Beginners Guide to Baseball Betting

In these last few years, the baseball betting trend has taken over American sports fandom. Not only is there a plethora of games to watch, but the markets are plentiful, too.

Wait, what’s that? Haven’t you tried your luck with baseball bets before? No worries, that’s why NostraBet is here. To help you get geared for this season and future ones, too, we’ve prepared the ultimate beginners’ guide to baseball betting. In it, we focused on everything from the MLB rulebook all the way to some valuable tips and pointers. After a quick read, you’ll know how to tackle every betting slip with the greatest of ease. Good luck!

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Understanding the Rules

Before we descend into the wonderful world of baseball betting odds, tips, and more, we first need to brush up on the rules. Even if you’ve been watching games every day, it would still be wise to revisit the rulebook from time to time. Why, exactly? Well, official MLB rules might be known to everyone per se, but seeing how a situation is worded can help you observe things much more quickly and with better conclusions.

So, as an opener for this guide to baseball betting, we’re going to take a quick look at the core rules of the sport. Consider it as a proper framework, which we’ll later use to discuss MLB betting sites, baseball betting picks, and other stuff. Thus, let’s see how America’s favourite sport works and what makes it so thrilling.

History and Positions

baseball stadium view

Ever since the late 1800s, the core rules of baseball have remained the same. Basically, it’s a showdown between two teams, each having nine players on the field at any given time. Both teams play two different aspects: offence, batting and baserunning, and defence, which includes pitching and fielding. During each game, the teams switch between playing offense and defense. Unlike in the NFL, each of the nine players has his own unique role.

The easiest way to understand them all is to separate them into three groups:

  • The outfield – left fielder, centre fielder, and right fielder. These positions are mostly defensive but have some offensive responsibilities, too. They must be fast and have high levels of stamina, as they often have to run a lot to prevent any balls from getting past them.
  • The infield – first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, and shortstop. The first three are tasked with covering their respective base, while the shortstop covers the area between the second and third base. It’s one of the most demanding positions to defend and often requires a lot of responsibilities.
  • Battery – catcher and pitcher. The catcher’s role is rather simple. He stands behind the batting player and in front of the umpire. Holding a large leather glove, his goal is to catch the ball, ultimately resulting in a strike for his team. Now, being a pitcher is one of the most demanding jobs in the MLB. Teams can throw up to 170 pitches in a single game, so pitchers need to be rested and rotated regularly.

Innings and Hits

For instance, if the Boston Red Sox are playing the New York Yankees, they will switch positions. This switch is what constitutes an inning — a pair of turns on both offense and defense. Each game consists of nine innings. The team with the most points at the end wins. If the score is tied at the end of the ninth inning, more innings are added to determine which team comes out on top. An inning is finished when the fielding team (the team on offense) has three batters or base runners out.

In the MLB, the away team always bats first. This can be very important when talking about baseball betting. Some teams are much better suited for either being at bat or in the field, so a favourable home-away matchup can mean all the difference. This is exactly what we mean by saying that, in baseball betting, the rules are indeed more important than all the tips and the predictions. Context matters, and the MLB rulebook provides just that.

baseball game play

Baseball is played on a special field. It’s in the shape of a diamond and has two parts — the infield and the outfield. The infield is the part within the three bases and the home plate, while everything else is the outfield. In the middle of the infield, there’s a raised mound with a rubber plate. When pitching (throwing the baseball), the pitcher pushes off this plate to gain momentum.

The goal of each attacking team during a turn is to score a run. In baseball betting, runs are basically the points you’ll be tracking while watching a game. Runs are scored when a player manages to advance through first, second, and third base, followed by a return to home base. This must occur before three outs are recorded in the inning and without any interferences committed by the runner.

What Do You Need to Play Baseball?

Baseball is unique because it doesn’t only require a special field, but special equipment as well. The players have five different ‘tools’ that make them stand out. They either make the game easier or are simply pillars of it:

  • The baseball – It’s basically a rubber ball covered in white cowhide and stitched with thick red thread. With a circumference of 9 inches, its purpose is to be thrown by the pitches and hit by the batters.
  • The helmet – Even though the baseball is small, it’s relatively heavy for its size and can cause serious injuries. That’s why baseball players wear visor-less helmets as protection from head trauma.
  • The bat – Beginning with a knob and ending in a wider, firmer part, a baseball bat is made out of a single piece of wood. Players ‘wield’ it to hit the ball thrown by the pitcher.
  • Cleats – In baseball, all players wear special footwear with cleats. The surfaces they’re playing on, grass and dirt, aren’t stable enough, so the soles of the shoes are fitted with special spikes.
  • The glove/mitt – To catch and hold the ball, players use a padded leather glove. It can be customized to fit each player’s preference.

