Spread vs Moneyline Bets

Spread (points spread), moneyline, and totals (over/under) are the three standard bets you can find in many sports. The moneyline bet involves betting on the outright winner (favourite or underdog). Some games have draws.

The spread or point spread bet involves wagering on a team to cover a specified goal/point variation (spread). The totals bet involves betting on the combined number of points to exceed or not exceed a specified threshold. In this spread vs moneyline guide, we explore the key differences between the spread bet and the moneyline bet.

What is A Moneyline Bet?

A moneyline bet is the most popular betting market found in all sports. Every sports event has two expected outcomes; a winner and a loser. Some sports like soccer and hockey can result in draws, which result in three-way moneyline bets. However, each event usually has a favourite and an underdog. The favourite is the team more likely to win, while the underdog is likely to lose. Sports matches can have surprises, so sometimes the underdog wins, resulting in big payouts.

The moneyline bet will take different formats depending on the sport. Here's an example of a moneyline stake in NFL Super Bowl match between the Chiefs and Eagles:

  • Chiefs +110 vs. Eagles -130

In this match, the bookies consider the Eagles the favourite, so you must spend $130 to get a profit of $100 if the Eagles win the game. If you bet on the Chiefs, you can make a profit of $110 from a $100 bet, which means the Chiefs are the underdogs. Here’s another example of the moneyline bet in a hockey match between Toronto and Ottawa:

  • Maple Leafs -300 vs. Senators +250

In this example, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the favourites and require an investment of $300 to win $100. The Ottawa Senators are the underdogs and can win you $250 from a $100 bet. Some games have heavy favourites, while others are close, so the odds can be within a close range. The positive (+) sign denotes the underdog, while the negative (-) sign denotes the favourite.

In sports such as soccer, the moneyline bet comes with three options, also known as the 3-way moneyline. This is because soccer games can end in a tie/draw, like 0-0. Here’s an example of a three-way moneyline in the MLS match between CF Montreal and NY Red Bulls:

  • CF Montreal +137, Draw +260, New York Red Bull +175

In this example, betting on CF Montreal to win can provide a profit of $137 from a $100 bet, while betting on NY Red Bulls generates $175 from the same $100 bet. CF Montreal is the favourite. If you bet on the tie, you can win $260 from a $100 bet. The draw seems more unlikely in the game but is a possible outcome. You need a betting strategy to review the h2h stats and recent form before deciding to bet on the most unlikely outcome.

Moneyline Pros & Cons

The moneyline bet has many pros and cons. Seasoned punters who know the potential also use various strategies to increase their chances of making a profit. Here are some pros, cons, and strategies of moneyline betting:

Pros ✅Cons ❌
Favourites win most of the time, so you can increase your chances of winning.The favourite offers low payouts compared to the spread bet.
The bet is available in all sports and is the easiest to understand/execute.As a popular bet, the odds have little variation from bookie to bookie.
Nearly all sports events feature a moneyline bet, so you’ll never miss it in a bookie.You need a higher stake to back the favourite for significant payouts.


    • Back the favourite with big stakes
    • Choose a reputable licensed sportsbook
    • Review team history, statistics, and recent form
    • Consider using a strategy like parlays based on favourite teams

    What is A Point Spread Bet?

    The spread or point spread bet is another standard betting market in many sports. A spread bet wagers on points variation. For instance, you can bet on Team A to defeat Team B by two goals or more. At the same time, you can bet on Team B not losing to Team A by more than two goals. Point spread betting takes on different names depending on the spot. The spread is the common term in football, basketball, and soccer. Hockey bookies refer to it as Puck Line, while Baseball bookies call it Run Line. It means the same thing, the difference between the points, goals, pucks, or runs a team makes more than the opponent. Here's an example of a spread bet in the NFL Superbowl event referred to earlier:

    • Eagles -1.5 (-110) vs. Chiefs +1.5 (-110)

    We established the Eagles are the favourites, which is reflected again in the spread bet. The Eagles must score 1.5 points more than the chiefs to cover the -1.5 spread. An example is a scoreline of 38-36. If the Eagles lose or score less than 1.5 points, like in a 37-36 outcome, you lose the bet. You can bet against the spread, which means you're backing the underdog not to lose by the same threshold. In our example, the Chiefs must not lose by more than 1.5 points. Since there are no point-five (.5) in NFL scorelines, bookies use it as a hook to balance the bet. A 1.5 hook simply means the Eagles must score two goals and the Chiefs must not lose by more than 1 goal.

    The -110 included in the spread bet example is known as a “vig” and represents the amount the bookie is willing to take on the bet. In this example, the bookie needs a bet of $110 to provide a $100 profit if your team covers the spread. Some games feature teams with different vigs. Here’s an example using a Puck Line bet in a hockey event between the Maple Leafs and Senators:

    • Maple Leafs -1.5 (-111) vs. Senators +1.5 (-135)

    In this example, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the favourites to cover the -1.5 spread in a result like 4-2. If the game ends 3-2, or if Toronto loses, you lose the bet. The bookie needs $111 to give you a profit of $100 if Toronto covers the spread. However, the bookie needs more ($135) to make you $100 if you back the Senators against the spread.

