Beginner bettors might see the word moneyline a lot and wonder, ‘What is a moneyline?’ or ‘How does moneyline work?’ The moneyline bet is the most popular wager available at sportsbooks because it’s the most common market and the simplest to understand. Here, we’re going to break down everything you need to know about moneyline betting including what is a moneyline bet and how to make a successful moneyline wager.
Moneyline Betting Explained
If you’re going to get into sports betting, you need to understand what a moneyline bet is, when to make one, and how to bet on sports successfully. At the bare minimum, every major sports game will at least have a moneyline betting market if nothing else, so it’s the most common you’ll see while surfing on sports betting sites. With that in mind, we’re going to break down all the aspects of a good moneyline bet for you here.
What Is A Moneyline?
A moneyline bet refers to a bet on the result of any given sports game. While props and other more specialized bets have become much more popular in recent years, the moneyline bet is the original wager and the simplest one to make. For most sports, you’re betting on who will win that game, Team A or Team B. In some sports there is the third option of the draw or tie, which is often referred to as a 3-way moneyline bet.
The moneyline bet usually has a favorite and an underdog, with the favorite the more likely to win and the underdog less likely. That means that a bet on a moneyline favorite is a less risky play, but one that also brings you less reward if you do win. On the other side, an underdog bet is a bit more risky, but the rewards are often much higher.
In rare situations there might be two teams so evenly matched that there is no favorite or underdog, and those situations often result in even odds for both sides on the moneyline. It’s a rare occurrence, but it does happen on occasion.
With most moneyline bets there are only two possible outcomes: either the team you bet on wins, or the team you didn’t bet on wins. If the team you bet on wins, the sportsbook pays out to you, if the other team wins, the sportsbook keeps your stake. Either the favorite wins as expected, which gives bettors on that team small rewards, or the underdog wins unexpectedly, which gives bettors on that team a return that’s a little bit more substantial.
However, in some sports, like soccer and hockey, you’ll see a 3-way moneyline bet, which also includes the possibility of a tie. Ties are pretty common in those sports, so the moneyline odds for all three outcomes will go up because of that added possibility of a draw. The fact that there are three outcomes here means two things.
One, you’re now making a bet on something that has three possible outcomes instead of two, which makes it more likely that you’ll bet on the wrong one. And two, since each outcome is less likely, if you do bet on the right one you’re likely betting on a market with higher odds and therefore a higher reward for the bettor. As with anything related to betting, there’s always pros and cons, bookmakers and oddsmakers don’t want to be giving cash away for free; there’s a reason those companies make so much money.
Understanding odds or lines for your moneyline bet is crucial to having success with sports betting, because the odds are not only the implied probability of your bet hitting, but they also determine how much money you will win based on that probability. There are a few different ways that sportsbooks will display odds: decimal, fractional, and America.
Fractional and Decimal odds, i.e. odds displayed as decimal numbers such as 1.3 or 4.5 or fractions, such as 5/1 or 9/8, are relatively similar, as the lower the number, the lower the odds, and the lower the payout. To figure out your payout, all you have to do is multiply your betting stake by the number displayed for the odds and you have your return.
The most common way to display odds in North America is with American style odds. These types of odds are displayed with either a ‘-’ or a ‘+’ in front of a number. A ‘-’ means something is more likely to happen than not, and the higher the number next to the ‘-’ the lower the odds on the bet. The opposite is true for the ‘+’ which identifies a market as less likely to occur than not, and the higher the number next to the ‘+’ the higher the odds.
The number next to the ‘-’ is how much money you need to bet to win $100 while the number next to the ‘+’ is how much money you would win if you bet $100.
For example, a bet with -500 moneyline odds is pretty much a sure thing and kind of a useless bet, as the risk doesn’t outweigh the reward: you’d have to bet $500 just to win $100. A bet with -110 odds is about an even proposition and more of a reasonable bet. A bet with moneyline odds of +2,000 means $100 nets you $2,000, but it also means that bet is a big long shot.
Line movement is also important to betting, as the odds won’t always remain the same in the days and hours leading up to the game because of factors such as injuries, weather, matchups etc. Team A might start with -250 odds as the favorite, but if their best player is announced to be sitting out, their line might move way over to the other side to +150.
