Major League Baseball is one of the most popular betting markets at legal and regulated Virginia sportsbooks.
In our complete guide to MLB betting, we’ll explain all of the different bet types, show you how MLB odds work, and point you in the right direction to bet on baseball safely and securely at legal sportsbooks in Virginia.
Of course, there is still some time before you can actively bet on MLB in the commonwealth. But when it arrives, expect MLB betting to be a big part of the menu—especially if the Nationals are in the playoff hunt.
For each MLB game throughout the season, sportsbooks will release odds on the outcome. Upcoming games can often be found in the main betting lobby, but you can also compare the latest odds here at PlayVirginia.
The teams will be listed with the home team on the bottom and the road team on top. Right next to both names is a series of numbers that represent the odds for the three main bet types: runline bet, moneyline bets, and totals bets.
Here’s a rundown of the most popular MLB bet types you’ll have to choose from.
The moneyline bet is a basic bet in which you are simply choosing the side you think will win. Negative odds indicate the favorite, while it’s positive on the side of the underdog. You can tell how close the sportsbook sees the matchup by looking at the range between the two numbers.
The runline works like a point spread. You can take the favorite minus the runs, or pick the underdog plus that amount. Unlike another spread-based betting, the runline is typically set at the same number of 1.5. However, unlike a totals bet, the moneylines will fluctuate on these wagers.
For a totals, or over/under bet, you have to determine how many combined runs will be scored in the game. Oddsmakers set an estimated number, and bettors then get to decide if the total runs will be over/under that amount.
That covers the main MLB odds, but there’s a lot more to see. If you click through on any game, you’ll find a range of other markets, including:
These bets focus on a specific timeframe, such as the first inning or the first five innings of the game. The goal is to decide who will be on top of the game at that point. The latter is particular popular for those focused on the match-ups between starting pitchers, who often do not play the final few innings of a game.
For instance, first five innings:
For another wrinkle, oddsmakers will post alternative runlines for you to choose from, such as 1.0 or 2.5 runs.
When MLB teams hook up, it’s typically for a series ranging from two to four games. You can place your bets on which side you think will win more games. These are listed as moneyline odds.
You can also take a longer range view on the MLB season by exploring the wide range of opportunities available in the futures market. Futures betting allows you to place a bet on an outcome that won’t be known until a later date. Here’s a look at some of the biggest offerings.
Soon after the Fall Classic is in the books, odds will be released for the next winner of the World Series. This futures market stays active all year round as bettors hunt for appealing opportunities. World Series odds are listed for all MLB teams.
Odds for the favorites are obviously much shorter than those for major longshots but teams will move up or down the futures board as their season progresses.
You can also do some forecasting on how the individual divisions and the two leagues will pan out for the coming season. Sportsbooks set the market, and bettors then get to weigh in with their calls.
Oddsmakers will set a benchmark number of regular-season wins for each MLB team. It’s set up like an over/under bet for bettors to decide where they think the number of wins will ultimately fall.
Futures aren’t just for team-based accomplishments. You can also focus on the accomplishments of the individual players as they compete for major awards such as AL or NL MVP, AL or NL Cy Young, and AL or NL Rookie of the Year.
Bets in this category allow you to drill down even further into player achievements. Offerings will vary, but you might see things such as the leader in a specific statistical category, or over/under bets on stat benchmarks for top players.
Remember that the odds won’t always be the same at every operator. You can always shop around at multiple sportsbooks to find the best prices.
For each MLB game from the regular season through to the World Series, sportsbooks will offer a wide range of prop bets. A prop bet is a side bet on something that may or may not happen during a game, or at least by its conclusion.
You can find the available props for each MLB game by clicking through on the individual contest listings. Many props will revolve around specific player accomplishments, such as:
There will also be props that are based on team accomplishments and ones that revolve around the game as a whole. Here are a few examples of what you might come across.
Props are a great way to get even more involved with the game inside of the game. Also, they make for a great transition point into sports betting for those with season-long or daily fantasy sports experience.
Regular season win total bets are a big part of the MLB futures market. Let’s take a closer look at how they work.
In the months leading up to the regular season, sportsbooks will release estimated win totals for each of the 30 MLB teams. Bettors then get to place win totals bets by picking the over or under on the posted number.
