MLB First 5 Innings Bets vs. Full Game Bets

How many times have you seen an MLB game that looks like a sure thing heading into the later innings? It happens often enough, but the results don’t always shake out the way that you’re expecting once the bullpens get involved.

For MLB bettors, it goes with the territory, but there is a way to ease some of the pain. The first five innings bet continues to grow in popularity. As the name suggests, the bet is based just on that portion of the game, and that’s it.

It’s an intriguing option to explore at the legal Ontario sportsbooks, but there are some distinct nuances that you need to be aware of. Read on as we explore the differences between betting on the first five innings and the full game.

Best Ontario MLB betting odds

MLB games are popular attractions for sports bettors. There can be plenty of movement on the MLB odds board as a result, but we’ve got you covered with a simple way to stay on top of the market. The live odds feed below pulls together real time data from all of the top sportsbooks. When you’re ready to bet, just click the odds to get started.

What is a first 5 innings bet?

The first five innings bet has grown in popularity in recent years. The wager revolves solely around the results of the first five innings of a baseball game. The goal is to pick the side in the lead once the first five are in the books.

Since the focus is only on that part of the game, the idea is that the starting pitching matchup holds much more weight in comparison to full game betting, when the bullpens are much more likely to come into play.

It works like a moneyline bet with odds for the two possible choices. If the game is tied after five, the bet will be a push, though some books offer a draw option, as well. Once a niche bet, it has grown to become a popular option for MLB bettors.

How MLB betting works

When betting on baseball games, you’ll see three main bets: moneylines, run lines and totals. Here’s what an example listing would look like at Ontario sportsbooks with decimal odds.

 MoneylineRun LineTotal
Toronto Blue Jays60-1.5 (1.86)Over 9.5 (1.86)
Detroit Tigers53+1.5 (1.96)Under 9.5 (1.96)

You can quickly spot the favourite or underdog by noting the following:

  • The lower value on the moneyline is the favourite.
  • The team with the negative run line is the favourite.

The listing works the same way with American odds. The only difference is in the appearance of the numbers to account for the different format.

 MoneylineRun LineTotal
Toronto Blue Jays-166-1.5 (-116)Over 9.5 (-116)
Detroit Tigers+153+1.5 (-104)Under 9.5 (-104)

For this style of odds, negative numbers on the moneyline are for favourites, and positive numbers are for underdogs. In both listings, the run line and total have two components, the listed number that the sportsbook set and the odds for placing the bet.

Here’s a quick run-through of how all three bets work:

  • Moneylines: A bet where you simply have to pick the winner.
  • Run lines: Take the favourite minus the number, or bet on the underdog plus the number.
  • Totals: Choose over or under on the estimated number of runs scored.

Odds for MLB first five bets

All three of the main pregame betting options are also available for first five innings bets at most sportsbooks. Run lines and totals will shift accordingly to account for the smaller time frame. For example, instead of the standard 1.5 run line, you’ll see 0.5 or 1.0, while totals will more often range between 4.0 and 6.0.

The standard moneyline bet is the most popular first five option. When you click the main game listing, here’s what it’ll look like in both odds formats.

 DecimalAmerican
Toronto Blue Jays45-220
Baltimore Orioles90+190

The odds work the same as they do for pregame bets: lower decimals and negative odds for favourites, higher decimals and positive odds for underdogs.

While the MLB first five innings odds may be in the same range at most legal sportsbooks, that doesn’t mean that they’ll always be exactly the same. This means that comparing prices across the industry can be a worthwhile endeavour.

For example, while one book may have the Jays betting odds at 1.45/-220 for a first five bet, another may be at 1.50/-200. Those small ticks of difference can add up over the long run.

First five vs. full game betting — what’s the difference?

Beyond the time frame of the bet, there are some other differences to keep in mind for the two styles of betting. While basic baseball handicapping principles will apply in both spots, there are other variances to account for.

  • Full game betting requires a top-to-bottom focus on starters and bullpens, while first five betting can lean more toward the starting pitching matchup.
  • When there’s a clear edge on the starter, the odds will reflect that in both spots, but it can be more pronounced on the first five side.
  • First five betting requires keen insight into teams that start off fast or slow, whereas full game betting is about the final result.

While there are bettors who have clear preferences between the two, you can certainly try both forms of wagering. There will be times when both make sense and others when it’s one or the other. We’ll cover what to look for when making that decision in a bit.