    Point Spread Pros & Cons

    The spread bet is loved because you can make more money with the favourite, but there are many other advantages and drawbacks. Here are some of the top pros, cons, and strategies for spread betting:

    Pros ✅Cons ❌
    You can find better odds when backing the favourite compared to the moneyline.You can lose money even if the favourite team wins the game.
    You can still win with the underdog even if they lose the match.The bookie determines the spread threshold that you can accept or decline.
    You’ll find the spread bet in nearly all sports and bookiesYou’re at a disadvantage betting on the favourite.


    • Balance your bets between the favourite and the underdog
    • Review the team stats, recent form, and other aspects.
    • Back the underdog against the spread.

    Differences Between the Spread and the Moneyline

    What is the difference between the spread and the moneyline? This is the big question for new punters. The moneyline and spread bets are similar in many ways because they involve a favourite and an underdog. However, they feature fundamental differences. Here are some obvious ones:

    • Moneyline bets are easier to win

    The moneyline bet is easier to win, especially if the match has a heavy favourite. You can look up the head-to-head stats and recent performances to make a near-accurate prediction on who can win the event. Whether the favourite can cover a given spread is a different prediction and much harder to make.

    • Spread betting gives a better payout

    Spread betting features a higher risk because you're predicting how many goals a favourite will score more than an underdog. Bookies offer higher payouts for higher stakes. It's harder to predict if the team will cover the spread, and the underdog is usually at an advantage.

    • You can’t parlay the markets together

    Same-game parlays involve betting on different markets within the same game. You can bet on the moneyline (Eagles to win) and totals (game to end in over 55.5 goals). However, you can’t always parlay a moneyline and spread, so many bookies don’t offer such options.

    • When to bet on the moneyline?

    The best time to bet on the moneyline is when you have a clear favourite based on recent form and position or a heavy favourite in different-game parlays. You can also bet in single games with heavy favourites but the rewards will be low unless you increase the stake. The moneyline bet is good when backing the favourite because they statistically tend to win those matches.

    • When to bet on the spread bet

    Spread bets are great when there's a heavy favourite you believe can cover the spread. A match between serial winners of the tie in their best form and the underdogs in the worst predicament is the ideal choice for a point-spread bet. Otherwise, you can use it to fetch good returns, with underdogs betting against the spread. The underdog can lose the game and you'll still win if the favourites fail to cover the spread.

    • Is one of these markets better?

    Is moneyline better than spread, or is spread better? There's no straight answer to this because they have unique merits and drawbacks. Moneyline bets are better for backing the favourite, while spread bets can help you win with the underdog. None is particularly better than the other. If you're new, we recommend the moneyline before trying the spread. You should also research the teams and polish your betting strategies.


    What is a moneyline bet?

    A moneyline bet is a sports betting market that backs a team to win the match. For example, you can bet on Team A to win a football match against Team B or Team B to win. Some events accommodate a tie/draw, so you can also bet on the game to end in a tie, in a 3-way moneyline.

    What is a spread bet?

    A spread bet is a sports betting market that allows you to wager on the variation in points/goals scored between two teams. For instance, you can bet on Team A to win against Team B by more than 1.5 goals or Team B to lose by not more than 1.5 goals against the spread.

    Should I bet on the moneyline or spread?

    You can bet on the moneyline or the spread depending on the event and what you're willing to risk. If the game has an obvious favourite, the moneyline is the safe bet, but you may not make enough unless you increase the wager. A spread bet may offer higher rewards with more risk. The spread can also help you win by backing the underdog.

    How do I parlay moneyline and spread bets?

    You can make parlay bets involving the moneyline and other markets or the spread and other markets. Only parlays featuring the moneyline and point spread bets are unavailable. Otherwise, you can build your multi-bet slip as you desire. A moneyline and totals parlay or spread, and totals parlay are the most popular. You can also leverage in-game and player props.

    What other bet types can I place in Canadian sportsbooks?

    Apart from the moneyline and the spread bet, you can place the totals (over/under) bet, player props, and futures. Totals involve betting on whether the total number of points/goals will exceed or fail to exceed a specified threshold. Props involve specific in-play outcomes like how many corners a soccer match will produce or how many rebounds an NBA player will make.


    The spread and moneyline bets are traditional betting markets in Canadian sportsbooks and worldwide. You can use them in various situations to increase your likelihood of making a profit. The moneyline bet is also known as the outright winner, but the name is consistent across most sports. However, the spread may take on different names like Puck Lines and Run Lines. You should choose reputable sportsbooks licensed to offer bets in Canada. Make sure you stick to permitted betting strategies.