How Do Moneyline Bets Work? Guide to Reading Moneyline Sports Odds

There has been an ever-growing popularization of sports betting in the United States since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was overturned in May 2018. Today, there are more new sports bettors than ever.

If you’re a newbie, we strongly recommend you learn terminology and strategy before you start risking money. The moneyline is a great first step.

Here, we’ll present an in-depth guide for moneyline wagering, including what it is, how it works, the difference between moneyline betting and other types of bets, and mainly, answer this question: “How do moneylines work?”.

What Is the Moneyline in Betting?

In its simplest form, betting the moneyline is wagering on which team or competitor you believe will outright win.

With this type of wager, you’ll sometimes find lines heavily in favor of another team. This is because the other team’s perceived superiority to the bookmaker, although injuries, game location, and other factors matter too.

While a 14-point favorite is more of a “sure bet,” it also offers limited upside for payouts while needing to wager heftier amounts of money.

How Do Moneylines Work? How to Read Moneylines 101

A moneyline bet is meant to present both teams or competitors without sports betting modifiers, such as the spread – more on that later.

The moneyline odds are presented in two ways, plus and minus numbers.

Explaining Plus Numbers

Whether it’s a moneyline wager or something else, a plus number is always presented to indicate the underdog in the contest.

For example, let’s say the Boston Bruins have a moneyline of +120. This means that when you wager $100 on them winning the game outright, you’ll receive $120 in winnings (plus your original money back).

Betting a plus number is riskier, but carries higher reward.

Explaining Minus Numbers

Conversely, the minus numbers indicate the team or competitor is favored. You’d have to risk more to earn the same winnings you would by betting on an underdog.

View of a Sportsbook Betting Counter

For example, a  line of -120 indicates you’d need to wager $120 to win $100. Again, you’d also get your original wager back.

Even/Pick’Em Moneylines

In some circumstances, the online sportsbook will view two teams/competitors so equally that they’ll receive the same line.

This line will usually be -110, as this is the typical “juice” (house edge) offered. This means that each team will require a wager of $110 to win $100. There are times when the lines can be different from -110, but they’ll continue to be equal.

Moneyline vs. Spread … How Are They Different?

While the concepts are similar, the moneyline and spread require two highly different wager strategies in sports betting.

It’s thoroughly understood in sports betting that some teams are, well, simply better than others, and that is what the spread is used for.

The spread is designed to make each team in the contest as even as possible. The risk is modest, no matter which direction you bet.

Let’s use two MLB teams as an example, using actual lines for the 2022 MLB season, courtesy of BetOnline.

  • Spread: Arizona Diamondbacks (+1.5; -105) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (-1.5; -115)
  • Moneyline: Diamondbacks (+200) vs. Dodgers (-220)

As you can see, there’s a direct correlation between the underdog and having plus lines for the moneyline.

In this example, the Diamondbacks are the underdog by 1.5 runs. Thus, at the start of the game, according to a spread bet, the Diamondbacks are already up 1.5 to 0.

You’ll also see that, with the spread, as a result of “receiving” points, the line is far different compared to if you were to wager on them to win outright.

This also applied to the Dodgers, the favorites. With the spread, they are “giving” points and have a line of -115, whereas if you were to bet on them outright, you would need to bet using odds of -220.

So, what if you were confident that the Diamondbacks would win? It’d be more beneficial for you to wager on the moneyline because the line is more profitable ($200 for every $100 wagered vs. only $95.24 for every $100)

How to Strategically Bet the Moneyline

The moneyline wager is most straightforward because you’re simply picking which team you think will win. However, as seen throughout this page, the moneyline can sometimes present odds that are not as beneficial, especially if you want to wager on the favored competitor.

Try these tips for evaluating when and how to bet on the moneylines.

Sportsbook money lines

Narrow moors online betting Underdogs

“moors online betting field advantage” strongly applies to all team sports. The roar of the crowd and the sea of fans energize the players on the field in a way that can be difficult to measure.

One of the best moneyline wagers to make is targeting home underdogs.

For example, identifying a line of +120 indicates the sportsbook thinks the contest is correlated more closely to a close outcome than a blowout. If you see a home team that’s +1200, sure, you can wager on them, but this indicates a far more significant gap in team quality.

Low Spread With a Positive Moneyline

Every once in a while, you’ll find spreads that are low enough that, when you see a plus moneyline, it makes sense to wager.

Using the NFL as an example, a -3 line is standard for the home team when competing against a similar-strength team. Whenever the spread in an NFL game goes under 3, this is where the moneyline can come into play. According to Business Insider, NFL moors betting online finish with a margin of victory of two, one, or zero less than 4% of the time each.

Statistically speaking, betting using a spread of less than three can be a loss of value. It’s not uncommon to see a team with a spread of -2 have a moneyline of, hypothetically, -130. Conversely, a spread of +2 could have a line of +100, +105, or more. Each game or situation is different.

Don’t Totally Ignore the Favorite

Sometimes the favorite and that minus line can make you reluctant to wager, but that’s not always the case. Sure, with a favorite that you believe will win, it’s always a great idea to evaluate the spread. While you may feel the team will win, the question then becomes, “sure, but by how much?”.

In this case, the spread could be too lopsided for you to wager. The moneyline, though the value isn’t the same as a plus line, could still be the best marriage of risk and reward.

Remember: Winning a -175 moneyline wager is much better than losing a -4.5 spread with a line of -110.

Live Moneyline Betting

Live betting is another form of wagering in which you can bet on moors betting online in progress. However, totals and moneyline will not reflect the pregame lines for the spread.

During live betting, odds and lines shift pretty rapidly.

For example, when a team scores its first run in baseball, first three-pointer in basketball, or first touchdown, the moneyline for the scoring team gets quite skewed.

When this happens, think on the fly and consider multiple factors:

  • Who did you think would win beforehand?
  • Who would you have sided with, spread-wise, before the game?
  • Did an injury to a critical player happen?
  • Was a key player surprisingly made inactive just before the game?

With these variables and many others in mind, you can sometimes grab favorable moneyline odds.

Live betting is much faster-moving, but this can be a highly profitable betting method.

FAQ section

  • Can I add moneyline wagers to a parlay bet?

    Absolutely. Moneyline wagers can be added to parlays and influence the final parlay odds

  • Are moneyline bets the best bets to make?

    There is never a best type of bet to make. Each wager is subject to a different set of circumstances, and each situation will have a different “best bet.”

  • Do moneyline wagers differ from sportsbook to sportsbook?

    Of course. Each online sportsbook will not only have its own algorithms to determine lines, but also different action on particular wagers. Lines will change based solely on that.

  • Can the moneyline odds change?

    Absolutely, both before and during the contest. With betting lines, regardless of the bet type, odds will change after initial release and when the contest begins. If Josh Allen breaks his leg 4 days before the next Bills game, rest assured the lines will change to better reflect the Bills’ chances of winning.

  • Should you ever bet on moneylines of -1000 or higher?

    While there are a few circumstances that you should avoid, from a value perspective, betting on something of -1000 is generally a bad play. This is because, to win $100, you will need to wager $1,000. Say you place nine similar -1000 bets. Even if you get eight correct, that one wrong wager will put you in the hole.