Line movement refers to the odds sliding back and forth based on those hard factors, but it also might move based on how much money is being put on one team or another. If a team has +250 odds to win and a ton of people are betting that number, the sportsbooks will move the line down to something like +150 or +200 so that they cover themselves better if that underdog team does win. As much as line movement is about who will win the game, it’s also about the sportsbooks ensuring that they don’t ever lose too much money on any one game. The usual shelf life of moneyline odds goes something like this:
- Odds are set by a market-setting (sharp) sportsbook
- Competitors copy and paste those odds
- More information comes in regarding the game, which allows the sportsbooks to sharpen their lines and bring them closer to what they believe is the true implied probability of each outcome
- The line closes when the game begins (unless you’re live betting), this line is generally believed to be the most accurate probability for each outcome
Moneyline vs. Point Spread
The moneyline bet is the most basic, but sometimes teams are so much better or worse than their opponents that the moneyline odds become prohibitive for the favorite bettors or unrealistic for the underdog bettors. That’s why the point spread, also referred to as the runline in baseball and the puckline in hockey, was incorporated into the betting system.
The point spread allows for bettors to make more reasonable bets with more reasonable odds on a game even if the two teams are not remotely evenly matched. For example, if a big NCAA basketball program like Michigan State is taking on a tiny school like Appalachian State, there’s pretty much no chance of the latter winning.
Therefore, moneyline bets on Michigan State will have prohibitive moneyline odds like -950 or something in that range because they’re such a sure thing that the sportsbook doesn’t want anyone winning too much money on Michigan State. On the flip side, the sportsbook won’t be getting any bets on Appalachian State because no one believes they can actually win.
That’s where the point spread comes in. Basically it gives the underdog team a head start at the beginning of the game by having them begin with a certain amount of points. It’s basically how much the oddsmakers think the favorite is going to win by.
So with our example, a point spread for such a mismatch might have Michigan State as -21.5 point favorites, meaning they need to win by 22 or more for Michigan State bettors to win their bets, and Appalachian State bettors just need their team to lose by 21 or less. It makes for a much more even scale for both sides, which is why the point spread is one of the most popular ways to bet.
Moneyline Implied Probability
The odds on any given wager refer to the implied probability of that proposition. Basically, oddsmakers are taking the implied probability or likelihood of something happening in a game and putting a number on it that punters can bet on. If you see a moneyline betting market with a ‘-’ that means that outcome is more likely to happen than not, while a ‘+’ means that outcome is less likely to happen.
For example, if the Kansas City Chiefs have +150 moneyline odds on NFL betting sites, they’re an underdog and seen as the unlikelier of the two teams to win, while the Philadelphia Eagles, with -150 moneyline odds, are seen as the favorite and the more likely of the two teams to come out on top. Basically, the higher the implied probability, the lower the odds, and therefore the lower your payout. That’s why it doesn’t pay to bet on sure things when everyone knows it’s a sure thing.
To calculate the literal implied probability of a bet and see it in percentage form, the formula is simple. Just input the American odds for x in the below formulas.
- For negative odds: x/(x + 100) x 100
- For positive odds: 100/(x + 100) x 100
Therefore in our example based on the implied probability, the Eagles have a 60 percent chance of winning on an NFL moneyline bet while the chiefs have a 40 percent chance of winning.
Moneyline Betting Tips
You can’t just jump into a sportsbook and start betting willy nilly, you need to know what’s going on to give yourself a chance against the mighty sportsbooks. You need to have some knowledge on what you’re betting on so you have a chance at finding some value.
One of the best ways to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your betting buck is to shop lines. When betting on the moneyline, you want to figure out the implied probability on a given bet and figure out how close that number is to what your own estimated probability is for that market. If we use our Eagles-Chiefs example above, if you think the Eagles have a better than 60 percent chance of winning, there’s value on them at -150.
But what if you could find the Eagles at -110 or -120? That means you’re finding even more value on the Eagles. Line shopping allows you to search many different sportsbooks to find the odds that give you the most value on your bet. Instead of settling for the first odds you find at -150, you can go out and look for a better price that will net you more winnings somewhere else.
The most important thing you can do is make yourself aware of everything that’s going on surrounding the game you want to bet on. You want to know which players are in and which players are out and whether this team or that team plays well in this kind of weather.
