Understanding Moneyline Odds on Sports Betting

What is Moneyline?

Moneyline betting is a straightforward and popular technique to wager on sports. In this form of wager, bettors select a team or individual athlete, such as a tennis player, to win a game or match. The goal is to select the winner, and that’s it. It’s a simple bet that’s ideal for both new and experienced bettors.

moneyline

Moneyline odds are a favored choice for novice sports bettors as they provide a straightforward prediction of the winning team. Moneyline betting is among the top three popular methods of gambling on sports, alongside point spread betting and Over/Under betting.

The fundamental concept of a moneyline is a market with two sides, featuring a favorite and an underdog. Favorites are deemed to have a greater chance of winning a game due to factors such as skill, matchups, and occasionally, home-field advantage. Conversely, underdogs are more prone to losing for similar reasons.

What Do Moneyline Odds Mean?

What is the first thing you notice when you enter a retail sportsbook or launch a betting app? Yes, there are numbers—lots of them.

Within this huge numerical sea lies the moneyline, which is usually three-digit figures accompanied by a plus (+) or minus (-) sign.

Let us look at what these numbers and symbols represent in terms of wagering.

Favorites

In a game Competition, or Event. The “favorite” is the team that the betting market believes has the best chance of winning.

Moneyline favorites are nearly typically shown with a minus sign.

Moneylines are normally displayed in American odds and based on a $100 stake. The odds shown next to a favorite indicate how much you would have to wager to win $100.

Let’s say a moneyline favorite is listed as -180 on the betting board.

So, a bettor hoping to win $100 will bet $180, whereas a bettor hoping to win $50 would play $90.

Remember that if your side loses, the cash you wagered stays with the sportsbook, but a successful bet restores your earnings and initial investment.

In the case of the $180 wager to win $100, a successful bet would pay out $280, whereas a $18 bet at -180 moneyline odds would pay out $28 — $8 for winning and $10 for your initial investment.

A real-world example: in Super Bowl 58, the San Francisco 49ers were -130 moneyline favorites, which meant gamblers would have to risk $130 to get $100 if they won. The Chiefs were +110 underdogs, so anyone betting $100 on them would win $110 if they won. 

Underdogs

The underdog in a game, competition, or event is any team that is not the favorite and is considered by the betting market to be likely to lose.

Underdogs are usually listed with a plus sign next to their odds, indicating how much money you would win if you bet $100.

For example, suppose an underdog in a baseball game is rated at +140. If you wager $100 on that team to win, you’ll earn $240 back if they win outright.

While an underdog with higher odds is often riskier to win, it can also result in a larger potential reward.

For example, suppose a boxer is labeled as a +600 underdog. If you put $100 on the underdog fighter and he pulls off the upset, you’ll win $700.

What if you wish to gamble on the boxer with the same +600 odds and hope to earn $100? You would place a stake of $16.67, with an actual payment of $100.02.

Pick-em (Even Money)

When a moneyline is priced as a pick’em, or even money, it is equivalent to a moneyline wager at +100 odds.

In these cases, oddsmakers rate that side as a 50-50 chance to win outright.

Whatever you stake at +100 odds, you have the same chance of winning: $50 to win $50, $2,000 to win $2,000, and so on.

Pick’ems (often abbreviated as PK) are sometimes used in point spread betting when bookmakers believe the matchup is even on both sides.

You’ll rarely see both sides of a matchup listed as pick’ems on the moneyline because sportsbooks usually always add “juice” (vigorish) to earn a profit.

So, when one side of a contest is listed at +100 moneyline odds, they are most certainly the underdog.

3 Way Lines / Draws

Moneyline bets in contests with more than two fixed choices may contain a third option in addition to an outright win or defeat.

This is known as a “three-way line” and is popular in sports such as soccer and boxing, where a “draw” can occur regularly.

In markets featuring a three-way line, it is not uncommon to see both the favorite and the underdog betting at plus-odds, and both sides can lose if the game ends in a tie.

