World Series Betting: What the World Series Is and How to Bet On It
The World Series, also known as the “Fall Classic”, is the annual series that determines the Major League Baseball champion. The World Series begins in late October, and depending on the schedule and length of the series, can stretch into early November.
The World Series is a best-of-seven series between the American League champion and National League champion. It marks the end of the the MLB playoffs, which currently consist of three rounds prior to the World Series.
- First, two wild-card teams from each league meet in a one-game wild-card playoff.
- The winners of each wild-card playoff move on to join the three division winners from each league for the Division Series round, which consists of four best-of-five series. In each league, the team with the best regular-season record meets the winner of the wild-card playoff, while the #2 and #3 “seeds” meet in the other series. The Division Series features a 2-2-1 format, with the higher seed hosting Game 1, Game 3, and Game 5 and the lower seed hosting Game 2 and Game 4.
- The Division Series winners in each league move on to the best-of-seven League Championship Series round, which consists of the American League Championship Series and National League Championship Series. The League Championship Series features a 2-3-2 format, as the team with the best regular-season record hosts the first two and last two games, while the other team hosts the middle three games. However, a wild-card team can not have homefield advantage, even if they have a better regular-season record than the other team.
- The winners of the League Championship Series move on to the World Series, which also features a 2-3-2 format. But unlike the League Championship Series round, a wild-card team can have homefield advantage in the World Series if they have the better regular-season record.
Since the first World Series in 1903, it has taken place every season except for 1904 and 1994. In 1904, there was no World Series because the owner of the New York Giants, that year’s National League champion, refused to play the American League champion Boston Red Sox. In 1994, there was no World Series due to the strike that started that August and went on until April 1995.
Entering the 2021 MLB playoffs, the American League holds a 66-50 edge in World Series wins. The National League has won the last two World Series, however. In 2019, the Washington Nationals defeated the favored Houston Astros in a seven-game series to claim the franchise’s first World Series title. In 2020, the favored Los Angeles Dodgers won their first World Series crown since 1988 as they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in a six-game series.
The New York Yankees have won the most World Series titles, The Yankees (27) and the St. Louis Cardinals (11) are the only two franchises that have won the World Series ten or more times. Seven other franchises have at least five World Series titles: the Boston Red Sox (nine), Oakland A’s (nine), San Francisco Giants (eight), Los Angeles Dodgers (seven), Cincinnati Reds (five), and Pittsburgh Pirates (five). Six current MLB franchises have never won the World Series: the Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, and Texas Rangers. Of that group without a title, the Mariners are the only team without a single World Series appearance.
How to Bet on the World Series
The World Series is a very popular event to bet on, and there are several way to bet on the World Series. You can choose to bet on each individual game of the World Series, or you can place bets on World Series futures odds.
World Series Futures Betting
All year long, you can make futures bets on the World Series. Whether it is before the season, during the regular season, or during the MLB playoffs, you can bet on World Series futures odds.
Later in the regular season and during the MLB playoffs, you will often see expanded options for World Series futures betting. But the primary option for World Series futures betting is betting on who you think will win the World Series.
Let’s look at that kind of betting using current World Series futures odds from FanDuel Sportsbook:
Odds to Win the 2021 World Series
- Houston Astros +180
- Los Angeles Dodgers +410
- Boston Red Sox +450
- Atlanta Braves +450
- San Francisco Giants +500
Do you think the Atlanta Braves will win the 2021 World Series? If you place a $100 bet on the Braves to win the World Series, a winning wager would yield a return of $550. You would receive your original $100 stake along with $450 in winnings for your successful wager.
World Series Game Betting
During the World Series, you can also bet on each game. Let’s look at the kinds of World Series betting you can do on each game.
A moneyline bet is a wager placed on who you feel will a particular game. Let’s look at a hypothetical example. Say the Braves are hosting the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the World Series. Here’s what the moneyline could look like for that matchup.
