Baseball Betting Rules

Baseball Betting Rules

There are betting rules that you need to understand when betting on the MLB. Knowing how those rules apply to the different betting options available can be confusing at first.

Baseball Betting Terms Explained

When betting on baseball, you often need to pick between listed pitchers, one pitcher, or action.

“Listed pitchers” means both pitchers who are scheduled must begin the game for the bet to have action or become valid.

“One pitcher” means you pick one pitcher to be the starting pitcher. If that pitcher doesn’t start the game, the bet is no action (not valid).

“Action” means the bet proceeds, whether or not the scheduled starters begin the game.

MLB (Major League Baseball) games last nine innings and take about three hours to finish. Minor league and collegiate baseball also last nine innings but generally take less than three hours.

It had been common for rival teams to play for more than four hours, though. That’s why, in 2015, MLB came up with rules to shorten games.

Now there’s a timer that tracks the time between innings, the coaches’ and catchers’ mound visits, and the time between hitters.

Baseball games are official after a minimum of five full innings. In games where the home team is leading, the game is considered official after just four and a half innings.

Baseball games that are scheduled for nine innings have to play for nine innings. If they don’t, there won’t be any action on run lines and totals or over/unders.

The only exception is when a home team is leading. In that case, the game can run for just eight and a half innings and still have action on run lines and totals.

Similarly, a game that’s listed to play for seven innings should finish the full seven innings to have a run line and over/under action. If a home team is in the lead, the game can go on to just six and a half innings.

Baseball games also need to finish the full scheduled innings to be considered an official match for specified inning bets.

Again, the only exception is if the home team remains in the lead during the next half of the second to the last inning.

If you bet on moneylines, totals, or run lines in an MLB game, the game has to finish the full specified innings for your bets to count.

Also, all pre-game bets will include any extra innings unless decided differently. For in-play bets, all bets count as an action, and extra innings always count.

The listed pitchers should also start as scheduled. When betting on listed pitchers, both pitchers must open the game or the bet is considered invalid (no action).

Note that when naming listed pitchers, you lock a bet in with whatever odds were offered when you placed your bet. This is good because, in the first place, you found those odds worthy of betting on.

It can be upsetting to handicap a game and receive odds that you thought were a good value, but then when you watch the game, a pitcher was changed. This also changes the odds of your pick.

In that given scenario, betting on baseball with the listed pitchers option is almost always the way to go.

Key Rules in Baseball Betting

Here are other important rules that can make or break your baseball picks:

1. Over/under and run line bets are canceled if the game you bet on doesn’t reach the required nine (or eight and a half) complete innings.

Let’s say there’s a playoff between the Houston Astros and the New York Mets. You bet over 9.5 in the game and the Astros leads 8-6 by the seventh inning.

Unfortunately, it starts to rain heavily and the umpires call the game.

The match between the two teams is still considered an official one if we’re going by the MLB rules. After all, the game went past five full innings.

But since you bet over 9.5, this rule could hurt you. Had you bet under on the game, this rule would bail you out of your losing bet.

2. Moneyline bets are honored if the game you bet on continues for at least five innings, or four and a half innings for games where the home team is leading.

In baseball betting, moneyline or side bets are official as soon as a game is considered official by the MLB.

For example, in a game between the Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox:

Team Moneyline Run line
Minnesota +110 +1.5 (-160)
Boston -130 -1.5 (+150)

When betting a moneyline, you just pick which team you think is going to win the game. If that team won, you get paid off.

When betting on a run line, you win when you bet on a favorite and that team won by two or more runs. You still win when you bet on the underdog and the team lost by a single run.

In this example, if you think the Red Sox will win the game, you have to bet $130 to win $100 ($13 bet to win $10).

So, if you bet $13 on the Red Sox and they won, your total payout will be $23, which is your winnings plus your initial stake.

But if you want to bet that the Red Sox will win by more than a run, you could bet just $10 and win $15, allowing you to bet on the better team while getting a plus-money payout.

If the game gets suspended in the middle of the sixth inning with the Red Sox (the home team) leading, you still win your bet.

The winning side will be based on the score after the last completed inning. With the Red Sox in the lead, they will be declared the winner, which means you’ll get your payout.

Bets are also refunded if the home team manages to tie in the inning that officials suspend the game.

A suspended game is declared as no action if it was stopped but continued the following day.

3. Bets on the first half of the game are counted even if the game only finishes five full innings.

Many baseball bettors often make baseball picks during the first half or the first five innings of a game.

Bets are valid as long as the game completes five full innings. But if the game gets called off after only four and a half innings where the home team is in the lead, your first-half bet will be canceled.

The game will still be listed as an official game in the MLB. It’s only the bets that are not honored.

A good tip is to list starting pitchers for both teams.

4. Both listed starting pitchers need to throw one or more pitches for your bet to be counted.

For totals or over/under bets and run line baseball picks, listing starting pitchers is a must.

