The runline in Major League Baseball is one of the popular ways to bet on baseball. It is not as nearly as popular as the moneyline or the over/under bets, but runline betting has gained steam over the years. 

As a newer bettor, you may not fully understand what a runline bet is or how it even works. If you are familiar with the NFL’s spread betting, then you will be in luck. If not, we have the tips for you to become a runline bettor. 

Top Tips For Runline Betting 

When starting or getting familiar with runline betting, it is important to keep a few things in mind. As mentioned above, the NFL has a similar method in betting with their spread bets, so learning one or the other in the betting world will help you in the long run. The top tips are as follows:

  • Sportsbook 
  • Read the odds 
  • Biases and home teams

Runline Betting and Sportsbooks 

Your first step in wanting to bet on the runline is to have a sportsbook to bet with. If you do not have one, this is one of the most important decisions you will make. 

Look up a list of reputable sportsbooks and narrow it down to a few. Once you have found the one or two that you like, you can sign up and deposit money to start betting. 

Also, look for things such as sign up bonuses, payout methods, customer reviews, and how the odds are for each sport. Various sportsbooks will pay out differently for their offerings, so it would be beneficial to have at least two. 

Read the Runline Betting Odds 

Reading the runline is simple in baseball. The number line you will most likely see is 1.5. With a 1.5 runline, you will be able to bet on the favored team to win by at least two runs or more. On the other side, the underdog team has to lose by one run or win the game.

The favorite to win the game will have a minus sign in front of the runline. The underdog will have a plus sign in front of their runline. Some runlines at other sportsbooks might have a number greater than 1.5, such as 2.5 or even 3.5. 


Boston Red Sox+1.5 (-150)
Toronto Blue Jays-1.5 (+120)

As you can see, the Blue Jays are favored to win this bet and have to do so by at least two runs to cover the bet. You can also see that the Red Sox are the underdogs. They have to win the game outright or lose by just a single run to claim the runline bet. 

The -150 on the Red Sox runline simply means that the bet on them is favored for them to have that outcome. So $150 would need to be placed on them to win $100 if you think they will win the game outright or lose by a single point. 

As for the Jays, you have to bet $100 to get back $120 if you think they will win at least two runs or more. They are a favored runline bet in terms of options because they have to win the game itself or just lose by one run. 

Biases and Home Teams

You may really enjoy a team or think the home team has an advantage. A lot of bettors will overlook how difficult it can be and avoid those thinking patterns. 

Many bettors have it in their heads that the team they think will win the game will do so by at least two runs, which leads them to bet the runline on the “over” moneyline because of the higher odds. 

Roughly 30 percent of MLB games actually turn into one-run games. This is a lot higher than most people expect, and it makes it difficult to predict when a team will be able to cover the 1.5-run spread on the runline.

The point is you do not want to pick your favorite team or the home team all the time. If the home team is leading in the ninth inning and they close out the first half of it, the game is over, and there is no need to play the bottom of the ninth. 

If they are only up by one run, they win the game, of course, but if you had bet on them to win with a runline of 1.5, you just lost since they are not playing the bottom of the ninth. 

Runline FAQ

Should I stay away from home teams then?
You have to be able to find value here. Yes, over the long term, the underdog is more likely to make you more profit. So you should at first try a few and see what happens.
What are the things to look for?
You need to watch out for other various things that will affect the game. Things such as the weather, injuries, trades, and even travel can affect players as the game progresses. You also need to keep an eye on your bankroll. As a newer bettor, this may seem like an easy no brainer, but sometimes betting gets the best of people, and they do not want to stop or walk away. You need to understand your emotions and where the money is coming from to place the right bets.
How can I practice my strategy?
Assuming that you watch MLB or any baseball at all, it is important to keep up with teams and what is going on. You can find an event to bet on and write down your prediction. Then you can see how it turned out and what you need to work on.
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