What is the Runline?

The runline is baseball's version of the point spread. When betting on the runline, the favorite is -1.5 runs on the spread, with the underdog at +1.5 runs. Betting on the favorite requires your team to win its game by two or more runs. Conversely, betting on the underdog at +1.5 means that your team can either win the game or lose by one run, and your ticket will still cash.

Why Should I Bet on the Runline?

It’s the great equalizer. Let’s be honest, the casual sports bettor is often drawn to betting on favorites. They want to put their money on the good teams. Since the majority of baseball betting is built around the moneyline, the general betting public doesn’t get too excited about the return that they will see by betting on -200 to -300 favorites. So instead of laying those prices, bettors are more attracted to laying a runline. Conversely, it can be hard to pull the trigger on a +200 underdog that’s expected to lose over 60% of the time. Well, it gets a little easier to put your money on them if you’re getting a two-run head start.

Runline Betting Explained

First Five Runlines – Just like a first half bet in basketball or football, you can wager on what the score will be after five innings of a baseball game. Bettors will look to bet on the first five instead of the full game if they are focused on a specific starting pitcher matchup and want to avoid bullpens later in the game. Instead of the -1.5 / +1.5 runlines for the full game, the first five runline is -0.5 / +0.5 for the first five innings of the game. Betting on the favorite with the first five runline requires them to be winning after five full innings have been completed. Betting on the underdog with the +0.5 head start allows the bet to cash if the two teams are tied after five innings.

Reverse Runlines – The reverse runline gives the favorite a +1.5 head start and turns the underdog into the -1.5 role. Bettors might be intrigued by this option if they are looking at an underdog they think might win by 2+ runs at a very juicy price.

Alternate Runlines – The alternate runline bumps the point spread from 1.5 to 2.5 runs. So the favorite has to win the game by three or more, and the underdog can now lose the game by two runs and still cash a bet on the alternate runline.

Rain – Not every sports book operates the same way so it’s important to check with your sports book’s house rules, but here is how rain-shortened games are generally handled: Runline bets must complete nine innings (or 8.5 if the home team is leading). If a game gets stopped in the seventh inning, runline bets will be refunded no matter what the score is. If you bet New York -1.5 and they are leading 8-0 in the seventh inning when the game gets cancelled, that's an unfortunate break. But if you had Cleveland +1.5 and they were losing 8-0 in the seventh inning, then it's your lucky day because you are getting your money back. Again, check with your sports book to make sure you are familiar with their house rules because policies do differ from book to book.

Listed Pitchers – Wagering on the runline will automatically include the listed starting pitchers for each team. If there is a pitching change between the time that you place your bet and when the game begins, your wager will be refunded and you’ll need to re-place your bet with the new pitchers, if you wish.


Free sports picks allow you to monitor a handicapping service to see how they perform before signing up for a long term package. WagerTalk provides daily free predictions to our visitors so they can find a handicapper that is right for them.

Looking for more free sports picks and sports betting tips?

  • Latest Betting Odds and Public Action: Vegas lines updated in real time, including who the public is betting on.
  • Last-Minute Handicapping Advice: Check out our extensive library of handicapping tips and advice from professional Vegas handicappers (we also recommend taking the time to look over our sports betting tips video library)
  • Want an expert opinion? Check out the latest Free Sports Picks and Best Bets from our team of expert sports handicappers.

Make sure to bookmark all the above!