Moneyline betting is when you choose a team to win a game, whether it be the favorite or the underdog. The winning margin does not matter here as it does with point spreads — your chosen team just needs to win.
The favorite is assigned a moneyline based on the probability of victory. If a favorite is much better than the underdog, the moneyline will be high, and the bettor will have to wager a more significant amount of money to turn a nice profit. Thus, each moneyline favorite will require a higher financial risk than reward. The opposite is true with underdogs, where each pick will have more financial reward than risk.
It’s important to pay close attention to line movement on the moneyline. If you notice a decrease in price for a favorite, that could be due to a news catalyst, such as a star player missing the game or poor weather. It’s crucial to stay on top of any news that could affect the outcome of a game.
What Is a Moneyline Bet?
A moneyline bet is when you choose a team to win a game outright. For example, if I take the New York Yankees at (-125) to beat the Houston Astros, they would just need to win for me to win my bet.
How Does a Moneyline Work?
Moneylines include favorites and underdogs. For example, let’s say I bet the favorite in a matchup between the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. The Red Sox are favored at (-130), which means that I would risk $13 to win $10 on my bet. On the other hand, if I chose the underdog Blue Jays at (+110), I would risk $10 to win $11 on my bet.
Favorites vs. Underdogs
The favorite is the team projected to win the game, while the underdog is the team projected to lose the game. You can recognize the favorite by the minus sign and the underdog by the plus sign in front of the value. For example, let’s say that the Astros (-140) are facing the Oakland Athletics (+120). The negative odds mean that the Astros are the favorites, while the positive odds mean the Athletics are the underdogs.
Where Can You Bet the Moneyline?
These are some of the best sportsbooks for moneyline betting:
How to Calculate Moneyline Odds?
You can calculate moneyline odds by converting the value to a decimal and multiplying it by your bet. For example, let’s say that the Blue Jays are underdogs by (+120) against the Yankees. I can convert (+120) to 1.2 and multiply that by my bet to calculate my potential winnings.
If I were betting on the favored St. Louis Cardinals at (-130), I would multiply 10 by 1.3 to get 13, which would be the amount of money I’d be risking on this wager.
You can also use odds calculators to determine your moneyline risk and reward for any bet. These are widely available online.
What does a (+200) moneyline mean?
A (+200) moneyline means that you would receive 2-to-1 on your bet if that team wins the game. For example, let’s say that the New York Rangers are (+200) underdogs to the Tampa Bay Lightning. If I risk $10 on the Rangers, I would win $20 on top of my bet.
It’s important to note that the higher the moneyline is, the less likely it would be for that team to win the game. So, for example, a team with a (+200) moneyline is a pretty big underdog, which means that you should not risk too much of your bankroll on this bet, as it carries a lot of risk. Instead, it would be a good idea to just “sprinkle” a game like this, which means only to bet a small amount since the payout is larger than it would be if you were betting on a favorite.
How to Bet the Moneyline Online
- Log in to your preferred legal sportsbook
- Click the sport that you would like to bet on
- Examine the list of games with moneylines
- Click on the favorite (minus value) or underdog (plus value)
- Determine how much you would like to risk on this game
- Place your bet
Learn more about how to bet before placing your first sports wager.
Moneyline Betting Strategy
Moneyline betting involves a fair bit of strategy to put yourself in the best position to succeed. When betting on a favorite, it’s important not to lay too much “juice,” which means that you shouldn’t bet on a high moneyline. This is because it could prove to be costly for your bankroll.
For example, let’s say that you bet on the Las Vegas Golden Knights at (-200) to beat the San Jose Sharks. Hockey is a high-variance game where anyone can win. If you were to bet on this game to win $10, you would be risking $20. It’s not worth it to take on this type of risk.
