Worldwide, baseball is one of the most popular sports that gamblers enjoy betting on. There are a lot of reasons for this: the frequency of games, the tremendous amount of data available, and the numerous strategies and bet types offered are all attractive to those who enjoy sports betting. And while Major League Baseball is certainly the focus of the most wagers every year, there’s also plenty of gambling done on Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the top professional league in Japan and arguably the top league outside of the United States.
Before we can get into baseball betting tips, it’s important that you understand the kinds of bets available to you and what kinds of odds you’ll be getting when you make your wagers. In general, there are three different types of bets you might see offered at a sportsbook for baseball: money line, run line, and totals.
If you’ve placed wagers on any sporting event in any sort of competition, you’re likely familiar with how a money line bet works. In this type of betting, you’ll simply be asked to pick the winner of the game, with the odds reflecting how likely the bookmaker thinks it is that either team will win. On a typical NPB money line, the odds might look like this:
Yomiuri Giants -130
Hanshin Tigers +110
In this example, we’ve used American odds to display the payouts for both bets. These odds show you how much you stand to win if you bet $100 on the underdog, or how much you must bet to win $100 on the favorite. In the above example, the Giants are the favorite, and you must bet $130 to win $100. Meanwhile, the Tigers are the underdog: bet $100, and you’ll win $110 should they pull out the victory.
There are two other common ways of displaying odds you may encounter at online sportsbooks. In decimal odds, you’ll be presented with the amount you’ll receive (including your initial stake) should you win the bet, expressed as a multiple of your bet size. That means that the same payouts above you look like this in decimal odds:
Yomiuri Giants 1.77
Hanshin Tigers 2.10
Finally, some users will prefer fractional odds. These show you how much you will earn should you win, as compared to the size of your wager (not including your initial stake). This system is often used for futures bets even in areas where other odds systems are more popular overall. Once again, the same bet using fractional odds would be expressed as follows:
Yomiuri Giants 10/13
Hanshin Tigers 11/10
Getting back to money line bets, there is one wrinkle to be aware of in NPB betting. If a regular season game goes 12 full innings without a winner, the game will be considered a tie, in which case money line bets will push – something that rarely happens in Major League Baseball.
If you’re familiar with point spread betting in other sports, then this form of baseball betting should be easy to understand. When you wager on a run line, the favorite in the game will give a handicap of a certain number of runs to the underdog for the purposes of betting. In baseball, the run line is almost always set to exactly 1.5 runs. That means that the favorite must win by at least two runs in order to cover the bet; otherwise, bets on the underdog will win.
Because the spread is usually 1.5 runs, there can still be a wide variety in the odds on each side of a game (different than in basketball or American football, where variable spreads result in most games offering close to even money on both sides). A typical run line betting option will look like this (using decimal odds):
Hiroshima Toyo Carp (-1.5) 2.40
Orix Buffaloes (+1.5) 1.65
These bets are popular because of the fact that they generally avoid creating huge betting favorites. Even if one team is highly favored to win a game, surrendering 1.5 runs is usually enough in baseball to give the underdog a fighting chance of covering the run line.
As in most other sports, you can bet on the total number of combined runs that will be scored by both teams. If the total score is above that number, the “over” wins; conversely, going below that total will pay out for the “under” bet. A typical line might look something like this:
Over (8.5) 1.90
It’s also worth noting that many of these wagers can be combined into what are known as parlay bets. If you link two or more wagers in this way, you’ll place one bet on the combined wager, which will then pay out only if all of your picks win. Obviously, this is more difficult than winning a single bet; on the other hand, the cumulative odds will be much higher, allowing you to shoot for large payouts if you can successfully handicap a few games on the same day.
Finally, it’s worth noting that many sportsbooks will allow you to place future bets on league outcomes. In NPB betting, this usually means you’ll be betting on what team will win a particular league or the Japan Series. For instance, you might see the following odds offered on teams to win the Central League at the start of a season:
Keep in mind that these are long term bets that are typically paid out at the end of the season. Once you’ve played a bet, you’re locked into it until the wager resolves. In addition, as games are played throughout the season, you’ll see these odds change to reflect how teams are performing, injuries, and other factors.
Betting on baseball can be a very entertaining and potentially lucrative pastime. However, if you plan on doing it seriously with an eye towards winning, you’ll have to do some research before you start making bets. There are endless reams of statistics available on players and teams, and these are key to understanding the strategies that are employed by successful baseball bettors.
One of the key differences between baseball and other major sports is understanding just how unique each and every game is, meaning that simply looking at the overall records of the teams playing is not enough to understand their chances of winning. Because NPB teams usually employ a staff of six starting pitchers, each pitching one game a week, you must look into which pitcher is starting for each side to get a true picture of what to expect from any individual game.
Even beyond this, however, baseball is a game with high variance, and (particularly early in the season) even a team’s record can be highly misleading. It is much more predictive to look at a team’s run differential to see how they have been playing: teams that outscore their opponents will eventually win more games over the long run than teams that have been scraping out a lot of one-run victories but losing by larger margins.
When it comes to any form of baseball betting – but especially with totals – there are other factors that you must consider. Of course, the quality of the offenses and the pitchers involved is important. But you’ll also want to take a look at the weather, as well as what are known as park factors.
Two weather factors are particularly important. In warmer weather, the ball travels further through the air, allowing for a small increase in run scoring. More significantly, games played in outdoor stadiums can be impacted by wind: if it is blowing in, hitters will struggle, while wind blowing out can lead to a lot of home runs. Obviously, this is not an issue in the many domed stadiums used in NPB, but is still important to consider for outdoor venues.
The stadiums themselves are another factor to consider, as smaller stadiums are typically prone to allowing for higher scoring games. Other aspects of a stadium may also impact scoring, such as the size of foul territory. For instance, Yokohama Stadium is known for having higher scoring games, while the Nagoya Dome tends to favor pitchers.
Finally, there are some general sports betting tips that you can incorporate as a part of your baseball betting strategies. For instance, you should generally open accounts with at least two different sportsbooks so that you can take advantage of the different odds being offered at each. Opening these accounts is completely free, making it a great idea to have several accounts ready to go in case you find a particularly juicy line that is only available at one or more sites.
Smart bettors will also take full advantage of sign-up bonuses. Many sports betting websites will give you extra money to bet with when you make your first deposit. While you will have to bet this money several times before you can cash it out, it still provides you with additional funds to use, improving your chances of coming out ahead in the long run.