Moneyline Betting Guide for Bettors
The moneyline is the most popular betting option on baseball, hockey, soccer, tennis, MMA, boxing and various other sports. It can also be beneficial to football bettors and basketball bettors in certain circumstances.
This is the simplest type of sports bet at your disposal. However, sports bettors can gain an edge over the general betting public by understanding how to find value, learning the concept of implied probability and seeking arbitrage opportunities.
This guide will explain how to place a moneyline wager at online sportsbooks. We will teach you how to read odds on upcoming games, explain when the moneyline is a good option for betting on sports and provide our top tips for unlocking more value. Continue reading to learn about moneyline betting.
Best Sportsbooks for Moneyline Betting in 2023
What Moneyline Bets Are
A moneyline bet is a simple prediction on the outcome of any sporting event. There are generally just two options. For example:
- New York Yankees to beat Chicago Cubs
- Chicago Cubs to beat New York Yankees
You simply choose the result you anticipate and place your bet. This betting option can be applied to everything from tennis matches and baseball games to UFC and boxing bouts. It is easier than spread betting, as you do not need to consider the winning margin. All you need to do is predict who will win.
In certain sports, there are three potential outcomes. That is known as a three-way moneyline. For example:
- LA Galaxy to beat Portland Timbers
- Draw (Tie)
- Portland Timbers to beat LA Galaxy
Once again, you simply decide how you think the game will end and then make your plays accordingly.
The oddsmakers at an online sportsbook will assess the strengths and weaknesses of both teams, players or fighters. They also consider variables such as home advantage, injuries, motivation levels and fatigue. They will then provide moneyline odds on each potential outcome.
There is normally a favorite and an underdog for wagering purposes. Experienced bettors will already understand this concept, but we will explain how that is decided, and we will also teach you to read moneyline odds in three different formats.
Benefits of Moneyline Bets
There are lots of benefits to placing moneyline bets:
- It is a very simple type of bet to understand, making it accessible to beginners. It is normally the first wager a casual bettor will place.
- Sportsbooks normally take a lower house edge on moneyline bets than other wagering options, such as props. That is especially true on baseball games, when you can find very impressive moneyline odds. This improves your potential return.
- It is a popular type of wager, as you do not need to concern yourself with the number of points that will be scored or how heavily a team will win. Just predict the result and get paid out if you are correct.
- You can combine a moneyline bet with other markets to form a same-game parlay – for example, the Colorado Avalanche to win and under 6.5 goals in the game – to earn more value and potentially get a larger payout.
Where and How to Place Moneyline Bets
You can place a moneyline bet at a reputable online sportsbook. The BMR experts have reviewed hundreds of betting sites and mobile sportsbook operators over the past few years, and we rate these as the top five due to various factors, such as their moneyline betting odds and available betting markets:
You can use our odds comparison service to find which of these sportsbooks has the best moneyline odds on each team for upcoming games you are interested in.
As the moneyline is a very popular form of wagering, it is one of the first options listed when you click on a game – generally alongside the spread and the total.
- Just click on a game at your chosen sportsbook and browse the moneyline odds on either team.
- Click on the odds next to the team you like, and that selection will appear on the betslip.
- You can then type in the amount you want to bet on that pick.
- The betslip will highlight your payout if the wager succeeds. Click again to place the bet, and you’ll be paid out after the event if you made a correct prediction.
Understanding Favorites and Underdogs
There is normally a favorite and an underdog for an upcoming sporting event. In some cases, there will be a heavy favorite and huge underdogs. In other instances, a team may be narrowly favored to beat the other team.
On rare occasions, the teams will be deemed evenly matched, and you will find identical odds on either team winning. That is known as a pick’em. However, you normally find a favorite team and an underdog.
Oddsmakers will focus on the head-to-heads between the teams, if applicable, and also their recent results when deciding who should be the favorite. They also take home advantage into account, plus fatigue, motivation, injuries and so on.
