Baseball is the most quintessentially American sport imaginable and it is hugely popular among the fine folk of West Virginia. The Mountain State has produced many great MLB stars, including George Brett of Glen Dale and Bill Mazeroski from Wheeling. There are several players from the state currently starring in MLB and it also has thriving minor league teams like the Power and the Black Bears, which helps whip up further enthusiasm.
When it comes to MLB, the Pittsburgh Pirates are the most popular team and West Virginians of a certain age will cherish fond memories of the franchise’s glory days. The Pirates claimed a third World Series title in 1960, a fourth in 1971 and a fifth in 1979, when they destroyed the Cincinnati Reds in the championship series. Pittsburgh has not tasted such success since then, but hope springs eternal for Pirates fans. The people of West Virginia do not just bet on the local teams either, as there are 2,430 games spread across six months of the regular season and many more in the post-season, so there is always plenty of action to wager on. Here are the key betting terms to learn before diving into this wonderful world:
This is a long-term wager on a season-long event, such as who will win the World Series or which team will seize the American League. Ahead of the 2018 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates were +10000 outsiders to win the World Series. When you see a plus sign in a set of odds it tells you how much you stand to earn from a $100 wager. A $100 bet at +10000 would earn you a cool $10,000 if successful. By contrast, defending champion Houston was the +500 favorite to win the World Series, so a $100 bet would have generated a profit of just $500. The larger the potential profit, the less likely it is to happen.
Sometimes you will see +10000 rendered as 100/1 (fractional odds) or 101.00 (decimal odds). When you place a bet, the sportsbooks will tell you how much you stand to win. In the end, Pittsburgh came nowhere close to winning the World Series, so the long odds were justified. You could also have taken odds of +3000 (30/1 or 31.00) on them to win the division. Another option is to bet on how many wins a particular team will accrue over the course of a season. The Pirates were assigned a win total of 74.5 for the 2018 season, and you could bet on it going over or under that line. In the end they won 82 games, so over paid out.
This is a very popular wager on baseball and it simply involves picking which team will win a particular game. The sportsbooks will assign a set of odds to each team depending on their relative strengths and weaknesses, which team is at home, any injuries to key players, fatigue and motivation levels and their recent head-to-head results. A recent game saw the New York Yankees head to Boston to take on the Red Sox, and the Yankees were the -150 favorites to win the game. A minus symbol in a set of odds tells you how much you need to lay down in order to turn a $100 profit. A $150 bet at odds of -150 would earn you $100. Sometimes you will see -150 rendered as 4/6 (fractional odds) or 1.66 (decimal odds).
Boston was the +130 underdog in that game. A $20 bet at +130 (13/10 or 2.30) would earn you a profit of $26 if successful, whereas a $20 bet at odds of -150 would generate a profit of $13.33. That tells you that the Yankees are the favorites and given a greater chance of winning the game.
This is a spread bet and it gives the supposedly stronger team a -1.5 run handicap in order to skew the odds. In that New York v Boston game, you could have bet on the Yankees -1.5 or the Red Sox +1.5. In order for a run line bet on New York to pay off, the Yankees would have to win by two or more runs. That is a lot harder to pull off than simply winning, but the odds shot up from -150 (67/100 or 1.67) to +110 (11/10 or 2.10). A $20 bet would therefore have generated a profit of $22 instead of $13.33, making it more attractive to some bettors. If you backed the Red Sox on the run line, they could have either won the game or lost by a single run and your bet would have been a winner. However, instead of +130 (13/10 or 2.30), the odds dropped to -130 (77/100 or 1.77), meaning a smaller profit if successful. In the end the Yankees won 11-6, comfortably covering the run line.
If you are unsure of which team will win, but you feel it will be a high scoring or a low scoring game, you can opt to bet on the total runs. This is the cumulative score of both teams. The sportsbooks will set a line, and you can bet on whether the total will go over or stay under that figure. You typically see odds of -110 (91/100 or 1.91) on either outcome. In that Yankees v Red Sox game, the run total was set at 9.5, so over paid out.
These are special betting options within a particular game and they range from the sublime to the ridiculous. You can bet on whether the game will go to an extra innings or who will be winning after the first five innings, or you can find lines on things like whether a fan will strip off and run onto the field during the World Series.
This allows you to roll multiple selections into the same wager in order to earn more attractive odds. You could bet the Brewers to beat the Cubs, the Rockies to beat the Giants, the Red Sox to beat the Braves and the Diamondbacks to beat the Padres, for example. Instead of dividing your money into four and placing individual bets on each team, you can put them all together in one accumulator called a parlay. It is risky, because your bet is busted if just one of your selections loses, but the odds you earn are far greater, so it is a popular option.