MLB Betting

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The American sport known as “baseball” evolved from the English game known as “rounders.” It has been played since the mid-19th century, based upon rules set down by Alexander Cartwright in 1845 for his New York-based Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, the country’s very first professional team. In their opening game, however, they were overpowered by a score of 23 to 1 by the nine-man New York Baseball Club. A dozen years later, the first North American professional baseball organisation was founded, which would later become known as Major League Baseball (MLB).

Today, a total of 30 professional MLB teams are featured in competition, with 16 clubs in the National League and 14 in the American League. The leagues are subdivided into three divisions each: East, Central and West. Four of the six divisions have five teams apiece, while the NL Central has six teams and the AL West is comprised of only four.

The regular MLB season starts in April and continues through September, with wagering beginning even earlier. The first opening lines come out in November for “futures,” which is the North American term for ante post wagering. Bets can be placed on which teams will win next year’s divisions and league pennants, and who will ultimately face off on the MLB World Series—equivalent to the sport’s Cup Finals.

Early odds are often quite loose, and then they tighten up quickly when preseason play gets under way. Betting on a likely World Series winner in January, for example, might fetch 5:1 or 8:1 on a club that will be going for 2:1 by mid-April and 2:3 in mid-summer. Florida is the early focus of MLB baseball betting, as that is where 16 of the 30 teams go through their spring training.

Betting on preseason games begins in late February and runs through March. The regular season kicks off in April on so-called “Opening Day.” Thereafter, each team plays through a 162-game schedule—a pace of roughly one game every day—till the end of the September. On occasion, teams play two games against the same opponent in a single day in what’s known as a “double header.”

The biggest difference between MLB wagering and betting on other sports is the lack of any form of spread. Instead, bets on the “money line” are most common, and all of the basic bets are dependent upon who the starting pitcher is for each team. Should a scheduled pitcher fail to start, most sportsbooks will either adjust the line or cancel the wager in its entirety, a testament to just how important pitching is as opposed to batting in MLB action.

One especially interesting market for individual games is called the “runline.” It requires the bettor to predict whether the combined number of runs scored by both teams will be over or under a certain amount. Runlines are often offered with half-points attached in order to eliminate the possibility of a draw.

As early as May, the initial division leaders have been identified. Soon after that, interleague play begins, where teams of the AL have the opportunity to match up against NL clubs. Cross-town rivalries are the focus of many of these matchups, such as the New York Yankees against the New York Mets or the Chicago Cubs versus the Chicago White Sox. Betting on these rivalries attracts a great deal of action from fans and recreational bettors.

Toward the middle of the regular season, a much anticipated event is the “All-Star break” in July. That’s when the best of the NL form a single team to challenge the best of the AL. Markets available for this special contest include which team will win, how many strikeouts will occur, and who will be named the Most Valuable Player, to name a few. Just prior to the All-Star game, a special batting contest known as the Home Run Derby is conducted, too, inviting the top batsmen in both leagues to demonstrate who can hit the most home runs—an opportunity for additional wagering.

Eventually, the strongest clubs outpace their competitors, and those with the best divisional records advance to the post-season playoffs. Best-out-five series played in an elimination bracket decide the two teams that meet for the World Series Championship in October. This is when the heaviest wagering of the year occurs and special markets are introduced. Live “in-running” betting is widely available, too, and those who have chosen their futures well will be hedge betting on uncovered ante post picks that survive to the final round.

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