For example, let’s say the Bruins are the best team in the league, but they have already qualified for the playoffs and they are going on the road to face the Red Wings, who desperately need a win in Detroit to stay in the playoff hunt. In that case, you would expect the Red Wings to be the favorites.
Understanding the Odds
There are three main ways in which odds can be displayed at an online sportsbook. We have broken these types of odds down below. They all feature the same example for each odds format, allowing you to see that there is no difference in terms of payouts.
The American format is the most common way to display moneyline odds at sportsbooks focused on the US market. The odds will always start with either a plus or a minus. For example:
- Los Angeles Clippers to beat Denver Nuggets (-125)
- Denver Nuggets to beat Los Angeles Clippers (+105)
If moneyline odds begin with a minus, the following numbers explain the amount you would need to risk in order to win $100. In this example, a $125 bet on the Clippers would generate a $100 profit if they won the game. Your bet amount is also returned when you win, so the total return would be $225.
You can choose any bet size you like (within reason), as the numbers are simply a guide. For instance, a $10 bet on the Clippers at -125 would net an $8 profit and a total return of $18.
When the odds start with a plus, the following numbers explain the profit available on a $100 bet. A $100 wager on the Nuggets in this example would net $105 if they won. A $10 bet would net $10.50. The larger profit available on Denver tells you it is the underdog, with a lower implied probability of winning the game.
This is the simplest way to display sports betting odds. Decimal odds tell you the total return you would receive on a winning bet. They look like this:
- Los Angeles Clippers to beat Denver Nuggets (1.80)
- Denver Nuggets to beat Los Angeles Clippers (2.05)
All you need to do is multiply the amount you plan to bet by the number to work out your potential return.
For example, a $10 bet on the Clippers at 1.80 produces a return of $18 (an $8 profit and your $10 bet amount back) and a $10 bet on the Nuggets earns a return of $20.50 (a $10.50 profit and your $10 stake back). As you can see, 1.80 equates to -125 and 2.05 equates to +105.
Fractional moneyline odds are common in the U.K., but they are also often used in horse racing in North America. They are similar to American betting odds, as they highlight the potential profit available rather than your overall potential return. They look like this:
- Los Angeles Clippers to beat Denver Nuggets (4/5)
- Denver Nuggets to beat Los Angeles Clippers (21/20)
Just multiply your chosen bet amount by the fraction to calculate the profit available. A $10 bet on the Clippers produces a profit of $8, as 10 x 4/5 = 8, whereas a $10 bet on the Nuggets produces a profit of $10.50. Fractional odds of 4/5, therefore, equate to -125 and 1.80, while odds of 21/20 equate to +105 to 2.05.
Why the Moneyline Moves
The initial moneyline odds released on a game are referred to as the opening line. The best sportsbooks publish the opening line well in advance of the game starting.
The odds then generally move in the build-up to the game. That means the profit available from a cash wager on straight games will change. There are several factors that can cause the moneyline to move:
Popularity of Teams or Players
Public betting patterns often cause the moneyline odds to move on upcoming games. If most of the money goes on one team, the sportsbook will offer less appealing odds on that team and more attractive odds on the opposing team.
They do that to balance their risk by encouraging a similar volume of wagers on each team. It is designed to stop them from getting crushed if a popular team wins.
Sometimes a team will prove popular if they have been playing well, but moneyline odds often move because square bettors just blindly wager on their favorite team. Popular teams like the Lakers and the Yankees are often subject to those betting patterns, so you can find value in fading them after the moneyline moves.
If one team or player is hyped in the media or receives the endorsement of a prominent handicapper, it can cause the odds to move. Once again, this provides opportunities to fade the popular team at artificially inflated odds.
Injuries and Suspensions
An injury to a key player will quickly cause the moneyline odds to shift. For example, the Golden State Warriors can quickly go from being the favorites to becoming the underdogs if news breaks of an injury to Steph Curry, while a missing quarterback for an NFL team will spark a dramatic change in the odds.
