While basketball and football betting lines are based on the scoring differential between two opposing teams, the way betting lines are set up for baseball and hockey are different. Because scoring is so limited in baseball games and hockey matches compared to relatively high-scoring football and basketball games, it would be nearly impossible to come up with truly effective betting lines based on differences in team scoring. Most lines likely would be within a couple runs of the other team in baseball and nearly impossible to place at other than one or two goals in hockey. So instead of using traditional side bets for those two sports, odds-makers have bettors place wagers based on which team will win with the vig adjusted accordingly. Totals bets for scoring essentially are the same for all sports, but the side bets do differ.
Betting on Baseball and Hockey is Similar to Money Line Bets
Instead of choosing a margin of victory for the favored team, bettors simply choose which team will win the contest. While that is simple enough for all bettors to understand, they also must contend with the vig affixed to the contests, and that can be very significant. For a baseball game or hockey match where one team has a solid advantage, that team might be favored by a -150 to -200 vig, meaning the bettor will have to wager up to $200 to win $100 if the vig were -200. On the other hand, the underdog might be a relatively generous +130 to +180 or so, which means a $100 wager would win $180 if the vig were a +180. If there is equal action on both sides of the contest, the sports book will collect the difference after paying off winners from the wagers made by the losers. Heavily favored teams could see a vig as steep as a -500, which also is common in boxing matches featuring a heavily favored boxer going up against a huge underdog.
Run Lines and Goal Lines Increase Earnings Potential
Another way of betting on baseball games and hockey matches is to use a run line or goal line in which the favored team must win by at least two runs or goals to cover while the underdog could lose by a run or goal and still cover the bet. The run line or goal line always is -1.5, meaning a favored team that wins by one run or goal does not cover the bet. The run line and goal line make it more enticing to wager on teams that are heavily favored, but the vig is too high for many bettors to justify making a play on the contest. But when the run line or goal line is used, the vig is lowered greatly and could turn a negative vig into a positive one so that a bettor could wager $100 on a team to win by more than one run or goal and collect more than $100 in winnings. That same bet on a money line might require a $150 wager to win $100, so many bettors find it advantageous to play the run line or goal line instead of simply betting which team will win.
Five-Inning Wagers in Baseball
Some baseball teams have a true ace among its starting pitchers who suffers from a lack of run support and a weak bullpen that can blow late leads all too easily. That’s where a five-inning wager can help boost action. A few years ago, the Kansas City Royals had exactly that scenario with ace pitcher Zack Greinke often times holding opposing teams to no more than one or two runs only to turn the game over to a relief pitcher in the eighth or ninth inning who promptly blew most leads. In such instances, a five-inning wager on the Royals when Greinke pitched made more sense than betting on the team to win the entire game. So long as the Royals had the lead after five innings, the bettor cashed his or her ticket. If the game were tied after five innings, the bet would be a push. A losing score after five innings would be a loss. Run lines also can be applied to five-inning wagers.