When it comes to sports betting, what is a moneyline bet? 🎯

A moneyline bet is the most straightforward and time-tested wager available. The first sports bettors, while it’s doubtful they called it that, most likely bet on the moneyline. So, what exactly is a moneyline wager? When a bettor bets on the moneyline, they simply choose a winning side. Spread betting, on the other hand, uses a handicap to supposedly balance the chances on both sides.

Moneyline Bet - Check our definitive guide and find out how to place a moneyline bet

All that is required of the bettor’s selection is for it to win, and the moneyline bet will pay off. While a moneyline bet appears to be the most straightforward wager in theory, there are certain nuances to be aware of. Continue reading to learn more about moneyline betting, including what it is and how it works.

WHAT DOES A MONEYLINE BET ENTAIL?

A moneyline bet is a bet on one club or player defeating another. Following the conclusion of a game or match, the sportsbook assigns a grade to a bet in one of three ways:

  • Victory – The chosen squad triumphed. The bet plus the profits are returned to the player by the sportsbook.
  • Loss – The chosen team was defeated. The stake is kept by the sportsbook.
  • Tie – The game or a portion of the game (half, quarter, period, etc.) ended in a tie. The stake is returned by the sportsbook, and it’s as if the wager never happened.

At sportsbooks, moneyline bets will display as follows:

  • Cincinnati Bengals +160 vs. Los Angeles Rams -190

As an example, consider the recent Super Bowl between the Rams and the Bengals.

The best approach to learn about moneyline wagers is to place a $100 wager. In the example above, the underdog Bengals had a moneyline of +160. If the Bengals had won the game, a $100 gamble at +160 would have returned $160. Underdogs are popular among bettors since they are usually “plus” money. A bet on the underdog pays out more money per unit than a bet on the favoured. In this case, the Rams were favoured by a -190 moneyline. To win $100, a bettor would have to stake $190. Because the favourite is thought to have a stronger probability of winning, a winning wager will normally pay out less than the original stake.

WHAT ARE MONEYLINE BETS AND HOW DO THEY WORK?

The payouts for moneyline bets vary depending on the perceived strength of the individual competitors in the betting market. Because the moneyline payments reflect the situation, it’s not as simple as betting good teams to beat poor teams. That is, you will risk a lot to win a little by “laying” a bet with the sportsbook.

Different odds formats are used in different parts of the world. American odds are calculated using a “plus/minus” system based on $100 bets.

A negative sign is used to indicate the favourite team, which is then followed by a number. The figure represents the amount of money needed to win $100. So, if the odds are -400, you must wager $400 to win $100.

A plus sign with a number will be used for the underdog. This figure represents the possible winnings on a $100 bet. So, on a $100 bet, +400 indicates you’d win $400.

Let’s take a look at some games from the 2021 NFL season for some real-world examples. With odds from DraftKings Sportsbook, we’ll look at how the moneyline differs in three separate matches. The first two are from Week 1, and the last one is from Week 17, which is a long way down the road.

IMPLIED PROBABILITY AND MONEYLINES

At a sportsbook, moneylines are more than just wagering options. They reflect the current market perception of an event, such as San Francisco’s victory over Detroit in Week 1 of the NFL season.

Non-bettors can get useful knowledge about event probabilities by following the betting market in this way. Many supporters would be intrigued to learn that their team had a 20% chance of pulling off an upset against a favourite.

What is the formula for calculating the implied probability from a moneyline? Replace “x” in these formulae with the absolute value of the American odds:

  • Odds in the negative: x/(x+100)
  • 100/(x+100) = 100/(x+100) = 100/(x+100) = 100/(x

Then multiply the value by 100 to get the final result. In the example above, the 49ers have a 79.16 percent chance of beating the Lions, while the Lions have a 25.64 percent chance of pulling off the upset.

“Wait a minute,” you might be thinking to yourself. “The sum of those percentages is greater than 100.”

HOW DOES THE SPORTSBOOK PROFIT FROM MONEYLINE BETS?

In the case of San Francisco vs. Detroit, notice the “gap” between the two numbers. For example, instead of being +380, San Francisco is -380 and Detroit is +290. The vigorish, sometimes known as the vig or “juice,” is the fee charged by the bookmaker for accepting your wager.

Imagine betting on both sides to see how this works. If you bet $380 on San Francisco and $100 on Detroit, regardless of which team won, you’d get your original $480 back if Detroit was +380 instead of +290.

A market containing +380 and -380 options is a fair market with no vig because the implied probabilities total 100. Outside of a few promo offers that may occur from time to time, the bookmakers want to make a profit, therefore they include some vig.

