What Is First Five Inning Betting?

It’s not uncommon to see MLB games break in an entirely different fashion once the bullpen gets involved. One of the top bet types is the first five innings bet.

For this wager type, you can zero in on a segment of the game, place your wagers and have your bet slip graded solely on the results of those innings. Also known as the F5 bet, we’re going to explain how it works here so you’ll be ready to add it to your baseball wagering repertoire.

What are first five innings bets?

The first five innings bet is an additional wagering option for MLB games available at legal, regulated sportsbooks. You usually find this bet type by clicking through the individual game listings.

The wager revolves solely around the first five innings of the ballgame. For bettors, the goal is to pick which side will be in the lead once the first five innings are in the books. Anything that happens in the game after that point will not impact the results of this bet.

One of its options includes a tie. In all cases, sportsbooks will have odds attached to each choice.

MLB betting odds explained

To fully understand how the F5 bet works, it’s essential to understand how MLB odds function. For each game on the schedule, you’ll see a listing that looks something like this:

TeamRun lineMoneylineTotal
New York Mets        +1.5 (+110)+135  O 8.0 (-110)
Chicago Cubs -1.5 (-130)        -155  U 8.0 (-110)

In this fictitious matchup, the Mets are visiting the Cubs. Next to the two teams are odds for the standard MLB bets: Run line, moneyline and totals. For our example, Chicago is favored on the run line and moneyline with a projected total of eight runs.

If you want to place one of these bets, it’s a matter of clicking the box that corresponds with your selection. It’ll add to your bet slip right away, so you’ll only need to plug in your bet amount and verify that everything is correct before clicking the submit button.

Odds for MLB F5 bets 

The odds for the first five innings bet works like a moneyline bet. Illinois betting odds will designate a favorite and underdog, with tight ranges indicating possible close matchups and big discrepancies pointing to a potential mismatch.

Since the first five innings odds are based on the game’s earlier stages, there could be an even more pronounced edge for the large favorites. The starting pitching matchup is a huge factor for these bets, so squads with an ace on the mound generally have the odds advantage.

For example, let’s consider a fictitious game in which the Los Angeles Dodgers are sending Clayton Kershaw to the hill for a date with the San Francisco Giants. The Giants have Logan Webb lined up to start, a solid arm but one that’s not quite in Kershaw’s league. Here’s what the odds might look like for the F5 wager:

San Francisco Giants +190
Los Angeles Dodgers -240

The Dodgers are big favorites here. While the book is willing to pay out a handsome price if the Giants manage to have the lead after the first five. After the initial release, the numbers will move in response to betting action.

They could tighten even further if more money comes in on the side of San Francisco, while a flood of bets on Los Angeles could result in an even greater disparity. As always, you can shop around to find the most appealing prices.

For example, PointsBet IL may offer -250 on the side of the Dodgers, while BetRivers Sportsbook IL could shift down to -220. The same impact would be felt on the Giants’ side in the reverse direction.

Line shopping can point out these ticks of difference that can add up over time.

How do you place a first five innings bet in Illinois?

Placing wagers at online sportsbooks and sports betting apps in Illinois is a breeze. The first step is to locate and choose a matchup. If you click on the dedicated MLB link at the sportsbook, the betting lobby will populate with upcoming games.

The default listing will display odds for the top three bet types, but there’s more to see. If you click through on the game listing, it will reveal other betting opportunities. Included on the list will be the first five innings bet. The current odds for the F5 bet could look something like this:

Boston Red Sox +155
New York Yankees -175

Once you have made your choice, you click on the box for your selection. If you like the Yankees, you’ll click on the box with odds of -175. The wager will be plug into your betting slip. Next, enter your wagering amount, confirm that everything looks fine and submit the bet.

Rules for the first five innings bet

Legal Illinois sportsbooks have specific rules for the placement and settlement of bets. Many rules are standard across the industry, but there may be some outliers in some spots. Here are the major points you need to know for first five innings betting:

  • All bets are live once the game gets underway.
  • In the event of a cancellation or postponement, the bet may be considered void unless the game is completed in a reasonable period of time, such as within 24 hours.
  • For F5 bets in which there is no choice to bet on a tie, games that are knotted up at the conclusion of five innings will be considered a “push,” with all bets refunded.
  • Sportsbooks settle bets using official league data.

These rules cover the majority of what you need to watch out for with F5 betting. However, the occasional anomaly may arise. Sportsbooks might handle these instances differently, so it’s always a good idea to review their house rules for specifics.

MLB F5 bets vs. moneyline bets

We could argue that an argument can be made for both moneyline bets and first five inning bets. The moneyline may provide more value in certain spots, while the first five bet cuts down on the impact of relievers, for example.

On the negative side, a moneyline bet that looks to be breaking in your favor can suddenly turn against you if the bullpen gets blown up. Meanwhile, an MLB first five innings bet that looks appealing can go sideways if the ace you are banking on has an off night.

In short, there’s just no automatic answer as to which one is better. Both bet types can fit into an overall MLB handicapping strategy. As such, you should weigh the merits of both before you wager. In some cases, it may even make sense to place both wagers.

Are there any other MLB inning bets to consider?

While the F5 bet is becoming one of the most popular alternative betting options, there are other MLB offerings. In the “More Wagers” section of a book’s game listings, you may find markets for other segments of the game, such as:

  • First inning only
  • First three innings
  • First seven innings

Each has pros and cons, and there’s nothing to suggest that one is always better than the other. For situations where they make sense, you can consider the first inning or first three innings bets as solid options for teams on a hot streak or starting games fast.

