While baseball point spread betting isn’t as popular as money line betting on baseball, point spread betting is still very common. Still, to really get into the baseball betting action, it’s a good idea to know all about baseball point spread betting so that you can get the best value on all your bets.
Three Keys to Baseball Spread Betting
What Are Baseball Point Spreads?
In baseball, betting on the point spread is often referred to as betting on the run line. Whatever it’s called, to knock baseball point spread betting out of the park, you’ll first need to understand just what exactly the run line is, and how it can help you get great value on your baseball bets.
The point spread is a betting line that effectively balances the line between two uneven teams so that bettors can wager on either side while enjoying reasonable value on their bets.
For example, if a contender like the Detroit Tigers were playing a relatively ineffective team like the New York Mets in Detroit, the run line might look like this:
New York Mets +1.5 (-190) at Detroit Tigers -1.5 (+160)
Because the Tigers are the better team and tend to crush teams like the New York Mets, they are favored to win the game. When a point spread is written out, “-“ is used in front of the favorite. For a bet on the favorite, in this case the Tigers, to win, the team must win by at least the number after the hyphen. In this case, bettors on the Tigers would win their point spread bets if the Tigers win by at least two, for example 8-5.
The underdog, in this case the Mets, is indicated with a “+”. For a bet on the Mets point spread to win, the team must either win the game, or lose by less than the number after the +. In this case, the Mets would have to win or lose by no more than one run.
Look for Baseball Point Spread Betting Value
The number after the point spread number indicates the price or payout of the bet, in this case -190 on the Mets or +160 on the Tigers.
The price of a bet indicates how much it will pay out if it wins. For values preceded by a “-“, the number refers to the amount a bettor would have to wager to be paid out $100. For values preceded by a “+”, the number refers to the amount the wager would pay out if $100 was wagered. Bottom line? The higher a negative number is above 100, the less you’ll get back if your bet hits, and vice versa.
In baseball, the team with more value on the point spread is often the underdog in the game, because the amount of points the true favorite (in the case, the Tigers) has to cover (1.5 in this case) makes it less likely they will be successful on a spread bet.
Consider that many baseball games are decided by one run, so the chances that the Tigers beat even a lesser team like Mets by two are in fact relatively low.
Ultimately, this difference in value—where the Tigers are actually the underdogs on the point spread, in terms of the value of the bet—is why betting on the point spread can be beneficial to baseball bettors. If Verlander is starting, and you feel good about Cabrera going yard on a rookie starter for the Mets, well, the point spread offers you a way to bet on Detroit without having to accept -200 or worse value.
Like all baseball betting, it’s critical to consider the starting pitchers when betting on the point spread. That’s because a starting pitcher can affect how close a game will be, and a lesser team might be able to stay in the game even against a team they are otherwise overmatched against.
Let’s say stud righthander Matt Harvey is starting for the Mets. The young pitcher had an ERA of 2.39 in 26 starts in 2013, and can handle any batter from any line up. With Harvey starting, the Mets would likely still be underdogs against the Tigers, but are much more likely to keep the game within a run, if not win it outright.
It’s not hard to imagine Harvey holding Detroit to a single run through seven innings, and giving the team a fighting chance even if Verlander throws seven shutout innings.
For that reason, make sure to scout the pitchers in a given game before laying your point spread bets, or before deciding to bet the game on the money line. Point spread betting means that the underdog is always worth a look.
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