Betting Basics

How To Read Baseball Betting Lines

August 22, 2023

Have you ever watched a third-base coach during a league baseball game? Between pitches, something strange happens. The coach touches his nose, grabs the brim of his cap, wipes his left arm, tugs on his right ear, then wipes his hand on his chest.

For the uninitiated, it looks random, but for the batter, the coach just told him to swing away.


If you don’t know how to read baseball betting lines, it can make you feel like a batter who never learned the signs.

If you’re feeling clueless when it comes to how to read MLB betting lines, this guide will help you step up to the plate, size up the competition, and place bets that will lead to big-time cash victories when sports betting.

The easiest way to learn how to read a baseball betting line is to look at an example of what you might see when searching for MLB odds:

Team Moneyline Spread Total Run Line
New York Mets +140 1.5 (-145) o9.5 (-105)
Atlanta Braves -159 -1.5 (+125) u9.5 (-115)

If you look at that line and don’t know whether you should wager or not, that’s okay. Let’s break down each element of these betting odds.

Starting at the very beginning, the first column in any line will show the bettor the teams that are playing each other. In our example, the Mets are playing the Braves. You can also tell that the Braves are the home team as they are listed second. While that’s standard, an MLB sportsbook may list the home team first, so it is worth double-checking.

Now that you know who’s playing, it’s time to get into the types of bets available to you. In this case, the first column lists the Moneyline odds. For Moneyline bets, you are simply betting on who will win the game. If the team you bet on wins, you win your bet. The numbers in this column show you how much you’re in line to win:

The next column shows us the line for point spread betting. In baseball, this is also referred to as the “run line.” This is a technique that sportsbooks use to help even the odds by spotting the underdog a certain number of runs at the start of the game. Often (and in the example above), the run line for an MLB game will be 1.5 runs. Occasionally you may see a higher run line in matchups that a bettor may consider heavily lopsided.

In our above example, if you were to bet the run line on the Braves, they would have to win by 2 or more runs for your bet to be a winner. Conversely, if you bet on the Mets, they can either win the game or lose by 1 run and your bet still wins. This also changes the potential payouts:

The last column in our example is the totals line, also called an over/under. In this style of bet, you’re not trying to guess who will win but rather how many runs will be scored. In our example, the total runs have been set at 9.5 and you can bet either over or under:

The MLB All Star Weekend, especially the Home Run Derby, can provide a lot of excitement for those looking to place bets on the totals line. Read up on how to bet on the Home Run Derby before placing those All Star Weekend bets to increase your chances of coming back with a big payout.

While our example above covers basic baseball lines, there are other bets you may run across the sport, including:

If you’re still curious about the types of bets that exist in a sportsbook, read up on all the different types of baseball bets to get yourself familiar with each line going into the MLB season.

That covers the basics. Like baseball itself, there’s always more to learn about baseball betting, but with these tips, you should feel confident reading baseball odds and figuring out where you want to put your money. Developing your unique MLB betting systems and strategies will ensure you win more than you lose.

And for added confidence, head to Tipico. Our online sportsbook has all the baseball bets you’re looking for, and we offer a $750 risk-free welcome offer. It’s time to get off the bench and into the game with Tipico!


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Tipico staff contributions