Betting Baseball 101 – First 5 Betting

As part of our 101 series we want to introduce you to the art of First 5 wagers.

Most recreational handicappers, or those who most often bet on the primetime games, i.e. Monday Night Baseball, Sunday Night Baseball, Red Sox v. Yankees, or any other high profile match up just want to get a taste of the action and don’t mind dropping $20 on the game so they can have some good water cooler talk the next day. However most don’t actually know what they are betting on or if their bet is actually any good. So lets break down all the options at your disposal. Just a note we will not be discussing prop bets for this particular post as that will be forthcoming.

The key to becoming a better handicapper is to understand what your betting on and determining if its a good bet. How do you know it’s a good bet? Well, what’s important is comparing what you believe the likelihood of an outcome to be compared to what the sportsbook believes that outcome will be.


Today our focus in on betting First 5’s. This is the what we at use as our primary wagering driver. You will notice that most of our bets utilize this component of baseball handing capping.

But what is a First 5 Bet?

A First 5 bet is exactly like a full game wager in baseball except the results are tallied at the End of the 5th inning. The same rules apply to First 5’s just like they do for standard wagering. To understand how standard wagering works take a look at our previous blog post.

Betting Baseball 101 – Types of Bets


When it comes to First 5’s you may ask yourself the following questions:

What is the appeal of First 5 wagering?

Is there more value to betting First 5’s?

Are they’re any benefits?


The Appeal

So what’s the appeal to betting a First 5?

The most desirable aspect to betting First 5’s is for professional gamblers it reduces risk. By reducing the wager to only the first 5 innings you as a gambler no longer have the built in risk of the last 4 innings.

Why is this important?

In today’s baseball world Saber Metrics have become an extremely important aspect to baseball both from a team perspective and from a handicapping perspective. If you do not know what Saber Metrics are we will be covering these in a future post.

Teams today utilize Saber metrics to become more efficient and long term produce more wins for the franchise. The impact over the last several years has been centered around pitching. In today’s game most pitchers typically do not exceed the 6th inning often times the 5th inning. This has reduced over pitching allowing for more games to be played by pitchers over their career in an attempt to hold on to a great pitcher longer.

But how is the important to baseball handicapping and most importantly First 5 Handicapping?


The Value of First 5’s

Since Saber Metrics have become such a vital piece of how a professional team manages their club we can use this knowledge and transfer this into first 5 information.

Knowing that the starting pitcher plays a vital role in the performance of a first 5 outcome your first analysis when determining first 5’s should be reviewing the pitchers performance over the career, season, home/road splits, vs. team, and recent history. Is the starting pitching good or bad?

Typically teams will try and adjust their rotation to align their best pitches with the opponents best pitching allowing for less variability in a specific game. However this doesn’t always happen. This is when you can use this opportunity to make an informed wagering decision.

The second biggest factor we use at Bet-MLB is comparing the starting pitcher to the performance of the batting lineup. Is the team weak or strong? is the teams first 5 batters in a slump? Are there any injuries or players returning from injury? Answering these questions can decrease your variance and afford you the ability to greater understand the projected outcome.


The Benefits and Opportunity

There are inherent benefits to betting first 5 like the reduction of risk and more consistency in probable outcomes. This for professional gamblers is also a weaker market and allows for greater flexibility. Large wager bettors can often shape these First 5 lines much more than they can the total game as not as many people bet on first 5’s than stand games?

Why is that?

Mainly because the general public doesn’t know what they, what they mean, or how to bet on them.

These lines can be referred to as soft lines where most books have to put out these lines but do not have as much information or are informed enough to make the lines more appropriate to what they should be. This can save you a few points and in the long term keep more money in your pocket instead of lending it to the house hold.

First 5’s are a heaven and hell experience. Nothing is more frustrating as a consistent first 5 bettor than having a team lose their first 5 but win the game. But this is the nature of the beast.

We hope you use this knowledge to become a more informed handicapper and more successful at the sports book.


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