How Runlines Work in Baseball Betting

by | Last updated Jun 7, 2023 | mlb

Runlines are a baseball bet that creates a point spread for a baseball game, opposed to the traditional moneyline bets (aka: Straight Bets) offered.

The way they work is that the favorite would now be laying -1.5 runs and pay a plus number (+) if they are to cover the spread and win by 2 runs or more. An example of a favored team runline would be:

Cincinnati Reds
Chicago Cubs -1.5 +140

As you can see, when you lay a run and a half, you are paid at underdog odds, because the oddsmaker believes that this result (winning by 2 or more) is less likely to happen than not.

An underdog runline would look like this:

Cincinnati Reds +1.5 -160
Chicago Cubs

The underdog now “getting” a run and a half makes them the favorite (more probable) to cover this spread. As you can see, the importance of a team getting or laying one run is huge, as almost 20% of all major league baseball final scores land within one run.

There are also alternative runlines, where the book makes the favorite an underdog and the underdog the favorite, kind of like a pleaser bet in football betting. In an alternative runline bet, the Reds would be -1.5 +240. The Cubs would be +1.5 -300.

Last but not least, some sportsbooks offer runlines of 2.5. These wagers are really pricey, as they’re easier to beat. An example of a 2.5 runline using the above listed game would be the Reds getting +2.5 at -285, and the Cubs laying -2.5 runs and getting +225 back on the payout.

While we’re kind of a fan of laying the chalk and getting 2.5 runs, it’s not recommended unless you really know what you’re doing. One loss and you can find yourself in a three unit hole, which is not easy to crawl out of, even for a professional handicapper. Three units can be a setback that can literally take 2 weeks or more to get back to the break even point, even for the most astute baseball bettor.

If you really want to get freaky with this type of bet, there’s an online bookie that allows you to bet on baseball as if the game has a point spread. You can lay or get up to 5.5 runs at Bovada Sportsbook!

MLB Betting Guide

New to betting on baseball? We've got you covered! Our comprehensive how to bet on baseball article explains all the different types of wagers offered at the sportsbooks including money lines, over/unders, run lines, parlays and more! Also get tips and strategies to increase your odds of beating the bookies!