Using the Washington Nationals as an example, here’s what the odds for the regular-season win total might look like.
Right next to the over/under is the projected number of wins, while the numbers in parentheses are the odds for each side of the bet. If you choose the over, then you’re betting on the Nationals to win 90 games or more. Under bettors are pegging the team to have 88 wins or less in the coming campaign.
Remember that you can shop around at multiple books to find the best prices. Also, keep in mind that these are long-term wagers, so your betting dollars will be tied up until the bet can be officially graded.
If you don’t have your bets in when an MLB game gets underway, you’re not completely out of luck. Thanks to live betting, you can wager right along throughout the game with offerings based on what’s happening on the field.
Also known as in-play or in-game wagering, live betting has been a game-changer in the world of sports betting. It was once an interesting development, but it has now grown to be one of the most popular features at legal online and mobile sportsbooks.
The live betting market plays out in real-time based on what’s going on. As such, odds and opportunities can change in an instant. Sportsbooks have a ton going on behind the scenes with their respective platforms, but they manage to pull it off without a hitch.
The odds will be based on the situation at hand. As a quick example, the Phillies may enter a game with the Mets as the moneyline favorite. After the Mets get out to a 3-0 lead, perspectives change. In this case, you’d see new moneyline odds to reflect the current reality.
Beyond additional chances to bet on the outcome, you’ll find a wide assortment of choices to consider during the average game, such as:
Live betting opens up the doors to additional profit opportunities, and it also affords you the chance to hedge or double down on your initial positions on the game. It can be pretty easy to get caught up in the excitement, so it’s important to have clear budget parameters in place for any live betting session.
The yearly MLB schedule is pretty full. Even when no games are going on, there’s plenty of chatter going on in regards to the latest trades and free agency moves. The futures market also affords you the chance to look ahead at what will happen as the season plays out. As for the season itself, it’s broken down into three main parts.
In normal times, pitchers and catchers begin reporting to MLB spring training by the middle of February with the remaining players joining in on the fun afterward. Each team will play several exhibition games in the runup to opening day.
There are odds offered for all of the preseason games, so you can certainly bet on them if you would like. However, it’s important to know that games during the exhibition season can be pretty unpredictable.
Opening day comes our way in late March or early April. Each team plays a 162-game regular-season schedule, which runs through to late September or early October. Teams will play 81 of their games at home and the remainder on the road.
Each team plays the bulk of its games versus division rivals, followed by a solid amount of contests against the remaining clubs in their league. There are also many inter-league series each season which pit teams from the American League against those from the National League.
At the mid-way point of the season in early July, it’s time for the All-Star break. There is a game that showcases the top talent in the league for the current season, as well as other events, including a home run derby.
From the break into the stretch of the season, the playoff races heat up. The top teams in each league advance to the postseason for a chance to make it to the World Series.
In recent years, 10 MLB teams have made it to the playoffs, five each from the AL and NL. The three division winners in each league qualified, as well as two wild card teams. The wild card squads squared off in a single-elimination game with the winner moving on.
From there, the postseason moved through rounds. The four teams remaining in each league paired off in two series with the winners advancing to the League Championship Series. Afterward, the pennant-winning clubs moved on to the World Series.
For the 2020 season, the postseason was expanded, but it’s unclear if it’ll be a permanent change. There will be a total of 16 teams in the playoffs, eight from each league. It opens with a best-of-three Wild Card series with winners advancing.
The Divisional Round will be best-of-five with winners moving on to the LCS, which is a best-of-seven series. The winners of the LCS move on to crown a champion in a best-of-seven World Series.
There are plenty of betting opportunities to be found for the MLB World Series, ranging from the futures market to live betting on each of the individual games.
For futures, oddsmakers release lines on the winner of the next World Series shortly after the current Fall Classic is in the books. You’ll find odds for all of the MLB teams and can place your bets right away, or you can choose to check back often for more appealing prices.
There are plenty of handicappers who take a hybrid approach by placing a wager or two upon the release of odds and then staying engaged with the market to see what else develops.
For the World Series itself, you’ll be able to bet on the outcome of each of the individual games with all of the main bet types. There will also be plenty of prop offerings, alternative lines, and a chance to bet on the winner of the series as a whole.
