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Run line betting is a major part of gambling on baseball, acting as a spread market. This is very similar to the puck line in hockey, where the spread is typically the same throughout every game. Although there are spreads in other sports such as football and basketball, those points vary as opposed to baseball’s run line market.
Let’s go through the various ways to bet a run line, factors to watch out for and how to bet the run line. Check out RYP for various baseball pools as well! Compete against friends and family instead of the book, and start your own league today!
What is The Run Line?
The run line is the spread in baseball, to put it bluntly. The run line is the given amount of runs a team should win by or cover, almost always set at 1.5. If the Dodgers are favorites against the Giants, they will see a -1.5 run line, meaning they must win the game by two or more runs.
The Giants are underdogs and would be given a run line at +1.5. This means the Giants have to lose by one run, or win the game outright. So as you can see, the run line is nothing more than baseball’s spread market. There are some cases when a team will see a run line at 2.5, but it’s very rare.
How Does The Run Line Work?
As mentioned above, the run line works as a spread market. In football and basketball though, the spread’s moneyline will typically cost odds at or around -110. In baseball, the run line costs vary. Because baseball has a lot of underdog wins and one run games, the moneyline in a run line market is far from -110.
For favorites to win by two or more runs, bettors will see plus-value. For underdogs to cover the run line, bettors will see expensive minus-value. This is because the underdog winning the game or losing by just one run is actually easier to achieve than it is for the favorite to win by two or more runs.
There are different ways to bet the run line, however, in case the price is too high for you to wager on. Let’s go through the various ways to bet a run line market in baseball.
First Rive Run Lines
This is a great market to wager on if you are looking for quick results. In this market, the bettor is wagering on whether or not a team will cover the run line after five full innings have been played. The end game result doesn’t matter in this market, as the bettor wins or loses the bet after five innings of action are complete.
Alternate Run Lines
Much like an alternate spread, this market allows bettors to change the run line to whatever they feel comfortable with. If a bettor thinks the Dodgers will destroy the Giants by more than two runs, they might move the run line to -2.5 or -3.5 for a bigger possible payout.
If another bettor believes the Giants will lose a close game but is uneasy on the +1.5, they might elect to move the run line to +2.5 for a more expensive price tag. Essentially, the bettor is buying a safety net when taking an alternate run line for the underdog.
Live Betting Run Lines
Live betting the run line is a wonderful strategy to consider, and also provides a hedging opportunity. If a bettor takes the Dodgers to cover -1.5 runs prior to the game, but then sees the Dodgers begin the game with a two-run homer then they might live bet the Dodgers at -3.5.
Let’s say the Giants strike out the first three batters for the Dodgers, the bettor might elect to live bet the Giants at +1.5 instead with their pitcher seemingly locked in. This market allows bettors to either cover a mistake with hedge bets, or gives the bettor a chance to see how the game is progressing before making a final decision.
Reverse Run Lines
As mentioned before, the favorites are typically -1.5 while underdogs are +1.5 in the run line market. However, there are reverse run lines where the role is flipped. Underdogs are given the -1.5 run line for great plus-value, while favorites are given a +1.5 run line for expensive value. This is just another form of alternate run line betting.
Rune Line Betting Example
Let’s go through an example on how to read and bet the run line in baseball betting. Most baseball betting odds will look like something below.
Marlins +1.5 (-200) | O 8.5 (-110) | +150
Nationals -1.5 (+170) | U 8.5 (-110) | -130
In the first column is the run line market, in which the Marlins are given a +1.5-run line and the Nationals are given a -1.5-run line. For a bettor who fancies the Marlins run line, it would cost $200 to profit $100 if the Marlins lose by one run or win the game.
For a bettor who wants to wager on the Nationals run line, it would cost $100 to profit $170 should the Nationals win by two or more runs. The value in the run line lies with favorites who can win by more than one run.
Run Line Vs. Moneyline: What’s The Better Bet?
This all depends on what you want to bet, the favorite or the underdog. If a bettor fancies the underdog to win, then taking the moneyline is a better play. For bettors who like favorites to win, it requires a bit more thinking.
If a bettor sees that the Dodgers are slight favorites over the Cardinals with a moneyline at -115, then the moneyline market might be better. It’s still cheap enough to pay and gives the bettor a better chance of winning.
Let’s say the Dodgers are -295 favorites over the Cardinals instead. The bettor might elect to go to the run line market where the Dodgers are +125 to cover -1.5 runs. When determining whether or not to bet the run line or moneyline, consider your confidence in the team you are wagering on along with the asking price of each markets’ betting odds.