A lot of casual baseball bettors have enough trouble getting their heads around the moneyline, so they don’t even consider the runline – a moneyline with a spread of 1.5 runs. It’s a mistake because in the right situations the runline can be very profitable. The favorite has to win by two runs in order for a runline bet to pay off, so there is a higher payoff when you bet a runline and win then there is if you just bet the favorite to win the game. It is a good way to turn a short priced favorite into one with an acceptable or attractive price. It’s another useful tool to have in the toolbox for smart bettors.
Beyond the moneyline and the runline there’s another tool that can be useful in some circumstances – the alternate runline. The alternate runline typically refers to a game with a spread of 1.5 runs like a runline, but with one key difference – the moneyline underdog faces a spread of -1.5 runs in the alternate runline, whereas they would face a +1.5 spread in the runline. As a result there is a potential for really big payoffs when betting on the moneyline underdog in the alternate runline. You can also bet on the moneyline favorite in the alternate runline at +1.5. In that case you’d often see a fairly small potential payout – the moneyline favorite is almost always at less than even money, so at +1.5 it’s obviously going to be much less than even money.
The best sign that the alternate runline is an interesting and useful bet in the right circumstances is that there are several books that don’t offer it, or that once did and don’t anymore. Books like making money, so if there is a bet that they aren’t offering then it’s a pretty good indicator that they aren’t making money from it.
Here are four different situations in which the alternate runline can make sense to be used:
1. Strong feeling about an underdog – This is the most obvious situation. If you have a strong feeling about an underdog then you may want to back that opinion as strongly as you possibly can. You’ll get better than even money if you bet on the moneyline, but if you are confident that the underdog is strong and likely to win convincingly then that might not be enough for you. By betting on the alternate runline you are taking on more risk – a win by just one run won’t be enough for you anymore – but you will be rewarded with a much higher payoff if you are correct. If you have had a lot of success picking underdog winners, and if those winners have been by more than one run a significant amount of times, then the alternate runline could be a great way to pad your bankroll. Over the long term, though, it’s very important to track your success rate at these bets to make sure that you are hitting the alternate runlines often enough to make more profit than you could be making by assuming less risk and betting the moneyline.
2. Public is far too strongly on the favorite – The public loves their favorites, and they love to jump on bandwagons. If the public gets out of control in their support of a very visible favorite then there is often an opportunity to find value by betting on the underdog. If the support of the public really gets out of hand then you’ll really want to take a shot at leveraging the value that is available, and the alternate runline could be a good way of doing that. Situations where this could applicable is when a public team like Yankees is playing a small market team that is hot, or when a big ace is starting against a no name pitcher but the ace isn’t pitching up to his reputation.
3. To really leverage an incorrect line – Sometimes you’ll handicap a game and get a sense of what you think the line should be, then you’ll check what the line actually is and you’ll find it’s incredibly far off from what you thought. If you haven’t made a mistake, and if the difference is a favorable one, then you’ll want to make the most of it. If the team you like is the underdog then the alternate runline could be a way to really take advantage of a line that is, in your eyes at least, incorrect.
4. To create your own line – You don’t always have to settle for the lines that are available from the books – you can make your own instead. For example, by betting some money on the underdog on the moneyline and some more on the same team on the alternate runline you could create the equivalent of a -1 spread instead of a -1.5. That could be more attractive to you because it involves less risk than the alternate runline, but a better return than the moneyline.