You also want to make sure you’re aware of any trends or patterns going into the game. It could be things like a player playing especially well against his old team, a certain team having another team’s number over the past few years, a rivalry between two teams or players, certain teams playing better against west coast teams, or certain teams underperforming when they play at home. Any significant or reliable pattern can give you a big edge when you’re betting on the moneyline.
Moneyline Betting: Singles vs. Parlays
Parlays have become all the rage recently, and for good reason: they offer a huge return when compared to a single moneyline bet. What you’re trying to do is link several winning bets together to win more money from the parlay. However, we would advise against parlay betting if you’re just getting started.
All you’re doing with parlay betting is essentially compounding your chance of losing. There’s a reason sportsbooks have been pushing parlays so much recently: it’s just a faster way of making them money. Parlays almost always come in with + odds which means the implied probability of you winning is below 50 percent. Bettors should stick to single moneyline bets until they’ve become enough of an expert on a sport to confidently string several different bets together.
One way to beat the sportsbooks is to find correlated parlays. These types of parlays group together bets where the likelihood of one leg hitting increases the other leg’s chance of hitting. For example, say we have a high-scoring team, you can parlay their moneyline with the over on the total of the game because if they win, they’re likely to do it while scoring a lot of points.
Unfortunately, however, some of these correlated parlays are blocked by sportsbooks if they’re too obvious, for example parlaying a bet on a quarterback to throw three touchdowns with a bet on that team’s over. The rare times when bettors hit big on parlays and share them on social media have become valuable marketing tools for sportsbooks looking to push parlays, but try to avoid the temptation of parlays and stick to singles bets.
If you’re going to play the game, you should make sure you know the rules first. There aren’t many rules when it comes to moneyline betting because it’s a rather simple proposition, but that said there are a few to keep in mind.
- In the NFL and NBA, all moneyline bets include any overtimes that may occur.
- In the NFL, where ties are exceedingly rare, a tie will result in a push, which means the bettor and the sportsbook have tied and the stake is returned to the bettor.
- If a game is not completed for any reason, the bettor’s stake will be returned to them.
In a UFC or Boxing match, a draw or majority draw will result in a push, which means the bettor gets their stake back.
Popular Sports to Bet the Moneyline
The moneyline bet is the basis of any betting for most sports, but there are a few that are more popular than others.
- NFL - The biggest sport in America, the NFL is popular because of the athletic displays of its athletes and the hard-hitting toughness that players exhibit as well. The Super Bowl is usually the sporting event that sees the most betting in North America.
- NHL - The biggest sport in Canada, hockey regularly has overtime or shootouts to decide a game, which adds a level to the betting. NHL betting sites are helping the game grow, especially in America.
- NBA - One of the fastest growing sports in the world, the NBA is a popular league because of the athleticism on display and the many superstars in the game today.
- MLB - Baseball is largely about the pitcher, so people are really betting more on a pitcher to have a good day rather than the overall team a lot of the time, which makes baseball betting unique.
- College Football - Arguably as popular as the pro version, the NFL, college football is a religion for many in America and is a much more wide open and unpredictable game than the product in the NFL.
- College Basketball - While much of the college basketball season is ignored by many, there’s nothing quite like the championship tournament, also known as March Madness, which is one of the most popular sporting and betting events in North America because of how commonly huge upsets occur, especially in the early stages of the tournament.
What is the moneyline?
The moneyline refers to the odds for each team to win a given game.
Can you include moneyline bets in a parlay?
Yes, you can parlay nearly any betting market nowadays, but that doesn’t mean that you should, as explained above.
Do different sportsbooks have different moneyline odds?
Yes, when making a bet you should search around loads of different sportsbooks to make sure you’re getting the best value on your bet.
Are moneyline bets good bets?
They’re no better or worse than any other bets, it all depends on the odds you’re seeing. Anything too high or too low is probably not worth your money, so when making moneyline bets try to stick to the more evenly-matched matchups.
Can my moneyline odds change once I’ve placed my bet?
No, while the line may move up or down a lot until the game actually starts, once you place a bet, you’re locked into the odds that were there when you made the bet.
What does Draw No Bet mean?
Draw No Bet happens when a game that didn’t offer a tie as a moneyline option ends in a tie. When this occurs, the bet is off, the stake is returned to the bettor, and it’s like the bet never happened.
Hopefully you now have a firm grasp on everything that has to do with a moneyline bet, from what exactly it is, when to make them, what moneyline odds really mean, and resisting the allure of the parlay.