To calculate the amount of vig in a market, do some basic math based on the moneylines available. More information regarding the arithmetic behind the vig can be found on this page. To derive the “real” implied probability from a line, divide the line’s implied probability by the total implied probabilities of all available options in the market.

When compared to other types of bets such as props and futures, moneyline markets should have a relatively low vig. Moneylines, on the other hand, are usually more bettor-friendly. The market vig in the San Francisco/Detroit scenario above is 4.58 percent. That’s just a smidgeon more than a standard spread betting market with -110 on both sides and a vig of 4.54 percent.

In any scenario, in order to make a bet with a positive expectation (+EV), the bettor must estimate San Francisco’s chances of winning to be higher than the 79.16 percent mentioned above. To expect a profit, the bettor must clear the bar of not just the (lower) no-vig probability, but also the probability with vig incorporated.

WHY DO MONEYLINE ODDS CHANGE AND HOW DO THEY CHANGE?

When a market-setting sportsbook opens a line, moneylines begin. You can find out if a book sets markets by doing some basic Googling. Only a few people are capable of doing so. Typically, a sportsbook will just copy lines from market-setters, or books that accept high-limit bets from keen, winning gamblers.

A moneyline’s average lifespan is something like this:

  • A market-setting sportsbook (also known as a sharp) opens a market.
  • Competitors plagiarise and resell the market.
  • Everyone’s boundaries are set quite modest at first. The exact dimensions are determined by the book.
  • As the game date approaches, the market becomes increasingly flooded with information. The books can use this information to sharpen the line, bringing it closer to its “real” odds.
  • As the books gain confidence in their numbers, they broaden the boundaries. Again, the books usually follow the market setters’ lead, with some minor variations based on house risk.
  • When the game starts, the line shuts. The closing line, in principle, depicts the most accurate representation of the event’s possibilities.

The flow of information into the market is the most important factor here. Injuries, weather, and other factors are among the data. Bets are also included.

Sharp players who place maximum bets are penalised by sportsbooks. When a line changes, it usually signifies that sharp players have entered the game. The sportsbook takes these viewpoints into account and adjusts the line appropriately. If the book received some high-limit action from reputable accounts on Lions +290, for example, you might see Lions +250 the next day when you log in.

LINE SHOPPING: HOW SHOULD BETTORS GO ABOUT PLACING MONEYLINE BETS?

When deciding whether or not to bet a moneyline, one must first calculate the implied market probability and compare it to the bettor’s estimated likelihood.

There’s value in believing the 49ers have a greater than 80% chance of beating the Lions.

What if you could find the 49ers at -350 in another market? Betting on the 49ers now has a higher return on investment.

Line shopping, or comparing prices at many sportsbooks, allows bettors to find the most profitable wager in the market. You know you’re going to wager the 49ers, but instead of accepting the -380 offered by DraftKings, shop around to see if you can get a better deal elsewhere.

Paying -380 instead of -350 may not seem like a big issue. That’s a $30 difference if you’re playing for $100. Sure, no one would turn down $30, but it wouldn’t make a significant difference in most people’s life.

When you multiply that $30 by hundreds or thousands of wagers, you can see how much of a difference it makes in the long run.

SHOULD I PUT MONEY ON THE MONEYLINE Bet?

In general, bettors should consider the moneyline as a viable choice. For newcomers, they offer a simple and natural approach to learn about the market. You win if your chosen team or athlete wins. It doesn’t get any simpler than that when it comes to betting.

Perhaps most importantly, as previously said, the bookmaker often takes a low vig. Betting into low-vig markets is recommended for all sports bettors, whether they are playing for enjoyment or profit.

Second, bettors may quickly determine whether a wager matches their value barrier. Simply convert the moneyline to implied likelihood and then use your best judgement to determine how that number relates to your own estimate.

Finally, betting the moneyline aligns your interests with those of the team or athlete. This is best illustrated by a common NFL scenario.

Consider a situation in which a team is behind 24-20 on the final drive of the game, but they’ve moved to the opposition 20-yard line and are facing fourth down. They ended up as a +3 underdog.

A field goal would be kicked if the team’s goal was to cover the spread. However, the spread has no bearing on the team’s goal. They are looking to win the game. They’ll either score a touchdown and win the game, or they’ll lose and fail to cover the point spread.

A gamble on the moneyline would be significantly more enticing in this situation. If the team scores and wins, you’ll gain something like +140 on your bet instead of -110 for three points that were ultimately useless.

WHERE DO MONEYLINE BET PARLAYS FIT IN?

Parlays are popular among sports bettors. After all, they typically pay out far more than a straight bet.