Basic Terms

As exciting as baseball betting is, it wouldn’t be half as thrilling if it didn’t involve so many different terms. Seriously, half the history and pizzaz behind baseball is due to its extensive glossary. Let’s take a look at some basic terms that we hadn’t already mentioned in the previous section:

  • Out – When a batter a baserunner fails to score a run, they get ruled out by the umpire. Teams try not to receive more than three outs during a turn. If this happens, they must relinquish the turn to the other team.
  • Double play – A play orchestrated by the defensive team that results in two outs.
  • Grounder – A ball that’s been hit on the ground and requires some special manoeuvring for a player to catch it. Also known as the ground ball.
  • Power hitter – Some players are known for their exceptional batting ability, often resulting in home runs for the team. The best examples of this player archetype would be Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, and Justin Upton, amongst others.
  • Strike zone – This is the area right above home plate, and it’s where the umpire calls strike. A pitcher must pitch over home plate and between the batter’s knees and belt.
  • Fly ball – When a ball is hit high into the air and out of the reach of any player, it’s called a fly ball.
  • Count – A batter’s efficiency is measured by his count, which is a combination of two things — balls and strikes. A ball is when he hits a pitch, and a strike is when he misses out. For instance, if a batter has a count of 4/1, he has four balls and one strike.

As we said, baseball betting involves many different expressions, some of which might seem obscure even to seasoned veterans. For this reason, we can’t really list them all — there are hundreds of them! But don’t worry, the MLB glossary has you covered. Before you start exploring baseball betting markets, check it out and brush up on your knowledge. Now, it’s time for the juicy stuff.

Where to Find Baseball Betting Websites?

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There’s no single thing that separates good bettors from the truly great ones. Instead, there are several factors involved. Most of them are under your control, such as knowledge, budgeting, preparation, decision-making, and others. However, one prominent cog in the baseball betting machinery is not up to you — the environment.

And by the environment, we mean the betting site you’re playing at. How can you know where a good place to place bets is? Well, we at NostraBet believe everyone deserves a chance to have a blistering start. That’s why we’ve assembled a list of all the top bookmakers for baseball betting. It contains legal sites that accept US players and offer large amounts of markets and great odds.

Still, you also deserve the tools to find the best baseball bets. The best way to do so is to know how to sniff out the top bookies. Although it sounds like a convoluted process, it really isn’t. Just look for these factors, and you’re good to go:

  • Licensing
    Whether it’s a US state or a regulator from abroad, all baseball betting sites need a license. What this means is that the bookie has to abide by certain rules and laws, which means the chances of getting defrauded are almost nonexistent.
  • Market variety
    To have the maximum amount of freedom, you need a bookmaker that’s willing to go above and beyond basic money line bets. You deserve to have exotic bets, props, and inning-bets if you ever want to give them a good at a certain point in time. They can become essential, especially during live betting sessions.
  • Bonuses
    Even if you’re the biggest baseball betting pro around, you need every bit of value you can get. That’s why a bonus is essential. If the terms are fair and you get a decent amount of money, you can give the site a practice run without risking your own money. Just make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully.
  • Good customer support
    Every bettor runs into trouble every once in a while. That’s why you should only play at baseball betting sites that can properly assist you. 24/7 coverage and live chat are the ideal combinations nowadays.
  • Additional tools
    Why stop at lots of bets and a good bonus? Truly elite bookies now offer tools like action trackers, live stats, live streams, and more. The more tools you have, the more fulfilling your betting experience will be. It’s all about comfort, not just the money.

Which Are the Most Popular Leagues?

If you’re looking to bet on baseball games online, you’ll be amazed to find out that there’s much more than just MLB markets. Yes, placing a bet on the World Series may be the pinnacle of excitement, but you’re going to need to switch it up a bit.

From late March or early April, you should focus on the MLB all the way to early October. Baseball betting sites in the US go crazy during this period, as they often offer MLB-specific promotions and various bundles. Pick a few teams to follow and analyze more closely, and don’t forget to get some baseball betting tips.

What about other leagues for baseball betting purposes? The first that comes to mind is the Mexican Baseball League (LMB), which has been steadily going on since 1926. A team you should always keep an eye on is the Diablos Rojos del Mexico. Bettors love the MLB because it’s accessible and relatively balanced.

Comprising two leagues, just like the MLB, the Nippon Basketball League (NPB) is the best baseball Japan has to offer. 12 teams compete for a title over a 146-day season.

You can also follow the Korean KBO League, which features 10 teams. It’s a relatively young league, as it was only founded in 1982, but it doesn’t lack excitement. Many great players have ventured into the MLB from this country, but none can rival Chan Ho Park and his stellar 16 years in the league.

If you really need some more alternatives, Venezuela, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic all have nice baseball leagues you can follow.

MLB Betting – What Should You Know?

baseball stadium game

Okay, so you’ve had a crash course in rules, betting sites, and all the leagues’ baseball betting markets can be found in. What’s next? Well, to place bets successfully and consistently, you need to know what to look for. Preparation is key, and rightly so — it can be the difference-maker between a convincing win and an unnecessary risk.

