How Do MLB Odds Work? How To Read MLB Betting Odds

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Wrigley Field
(Photo: Ryan Dickey/Wikimedia Commons)
BetMGM @BETMGM May 24, 2023, 4:07 PM

The Chicago Cubs were run line (+1.5, -150) and moneyline (+115) underdogs against the Philadelphia Phillies (-1.5, +125 run line and -140 moneyline) in a game with an over/under total of 7 (-120 over 7, +100 under 7) on Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

What does run line mean? What does -150 mean? How do you calculate a payout for an over/under bet?

With more than 3,000 games in an MLB season from spring training through the World Series, MLB betting provides non-stop entertainment and endless opportunities to bet on baseball. And here’s a guide to reading MLB betting odds online if you’re new to baseball betting or need a refresher on terminology, calculating payouts, and more:

What’s the Run Line?

The run line is baseball’s version of a point spread, i.e., the margin of victory set by the sportsbook. If you’re familiar with NFL betting or NBA betting, Cubs +1.5 is akin to the Dallas Cowboys +1.5 or the Los Angeles Lakers -4.5.

Unlike NFL betting, NBA betting or other sports with more scoring, there’s rarely variation in run lines in pre-game betting; before a baseball game starts, the run lines are almost always -1.5 and +1.5. After a game starts, run lines vary for live MLB betting, and you’re more likely to see +1, -1, +3, -3, etc.

Each run line is accompanied by odds, which determine your payout. If you placed a $100 bet on the Cubs at -150 on July 7, you would’ve received a payout of $166.67 (including stake) after the Cubs’ 8-3 win.

What’s the Moneyline?

Which team will win?

The moneyline for MLB odds operates in the same capacity as every other sport with a moneyline. A moneyline bet is a bet on the winner regardless of the margin of victory and length of the game as long as the game is deemed official.

If you placed a $100 bet on the Cubs’ moneyline (+115), you would’ve received a payout of $215 after the Cubs’ win.

What’s the Over/Under Total?

How many runs will the Cubs and Phillies combine to score?

Over/under bets are offered as one over/under number – in this case, 7 – and odds, which, like run line bets, determine the payout. If you placed a $100 bet on over 7 runs at -120, you would’ve received a payout of $183.33 after Andrew McCutchen’s two-run homer in the sixth inning trimmed the Phillies’ deficit to two runs at 5-3.

What are MLB Prop Bets?

In addition to run line, moneyline, and over/under bets, BetMGM offers dozens of prop bets for each game. Nearly 50 were available before and throughout the Cubs-Phillies game, including:

  • Which team will score the first run?
    • Phillies: -190
    • Cubs: +145

  • Will both teams score one or more runs in the first three innings?
    • Yes: +210
    • No: -350

  • 1st 5 Innings Moneyline
    • Phillies: -175
    • Cubs: +145

  • Moneyline and Total Runs
    • Phillies and Over 6.5: +180
    • Phillies and Under 6.5: +310
    • Cubs and Over 6.5: +280
    • Cubs and Under 6.5: +360

If you don’t like the pre-game run lines, moneylines, or over/under totals – or in addition to placing bets on those odds – props are a unique opportunity to spot favorable odds for a particular situation.

Live MLB Betting

Baseball is the perfect sport for live sports betting.

Minutes before Alec Mills delivered the first pitch to Jean Segura, pre-game MLB lines were locked. And after Segura took a first-pitch strike, live baseball betting opened.

You can view live odds on the live betting page, MLB betting page, or baseball odds page and place live bets on run lines, money lines, over/under totals, and more. Here’s a live sports betting guide that shows how easy it is to place live bets.

MLB Parlays

You can combine MLB bets into parlays to add more excitement and payouts to your MLB betting experience.

Instead of placing single bets on the Cubs’ run line and over 7 runs, you could’ve combined the two bets into one parlay to increase the potential payout. If both bets hit, as they did, a $100 parlay bet would’ve returned $305.55.

MLB Futures

You can bet on World Series odds, division winner odds, and more MLB futures throughout the entire season.

Shortly after the final out of the 2020 World Series, 2021 World Series odds were available at BetMGM. Whether you want to bet on one team during spring training, pick two teams at the All-Star break, or take a shot with three or four teams in September, World Series betting is easy and fun regardless of your baseball knowledge and betting experience.

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