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Gambling 101: What are Puck Lines and Run Lines?

Our Gambling 101 series continues with look at puck lines and run lines. How do bettors read and wager on these handicap style betting options?

Part of the point spread family of betting odds, bettors are offered puck lines when they wager on hockey and run lines to bet on baseball. Different from football and basketball ATS odds, which can be posted at 17 points or more, pre-game hockey and baseball point spreads are always 1.5 goals or runs. This is due to both sports being relatively low scoring. As such, it doesn’t leave bookmakers with very much wiggle room when setting the odds. Let’s break it down.

How to Bet on Puck Lines in Hockey

Hockey is a fast moving, hard hitting and action packed sport. While exciting to watch, NHL contests are often low scoring and tightly contested affairs. When wagering on pre-game puck lines, bettors give up -1.5 goals to back the favorite and receive +1.5 goals to bet on the underdog. Bettors need to pay attention to the puck line juice as it can be expensive. Favorites in hockey receive plus juice pricing while the underdogs are posted with a negative number.


In the example above, Detroit bettors receive 1.5 goals prior to the game and need the underdog Red Wings to win outright or lose by just one goal. As noted, by the (-180) juice, it costs $180 to win $100 with Detroit. Pittsburgh backers are down by 1.5 goals prior to the game and the Penguins need to win by at least two goals to cash a winning ticket. Juice is more favorable when laying pucks with favorites as $100 wager on Pittsburgh returns a $160 profit.

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How to Bet on Run Lines in Baseball

Baseball favorites begin the game with a 1.5 run deficit while the underdog is up by 1.5 runs prior to the first pitch. In the example below, Chicago is chalk, giving up -1.5 runs, and bettors need to wager $100 to earn a $140 return on the Cubs. Philadelphia is the underdog, receiving +1.5 runs, but it costs $160 to win a $100 wager on the Phillies. Baseball and hockey two-way run line wagers are decided after regulation time, plus any extra play, and a PUSH is not possible.

mlb runlines

In both hockey and baseball, LIVE in-play point spreads move according to the score of the match. MLB odds often change more dramatically as a run line will balloon if either side has a big inning. For instance, using the line above, if Philadelphia went up 3-0 after the first inning, the LIVE betting run line would likely move to Philadelphia -3.5 with juice in the (-130) range. Laying pucks or runs is a best bet when wagering research shows one side being vastly superior to the other.