Sports Wagering: Explaining the Most Popular Bets



With sports betting now legal in many parts of the country, first time bettors are dipping their toes in to the wagering pool. With the help of ESPN, we present the three most popular bets:

  • Total: Also known as over-under odds, this involves predicting how many runs will be scored in the game by both teams combined. Baseball totals usually range from 6.5 (when two aces are pitching) to 11.5 or 12 (for games involving high-scoring teams or when weak starting pitchers are involved). When you see 9.5, you are hoping for 10 or more runs if you bet over and hoping for 9 or less if you bet under. Where you see a moneyline value attached to the 9.5, this is the risk-reward amounts (vig or juice) for selecting the over or the under. So if you see 9.5, u-110, that means the total is 9.5 runs and you have to risk $110 (-110) in order bet the under (u indicates under). If the final score is 5-3, the total is 8 which is under 9.5 and you pocket $100. There are values for the over like 9.5, o+105. Here, you profit $105 (+105) by risking $100 if the game ends 7-3 (as 10 is more than 9.5 total runs).
  • Money Line: Most wagering in baseball happens on the moneyline, which replaces the point spread because most games are low-scoring 3-2 games. The team you pick has to win the game, not win by a certain number of runs (or points like in basketball or football). You will see negative values (-150) and positive values (+130) and these refer to favorites and underdogs. Picture the number 100 sitting between these two values. Example: if you want to back a -150 favorite, you would wager $150 to win $100. On a +130 underdog, you would lay $100 and win $130 if the underdog wins. You have to risk a bit more to back the favorite and you get a higher payout by backing the underdog.
  • Run Line: This is identical to a puckline in hockey and serves as a combo of moneyline and point spread. A team must win by two or more runs in order to win the wager. The negative value -1.5 shows a team favored by 1.5 runs. The positive value +1.5 indicates that team is the underdog by 1.5 runs. Picking the fave means the team must win by at least two runs to cover the runline spread (4-2 wins, 3-2 loses). The underdog team can lose by one run and still cover the spread. You may see -115 or +150 value connected to the runline. This is the moneyline part and indicates how much you need to risk and how much you will profit. Example: if a team is -1.5, +145 and you wagered $100, that means you would profit $145 (+125) if the team wins by two runs or more. On the other side, a team that is +1.5, -170, you would have to risk $170 (-170) to back the team. If they win the game or only lose by a single run, you have a winning wager of $100.

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