Parlays are also acceptable. However, they aren’t always a good choice. This is because most bettors’ wagers have a negative expected value (-EV). And for a parlay to have a +EV, it must have a +EV on the majority, if not all, of the bets in the parlay.

Isn’t that correct? When a group of successful bets is linked together, they win more money.

Because most bettors are unable to reach that threshold, parlays merely hand the house money at a faster rate, increasing the house’s profit margin. They should avoid parlays until they have more experience and are confident in their ability to predict a positive outcome.

Correlative parlays are an exception. These wagers connect two or more associated events, with the possibility of one leg of the parlay striking increasing the chances of the other. The most basic example would be combining the moneyline of a favourite, high-scoring club with the over on the game’s total. If the team plays well, they will most likely score a lot of points, increasing their chances of winning the game.

Most bookmakers have safeguards in place to prohibit gamblers from entering highly connected parlays, such as Patrick Mahomes over 3.5 touchdowns with the Chiefs’ team total over.

However, at a few American sportsbooks, same-game parlays have become a marketing gimmick. They’ve grown in popularity as a result of large winning bets that have gone viral on social media. Bettors can take advantage of unusual +EV parlays as long as the bookies allow it.

LIVE BETTING AND MONEYLINES

With the advancement of technology, live betting has become increasingly popular. Because of the enhanced speed of the bookies’ technology, they can now post in-game lines even faster and more efficiently. This provides the bettor with extra opportunity to identify value, as well as arbitrage and middling opportunities – but that’s a topic for another day.

Sportsbetting sites usually publish in-game lines during commercial breaks. Among the markets, they frequently contain a moneyline.

Because the sportsbook doesn’t have as much time or information to establish a sharp line, live betting can provide a wonderful chance for bettors. To compensate, they’ll often put more vig in the lines than usual. When looking for live betting value on the moneyline, keep this in mind.

Explained: Moneyline wager

The favourite, underdog, and “even” or “pick ’em” are the three components of a moneyline wager that you’ll see when looking at prospective bets.

(1) The most popular

The favourite is the athlete or team that is thought to have a better chance of winning. To win $100 using $100 as the usual betting unit, a bettor would have to gamble the amount specified (i.e. -150). In this case, a bettor would have to put down $150 in order to win $100. If the bet wins, the sportsbook will pay the stake ($150) plus the win ($100) for a total of $250. On the moneyline, a favourite is always symbolised by a negative sign (-).

(2) The outcast

The underdog is a player or team that is thought to have a lower chance of winning. Using $100 as the normal betting unit, a bettor would have to bet $100 to win the amount mentioned (i.e. +150) for an underdog victory. In this case, a bettor would bet $100 and win $150, for a total payout of $250. On the moneyline, an underdog is always symbolised by a plus sign (+) and will pay out more money than the original wager.

(3) Pick ’em or Even

When two teams are so close in terms of skill level that the bookmaker decides to price them as equally likely to win or lose, the game is called a ‘even’ or ‘pick ’em’ game. In this situation, bettors on both sides would earn the same amount of money if their wagers were successful. In this case, bettors would earn $100 on a $100 stake, for a total payoff of $200. The words ‘even’ (EV) or ‘pick ’em’ (PK) are frequently listed on the moneyline in an even or pick ’em game. The equivalent wager amount (+100) or a combination of phrases such as (Even +100) will be used to indicate it. A bettor who wins an even or pick’em bet will receive the same amount wagered.

On a moneyline bet, there are three possible outcomes.

Win

When bettors accurately predict the winning person or team – or a draw if it is specifically presented as a possible conclusion – they will win their wager. In a soccer/European football match or a boxing/MMA battle, the draw is usually a possibility.

Loss

When bettors fail to correctly predict the winning player or team, they will lose their wager. In a game or fight that ends in a draw, bettors will also lose if they did not select ‘draw.’

“Draw no bet” or “Draw”

While a draw is not provided as a result on a moneyline bet when that event is possible, it is known as a “Draw no bet.” This is particularly common in soccer/European football matches, because a moneyline bet only allows one team to win. When this form of betting ends in a tie, bettors will receive their entire stake back, as if their gamble had finished in a ‘push.’ However, if a draw is an option on a moneyline bet, the only way for bettors to win is if they choose a draw as the outcome. Otherwise, gamblers will lose their money. (Note: If you used a promotional “risk free bet,” the result is slightly different.)

The link between the moneyline and the point spread

While a moneyline bet does not require a pick based on the point spread, it is linked to it in terms of potential reward. Picking a 3-point favourite (ie: -160 ML) will have a better payout than picking a 7-point favourite (ie: -350 ML).

