MLB betting is available in Illinois, and now could be the time to give it a try. Even if you are new to sports betting, learning how to read MLB odds and lines and placing wagers has never been easier thanks to the plethora of sportsbook apps in the state.
Want to learn more? This page will help you start placing bets on MLB games, players, and events. Below, you’ll find a detailed breakdown of what you need to know about MLB betting, including how to read lines, what the different bets are, and more.
How to read MLB odds and lines
Reading MLB betting lines and odds is pretty easy with a little practice. Betting lines for MLB games are typically released in the days or weeks prior to a big game (with the sole exception of some futures bets, which involve wagering on the outcome of the entire season).
For example, once the MLB schedule is released, you might find betting lines on certain games between teams, like the Boston Red Sox versus the New York Yankees.
However, betting lines and their associated odds can shift as players are traded between teams, which can affect oddsmakers’ projections for which team is most likely to win and other factors.
When reading betting odds, keep in mind that negative odds, such as -250, indicate the teams that are favored to win. Odds with a positive value, like +330, indicate the underdog team or the outcome that is less likely to come about according to the oddsmakers. Odds like these either tell you:
- How much money you’ll stand to make if you wager $100 (for positive odds).
- How much money you need to wager to win $100 (for negative odds).
Here’s an example: A basic moneyline bet has you wager on which team will win a game outright. Say that it’s the Houston Astros with odds of +125 versus the New York Yankees with odds of -185.
In this case, wager $100 on the Houston Astros and you’ll win $125 (plus get your initial wager back) if they win the game. You’ll have to wager $185 on the New York Yankees, meanwhile, for a chance to win $100 if the Yankees win.
How to bet on baseball in Illinois
Betting on baseball can be fun and exciting in part because of how many wagers you’ll have available.
As described above, moneyline wagers have you bet on which team will win a particular game. They’re quick and simple to grasp and a great place to start betting if you don’t have a lot of experience.
There are more types of bets, as well. For example, a run line bet essentially means you are wagering on the point spread of a particular game. With baseball run line bets, the spread is almost always 1.5 runs, since baseball typically involves lower scores than football or basketball. A run line bet might look something like this:
- Los Angeles Dodgers -1.5 (-170)
- San Francisco Giants +1.5 (+155)
If you wager on the Dodgers, for your bet to win, LA would need to win the game by two runs or more. On the flip side, if you wager on the Giants, you would win if they won the game by any score or lost by a margin of one run.
First five bets are also fun baseball-specific wagers you can make. These bets, which you might see marked as “F5,” have you pick which team will be winning at the end of five innings. This turns the focus of the wager more on the starting pitcher and potentially removes bullpens from the equation.
Then there are totals bets. With these wagers, you’ll bet on the combined score by both teams in a game. Also called over/under bets, the odds might be represented like this:
- Over 5.5 (-110)
- Under 5.5 (-110)
When you place a bet, you wager whether the combined runs from both teams will be more or less than 5.5. The line is a decimal to prevent ties. As you can see, there are lots of ways to place sports wagers during the MLB season.
Rules for betting on baseball online
The exact rules for placing online baseball bets will vary from sportsbook to sportsbook. But the majority follow a collection of common-sense rules like these:
- Most baseball bets will take extra innings into account.
- Sportsbooks will void and cancel bets if a game is postponed or canceled entirely. Bettors will receive refunds.
- Any run line, over/under, or similar bet may only count as complete if all the scheduled innings are also completed
- Moneyline bets may only stand if a game plays for at least five full innings unless the team that is batting second is leading after 4½ innings.
Do note that your sports betting platform may have additional rules. Be sure to check the terms and conditions before betting on the MLB online so you aren’t unpleasantly surprised.
MLB futures bets
One of the most popular of MLB wagers is the futures bet, which involves betting on a team to win the World Series, as well as other season-long accomplishments like which team will win each division and who will win the MVP or Cy Young in each league. Odds for many of these bets will become available before the season starts.
Odds on a team to win the World Series, or even odds on which teams will make the playoffs, are typically much higher than the odds you’ll see for regular-season outcomes.
As a result, placing a smart futures wager on the outcome of the World Series could result in a big payday. The downside is that you have to wait for the World Series to finish before you can (potentially) collect your money.
Naturally, the odds for these futures bets go down the longer you wait to place a bet. Most major sportsbooks allow you to place futures bets for MLB around the season’s start.
MLB prop bets
Many baseball bettors also like to place prop bets, aka proposition bets. Proposition bets generally aren’t concerned about the outcomes of games or even run totals. Instead, prop bets have you wager on specific events, particularly during the playoffs, when prop bets become more popular. Examples of baseball prop bets include:
- Whether a particular player will hit a home run.