Changes in the Weather
Changes in the weather are more likely to affect the total runs or points line than the moneyline. However, if a particular team tends to play well in bad weather, it may have an impact. For example, if Canada has a home soccer game against Mexico in Edmonton and a brutal cold snap hits Alberta, the odds on the Canadians winning may shorten.
Moneyline Betting Strategies
We will wrap up our complete guide to moneyline betting by laying out some strategies to help you place a successful wager and earn a nice return on your investment.
Understand How to Find Value
Experienced bettors understand the importance of finding the best betting lines on the market. You will seriously boost your short-term profits on winning wagers if you use BMR to search for the best odds on a moneyline you like.
This requires you to register with multiple sportsbooks, but that is a quick and easy process. It will then allow you to grab the best available odds on any wager, which can make the difference between earning a long-term profit or suffering a loss.
As you become more experienced, you will sometimes spot arbitrage opportunities, where you can exploit the difference between the moneylines at rival sites and bet on both outcomes, guaranteeing a profit irrespective of who wins.
Predict Movements and React
Following betting patterns and then fading the public after the line moves is a popular way to bet on the point spread or the total points line. For example, an unpopular team may start as the 4.5-point underdog, but then the line will move in response to betting patterns, and you can bet on them -2.5, despite nothing having changed in the respective abilities of the teams.
This is not necessarily applicable to moneylines, but it does mean that you can bet on unpopular teams at far better odds than the opening line as the game approaches. While that team’s chances of winning remain the same, you will earn a larger potential profit by betting on them. In the long-term, consistently betting on these teams can allow you to eke out profits.
Be Wary of Huge Favorites
Sporting events often fail to unfold according to expectations. A football team’s quarterback could get injured in the first quarter or a soccer team could have a key player sent off within 10 minutes. These random occurrences can cause huge upsets, so it is often worth avoiding the temptation to bet on heavy favorites.
For example, let’s say you like the look of a team with odds of -600 to win a game. You would need to win six out of seven bets of that nature just to break even. That opens the door for too many random events to scupper your plans. If a team is a heavy favorite, it is generally better to wager on them to cover the spread, or to look for an alternative market offering more value.
Understand Implied Probability
Sports betting odds tell you the implied probability of an outcome paying off. For example, moneyline odds of +105 on a team give them an implied 48.8% chance of success. If you think they have a better than 50% chance of winning, that is an attractive bet.
Calculating Your Potential Payout
When you click on a moneyline betting option, it will appear on the betslip at your online sportsbook. Type your stake into the box, and it will automatically inform you of your potential payout.
That will generally include the profit and the total return on offer from a winning bet. It means there is no need to manually calculate your potential payout.
However, if you would like to ensure your sportsbook is providing correct payouts, you can refer to our “Understanding the Odds” section above to figure out how much you should be paid. Alternatively, you can use our free betting calculator to work it out.
FAQ – Moneyline Betting
You can lock in the odds available at that time when you place a moneyline wager. That means you will get paid out at those odds, even if they change as the game approaches. Moneyline odds can change due to betting patterns, media reports, injuries and changes in the weather, but your potential payout from an existing wager will be unaffected.
You can certainly put moneyline bets into parlays. A moneyline is a straight wager, but you can combine two or more to form a parlay. You can also parlay a moneyline bet with different types of bets such as point spreads and totals. Parlays can lead to large cumulative profits if all of your selections are correct.
Moneyline prices and payouts differ at rival sportsbooks. Some sportsbooks simply offer more appealing odds than most competitors, as they operate on lower margins and use the quality of their odds to attract customers. Sometimes different sportsbooks have contrasting opinions about the strengths and weaknesses of each team too, so they offer different prices.
This is a bet that results in a push if the game ends in a draw (tie). It is primarily used in soccer, but you can also find draw no bet options in boxing, MMA, cricket and a few others. This market is not generally applicable to sports like football, basketball and baseball, which have a two-way moneyline.
Moneyline bets are among the best wagering options for recreational bettors. Football fans and basketball fans will generally prefer to place a point spread wager or a total points bet, but the moneyline is the most common bet type on most other sports, including baseball and hockey.
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