How to Read Baseball Money Lines

Part one of a two part series on baseball odds, lines and historical performance.

Within the world of online sports betting (and specifically baseball), there are many different and unique betting choices. Prop bets, lines, spreads, over-under, player specific actions, etc. For simplicities sake, let’s take a look at the widely used money line.

The money line is the + / – system that is frequently shown on sports tickers. Ie the San Francisco Giants are -120 and the Texas Rangers are +110.

The math for this system is really easy. In the above scenario the Giants are the favourites. This is represented by the minus sign. The Rangers are the underdogs, represented by the plus sign.

San-Francisco-Giants-Money.jpg
In a straight money line bet there are no point spreads. The team bet on has to win the game for the winning bet to be paid.

A quick trick when calculating the money line (while it’s still in the one hundred level) is to just put a behind the first numerical 1. Ie, the Giants point line is now 1.20 . The Rangers are now 1.10.

To win $25:

Betting on the Giants – To win $25 on a Giants win one would have to lay down $25 x 1.2 (on a -120 line) or in this case $30. The added 20% is the bookmakers calculated money line and is in place due to San Fran being the favourite.

Betting on the Rangers – To win $25 on a Texas Rangers win one would have to lay down $25 / 1.1 or $22.72. The number is divided in this scenario due to Texas being the underdog. Within the game odds a Texas win will pay more than the original bet.

Increments: Just because a line is represented as -120 does not mean that one would have to lay down $120. Most ‘books’ will allow increments in $5 – $10 shots

Line sizes: Typical major league sports (baseball, hockey, basketball, etc) lines are usually in low to mid -100’s. Huge favourites can go up to the mid to low -200’s but you will rarely see lines larger than these. Combat sports, such as boxing or the UFC will see greater odds and usually larger spreads. It’s not uncommon to see -600 vs +480 spreads during a UFC event.

Spread Size: The usual spread size for a ‘major league sport’ is 10 (within normal line ranges). Using our San Fran / Texas example, the line is 10 points at -120 and +110. Never lay down cash online or at a casino that charges more than a 10 point spread.

Coming up: A look at some baseball line research, judging ‘dogs’ vs ‘favs’, home vs away and more.

has written for mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Matthias on Twitter, Facebook and Google +

  • Tight_PP

    Could you please talk about the bet we saw in LV. I think Dolbs made the bet, Jays would win the AL. Jays had the 3rd worst odds.

    It must have been mid-night or later…or earlier, and the 99 cent margaritas had settled in nicely so i could be way off

    Was it just as simple 30 to 1 odds? how would they come up with that? I seem to recall only KC and the Tribe to be bigger underdogs, and I feel the Jays were in 2nd in the AL E at the time.

    • http://www.mopupduty.com Matthias Koster

      I think your memory is correct, the odds were around 30 times and the Jays were hanging about with the likes of the Royals and Tribe.

      The bet, if I recall, was the Jays had to make it to the World Series.

      I imagine the division was the biggest X factor in the bet. It’s difficult to even make the playoffs in the East with NYY, BOS, TAM all in the division.

      The lowly AL Central still gave bottom feeders KC & CLE a glimmer of hope.

      At least that’s my take.

  • Tight_PP

    Also…If I was to follow that example you have: $22.75 on Texas, am I winning $25 or $2.25 and my $22.75 bet?

    • http://www.mopupduty.com Matthias Koster

      You’d get back a total of $47.25

      Your original stake of $22.75 and your bet winnings of $25.