While many people simply like to bet on who they think is going to win the game, there are plenty of experts out there that make a solid profit every MLB season by placing their wagers on baseball totals. Because betting on the money line in baseball is the popular thing to do, oddsmakers spend the majority of their time setting lines for the games. Unfortunately, this doesn’t leave them as much time to set the total for a given game, which gives you the opportunity to take advantage of their mistakes.
While there are numerous systems that handicappers use to figure out if the over or the under is a strong play, all the experts pay close attention to the key numbers when making their total picks. The three key numbers for baseball totals are 7, 9, and 11. Anywhere from 25%-30% of all MLB games end with a final score of 7, 9, or 11. The reason for this is any game that is tied 3-3, 4-4, or 5-5 will more times than not end with one team scoring a run in the final innings to capture the win.
This is old news to oddsmakers, which is why you see so many games with a total with one of these three numbers. This is why you will also see different odds for the same total. Because oddsmakers hate to move off of these lines, they will instead increase the juice depending on where the action is.
For example, if oddsmakers see a huge amount of money come in on a game where the total is set at 9 with odds of -110, instead of raising the total to 9.5, they will raise the juice to -120. It’s rare to see a total with odds higher than -130. If enough action continues to come in on either the over or the under at -130, this is where you will see the oddsmakers raise the total by a 0.5-run.
As much as the oddsmakers don’t like setting totals with a 0.5-run, there are plenty of times when the scenario comes up. This is why it’s so important that you check the odds early if you plan on routinely betting totals because that is when you will find the best value.
Let’s say you have a game where you like the over and the oddsmakers have set the total at 8.5. Because there is higher probability that the total will land on 9 and not 8, you want to lock in the 8.5 as soon as you get the chance. It’s unlikely you are the only one that will spot this play, and the longer you wait to put in your bet, the greater the chance that the total will jump to 9, where you now push instead of win. If you were to like the under in this game where the total is set at 8.5, it might be wise to either avoid making this bet or wait to see if the public will force the total to jump to 9.
To get an idea of which way a line might move, just look at the juice for both the over and the under. Whichever side has you paying the higher amount of juice is a good indication of where the majority of the bets are coming in. In the above example, where the total was set at 8.5, if you see the over has juice of -120 and the under has juice of +100, you should lock in your bet if you like the over and wait to see if it goes up to 9 if you like the under.
Just like with other sports, you can buy a 0.5-run to increase your chances of winning. While you will have to spend a little extra and take the risk of losing more, if you play the system right you will end up on the winning side more times than not. The key is to buy 0.5-runs when the total is set at one of the three key numbers. Because the odds are that the total will land on one of the key numbers, buying a 0.5-run when the total is set at 6, 8 and 10 won’t do you near as much good as buying a 0.5-run when the total is 7, 9, or 11.