This is one of the biggest betting events of the calendar year, and sportsbook operators treat it as such. As a result, you should see a good deal of promotions offered around World Series time, such as odds boosts on the games or special prop offerings.
Betting on MLB is similar to betting on other team-based sports. You’ll want to have a good understanding of the betting odds, break down the matchups while looking for strengths and weaknesses on both sides, and stay on top of relevant news surrounding the game.
Beyond the basics, there are some extra steps you can add to your repertoire as you work towards having a profitable season. Here are three that can be quite helpful.
The starting pitching matchup is one of the biggest factors for sportsbooks as they set the MLB betting lines, and it should be a focal point for your research efforts as well. Additionally, go beyond that to assess the current state of the two respective bullpens. Many games can be decided late, so a good handle on how the relievers have been doing recently can be a big point to key in on.
Since there are so many games during a season, there’s a good deal of data to rely upon. As part of your research, check out how the hitters on both sides have been done in the past against the starting pitcher they’ll be facing. You can also take a broader view and look at how they’ve performed versus the opponent as a whole and in the ballpark, they’ll be playing in.
The MLB season is a lengthy one, and teams will go through peaks and valleys as a result. Pay close attention to recent trends, such as records over the last five or 10 games. Additionally, take a look at home the team has been performing on the big three-bet types for the season to date, as well as on other splits such as home vs. away or as a favorite or underdog.
Speaking of streaks, you may go through a few of your own on the betting front as the season plays out. Take them in stride and be careful not to get too overconfident or discouraged based on what’s going. Try to play the long game and look for more winners than losers when all is said and done, and don’t be shy about tweaking your approach as needed.
MLB games can be found on major TV networks such as FOX, ESPN, and MLB Network. For local coverage here in VA, you’ll be able to find Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles games on MASN or MASN2.
All of the above options can be found as part of some cable, satellite, and streaming packages, but be sure to consult the exact channel selection to confirm you are getting what you want before signing up.
Also, several MLB games can be found on regional sports networks such as YES, SNY, NESN, and the FOX Sports family of networks. Once again, consult the listings from your provider for availability in your area.
For online and streaming options, each of the outlets usually offers an option on this front via their website or mobile app, but you’ll need to sign in with valid credentials from your provider.
There’s also the subscription-based MLB.TV which provides broadcast coverage of out-of-market games. ESPN+ also carries MLB games, but this is another service that requires a separate subscription.
On the radio side, MLB.com does a great job of listing out all of the available options for coverage in your area. Additionally, for those interested in the audio feed for a specific team, be sure to check out TuneIn, which is available both online and via mobile.
Hundreds of players who were born and raised here in VA have made it to the big leagues. Many have gone on to have lengthy MLB careers. Here’s a look at five of the top names on the lengthy list.
Betting trends generally refer to how a team has been faring related to one of the big three-bet types: moneyline, runline, or totals. Several resources on the internet will allow you to track how teams are doing on all three metrics. Additionally, a trend can refer to how a team is performing on a specific split, such as in the role of home or away team.
Favorites generally come out on top more often than underdogs in MLB, but it’s a situation that bears watching for current trends. Several outlets track the performance of teams by various betting metrics through the season, and you can also drill down into the current state of the league. Also, keep in mind that the moneyline payouts on big favorites can be less than appealing. Don’t be shy about making some underdog calls when your research justifies it as the positive odds on that side can lead to some nice paydays.
For the answer to this question, let’s look back at a few recent seasons:
2019: Favorites 1481-985 (.601)
2018: Favorites 1442-1022 (.585)
2017: Favorites 1405-1063 (.569)
Favorites have won between 57-60% of games. The exact number will vary by season. Also, keep in mind that the payouts on big moneyline favorites can be less than stellar, so blindly betting on favorites doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll come out ahead for the season as a whole.
This refers to the runline, which is the MLB betting equivalent of a point spread. In spread-based betting, oddsmakers install a number that can be all over the map from the low single digits up to double digits and then some. For MLB, the standard runline is set at 1.5. You can take the favorite minus the runs or pick the underdog plus the number. The favorite covers by winning by two runs or more, while the underdog covers by keeping the margin less than the runline or by winning outright.