Baseball is back and so is betting on MLB first inning
MLB betting used to be a bit of a wasteland for sportsbooks, as many players shied away from betting the games and those who did were often sharper players, who beat the sportsbooks on a regular basis. Betting at one time came with standard -110 juice, knows as the dimeline or the difference of 10 cents between the moneyline favorite and the dog. But when bookmakers continually got beat, they came out with the graduated line of -115 and now many of the top online sportsbooks have gone to a straight twenty cent line. Bets can be placed on the listed pitchers, where the listed pitcher must start the game, or action, where the bet stands regardless of any pitching change.
Fast forward to the 2020s and sportsbooks around the globe have gotten a bit smarter, offering tons of props for every game. Bets range from standard fare like team total runs or alternate game totals to wagering on player hits, RBIs, total bases and even strikeouts. A hugely popular bet was introduced about a decade ago, where players could reduce the three-plus hour wait to win or lose a bet and instead bet on the outcome of the first 5 innings of a MLB game. In today's pro baseball, starting pitchers are usually taken out early, leaving bettors to rely on a team's often shaky bullpen. But, with the first 5-inning or first-half wager, the bullpen does not come into play. Many of the sharper bettors have begun to prefer the first five inning wager, in light of todays pitch-count, analytic driven game.
Bet the first inning
Now there is a new term being thrown around for baseball betting - NRFI. That stands for No Run First Inning. Looking at both offshore sportsbooks and U.S. based sports betting operations, the first inning bet is now everywhere. Sports betting giant BetOnline offers their version of NRFI with a bet for "Will there be a score in 1st inning". Storied betting operation, BookMaker, offers the NRFI bet in the first inning and whether each team will/will not score and total runs for the first inning. But, U.S. books are taking the first inning to a new level.
FanDuel offers the NRFI adding in the total runs, but also offers the correct score, and which team will be in the lead after one inning of play. The also have an over/under for inning number one and add in a total for each subsequent inning. DraftKings even has a tab on their betting menu for 1st Inning and add in the equivalent of a roulette-like Even or Odds bet for the 1st inning. PointsBet offers a whopping 100+ bets for just about every MLB game. And PointsBet doesn't stop at the 1st inning, there's also wagering on the first 3, 5 and 7 innings of play.
So many games, so many bets
I noted at the top of this story how MLB baseball was often the one sport that sportsbooks would sweat every year. Sharp bettors, handicappers and bookmakers have all told us that baseball is the 'easiest' of the four major sports for players to cash in on. But, come July, there's really not much on the wagering board, so sportsbooks have to offer it, win lose or draw.
Now, with the advent of hundreds of bets available for every MLB game, you have to wonder why? Why so many now and why did it take so long to get to this type of prop betting frenzy?
It's simple, most of the bets being offered are like every other prop whether football, March madness or golf, the house builds in man-made odds that favor the sportsbook. With careful, methodical, time-consuming research bettors may be able to find a gem amongst a sea of terrible bets, but props are always made to favor the bookie. Otherwise, why would sportsbooks expand wagering on the one major sport that is usually a loser for the bookmaker?
Instead sportsbook are hoping to lure in the always anxious bettor looking for a quick fix or perhaps, if that first inning bet loses, a gambler who chases and keep losing throughout nine innings. The real eye-opener was seeing just how many first inning related bets were being offered by the corporate-based sportsbooks in the U.S. With huge tax rates, enormous advertising budgets and shareholders, U.S. books need to ensure profits in every sport and every month. Enter first inning wagering and the new NRFI bets.
Though some research can be done on scoring the first inning, these bets are glorified coin flips. We urge extreme caution and instead urge players who want to bet on MLB baseball to look at the first five or first half wagers if full game betting is not something that players find appealing.
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