How Moneyline Betting Works
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Moneyline betting is by far the easiest way to place a sports wager. There are no point spreads to parse, no garbage-time free throws to ruin your betting day, and no last-minute meaningless touchdowns to take you from a winner to a loser. If your team wins, you win.
If your team loses, you lose. Simple.
In fact, you’ve been placing moneyline bets since before you knew what a moneyline was.
“I bet I can jump across that puddle.” There were no bookmakers placing odds on whether you successfully cleared the puddle or instead got your feet wet, but the simplicity of the childhood bet is the same.
Understanding The Moneyline
First, you need to know how to recognize the moneyline. So let’s look at how an odds board looks for a typical NFL game.
The Seahawks are at the Cardinals and favored to win by 4.5 points. A point spread bet pays -110, with that extra 10 going to the sportsbook as juice. And the moneyline on this game is Seattle -175, with a bet on the Cardinals paying +140.
When expressed using American odds, all negative numbers, like the -175 in this case, signify the favorite. The -175 means that in order to win $100, you would need to bet $175 on Seattle to win. For the Cardinals, since they are listed with a positive number, they are the underdog and pay $140 on a $100 bet.
If odds are listed in another format, like decimal or fractional odds, the payout conversion is much harder to calculate. So always switch to American odds when possible. But if you can’t, that -175 for the Seahawks would be written as 1.57 in decimal odds. Anything over 2.0 indicates the underdog in decimal odds, and the Cardinals are listed at 2.4 for this game.
Fractional odds are a little easier to understand. If the fraction is less than 1/1, that team is the favorite. If it is greater than 1/1, then that team is the underdog.
Moneyline Betting in Different Sports
Moneyline bets in football are the easiest of all the possible bets, but they aren’t the most common. More people place point spread bets on football than any other type of bet. That is also the case in basketball, for both the NBA and NCAA. These higher-scoring sports thrive in the gambling world because of the point spread.
But in lower-scoring sports, like baseball, hockey, and soccer, finding an accurate point spread is much more challenging. So the standard bet on those team sports is the moneyline. You can bet the runline in baseball, but typically when you’re making a baseball bet, you’re placing money on the winner of the game, which is done on the moneyline.
Without the moneyline, everyone would bet on the Dodgers. But because the payoff on a Dodgers wager is less than half the amount you bet, more people will put money down on the Rockies.
This is much closer than the Dodgers-Rockies game, but as the favorite, the Canadiens would still get the majority of the wagers. So the bookmakers lower the payout on Montreal while boosting the payout on the Islanders to better even the betting.
Just as with point spreads, the moneyline is set by the bookmaker with the goal of getting an equal amount of betting on both sides of the game. And when you see the moneyline adjust, it’s because the betting has been heavier on one side over the other.
Outside of team sports, you are almost exclusively betting on the moneyline. A wager on the winner of an MMA bout, a golf tournament, or a NASCAR race are all versions of moneyline bets. And even though the field on a golf tournament may be well over 100, those moneylines will also adjust based on the number of wagers that come in on a particular player.
Calculating the payout on a point spread or totals bet parlay is easy. Most sportsbooks use the same table of odds, which pays 2.6-to-1 on two teams, 6-to-1 on three teams, 10-to-1 on four teams, and on and on it goes.
Moneyline parlays are less common but becoming more popular. And since there are no two moneyline bets that are precisely the same, the odds on a moneyline parlay vary wildly.
Using the example above, let’s say we decided to parlay all of the underdogs. It’s early October, so all three sports are in season. That’s +140 on the Arizona Cardinals, +185 on the Colorado Rockies, and +115 on the New York Islanders. The bet on all three is $100.
The parlay wins, and because we parlayed all of the underdogs, the total payout is $1,370.60. Compare that to point spread parlay that would have only paid $700 if all three won. Or if we bet on all of the favorites, a winning parlay would have paid just $310.41.
You can see why moneyline parlays are becoming popular and why finding a combination of underdogs has become the preferred way to bet moneyline parlays.
Although it’s always good to remember that as a whole, parlays pay more money to the sportsbook than any other wager type. Bettors love the idea of the big payouts, and sports betting operators love the fact that parlays are hard to win, making them very profitable for the house.
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Information is key to understanding which bets make sense to make and which bets are foolish. And this goes above and beyond just understanding which team is more likely to win. It’s critically important to understand which side of a bet you prefer, but then you need to decide if making a bet is worthwhile.
The Bills may be 90% assured of a win against the Jets, but does the payout on a Bills moneyline bet justify the risk, albeit a small risk?
Sports betting is won along the margins. When factoring in all of the types of betting you’re likely to engage in, an average sports bettor needs to win 53% of the time in order to turn a profit. Does betting on a heavy favorite help you do that? If the probability of the win plus the expected profit justifies the risk of the bet, place it. If not, move along and find a new bet that does.
Just as with any betting endeavor, keep track of your moneyline bets and if they are profitable overall. Also, try to keep track of movement along the moneyline.
The overall goal of anyone engaging in sports betting is to win money. Betting on sports is fun. Winning your sports bets is more fun. So take notes, find the sports that come with moneylines that you can break into win probabilities the easiest, and then only place bets if the numbers you calculate support it.
Sports Betting How To Guide
How Money Line Works?
Moneyline betting is by far the easiest way to place a sports wager. There are no point spreads to parse, no garbage-time free throws to ruin your betting day, and no last-minute meaningless touchdowns to take you from a winner to a loser.
How to Bet Odds
When we, as sports fans, learned our multiplication tables, we aced the number 7. Seven, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42 were easy because we all watched football on the weekends. Multiplication by sevens, then add a three, a six after a missed PAT.
How to Bet on NFL Games
Baseball is America’s pastime, but football is America’s crazed passion, with its weekly schedule of games, millions of television viewers across the country and the world, and the billion-dollar stadiums that serve as Sunday cathedrals in 32 American cities.
What is the Spread?
If you are a golfer or have ever played on a bowling team, think of a point spread like a handicap. It is a way for two teams of differing abilities to play each other on equal footing. The better team, and the favorite in the game, gives a certain amount …