If you want to bet on a highly favored team, it’s a better idea to include them in a moneyline parlay. If you parlay two or three big favorites, you can reduce your risk. For example, if I parlayed the Golden Knights (-200), Lightning (-250), and Maple Leafs (-200), I would get back (+215). This means that I would win $215 off a $100 bet if each team won. Big favorite parlays are an excellent way to avoid taking on the risk while still betting on a team expected to win the game.
If you prefer only to play straight bets with moneylines, I would advise limiting your price point, meaning that I would only bet on favorites at (-150) or lower. This is because if you bet on games (-200) or greater, you need to maintain a terrific record to be profitable, which just isn’t feasible in a high-variance medium like sports betting.
For example, let’s say I bet on only (-200) games and went 7-3, betting $10 on each game. In this case, I would have won $70 and lost $60, giving me a profit of $10. That means that I have to pick 70% of my games correctly to be profitable while laying such high juice. This is not the way to approach moneyline betting.
If you want to focus on betting underdogs, it’s a good idea to search for value. For example, you might notice that the Blue Jays have won six in a row but are (+140) underdogs against the Yankees. This would be a moment to capitalize on the value with a streaking team and go with the underdog.
You might also want to limit your standard bet on underdogs, especially those with (+200) prices or greater, as it can be risky to put too much money on these types of games. If your standard bet is $100, you might want to go with $50 if betting on an underdog.
You can also try to maximize your earnings with a longshot parlay of underdog outcomes. For example, if you bet on the Minnesota Twins (+160), Blue Jays (+140), and Cardinals (+150), you would win $1460 off a $100 parlay. Longshot parlays have a high upside, but it’s important to mix them with favorite parlays to minimize your risk.
Moneyline vs. Spread
Moneylines just require your team to win the game outright — the winning margin does not matter in this type of bet. Each team will be assigned a moneyline based on their projected probability within the game. For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers might be (-250) at home against the Rockies, who might be (+190). That means you would risk $25 to win $10 if you take the Dodgers. You would win $19 on a $10 bet if you took the Rockies.
Point spreads involve a winning margin. This means that if you bet on a favorite, they need to win by more than the assigned spread. For example, if a spread is (-7.5) points, your team needs to win by eight or more. If you bet on an underdog, they can lose by fewer than the assigned spread or win outright for you to win. For example, if a spread is (+5.5) points, your team can lose by 5 or fewer or win outright.
It is better to choose moneyline in MLB, NHL and soccer when taking favorites because the price is often too high in the NFL or NBA. For example, if you took the Kansas City Chiefs moneyline and they were favored by 7 points, you’d likely be laying (-400), which means you’d be risking four times your bet. However, it could be profitable for you to go with the moneyline on underdogs in the NFL or NBA, since they’ll provide better value.
Keep in mind, that there are other types of sports bets worth taking into consideration.
Where Can I Legally Moneyline Bet Online?
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
- Washington D.C.
- West Virginia
Should You Make Moneyline Bets?
Moneyline bets are good because you can maximize your earnings by taking an underdog to win the game, especially in higher variance sports like baseball and hockey, where any team can win on any given night. However, there are generally fewer upsets in basketball and football, so it’s better to go with point spreads more often than moneylines there.
Moneyline bets are also good because you can combine a few of them to create a longshot parlay, where you can really shoot for the moon, so to speak. For example, if I took four teams, each with a (+300) moneyline, I could win $2550 off a $10 bet. If you go this route with your moneyline betting, remember that this is a longshot, so you’ll be losing much more often than winning. It’s important to stay patient.
The main negative of moneyline betting is that favorites often come at excessive prices, making it inadvisable to bet on them unless you include them in a parlay to minimize your risk. Another negative is that when betting on the NFL or NBA, where each team has a spread, the moneyline is often absurdly high.
For example, let’s say the Cowboys are favored by 4 against the Giants. This is a game that projects to be close, but the Cowboys would be (-216), which is way too costly. This is an instance where the moneyline is overvalued compared to the spread, making it better to go with the spread in this case.
Want to learn more about different types of sports bets? Visit our “How To Bet” hub.