lines on reputable sportsbooks, such a live betting section and even a prop betting section. With a live bet, you're betting on the action as it unfolds in front of you in real time. So, let's say you took the Atlanta Braves over the Cincinnati Reds, with the Braves favored by 2 runs (Braves -2). However, midway through the 5th inning, you see that the score is Reds 5, Braves 1. You're now over 90% to lose your initial bet. But there's a way to leverage here and even to come out ahead on your bets! You can find live betting options that allow you to switch your bet to the Reds. This will pay less, as the Reds are now heavily favored, but you can leverage here for at least an even break, and bet even more if you feel you can win it back.

Proposition bets have a lot in common with live bets, but they're typically bets that are initiated by the community and deal with certain aspects absent the set outcome of games, and they aren't necessarily put in place by the sportsbook itself. For instance, you might find a prop bet on how many strike-outs the Braves' pitcher(s) throw, or how many RBIs the Reds can get, how many stolen bases, the O/U on walks, etc. By leveraging even further with a few props, you can turn a bad initial bet into a serious payday. Not all sportsbooks offer props; so if this is something you feel you may be interested in, make sure you're seeking out a sportsbook offering a props section. These bets are fantastic ways to leverage and to win more money, especially if you're a serious baseball fan and know all about pitchers and hitters and individual stats, etc.

The Makeup of Major League Baseball

To understand how to proceed with your betting, you're going to need to understand a few fundamental things about baseball. Major League Baseball (MLB) is comprised of two 15-team leagues, for 30 total teams. The American League (AL) and the National League (NL). While they do compete cross-league with one another, their playoff structures are independent to each league, and the winner of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) will ultimately play the winner of the NLCS, and the two will meet up in the World Series. Of course, there are a couple of key differences on which to focus here. For instance, in National League ballparks, pitchers are hitters and will enter into the lineup. This can easily affect the bets you're making, as pitchers typically aren't great hitters. Conversely, in the AL, pitchers don't hit; they instead use a Designated Hitter (DH) in the lineup, and this typically results in more run production and a stronger lineup. So as you're betting on teams, it's important that you recognize which sort of league you're betting on. For instance, if you're looking at two NL teams facing off, then taking the under in the O/U might be wise, whereas AL teams might have more run production and taking the over could be a better bet.

Another difference that isn't major yet still important for your betting is the fact that some teams play in warm-weather climates while some teams play in harsher elements. These weather factors can easily affect the scores and outcomes, as most stadiums are grass and not domes. For example, teams in Florida and Georgia and California will have very warm and hot weather starting from April all the way through September, whereas teams up in New York and further north, especially in Canada, will start out a lot colder and finish a lot colder. Cold weather typically affects the pitching in games and will lead to wonky scores due to strange bursts of run production. The better you understand the makeup of MLB, the better your odds will be of winning some bets.

A Primer for Your Initial Foray Into Baseball betting

Now that we have the gist of everything explained to you, let's go ahead and give you a rundown of some betting tips you can implement when placing your wagers on baseball. These are beginner-friendly tips, so don't worry about any advanced stuff that's going to be over your head. We design our guides specifically for newcomers to the betting scene. If you need more advanced literature, we can certainly help out on that front with our network of betting sites. Though for this guide, we're starting with the basic principles of betting.

1: Always Start with the Right Location

No matter how well versed you are at MLB, your bet is only going to be as good as the location at which you place it. For instance, if you're betting with a low-rent site, there's a risk you won't be paid or might have to wait forever for your payment to clear. There's also a risk that you're going to run into unfair betting lines that just change on a whim. Don't risk anything like this; always make sure you're finding the best possible sites on which to play. Allow us at USA Sportsbook Sites to guide you in the direction of high-quality, reputable and trusted US sportsbooks on which you can place your baseball bets in confidence. Let us take care of finding the right site for you, and then all you have to worry about is making a solid bet.

2: Always Be a Student of the Game

Did you know that right-handers in short-porch right-field stadiums hit exponentially more home runs off of left-handed pitchers? Did you know that most right-handed power hitters crank the ball between 1st and 2nd base when they hit a grounder? You see, these are things to consider when looking to bet on a game. Let's say that the Red Sox are playing the White Sox in Boston, and Chris Sale, Chicago's Left-handed pitcher, is starting. You look at the O/U and it's 4.5 for the game, which means you only need a score of like 3-2, either team winning, to win by taking the over. The odds are great that Boston's powerful right-handed hitters, like David Ortiz, are going to crank a few home runs out over that short porch in right field. Beyond that, look for these sorts of stats. When you're researching a game, see how well Bryce Harper does against David Price. Look into the stats of how well a team does when playing another team in terms of run production. Remember that you have multiple bets you can make. You don't have to bet on a flat winner; you can always bet on a team to cover, or you can bet on both teams to go over or under a baseline score. Your options are varied here, and you will gain much more by learning about the game and certain tendencies of players and teams.

3: Simply Start Playing the Best Odds on Straight Wagers

According to the research of famous sports writer Sean Murphy, gamblers who simply place straight bets on teams favored to win manage to win over 60% of the time. Now, imagine that you were winning $50 per bet, and that you placed 10 wagers per week. In total, you're betting over $500, as most straight bets require you to bet more to win more. Your winnings at 60% are actually going to be right around $50, if winning around $50 per; winning one more bet than you lose. So you're not talking about great money here. But imagine expanding that and betting on 100 games a week at $20 a pop. You're winning 10 more games than you're losing, so that's $200 in profit every week by simply following the straight bet favorites system. Just in case you have a very bad week where you end up under 50% instead of over 60%, we don't recommend betting a lot. Start small, slowly building your stack. As you start to profit, bet with those profits so that you're only risking won money. As you begin to win more and more, you have more capital which you can put down. Eventually, you can start winning serious money here. The trick here, of course, is to find favorable moneylines that still pay pay well for picking a favored team; e.g. -150 instead of -300.

4: Leverage Your Underdogs

This is a tip we're combining with #3. Let's say you're doing the favorites thing but you see some very enticing moneylines. You see a moneyline that's like +300 on a team that's going against a team with a rookie pitcher, or a DH on the disabled list, etc. You catch the line before it changes, and you leverage out by placing $20 down on that. That's going to pay you $60 if you win, but only cost you $20 if you lose. Alongside betting the favorites, leveraging on a few underdogs with lucrative moneylines can be a very crucial part of building up a hefty stack. Don't forget to combine tip #2 in here as well, understanding the game so that you'll be able to pick out those games where the underdog might just pull one out. MLB teams play 162 games, and most teams hover around .500 for the year. So all teams lose, and they lose a lot. If you can catch them losing while leveraging against your favorites, you can end up having a very, very good day at the sportsbook.

5: Don't Bet Right Away

Baseball season starts in April, but resist the urge to bet until May has rolled around. The reason here is that you want to build some data-sets which you can reference. You want to see which teams are doing the best, which hitters are hitting well, which pitchers are dominant, etc. Spring training isn't anything like the NFL preseason, so you're really learning nothing until they play about 15 games. Let the data compile for you for around a month, and then start implementing these above tips to see if you can win big.

We hope this baseball betting guide can get you off on the right foot. We have covered the legality of the issue, the types of sports wagers you can make, and even some tips to help you get started out. All we can do now is wish you the best of luck and hope that you win big!

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