The Ultimate Guide to Moneyline Betting on Sports

As a novice sports bettor, you may be a little intimidated by the mechanics of Moneyline betting. Moneylines go by several different names, including American odds, or money lines. They differ from point spreads in many ways, notably that it doesn’t matter how big the margin of victory is – you simply bet on your preferred selection and you get paid out accordingly. In other words, pick a winner and you will receive the odds presented in the Moneyline bets.

Money lines are used in a wide variety of sports contests, such as boxing matches, field hockey, and MLB games. Many of these games are low-scoring, but that’s not a prerequisite for Moneyline betting. Many bookmakers use a variety of numbers when posting odds for various sports. At first glance, this can be overwhelming. If you look at betting odds on hockey and baseball, you will likely see three digit numbers preceded by a + or a -. These are the money line odds on the respective sports.

Point spread betting requires a degree of arithmetic fluency, but Moneyline bets are far easier to understand. You simply pick a team or an athlete that you think will win and you place your bets accordingly. For the most part, hockey and baseball bets feature money lines as opposed to point spreads. If you’re betting on an NBA team – say the Charlotte Hornets, they may be favorites to win against the Miami Heat. In this case, you may see a Moneyline of -120 for the Hornets. This means that you need to bet $120 to win $100 on the team. Simple enough.

The Mechanics of Moneyline Betting

With Moneyline bets, the negative number indicates how much you must bet in order to win $100. If you see a positive number in the Moneyline such as +200, this means that you will win $200 for every $100 that you wager. Moneyline bets are available in a wide variety of sports today. They are particularly popular with hockey and baseball, although it’s common to see them in many other sports too. Note that low-scoring matches are particularly suitable to Moneyline bets. In these sports, most of the action results in single digit outcomes whether it’s goals or runs, and this is conducive to Moneyline betting.

Just in case you’re wondering why Moneyline betting is not as popular as the point spread in NFL games and NBA games – consider the scores that typically result. You may see a score of 65-43 in football, or 120-102 in basketball – these sports are suited to point spreads where totals (over/under) are much more apropos. Here is an example of moneyline betting in the NBA. Our example features the Charlotte Hornets versus the Miami Heat. The odds posted here are for illustrative purposes only:   

  • Charlotte Hornets -120
  • Miami Heat +200

In this example, the Charlotte Hornets are favored to win against the Miami Heat. The negative number in front of the 120 indicates that you would need to bet $120 to win $100. By contrast, bets on the Miami Heat will pay $200 for every $100 wagered.

Clearly, Miami Heat are the underdogs. Be advised that the triple digits (represented in units of $100) in Moneyline betting does not imply that you must bet $100 or more on these selections. You can bet $50 and still enjoy payouts with the same ratio. In other words, -120 means that you must bet 1.2 to win 1.

Are Moneyline Bets Used In Place of Point Spreads?

When point spreads are irrelevant, bookmakers tend to prefer money lines. As mentioned earlier, hockey and baseball are particularly popular for moneyline betting. Other sports include soccer, IndyCar, NASCAR, Formula One, boxing, and tennis.

The reason point spreads don’t work as well in these contests is that the margin of victory is too narrow. The better option is a Moneyline bet. It is interesting to point out that money line odds fluctuate based on the likely outcome of a sports contest. If one competitor is strongly favored to win, you may see odds like this:

  • Boxer A -800
  • Boxer B +600

Based on the above explanation of how Moneyline odds work, you can calculate that you would need to bet $800 on Boxer A to win back $100. Alternatively, you could bet on the underdog and win $600 off your $100 bet. If we turn our attention to point spreads for a moment, it should be remembered that the odds are created in such a way that the bookmaker hopes to entice an equal number of bets on the favorite as the underdog.

Point spreads require you to bet on the margin of victory – the total number of points scored in a sports match. Your team can win the match, but you can lose a point spread bet if the totals don’t meet the spread. Recall that you can bet over, or under the bookmaker’s point spread totals, and if you’re correct, you will win the point spread bet. Looking at the above example with Boxer A and Boxer B, it is safe to assume that most people will bet on the favorite. If the bookmaker takes $16,000 in bets on Boxer A, the bookmaker must also have $2,000 in bets wagered on Boxer B to cover a victory by the favorite.

Many different sports feature Moneyline bets, including those which offer point spread betting options too. It is a good idea to run the numbers to determine which sports betting selection will give you the most favorable odds – Moneyline (straight up wins) or point spread.

You may have heard the term 2-way money line before; this is the same as a straight up win, or a regular Moneyline bet. If the money line bet results in a draw, the result is a push. Moneyline bets are possible in hockey, baseball, football, and basketball. The most important things to remember with Moneyline bets are the following:

  • Moneyline odds are offered on the favorite and the underdog.
  • The - indicates how much you must wager to win $100 on the favorite.
  • The + indicates how much you can win if you wager $100 on the underdog.

This comprehensive guide on Moneyline betting covers all the bases. It’s always a good idea to stick with a tried and trusted bookmaker like 888 Sport USA which offers the most competitive money line odds in the game. Use your free bets, welcome bonus offers, and enhanced odds to get the most bang for your buck with Moneyline betting.