Which Ontario sportsbooks offer first 5 innings bets?

First 5 innings betting has taken off in recent years. As such, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it, with top sportsbooks like DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars and BetMGM all generally having the option when you click on an individual game listing.

You’ll also find it at other outlets like PointsBet and theScore. Once upon a time, this was a niche style of wagering that wasn’t part of the routine for mainstream bettors. That’s no longer the case. The first five bets have grown to be popular in baseball betting circles.

Online sportsbook rules for first five betting

All legal sportsbooks have rules for baseball bets and for bets on all other sports. The majority of them cover the placement and settlement of bets and things that may impact either one. Here are some of the more important first five innings betting rules:

  • In order for first five bets to count, teams must complete that portion of the game.
  • Bets will play out regardless of any changes to starting pitchers with the exception of wagers with the listed pitcher option.
  • Bets will remain live in the event of a slight delay, but sportsbooks will cancel bets for more significant postponements.

Many books have direct links to their house rules on the main websites, while others will have them tucked away in the FAQ section. You should always take the time to review them wherever you play to avoid unnecessary surprises down the road.

MLB first five betting examples

To further understand the differences between first five and full game betting, let’s walk through some examples of the odds you’ll come across for both. For an average AL East rivalry game, you may see main moneyline odds like this:

 DecimalAmerican
Tampa Bay Rays11+111
Toronto Blue Jays82-121

Meanwhile, the first five odds for the same matchup could look like this.

 DecimalAmerican
Tampa Bay Rays04+115
Toronto Blue Jays80-125

In this case, there’s only a slight difference in the numbers for both wager types. We can interpret that to mean that not only is the starting pitching matchup relatively close, but that the teams stack up pretty evenly overall. Here’s another example with more of a paper mismatch, starting with the full-game moneyline odds.

 DecimalAmerican
Boston Red Sox57-175
Cleveland Guardians61+161

If we look at the first five innings odds for the same game, we find the following.

 DecimalAmerican
Boston Red Sox51-195
Cleveland Guardians70+170

There’s even more of an advantage for the favoured Red Sox according to the odds. We can take that to mean that the Sox have a nice edge on the hill for the starting pitching matchup. Checking the differences between the main game lines and the first five odds can help you view the early part of the game with a much better perspective.

Other ways to bet on MLB games

Betting on smaller segments of a baseball game isn’t limited to the first five innings. Legal Ontario sportsbooks will provide a range of options for you to consider. In some spots, you’ll even find options to bet on each inning individually.

This can also be available with live betting, which refers to real time betting as the game plays out. In terms of popularity, wagers on the first inning have been seeing increased attention, as have the first three and first seven, but first five is generally the top option.

When do first five innings bets make sense?

Whenever you bet, the bets that make the most sense are the ones that you have the most confidence in. You’ll win some and lose some along the way, but if you develop a solid strategy and stick to what works for you, you have a shot at coming out ahead in the long run.

For first five bets, it’s important to remember that just because it’s based on a smaller segment than full game betting, that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily easier to win. No matter how strong of a strategy you have, there will be games that break differently from what you were anticipating.

So how do you sort through a slate of games to pick out the best spots for first five innings bets? Here’s a quick checklist that can help:

  • When there’s a strong edge in the starting pitching matchup that’s also backed up by recent performance.
  • When a team as a whole has been hitting well and piling up runs is facing off against a team in the midst of a slump. For example, a club that has been regularly scoring five or more runs over the last three games is facing off with a club that has averaged below three over the same period.
  • If there’s a notable difference between the first five and full game moneyline odds, that’s a game to circle and research further. This typically happens when there’s a strong starting pitcher advantage. The odds won’t always be favourable, but there are times when the potential reward is worth it.

While the above three tips can help you pick your spots, they’re not fool-proof. Once again, anything can happen on the field of play. That said, if you can learn to spot what appear to be the optimal plays on a slate of games, you’ll be able to mitigate some of the damage that comes your way when you take a loss.

Key takeaways on first five vs. full game betting

The first five innings bet has become a popular option for baseball bettors in recent years. You can find the odds for this type of bet by clicking on the main game listings at an online sportsbook.

It’s an interesting option to explore, especially for bettors who have grown frustrated with MLB games breaking differently once the bullpens get involved. The first five limits the impact of relievers and more often tends to come down to the starting pitcher matchup. Betting on smaller segments of lengthy baseball games continues to grow, with the first five leading the way.