The first seven innings wager may work when you feel confident about how the starters and middle relievers will perform on both sides. Just like deciding between the F5 and the moneyline, you should weigh the merits of each first. You may even find games in which it makes sense to place multiple wagers with innings bets.

MLB first five inning bet examples

While the first five innings bet has been around for a while, it has seen a popularity spike in recent times. We can attribute that to the explosion of legal sports betting across the US, as well as to handicappers seeking edges wherever they can find them.

The concept of the bet itself is simple, but that doesn’t translate into the bets being easy to win. It takes practice to get up to speed with first five innings bets and to handicap them successfully. We’ll go through some tips you can use.

For now, let’s cover some examples of how the bet type works. Let’s say there’s an interesting AL West matchup on the docket in which the F5 odds look like this:

Houston Astros -125
Oakland Athletics +105

The Astros are slight favorites for the first five innings. If you bet on that side and they lead after five, you win. They can have a lead of 3-2 or 10-1. It doesn’t matter. As long as they’re on top, Houston bettors have winning tickets.

The odds for this wager are on the tight side, so we can interpret that as a potential pitching duel. If the odds range was much wider, we could safely assume the oddsmakers see a mismatch on the hill, such as with this example of an NL West game:

Arizona Diamondbacks +170
San Diego Padres -200

The Padres are big favorites here. If you bet on them and your instincts are correct with a San Diego lead after five, you have a winner. An Arizona lead after five would mean that you have a losing ticket.

While the potential return shouldn’t be the sole deciding factor on your bets, it can certainly impact the appeal of F5 bets. A big favorite may not offer up a great return, while a large underdog could.

As you handicap a slate of games and scroll through the F5 offerings, you can make a note of which ones stand out on both sides, as well as the appealing ones in the middle. From there, you can zero in on that handful of contests to pick out the best F5 offerings of the day. We’ll run through some additional handicapping tips.

Calculating payouts for first five innings bets

Payouts for the first five innings bets will depend on the odds. There are a few ways to figure this out, so let’s start with some quick math. You can use the following formulas to figure returns depending on what the odds have to say, using the absolute value for negative odds figures:

Negative Odds: Bet Amount / (Odds/100) = Profit
Positive Odds: Bet Amount * (Odds/100) = Profit

There’s also a fast way to estimate potential returns. If the odds are negative, the number is also telling you how much you have to wager to get a profit of $100. For example, odds of -130 mean that you have to wager $130 to win $100 in profit.

When the odds are positive, the number also tells you how much you’ll profit on a winning $100 bet. If the odds for the first five innings side you want are at +145, you’d see a return of $145 on winning $100 bets.

Also, keep in mind that sportsbooks will display potential returns on your bets when you add them to the slip and plug in your bet amount. You can feel free to use this to see the possibilities, but use caution so you don’t accidentally submit before you’re ready to wager.

Handicapping calculators are available online that are free to use. You can enter in the odds and the amount of your wager to see the potential return.

Handicapping first five innings bets

While first five innings bets continue to grow in popularity, it doesn’t mean they’re an instant money machine. As with all sports betting, acquiring consistency takes practice, patience and effort. Here are some tips you can use as you work toward getting over the hump:

  • Fully Analyze the Starting Pitcher Matchup: One of the biggest factors in F5 betting is the starting pitcher matchup. You need to spend extra time here as a result. It’s important to dig deeper than just season-long stats. You’ll want to look toward recent starts and past performance against the current opponent, for example.
  • Spend Extra Time on Recent Play: Teams go through peaks and valleys during the lengthy MLB season. In a perfect world, you’ll strike at the right time and avoid teams that are set for a rough patch. A good indicator of what’s going on is the performance over the last three games, especially when it comes to figuring out which bats may get off to a lively start.
  • Find Value on the Odds Board: When there’s a big mismatch on the mound, it’ll be apparent on the odds board. There won’t be much of a return for betting on favorites. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t bank profits wherever you can, but you also need to keep your eyes open for better value spots in which you can potentially beef up the bottom line.

Having a handicapping plan can be the key to finding long-term success, but watch out for several other things. Here are three important points to keep in mind to avoid taking any big steps backward:

  • Take a Pass as Needed: There’s no need to place an F5 bet on every matchup on the docket. In fact, doing so could be a recipe for disaster when it’s just not your night. When going through the daily schedule, pinpoint the matchups you think are ripe to be exploited. Take a pass on the rest and focus your efforts on the games you find most appealing.
  • Stick to a Budget: The ultimate goal with sports betting is to turn a profit. To get to that point, you need to build up some consistency in your approach and results, as well as with your bankroll. You should have a set budget in place that you’re willing to wager on each F5 bet. Be sure to stick to it and resist the urge to move up in stakes before you’re ready.
  • Get Over Your Losses: Losses come with the territory of sports betting, and there’s simply no way to get around it. As opposed to lamenting the setbacks or approaching betting with a vengeance to get even, learn to take them in stride and gain wisdom from the lessons learned. If it’s a bad stretch overall, take the time to analyze your strategy to see if it needs any tweaks.

What to remember about first five innings bets

The first five innings bet continues to grow in popularity among MLB bettors. Also known as an F5 bet, its goal is to pick the side that will be ahead at that point.

Like with any other two-sided bet, there will be odds on both sides of the equation . The listed numbers may change depending on betting action, but you can always shop at multiple sportsbooks to find the best prices.

For handicapping the first five innings, one of the significant factors is the starting pitcher matchup. It is part of the appeal as the impact of bullpens on the results is limited.

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