Three-way lines are especially prevalent in sports with common overtime, such as hockey, with the moneyline bet paying based on the outcome at the end of regulation.

For example, suppose two soccer teams compete in a match in which Team A is a clear favorite against Team B.

Instead of Team A being listed as a -200 favorite, you might see Team A priced at -130, Team B at +130, and “draw” at +300. If the game ends in a tie, bettors on Team A and Team B lose, but those who bet “draw” win three to one.

In games that cannot finish in a tie, such as the NBA or MLB, all moneyline bets are listed as two-way action.

Calculating Moneyline Odds

Although computing potential winnings on a moneyline bet may seem daunting initially. The process is relatively straightforward once familiar with the formulas. Here’s a simple approach to calculating potential payouts for any moneyline bet:

  • For favorites: (Wager amount) x (100 / odds)
  • For underdogs: (Wager amount) x (odds / 100)

Moneyline vs Point Spread

Moneyline and point spread bets differ in one key way: moneyline bets are determined by the overall winner, whereas point spread bets examine the final margin of victory.

The moneyline is a bet that a team or individual will win. If that team or person wins, you win your wager; it’s that simple.

However, point spread bets use a “handicap” to level the playing field and encourage bettors to wager on both sides.

Oddsmakers calculate a number (point spread) that represents the margin by which the favorite must win to cash the wager.

The chances for a side on the moneyline and point spread are frequently associated and they are listed in the same way: favorites are usually marked with a minus (-) sign, whereas underdogs have a plus (+) symbol.

How to Secure Victory in a Moneyline Bet

Emerging triumphant in a moneyline bet boils down to one simple task: selecting the winner. However, the magnitude of your winnings hinges on the moneyline odds wagered and the amount wagered. Lower-risk scenarios, characterized by higher probabilities of victory, yield smaller returns, while higher-risk scenarios, typified by lower probabilities of victory, offer greater potential returns.

Prudence in betting on moneylines is crucial, considering the magnitude of returns. For instance, a $100 bet on a -130 moneyline favorite promises a $77 profit. While a $100 bet on a +110 moneyline underdog assures a $110 profit. Vigilance in evaluating moneyline sizes and associated returns remains paramount. As illustrated by the example of a $100 bet on a -250 moneyline favorite yielding a mere $40 profit.

How to Win a Moneyline Bet

Winning a moneyline bet is as simple as picking the winner. However, how much you win is determined on the moneyline odds and the amount you wager.

The greater a team’s chances of winning the game (and the lesser the risk), the lower their moneyline odds return. The lesser the probability of winning (and the higher the risk), the greater the possible profit on the moneyline.

If you invest $100 on a -130 moneyline favorite (lower risk), you could gain $77 (plus the original $100 bet). If you play $100 on a +110 moneyline underdog, you may win $110 (plus the original $100 bet).

You must be careful about the quantity of the moneylines you stake and how much they return. A $100 wager on a -250 moneyline favorite yields a profit of only $40. If you placed $100 on five moneyline favorites at -250 odds apiece ($500 gambled in total) and won three of those five bets, you would lose $80 in total. Despite going three for five.

Frequently Asked Question

How can you win a moneyline bet?

Winning a moneyline bet includes simply picking the winner of the game/event.

When should I wager the moneyline?

The best time to put a moneyline bet is when you expect one team to win outright, or when you believe their odds are cheap in comparison to their actual chances of winning.

What is a 3-way  moneyline bet?

3-way  moneyline bets are prevalent in soccer, owing to the high number of games ending in draws. These odds allow you to wager on either team’s victory or draw.

Is it better to wager on the moneyline or the point spread?

The answer to this question depends on your level of confidence and risk tolerance. If your analysis indicates that a 6.5-point underdog is likely to win, go with the moneyline.

What happens when a moneyline bet is tied?

The outcome varies depending on whatever market you bet on. If you put a bet on a two-way moneyline (such as in the NFL) and the game ends in a tie, your bet is considered a “push,” and your original wager is reimbursed.

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