Just note that if you list starting pitchers, your bet will only count if both pitchers you picked threw the first pitches for their respective teams.

Beware of pitching changes. If either team changes to new pitchers before they throw even one pitch, you’ll just get your stake refunded.

5. Your betting odds can change on action bets.

In action bets, you bet on one baseball team over another. It doesn’t matter who the starting pitchers are.

This kind of baseball bet can work to your advantage if you’re looking for sure action on specific matches.

MLB odds can change, depending on many factors. The changes will not only affect a team’s playing strategies but also sports betting fans looking to get action down before or during the game.

Newbie bettors may want to avoid action bets if they’re trying to earn big instead of just having fun.

6. Rules on Settlement and Cancellation

Regular season baseball playoffs are decided ahead of time. League officials decide on each game’s date and stadium.

Scheduled games must play on the scheduled date at the listed venues to be considered for any wagering action. Match cancellations and interruptions can be bad for bettors.

If a match is canceled or interrupted and can’t continue within the same day, all undecided betting markets will be voided.

Betting markets are cleared based on the final score after nine complete innings. If the home team is in the lead, all markets will be cleared after just eight and a half innings.

For called off, canceled, or suspended games, the score after the last full inning will determine the winner. This may change if the home team scores a tie, though.

In cases where the home team scores a tie or takes the lead during the bottom half of the last inning, the winner is decided based on the score when the game was stopped.

MLB Rule 21: Misconduct

Rule 21 discusses instances of misconduct in the MLB and their corresponding consequences.

Betting on any baseball game is prohibited for anyone involved in the MLB, including the players, umpires, officials, and employees.

All bets are banned regardless of how small the amount may be.

Suppose you’re connected to the MLB and you’re found guilty of betting on an official league match. You’ll be placed on the ineligible list for a whole year.

Consequences are worse if you’re connected to the MLB and involved in the baseball game you bet on. You’d get a lifetime ban. So don’t be like Pete Rose or the Black Sox.

The MLB also punishes any of its people if they place bets with illegal bookmakers or work for illegal sportsbooks.

MLB Betting Lines and Bet Types

The – and + on a sports betting line show both your prospective payout and whether the team you’re betting on is the favorite or the underdog.

For example, a +200 odds means you can win $200 on a $100 stake. A -200 means you have to bet $200 to profit $100.

When setting MLB odds, starting pitchers are an important factor that oddsmakers consider. A last-minute pitching change can affect or even cancel a bet.

Also, weather can cause games to be called off before they go to the regulation length of nine innings, causing complications for over/under and run line bets.

Here’s a rundown on some of the most popular and common bets you can make on MLB games.


Moneylines are as straightforward as you can get. You just bet on the team you think will win a particular game.

Odds are displayed with the home team listed second (at the bottom) and the away team listed first (on top).

In MLB series wagers, you can pick which team you think will win a particular series of games.

Run Lines

Run lines are a form of point spread betting in baseball. Betting on spreads in baseball means betting on a team to win (or lose) by a number of runs.

The spreads are usually set at -1.5 and +1.5. You bet on whether a favorite wins by more than a run or an underdog loses by a run.

Total or Over/Unders

Totals are very popular in baseball betting. Choosing to bet on totals is perfect for those matches you just know will be either high or low scoring but aren’t sure which team will win.

Betting on the total means you don’t put a stake on either team. Instead, you bet on whether the total runs of both teams will go over or under the total set by the oddsmakers.


In a parlay bet, you combine multiple bets into one bet slip. All of your selections need to win for you to get your payout.

You can include different types of bets. For example, you can make a parlay with one moneyline bet on the Cubs, a run line bet on Dodgers, and a totals bet on the Cincinnati Reds.


Futures betting is putting a stake on the team you think is likely to win the World Series. The World Series in MLB is what the Super Bowl is for the NFL (National Football League).

Before the start of every MLB season, oddsmakers analyze each team and assign their odds to win based on strengths and weaknesses.

Futures betting lines can change once the season starts, depending on how well each team plays.


Known as prop bets or props, propositions are a wide variety of bets (like player props and team props) on different baseball elements that may not always have anything to do with the outcome of the match itself.

Props examples include betting on the coin toss result, who will hit the most home runs all season, and whether or not there will be a home run scored in the first inning.

A popular type of prop bet is the R + H + E where you place an over/under bet on the overall runs, hits, and errors made in a match.

Grand Salamis

Betting a grand salami means betting on the combined runs for an entire day of baseball matches.

Sportsbooks and bookmakers that offer grand salami bets set a total number of runs before any game starts for the day. You bet on whether the actual runs would go over or under the decided total.

Ready to start betting on MLB? Can’t wait to show your support for MLB’s most popular teams, like the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Miami Marlins, and Philadelphia Phillies?