- If a player will steal a certain number of bases.
- How many strikeouts from a team’s pitcher.
Prop bets can be quite creative and you’ll be able to find a range of wagers on your choice for a sportsbook platform. Check these out if you want some fresh betting action.
MLB win totals explained
Many experienced MLB bettors like to check out the available wagers on win totals. These are bets on how many total wins a team will get over the course of a season, making them something of a cross between a futures bet and an over/under bet. For example, you might see odds like this:
- Boston Red Sox over 80.5 wins (-110)
- Boston Red Sox under 80.5 wins (-110)
You can put your money down on either outcome, but you have to wait until the end of the season to see if you’re correct.
Pros and cons of live/ in game betting
Live betting during baseball can be quite exciting. Through IL sportsbook apps that offer live wagers, you’ll be able to make bets during the game, putting money down on particular events or player performances. Odds for these wagers are updated through algorithms, and betting lines are typically available for things like:
- How many bases will be filled over the next inning?
- Which base will a batter get to in his next at-bat?
- Will a particular player strike out?
Live bets are popular since they allow you to enjoy the action on screen while placing wagers. But they can also be risky because you need to have a mindset for what makes a good wager so you don’t lose too much money. It’s often easy to put a lot of money down during a game in excitement, then realize you lost more than anticipated.
Spring training, regular season, and playoffs
During spring training, MLB teams play a series of practice games to get ready for the regular season. Spring training dates change every year but generally start in mid-February.
MLB’s regular season consists of 162 games for each of the 30 teams that make up the American League and National League. The season takes roughly six months for a total of 2,430 games.
Following the regular season, the top teams meet for several best-of-five and best-of-seven series to determine the two teams that will face off in the World Series, with the winner being crowned MLB’s champion for the year.
Illinois MLB Teams
The Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox are Major League Baseball’s two teams that call Illinois home. Both have won World Series titles within the past two decades, and they have an ongoing rivalry, which can lead to some additional betting whenever they meet on the field.
- Stadium: Wrigley Field
- World Series titles: 2016, 1908, 1907
- 2020 record: 34-26
- Position player with highest career WAR: Cap Anson, 84.7
- Pitcher with highest career WAR: Fergie Jenkins, 54.9
Chicago White Sox
- Stadium: Guaranteed Rate Field
- World Series titles: 2005, 1917, 1906
- 2020 record: 35-25
- Position player with highest career WAR: Luke Appling, 77.1
- Pitcher with highest career WAR: Ted Lyons, 70.4
5 MLB players from Illinois
Want some potentially less-well-known players to consider for prop bets? These hometown players may be worth a look:
- Tyler Alexander (Chicago)
- Danny Jansen (Elmhurst)
- A. Happ (Peru)
- Michael Foltynewicz (Sterling)
- Collin McHugh (Naperville)
3 key baseball betting tips & strategies
Here are three MLB betting tips you can use to try to maximize your odds of success.
For starters, learn which umpires are serving for games you want to wager on. Umpires have different ruling styles, and understanding whether they are more or less likely to rule in your favor can affect the overall odds of the game.
Similarly, consider the weather for an upcoming game before placing a wager. Cold or otherwise harsh weather can either tip things in the underdogs’ favor or make a blowout from the favorites all the more likely.
Lastly, shop around for the best betting lines available. There are more legal sportsbooks than ever before, so you should check all of them out and try to find the best wagering opportunities you can, even if the differences in odds and potential payouts are as small as $10.
MLB betting FAQs
Is it legal to bet on baseball in Illinois?
Yes. Sports betting was recently legalized in Illinois, and now you can bet not only on baseball but on other major professional sports, like football, basketball, and soccer.
What’s the normal cutoff time for placing MLB bets?
You can typically wait until the first pitch of the game is thrown.
What exactly counts as an action bet in baseball?
An action bet is the opposite of a listed bet. With a listed bet, you are required to provide the starting pitcher along with your bet, and your wager is only placed if the team fields the pitcher you chose. An action bet means you just wager on the outcome rather than picking a particular pitcher to start things off.
Does home-field advantage matter in baseball?
Absolutely. Teams that play at their home ballparks usually have more support from the crowd, and they also tend to know how to take advantage of any quirks of the home park that outsiders might not know about.
How many innings are considered to be the first half in baseball?
The first five innings roughly constitute what we tend to think of as the first half of a baseball game. The second half is the remaining four and any extra innings, though most baseball games consist of nine innings total.
If a baseball game is suspended, what happens to a bet?
It depends on the exact wager, but most sportsbooks will refund most bets in a situation like this. Exceptions may include when a game is played almost to its conclusion, but it all depends on your sportsbook’s specific rules.