A 3-point favourite in an NFL game, for example, may have a moneyline status of -160 per $100 bet, reflecting a perceived tiny gap in team levels; the underdog would be priced around +135 in this case. When the point spread widens, choosing the favourite on a moneyline wager necessitates wagering more money in order to get the same return. On the moneyline, a team that is a 7-point favourite could be -350, while the underdog could be +285.

It’s worth noting that the translation from spread to moneyline varies per sport. A 7-point victory in the NFL is not the same as a 7-point victory in the NBA.

In the NFL, for example, really strong favourites can have a moneyline of -700 or greater, indicating you’d have to bet $700 to win $100. However, upsets occur frequently, and an underdog victory would pay roughly +500 if you bet that manner, risking only $100 for a chance to win $500. Without a doubt, the point spread is the great equaliser!

WHAT Occurred TO MY MONEYLINE BET?

When a game lands exactly on the spread, which is termed as a “push,” the stake is frequently returned to the bettor. Of course, this is only achievable with even spreads, such as +6 instead of +6.5.

This is significantly less likely with moneyline betting, although it does happen occasionally when your bet pushes or is cancelled.

Tied games are the most obvious example. Ties are conceivable in several sports, such as NFL football. If a game is tied, a wager on the moneyline will be returned.

It’s worth noting that in soccer, where ties are common, books typically provide three-way markets – each team to win or a tie. If you bet on these three-way markets (which normally only feature regulation), be aware that if the game draws, your wager will be considered a loss.

Other scenarios may result in bets being cancelled. Most baseball bets default to “pitchers listed,” which means that if the listed pitchers do not throw the first pitch for their respective clubs, the bet will be void. Pitchers are delicate creatures, and clubs must look out for their health. Late scratches are common in baseball. Your wager may be cancelled if either side switches starting pitchers late.

Another scenario that could result in cancelled bets is when games stop early or don’t play on the planned day due to weather. Check your sportsbook’s house regulations, as there’s usually a minimum inning barrier that triggers action. However, these circumstances frequently result in bets being cancelled.

Frequently Asked Questions about Moneyline Sports Betting

Is it possible to combine moneyline and parlay bets?

Yes, you can make a parlay bet with several moneyline sides. However, picking a handful or several favourites, especially strong favourites, will not result in the same reward as picking teams closer to even (-110) or underdogs.

Is it possible to combine money and spread in a parlay?

Yes, it is possible. The possible payoff is determined by the spread bet(s) in the parlay’s price. A spread bet’s usual vig is -110.

Is there a difference in moneyline prices from one sportsbook to the next?

Absolutely. They can be rather distinct from one another at times. It’s usually a good idea to shop around for the greatest deal on the side you want to eat. You can come across -200 on one book and -160 on another. If you wager $100 and your team wins, you’ll get an additional $12.5 profit if you got -160.

Are bets on the moneyline good bets?

They’re in fantastic condition. It’s all up to you and your bankroll. Betting significantly on heavy favourites isn’t a long-term winning approach; after all, favourites lose all the time. The “spread” is regarded as the great equaliser, and it entails a little more handicapping (by how much will X team win or lose? ), but there’s nothing wrong with choosing the winner straight up.

What are moneyline bets and how do they work?

The price assigned to one or the other is determined by how competitive or talented each side is — both individually and in relation to the specific clash. Simply said, the bookies will offer a price that they believe appropriately reflects the cost to the bettor of picking each team to win the game. The closer the price gets to “100” (in American oddsmaking), the more competitive the teams are. It’s just about a “coin flip” when it reaches into the -120 to +120 area — two evenly matched sides.

Is the moneyline going to change once it’s been set?

Definitely. Spreads, moneylines, and totals are all subject to change. They’ll alter based on the bets people are putting (“activity”), particularly bettors who are known to be “sharper” by the bookmaker (well informed). Long-term success is as much about finding the best pricing and value as it is about being on the winning side. For example, if two people bet on the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl, but John bet it a week before the game at -130 and Joe waited until Sunday and got K.C. at -120, Joe gets the greater price and payoff.

Is it possible for the moneyline price for MY bet to alter after I’ve placed it?

No. In contrast, in horse racing, or “parimutuel” betting, the odds/prices fluctuate until the gates open. When you bet on the moneyline, the price you bet is locked in and accepted when you hit “place bet.” So, if you bet on the Packers-Lions game and selected the Lions at +300 (bet $100 to win $300), then Aaron Rodgers is declared out later in the week, the moneyline for the Lions drops to +130 (nearly even), you’re in good shape. Packers bettors, on the other hand, would be kicking themselves.

Michael Adams
Experienced writer in iGaming Industry. Worked for the big companies in the industry, now I took the challenge to grow with a new company and a new website. The future is bright and I am happy to be part of it!
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