- Boston Red Sox +125
- Atlanta Braves -145
If you think the Braves will win the game, then you would place a bet on Braves -145. A $100 stake in that situation would yield a return of $169.00. Along with your original $100, you would receive $69.00 in winnings for your successful wager at the listed odds. Nice, right?
A total bet is a wager placed on how many combined runs–or whatever measure of scoring is used in the particular sport you are betting on–will be scored in a given matchup. Let’s look at a hypothetical total for the above matchup between the Braves and the Red Sox.
- OVER 8.5 (-122)
- UNDER 8.5 (+100)
Do you think the two teams will combine for nine or more runs? If you do, then you are backing the OVER. If the final score is Braves 6, Red Sox 3, your wager would be a winner. A $100 stake in that situation would yield a return of $182.00. You would receive your original stake of $100 and $82 in winnings for your successful wager.
Do you think that the two teams will combine for eight or fewer runs? If you do, then you are backing the UNDER. If the final score is Braves 5, Red Sox 3, your wager would be a winner. In this scenario, a $100 stake would bring a return of $200. You would receive your original stake of $100 and an additional $100 in winnings for your successful wager.
Run Line Betting
A run line bet is a wager placed on how the scoring margin in a baseball matchup. Let’s look at run line betting using the same hypothetical World Series matchup.
- Boston Red Sox +1.5 (-150)
- Atlanta Braves -1.5 (+125)
Do you think the Braves will win by two or more runs. If so, you are backing Braves -1.5. If the final score is Braves 5, Red Sox 3, then your bet would be a winner. Here, a $100 stake would bring a return of $225. You would receive your original stake of $100 and an additional $125 in winnings for your successful wager.
Do you think the Red Sox will lose by one run or win the game? If so, you are backing Red Sox +1.5. If the final score is Braves 5, Red Sox 4, then your wager would be a winner. A $100 stake would bring you a return of $164.50, which would be your original $100 stake and $64.50 in winnings for your successful wager.
A prop bet is a wager that is not necessarily directly linked to the above outcomes. For example, you can bet on if a specific player will hit a home run or have a certain amount of hits, how many strikeouts one of the listed starting pitchers will have, which team will score first, if there will be runs in the first inning, and much more.
Let’s look at a few examples using the Braves vs Red Sox scenario.
Charlie Morton Strikeouts
- Charlie Morton OVER 6.5 Strikeouts (-120)
- Charlie Morton UNDER 6.5 Strikeouts (-110)
If Charlie Morton has seven or more strikeouts, the OVER would be the winner. If your $100 bet is on the OVER, you would receive $183.33–your original stake of $100 plus $83.33 in winnings for your successful wager. If Charlie Morton has six or fewer strikeouts, the UNDER would be the winner. If your $100 bet is on the under, you would receive $190.91–your $100 stake plus $90.91 in winnings.
Let’s look at another example.
Will There Be Runs in the First Inning?
- Yes (-105)
- No (-115)
If runs are scored in the first inning, YES would be the winner. If you were to back YES with a $100 stake, you would receive $195.24–your stake of $100 plus winnings of $95.24.
If no runs are scored in the first inning, NO would be the winner. If you were to back NO with a $100 stake, you would receive $186.96–your stake of $100 plus winnings of $86.96.
Live betting has become one of the most popular ways to bet on the World Series and other events and sports. With live betting, you can bet on the moneyline, total, run line, props, and more while the action is going on. Live betting can be helpful if you want to hedge a pre-game bet that is not looking so good or if you feel confident about a bet and want to put even more money on a desired outcome.
Now that you know what kind of World Series bets you can place, you should be well on your way to maximize your chances of success with World Series betting. And while you are still here, check out our other sports betting guides to learn more about baseball betting, how to pick the right sportsbook, and more. Also, throughout the MLB season and MLB playoffs, check out Betting News every day for MLB betting odds, MLB betting picks, and MLB betting previews and other betting content related to America’s pastime.