Baseball’s version of the point spread is available to bettors courtesy of runline betting action. Much like betting the spread in football or basketball, the run line sets a handicap for the favorite and underdog in MLB betting.
What is the Runline?
The run line is similar to a point spread bet in other sports. In baseball betting, however, the run line is set at 1.5 runs and works in conjunction with the money line.
This gives the favorite team a head start of 1.5 runs, while the underdog gets to start the same game with an advantage of 1.5 runs. This explains why the run line is sometimes referred to as the 1.5-run line.
How do Run Lines Work in MLB Betting?
Typically, the listed starting pitchers must start the game for the bet to have action. If either listed pitcher doesn’t start, then all moneyline bets and run line bets are void, and your money is refunded.
If you bet on the favorite, they must win by 2 or more runs for you to win your bet. If you bet on the underdog, they can lose by 1 run, and you will still win your bet if they don’t lose by 2 runs or more.
The run line betting odds will be listed next to the moneyline. For example, if the Yankees are -1.5 (-110)against the Boston Red Sox, they’re the favorite. You would, therefore, need to bet $110 to win $100.
On the other hand, if the Red Sox are +1.5 (-110), they are the underdog, and you would win $110 if you bet $100 on them.
The run line betting odds will be listed next to the moneyline. For example, if the Yankees are -1.5 (-110), making them the favorite, you would need to bet $110 to win $100. If the Red Sox are +1.5 (-110), holding the underdog title, you will win $110 if you bet $100.
In MLB run line betting, if you bet on the favorite, they must top by 2 runs or more for you to win your bet.
What Are Alternate Run Lines?
An MLB alternate run line bet is when you wager on the favorite or underdog to win by a spread other than 1.5. The most common run line is 1.5, but you will occasionally see alternate run lines of 2 or 3.
In the above scenario with the Yankees and Boston Red Sox, if you bet on the Yankees -2, they would have to win outright by 3 runs or more for you to cash your ticket.
The run line gives the favored team a 1.5-run head start, and the underdog is given a 1.5-run lead. So if the Red Sox are favored by -1.5 runs (-155), they need to win the game by two or more runs. Conversely, if the Yankees are +1.5 run underdogs (+135), they need to either lose by one run or win the game outright.
An alternate line bet is simply another way of betting the moneyline. It’s a way to even out the odds if you’re backing a heavy favorite. The run line offers more value on underdogs since they only need to stay within the 1.5-run margin to cash your bet.
Remember that betting the run line is a potential risk since you’re giving up 1.5 runs. So if you bet the Red Sox -1.5 runs and they win by one run, you lose your bet.
How to Handicap the MLB Run Line
The first step in handicapping MLB run line bets is understanding how the 1.5-run margin affects individual games.
Suppose the Kansas City Royals are -1.5-run favorites (-135) against the Cleveland Guardians. In this case, the Crowns would need to win by at least two runs for you to cash your bet.
Conversely, if you bet on the Guardians +1.5 runs (-105), the Wahoos would either lose by one run or win the game outright for your ticket to earn.
It’s also important to consider how often teams win by two runs or more when handicapping MLB run line bets.
Suppose the Chicago Cubs are -1.5-run favorites against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Cubs win by two runs or more 58.8% of the time, while the Pirates accomplish this feat 41.2% of the time. This means there’s a 58.8% chance your bet wins and a 41.2% chance you lose if you take the Cubs -1.5 runs.
The break-even percentage for this particular bet would be approximately 42.3%. This is calculated by taking 100% and subtracting the probability of the favorite (-1.5 runs) winning (58.8%) and the likelihood of the underdog (+1.5 runs) winning (41.2%).
For a bet on the Cubs -1.5 runs to be profitable in the long run, they would need to win by two or more runs at a rate higher than 42.3%.
The same holds for any other MLB run line bet.
The sportsbooks set odds for individual games, but the main bet types will always be -1.5 and +1.5 runs. The lines can move based on how much action is coming in on each side, but the most common adjustments are half-run increments (Eg: from -1.5 to -1 and from +1.5 to +2).
There are a few different ways to bet on the run line, but the most common is a moneyline bet. In this case, you are simply picking one team to win the game outright, regardless of the margin.
Calculating Payouts For Run Line Bets
Figuring out how much you’ve earned can be confusing at first, but the basic principle is the same as with any other bet. The odds indicate how much you will win for every $100 wagered.
For example, if the Los Angeles Dodgers are playing the Toronto Blue Jays, and the run line is set at -1.5 runs. This means that the Dodgers are 1.5-run favorites and the Jays are 1.5-run underdogs.
If you bet $100 on the Dodgers to win, and they do so by two runs or more, you will win your bet. So, if the final score is 1-0 or 2-1, you would still earn a profit on your wager.
However, if the Dodgers only win by one run, you will lose your bet. You bow to the run line if the final score stands at 3-2 or 4-3.
The same applies if you had bet on the Jays. You win your bet if they lose by two runs or fewer or win the game outright. But you will lose your stake if they lose by three runs or more.
Oddsmakers can also set the run line at +1.5 runs. In this case, the first team listed would be 1.5-run underdogs, and the second would be 1.5-run favorites.
The same rules as the standard run line apply, but the odds are different. For example, when the run line is set at +1.5, the payouts are usually EVEN money or -110.
If you bet $110 on the Dodgers as 1.5-run underdogs, you would win $100 if they either won outright or lost by one run.
If you bet on the Giants as 1.5-run favorites, and they won by two runs or more, you would also win $100 on your money bet.
Why Should I Bet on the Runline?
The main reason to bet the +1.5-run line is added value. The actual odds are not as good as the standard run line, but you only need your team to win by one run.
The +1.5-run line is also an excellent way to get plus money on a heavy favorite. For example, let’s say the home team, the Yankees are -250 moneyline favorites over the road team Orioles.
The standard run line would have the New York Yankees as -1.5-run favorites (-120), so you get plus money by taking them on the +1.5-run line.
Best Sportsbooks with Run Line Bets
PointsBet has some of the most competitive MLB run line odds thanks to its wide range of betting lines and reduced juice offerings.
On their up-to-date sports betting website, you can learn more about their excellent variety of baseball markets, including MLB run lines.
Betway offers tons of betting options for new and experienced bettors alike. In addition, they have a wide variety of deposit options and fast payouts, making them an excellent choice for online baseball betting.
On their user-friendly website, you can learn more about Betway’s MLB games offerings.
Sports Interaction has been in the business since 1997, so they know a thing or two about online sports betting. They offer a wide range of baseball betting markets and have some of the industry’s most competitive American baseball odds.
You can learn more about Sports Interaction’s run line wager by visiting their comprehensive website.