How to Find Value in the MLB Money Line

Recently I've been having some success betting on Major League Baseball games and wanted to share the techniques I'm using. Hopefully you can start using some of the same techniques to win more games and improve on them with our own handicapping systems.

This is a fairly simple system, but like many systems it requires you to use judgment. Every sports bettor would love to have a purely statistical method to beat the sport books, but the truth is that many of the most successful sports bettors use both statistical models and systems alongside systems that require their personal judgment.

The first thing you need to look for is a bad team playing on the road against a good starting pitcher. Of course this makes sense on the surface, but you always have to pay a price in the line. So the key is finding situations where you can be profitable in the long run when you factor in the added cost.

If you're a baseball bettor you know that the common lines are + 1½ and – 1½ but for this system I've been betting the money lines. The money lines are only concerned with who wins the game, not the final score or the number of runs.

In the 2016 MLB season the National League has a number of bad teams. The Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and Cincinnati Reds, are examples of teams you can track when they play on the road.

Bad Teams Against Good Pitchers

A recent example was when the Reds played in New York against the Mets. The Mets had Noah Syndergaard on the mound and the money line was around -200 on the Mets. The Reds are quite bad and Syndergaard is a stud, so this was a clear betting opportunity.

The Mets have to win at least two out of every three times at -200 to make this bet profitable. It costs 200 to win 100 so if you make the bet three times you risk $600. When you win two times you get back your $200 plus $100, so with two wins you get back $600, breaking even.

In addition to the Mets having the home field advantage with a strong starting pitcher against a poor team, the Red's bullpen is one of the worst in baseball. This means that even is the Mets faltered early they had a good chance to get back in the game once the Reds were forced to turn to their bullpen.

Here's another game that fell into the same situation. The Padres were playing at San Francisco and the Giants had Madison Bumgarner pitching. The money line wasn't as high as the one above, coming in at -170. This was mostly because the Padres starter wasn't bad, but the Padres as a whole aren't very good.

One of the most difficult things to do with a system like this is to determine the long term profitability or to back test it. You might think it's easy to look back at possible games that seem to fit the criteria, but hindsight can quickly cloud your judgment when it comes to deciding which games you would or wouldn't have bet on.

The Mets beat the Reds, and the Giants beat the Padres, and I collected on my bets and I believe that in these exact situations the lines offered a great deal of value. But the problem is you never get in the exact same position, so you have to average your results over an entire season or longer.


I've combined this system with the martingale system and so far have been quite successful. Only time will tell if it's a long term profitable play, but as long as I don't start pressing to find advantages where none exist the odds are in my favor. The odds of three or four losses in a row if you stick with this system are extremely low.

I'm not making huge wagers. It can be difficult to get a bunch of money down on baseball games. This makes it fairly easy to wager enough to make up for losses on the next game without hitting a betting ceiling. One way around this is to have accounts at two or three different sports books.

Here's an example:

Start with a profit goal of $50 per game. If the first game has a money line of -200 you have to bet $100 to have a chance to win $50. When you win you've accomplished your goal and you can look for the next profitable opportunity.

If you lose the bet you wager enough on the next game you find to cover your first loss and show a profit. So if you bet on another game at -200 you need to bet $500. A winning bet returns your $500 plus $250 in profit. This covers your original bet of $200 and leaves a $50 profit.

When you're dealing with heavy favorite money lines it can make your bets after losses quite large, so this system isn't for the faint of heart. Of course you can simply flat bet the games and not combine a martingale system if you want to keep your variance low.

The martingale is almost always a bad idea for gamblers, but it can be used in certain sports betting situations by smart bettors. You have to decide if you're willing to risk the large potential losses that can happen with the martingale, but if you do a good enough job finding good games you can go a long time with no more than one or two losses in a row.


This simple system is sure to help you win more games than you lose, but remember you need to win more money, not just more games. Focus on finding strong pitchers at home against bad teams. It's up to you to make the correct judgments about which pitchers are the best and which teams are the worst.