So, what do you need to know before placing bets on MLB games (and other leagues, too)? We’ve analyzed baseball markets for several months and determined these MLB-specific factors are the key to success. Understand them, and your chances go way up:

Understand Divisions and Leagues

To properly understand how the MLB works, you need to understand the League system. The MLB is composed of two leagues — the American League and the National League. Each league has three divisions — East, West, and Central. 15 teams are in each conference, and each division is occupied by five of them.

Divisions and leagues influence markets mainly in the form of scheduling. Intra-division rivalries can often be the best way to get the best baseball betting odds and hit them out of the park.

MLB Games Schedule

Every MLB team plays 162 games over the course of 6 months. In total, the regular season features 2,430 games. That’s why all your baseball betting efforts should be concentrated on the MLB during this time. Now, when scheduling every game, the MLB is unique because of its series format.

Due to the overwhelming number of games each season, teams play each other in series. Because travelling is tough when there are 162 games to play, two squads often clash 2-4 times in a row in the same ballpark. As of 2021, teams play 52 series (27-weekend ones and 25 mid-week). Most are against divisional opponents (24), 20 are against other teams in the same League, while 8 are from teams playing in the other League.

MLB Playoff Games

The MLB postseason is a tournament that follows the MLB regular season. Its goal is to determine the champion at the end of the World Series. Every year, 10 teams qualify for the playoffs. Five teams from each League get to compete for the title. The winners of each division get an automatic spot in the postseason, which equates to six teams. The other four spots are filled by the two best non-division title-holders from each League.

Every year, the postseason starts off with the Wild Card Game. There are two of them, one in the American League and the other in the National League. The team with the better record has a home-field advantage. Then, they advance to the Division Series to play against the team with the best record in the League.

As for seeding, it’s always 1st vs Wild Card, 2nd vs 3rd, and 4th vs 5th. After the Division Series (best of 5), the winners advance to the League Championship Series (best of 7). When both the American and the National League crown their champions, the two teams face off in the World Series to determine the MLB Champion for that season. It’s the pinnacle of baseball each year!

Short History and Facts

The National League was founded in 1876, while its younger counterpart, the American League, started featuring games in 1901. However, we can trace the beginning of the modern MLB in 1920, when the Commissioner of Baseball became the person in charge of everything involved with the cooper between the AL and the NL.

From 1901 to 1960, both Leagues featured only 8 teams each, but an expansion in the 1960s added 4 new teams to each League. The Mariners and the Blue Jays were added in the 1970s, bringing teams up to 26, with 13 in the AL/NL. In 1993, the Marlins and the Rockies joined the party, followed by the Diamondbacks and the Devil Rays in 1998.

The odd number of teams in each League meant that inter-League play could begin for the first time ever in the regular season. In 2000, the NL and the AL officially ceased to exist as legal entities. Today, they retain their names for purposes related to tradition. In reality, they’re just conferences, just like in the NBA, but with a bit more autonomy.

Final Thoughts

Baseball betting is a growing niche, and you’ve chosen the best time to jump on the bandwagon. Don’t forget to study the rules and follow the news diligently. Subscribe to popular sports-oriented publications online, and always be on the lookout for the best baseball betting markets. And most importantly — be wise with your budgeting. Good luck and have fun!


What is a winning baseball betting strategy?

Good question, but NostraBet doesn’t believe that any strategy is better than another. It all depends on what you want to accomplish when betting on baseball. However, regardless of your approach, you should never exceed your pre-planned budget. Also, make sure to prepare before every week and only dabble in markets you’re familiar with.

How to bet on baseball?

To start betting on baseball games online, you first have to find a legal sportsbook. Check out NostraBet’s list of the top bookmakers for baseball betting, linked above. Create an account, deposit money, and look around the site. See what games are on tomorrow and start planning. Of course, this is a rough summary of how to bet on baseball, but you get the idea. With our guide, you should be fine.

Is baseball betting legal?

Yes, baseball betting is legal on a federal level. Since PASPA was repealed by the Supreme Court in 2018, starts have been free to pass their own sports betting laws. However, this still means that baseball betting can be illegal on a state level. Check with your local gambling regulator to see the state’s stance on MLB bets.

Should I bet on the team I’m a fan of or not?

A rule of thumb is to never bet on your favourite team. For example, if you love the Yankees, your judgment might get clouded because you always want them to win. Don’t do this. Always apply logic and use stats to back up your decisions. The Yankees or whoever can be a part of your bets, but only as a neutral participant, just like the other 29 MLB teams.

Is baseball betting hard?

Realistically, betting on baseball is easy. It’s a sport largely based on numbers, so pretty much any phenomenon can be explained through tangible evidence. Of course, this does take some time to get used to, especially if you’re used to betting on basketball or football.

Whould I use MLB betting bonuses?

Of course, you can always use some extra value if you can get some. Be careful when reading the T&C and spend the bonus money wisely.


Kristiyan Kyulyunkov
Kristiyan Kyulyunkov
Certified Betting Expert
Kristiyan Kyulyunkov specializes in bookmakers’ analyses. He has years of experience betting online and always keeps an eye on the different operators. His tasks in Nostrabet include writing, editing and publishing expert reviews.