Baseball may be a game loved worldwide, but it remains to be “America’s favorite pastime.”
Major League Baseball, one of the four major leagues, is one of the most popular to watch and wager on throughout each MLB season.
There are a host of Iowa online betting apps available. They all offer a range of baseball betting markets, including ones that center around the first five innings of a baseball game.
When betting on baseball games, you should think of MLB’s first five innings betting as the equivalent to wagering on the first half of a football or basketball game. The first five bet, or F5, is a wager on innings one through five.
Have you ever noticed that when betting on a football or basketball game, there are betting options besides moneylines, spreads and totals?
Rather than waiting for the final score, you can find out if your bet won sooner because the F5 wager settles at the end of the fifth inning.
Before one can fully understand the first five innings (F5) betting, it’s important to know what moneylines, run lines (this is a point spread bet in baseball) and totals all entail.
Let’s use an example featuring the Cubs and Cardinals.
|Chicago Cubs||-1.5 (+160)||-150||O 8.5 (-110)|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+1.5 (-190)||+125||U 8.5 (-110)|
The moneyline, which is the middle of these three sets of numbers at the sportsbook, is the easiest to understand.
The favorite has a negative symbol next to its line, while the underdog has a positive sign. In this case, the Cubs are the favorites while the Cardinals are the underdog.
Think of moneylines in terms of the number 100. For favorites, the moneyline is what you need to risk to win $100. With underdogs, the moneyline is what a $100 risk could net in profits. To win $100 on the Cubs’ moneyline, you would need to risk $150. Meanwhile, a $100 risk on the Cardinals would win $125.
The run line is equivalent to a point spread, and in baseball, every game’s standard run line market is either -1.5 for the favorite or +1.5 for the underdog. This means the favorite would need to win by two runs or more, while the underdog can either win the game or lose by one run to be a successful bet.
Attached to the run line is a set of odds, which dictates the payout for that particular bet. As we can see, taking a -1.5 run line enhances the potential payout increases while a +1.5 line drastically reduces the odds.
Runs can be hard to come by in baseball. Each one is of serious value, which is why we see the odds alter so much for giving one away or taking one on the run line.
Totals betting is a wager on whether the combined score of the two teams will be over or under a predetermined figure set by oddsmakers. A total of 8.5 runs means nine or more is a win for the over, while eight or fewer is a win for the under. Both come with -110 odds, meaning you will need to risk $110 for every $100 in profit on both sides.
When placing a first five innings bet, you’re doing what the name suggests. Rather than picking the winner, or total, based on all nine innings, whether the wager wins or loses is predicated on only what happened in the first five innings of a baseball game.
MLB’s first five innings betting rules mirror those of full-game wagering; the only difference is that the lines are adjusted to account for half of the game instead of all nine innings.
The above moneylines, run line and totals are typical of what you’d see for a nine-inning MLB game. Below, we have an example of what a bettor could see when searching for a first five innings wager:
|F5 Innings: Chicago Cubs||-0.5 (+130)||-120||O4.5 (-105)|
|F5 Innings: St. Louis Cardinals||+0.5 (-160)||+110||U4.5 (-115)|
One difference you’ll notice is that the moneylines are a bit less drastic on both sides. Favorites likely won’t require much of a risk, while underdogs typically will have a lesser payout than the full-game odds suggest.
A first five innings bet on the Cubs in this situation requires a $120 risk for every $100 in winnings. A bet on the Cardinals means risking $100 for every $110 in profit.
Another major difference will be the run line, which is no longer 1.5 runs on either side. It is probable that in nearly all cases, the run line will be just a half-run, with favorites being -0.5 runs and underdogs being +0.5 runs in for the opening five innings.
An F5 run line wager on the Cubs means Chicago needs to be ahead by one run or more, and you must risk $100 for every $130 in profit. On the other side, a bet on the Cardinals means risking $160 to win $100.
Baseball games can’t end in ties, so there’s no worrying about that with a full-game wager thanks to extra innings. But that isn’t the case with an F5 bet. If the game is tied after five innings, the bet on the Cardinals would be graded a victory on the run line since that team’s spread is +0.5 runs.
The biggest numerical change will come in the total, which makes sense since we are only accounting for what amounts to a portion of the game. While our example calls for nine runs needed to hit the over, only five are required in the first five innings. On the other side, four or fewer runs in the opening five innings mean a win for the under wager.
In our example, a wager on the over 4.5 runs (-105) requires a stake of $105 to win $100, while the under 4.5 runs (-115) means risking $115 for every $100 in winnings.
All F5 betting lines, especially totals, are impacted greatly by the starting pitchers. Because the pitcher that starts the game typically does make it through the opening five innings of a game, the quality of the player on the mound that day will account for whether oddsmakers shade the line toward the over or the under line.
Other factors that could impact how close or lopsided the first five innings odds include the recent form of the teams, how strong the lineups are, each team’s previous history against a starting pitcher and the lineup for that specific day.
It’s usually wise to have a strategy anytime you bet, and baseball is no different. When you’re looking into specialty categories such as the first five innings of an MLB game, it’s even more important to have a plan of action since betting on these markets isn’t the same as wagering on a full game.
Keep in mind the following strategies for betting MLB first five innings:
This is perhaps the most important detail if you’re placing F5 bets since these wagers largely remove bullpens from the equation. This is especially vital in betting on totals.
Starting pitchers that are capable of shutting down opposing offenses can lead to a low-scoring first half of the game, while lesser pitchers can help the game be more high-scoring right off the bat.
Knowing the starters is also crucial for picking aside. The team with the better pitcher is almost always going to be the favorite, so use the starters to inform your decision for whichever side you choose.
Starting pitchers are important, but so are the lineups. In today’s game, there are constantly substitutions being shuffled in and out of the lineup based on who they are facing. Managers are always trying to build an optimal lineup to face that day’s pitcher, so it may not be the same lineup you saw from that team the previous day.
Being aware of which players are hot (or cold) at the plate is also key, and remember to consider injuries. So, before placing a wager on either side, know who is in the lineup for both teams because that could influence your decision.
One of the best things about betting online is that in most states, including Iowa, there are plenty of sportsbook sites. While many of these sports betting sites will offer similar F5 innings markets, likely, the actual first 5 innings odds won’t be the same. Shop around for the most advantageous line possible once you’re locked in on a side or total.
If you’re into placing parlays, the first five innings lines can be an excellent target. Because the first five innings of a game take much less time than a full nine innings, this leg of the bet will be over earlier, and that can be of help whether it wins or loses.
In the event of a loss, there can still be enough time to place another wager on games that have not yet started. That time may come and go if you’re waiting for all nine innings. With a win, you could be set up to hedge your bets on the final leg of a parlay and guarantee winnings of some kind. If you’re unsure whether one part of your parlay is going to win, it’s much riskier to pull off this kind of play.
Underdogs could come with a better payout than favorites so they are naturally more attractive option anyway. But there are plenty of times that underdogs can’t be fully trusted; they can get off to a good start and can’t hold onto a lead for all the remaining innings.
There are several reasons why this can happen. Maybe the underdog has a bad bullpen, or the other team’s bullpen is just better. It’s also possible the better team couldn’t get their offense going early enough, or a sense of urgency wasn’t there until the later innings.
Whatever the reason, there tend to be openings for underdogs in the early portion of games, and for the season, there are times when those teams lead after five innings but lose the game. This is where F5 innings bets on the team with the juicier odds can be valuable.