America’s New Favorite Baseball Bet: NRFI

Apr 29, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; A view of the Franklin batting glove and Sam Bat used by Chicago White Sox left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

America’s New Favorite Baseball Bet: NRFI

The MLB season is now just over 20 games old, and team outlooks are beginning to appear more clear. As baseball continues on through the summer, and it reaches the front pages of sports news, more and more bettors begin to place wagers on the sport as they believe they know more about the games than they would’ve earlier in the season.

Though this may be true, it doesn’t mean that bettors are any more accurate. Baseball is maybe the hardest American sport to bet on because any team can win any game. 

Unlike the NFL, where the Jets are never going to beat the Chiefs, the last-place Cincinnati Reds do have a real chance at beating a first-placed Yankees team if either their pitching or hitting gets hot for just a few hours. Every hitter in the MLB can hit, and every pitcher can pitch.

The New Bet

Baseball is slow, and no one’s denying that. The MLB has applied measures to speed up the game, and they continue to try and solve their biggest problem: a massive decrease in fan engagement.

Part of what makes this new kind of bet fun is that you can watch it happening without getting bored. The NRFI bet stands for the No Run First Inning bet. Basically, you bet on neither team scoring a run in the first inning of a game. 

The bet is intriguing because you don’t have to watch all three hours of a baseball game for the outcome. Bettors like to watch their bets as they’re taking place; that’s what’s most fun about sports betting and it’s why millions of people wager on sports every day. 

In the NRFI bet, you watch one inning, which usually takes around 20 minutes. The part-game bets have been increasing in popularity in other sports like the NBA, where bettors place money on outcomes of quarters. 

Sometimes we just don’t have hours in our day to watch the game, but we want to watch the bet from beginning to end. 

So, the NRFI bet is perfect. It’s perfect for the fans, and it’s perfect for the MLB because it has rapidly improved their viewership numbers, at least for the first inning of games. Even if many turn the game off after that, some get hooked and continue watching the product.


So why is the NRFI bet more popular than the YRFI? Well, that has to do with how the game begins. The game starts at 0-0, meaning the bet is already hitting at the first pitch, assuming there isn’t a leadoff home run off pitch number one.

Casual bettors tend to pick bets that hit right from the start, needing nothing to happen to cash out. Logically, at 0-0, with fresh pitchers, bettors believe that the bet is a lock.

The odds are usually between -120 and -200, so the value to the naked eye is pretty good.

But the opposite has been true thus far this season. Right now there are 11 MLB teams who cash the NRFI bet more often, while 17 teams are more consistent cashing the YRFI bet. 

Even if it were 50/50, because of the value, the YRFI bet would be generally the better pick.

The reason it’s so hard to pick, and so fun, is because of the odd trends. The very poor Baltimore Orioles are 16/23 cashing the NRFI while the first-place Mets are right behind them in that category. The White Sox, who have gotten off to a subpar start are surprisingly 15/22 cashing the YRFI.

Six outs are all it takes to cash this bet, and because of this, it’s absolutely thrilling. Betting on baseball has become not just a gambler’s habit, but something to do with all your friends. Sitting around the television, a laptop, or your phone while you travel, huddled around a screen to watch baseball for just 20 minutes in hope of earning some cash, is extremely enticing.

If the MLB wants to increase viewership, the sports betting route may be the way to grow the game back into what it used to be.


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