If you want to bet sides in baseball, you have two options – the moneyline
. It is a very straightforward choice
if you understand them
, and it makes baseball betting fairly approachable. For some reason,
though, people often struggle to know the difference between the two and,
more importantly, when using one or the other makes the most sense. Fear
not, though – if you are one of those who is confused, I am here today to
show you the light. Here are the basics you need to know when comparing
baseball moneyline betting and runline betting.
First, let’s make sure we know what we are talking about. If you are just a
casual baseball bettor, you likely are just familiar with moneyline
betting. You might see a moneyline that has the favorite at something like
-140 and the underdog at +120. That means that if you were going to bet on
the favorite, then you would have to bet $140 to win $100. And if you were
going to bet on the underdog, then you would win $120 for every $100 you
bet. Obviously, a favorite of -200 would be seen to be much more likely to
win than -140, and an underdog of +200 would be much less likely to win
than one that is +120.
Runline betting is simply a moneyline bet to which a point spread is added.
Unlike other sports, though, it is always a standard point spread – 1.5
runs. The favorite has to win by more than 1.5 runs in order to pay off,
while the underdog can lose the game by a single run and the bet on them
still pays off. Runline betting can appeal to casual bettors because heavy
favorites can go off at a much more attractive price. But, as we will see,
that’s not typically the best use for this type of bet.
It would be easier if there were a straightforward comparison between the
two bets – a moneyline price of X means a runline bet of Y. That isn’t the
case, though, as things like the total for a game, the location, the
weather, the pitchers, and so on can have an impact on how the two lines
are set and how they relate to each other. You can, however, perform a
simple trick that will give you at least an indication of where the value
is in the bet. If the home team is favored, you can take the moneyline and
move it by 90 cents. If the home favorite is at -140 on the moneyline, then
you would expect it to be at about -1.5 +150 on the runline. If it is
significantly different than that, then there is something going on worth
checking out. And if it’s a road favorite, then the shift is 55 cents.
Why the difference between home and road favorites? Well, a runline is
actually easier for a team to cover on the road than at home. There are two
big reasons for this. First, if a home team is leading in the ninth then
they get one fewer chance to hit than the road team – one fewer chance to
score runs. And, if they are trailing going into the ninth and then start
to score, the game ends as soon as they have a one-run lead. Even if there
was no outs and the bases were loaded, and it was very likely that they
were going to be able to pile on points to cover the runline it wouldn’t
matter. So, a home team has fewer chances to cover a runline, which makes
them less attractive.
When you are betting on the runline, you have to be very aware of the
total. The higher the total is in a game, the more points a team can give
up and still win by two games, so there is a bigger margin for error for
the pitching staff. Of course, those totals are going to be factored into
how the line is set, so you can’t go overboard when thinking about these
As we said earlier, casual bettors will be drawn towards betting favorites
on the runline because it can be a way to get a much more attractive price
– especially when a team is very heavily favored. That might not always be
the best way to use the bet, though. It varies narrowly from year to year,
but approximately 30 percent of all games are won by one run, and the
percentage is slightly more than that when the home team wins. And the
heaviest favorites are typically at home, which has the issues we have
already discussed. So, it is very easy for the value to disappear entirely
from a runline favorite. It is quite often a much less attractive bet in
these cases than the moneyline despite the better price. Where the runline
can be more attractive, though, is in taking the underdog. This is
counterintuitive, because often you will be giving up a price better than
even money, and instead be giving up juice on a bet. But that extra run can
make a big difference – especially when they are on the road or when you
have respect for the starter.
A lot of people tend to have a strong opinion one way or the other about
runline betting. Either they will think that it is a great way to go, or
they will tell you that you would have to be an idiot to bet them. As with
most things in sports betting, neither thing is typically true. The truth
lies somewhere in between. The runline can be very useful in several
different situations, and the more you explore them the more of those you
will be able to find.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham