What is Moneyline in Betting

Sportsboom explains the ins-and-outs of Moneyline betting so that you are well-versed and prepared.

Moneyline NFL betting board
Ollie Ring

Written by: Ollie Ring

(Sports Betting Writer)

Fact checked by: Louis Hobbs

(Senior Sports Writer)

Last updated: 2024-05-02

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Introduction to Moneyline Betting

The world of sports betting can be a complicated one. With hundreds of events and thousands of markets, for a newcomer it can seem daunting at first. Although it may sound alien to you, the term ‘moneyline’ actually refers to the most popular, and easiest to understand types of online sports betting. 

On your journey from novice to accomplished sports bettor, if you find yourself asking “what is moneyline in betting?”, then we’ve got you covered. 

We’ll go over everything, from the foundation on “what is the moneyline in sports betting”, through to how to interpret the odds and potential strategies you can use to your advantage. 
 

What is Moneyline Betting? 

With so many sports betting markets available with a simple press of a button, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Fear not, a moneyline bet is as simple as they come. To put it plainly, it’s a bet on the winner of a contest without the hassle of predicting the margin. 

The moneyline is presented as a numerical value, either positive or negative, and shows the potential payout for placing a winning wager (normally to the value of $100). 

If the team you have picked wins, you will earn a payout. If the side you opted for loses, your bet will be settled as a loser. It doesn’t get simpler than that.  

The team that the bookmaker believes is the favorite to win the contest will be represented with a negative value. Conversely, the team less likely to claim victory, also known as the ‘underdog’ will have a positive moneyline. 

Having a glance at an operator’s odds provide you with immediate information as to who they deem has a higher implied probability of winning a contest. It can provide you a solid starting point for deeper research into a contest.

How Moneyline Works in Sports Betting

Despite it being one of the easiest sports betting methods, moneyline presentation can vary slightly depending on sport. 

North American Sports

Moneyline odds are most frequently seen at North American betting operators. UK-companies predominantly use fractions, and other European jurisdictions decimals. 

The outcome of Major League Baseball, National League Basketball and National Hockey League games can never be a tie. In the National Football League, a football game can end as a draw only if there’s no score during overtime but this is exceedingly rare. In fact, in 49 years of competition there have been just 29 tied games. 

As a result, the moneyline will simply be presented as two numbers. For example, New England Patriots +150 versus Atlanta Falcons -100.

Soccer and European Sports

Most sports that have huge popularity in Europe, namely soccer, have league formats which regularly feature ties. In this case, the moneyline will feature a third possible bet option: a tie/draw. 

Other examples of sports that often feature ties are: Rugby League, Rugby Union, Boxing and Chess. 

How do you interpret moneyline odds? 

As previously explained, a negative value represents the favorite in a contest, and a positive value shows the underdog. 

One thing that will change from match-to-match is exactly how the moneyline is positioned. Just glancing at the size of the numbers can give you a good idea of the implied probability of either side winning in the contest you’re looking to wager on.

As a general rule of thumb, the following applies:
•    The bigger the negative number, the more likely the outcome
•    The bigger the positive number, the less likely the outcome 
•    The bigger the difference between the two, the more mismatched the bookmaker considers the contest

Occasionally, you’ll see betting companies give the same moneyline odds for both teams in a contest. This is known as a ‘pick-em’ where both teams are deemed to have equal chance of winning.

Moneyline Odds Explained

The easiest way to fully understand how moneyline betting works is through illustrative examples. 

Here we will show you two examples. The first will feature a heavy favorite, whereas the second represents a contest bookmakers expect to be closely-run. 

Calculation for a favorite
Potential Profit = Wager / (Odds/100) 
Calculation for an underdog
Potential Profit = Wager x (Odds/100) 


An illustrative example: heavy favorite 


Let’s imagine the Baltimore Ravens are facing the Denver Broncos. The moneyline is as follows: 

•    Baltimore Ravens: +340
•    Denver Broncos: -480

In this situation, the bookmaker heavily expects the Denver Broncos to win the match. A $100 wager on either side would return vastly different sums of money. 

$100 on Denver Broncos 
Using the favorite formula:

Potential Profit = $100 (Wager) x (480 (odds) / 100) 
Potential Profit = $20.83

As such, placing $100 on Broncos at -480 would return a total of $120.83 (including stake), giving $20.83 in profit. 
On face value, -480 tells you that you’d need to wager $480 to make $100 in profit. 

$100 on Baltimore Ravens

Using the underdog formula: 

Potential Profit = $100 (Wager) x (340 (odds) / 100) 
Potential Profit = $340 

Placing $100 on the Ravens to beat the Broncos at +340 would return a total of $440 (including stake), giving $340 in profit. 


An illustrative example: a close contest 


Super Bowl LVIII, held between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers was expected to be a very close contest. The moneyline looked something like this:

•    San Francisco 49ers: -118
•    Kansas City Chiefs: +100

The range here is just 218, which is considerably smaller than the 820 in the Ravens versus Broncos example. 

$100 on San Francisco 49ers

Using the favorite formula:

Potential Profit = $100 (Wager) / (118 (odds) / 100) 
Potential Profit = $84.75 

Placing $100 on the San Francisco 49ers to beat the Kansas City Chiefs at -118 would provide you with $184.75 (including stake), giving $84.75 in profit. 

$100 on Kansas City Chiefs

Using the underdog formula: 

Potential Profit = $100 (Wager) x (100 (odds) / 100)
Potential Profit = $100

-100 or +100 is the equivalent of ‘evens’ in moneyline format. Placing $100 on the Chiefs at -100 would provide you with $200 (including stake), giving $100 as profit. 

Although calculating the returns on moneyline betting can look daunting, it’s actually very easy once you’ve got the hang of it. Alternatively, most bookmaker websites will show you the potential returns once you’ve added a selection to your betslip. 
 

Strategies for Betting with Moneyline


As the bedrock of sports betting, understanding the moneyline and utilizing it effectively is key to success. We’ve outlined the advantages and disadvantages of betting with the moneyline, as well as some tips and tricks to help you along the way. 


Advantages of Moneyline Betting


•    Simplicity: First and foremost, betting on the outcome of a contest is the most accessible form of sports betting. With no complicated terminology, spreads or calculations, moneyline betting offers novice bettors an easy first on the way to becoming an expert. 
•    Easy to track: To have any hopes of beating the bookmakers, it’s important to track your results. If you’re just picking the winner of a contest then it is simple to log winning and losing wagers, and track your profit and loss. 
•    Comparability: Given the consistency in presentation across multiple sports, moneyline gives bettors the opportunity to place wagers on sports they may never do otherwise. The information provided by the odds can give a good idea of implied probability, simply from a quick look. 
•    Potential for substantial return: Although many people may think that given the simplicity of moneyline betting, there’s no scope for big returns, they couldn’t be more wrong. Some of the most successful bettors look at the largest ranges to identify underdogs priced too generously. The format gives an easy way to filter hundreds of sporting fixtures to closer examine a select few. 


Disadvantages of Moneyline Betting


•    Less value for favorite backers: If you’re the type of bettor that loves to back a favorite, then there’s little variation offered in a simple moneyline bet. Those that have extreme confidence in a favorite will likely look for deeper markets in spreads and handicaps that can provide better odds. 
•    Lack of variation: Often the thrill of sports betting stems from the specificity of what you’ve backed. Sometimes bets on spreads such as rush yards, or the next play can be more exciting. Moneyline bets, although simple, can perhaps be a little light on the dynamic entertainment other forms of betting bring. 
 

Tips for Successful Moneyline Betting


We would be lying if we told you there’s a surefire way to give up the day job and become a professional sports bettor. Moneyline betting is no different, but we’ve compiled a simple list of tips that will stand you in good stead, no matter what strategy you follow. 


Thoroughly Conducted Research


The adage “information is power” certainly applies to online sports betting. Conducting in-depth research and analysis of a team’s form, head-to-head history as well as more nuanced factors such as injuries can help you make the most informed decision possible. 
If you find yourself questioning a price, there’s likely method to the madness. Make sure you explore each factor that you think could impact team performance. 


Manage your Bankroll Effectively


It is absolutely vital that you only wager what you can afford to lose. Decide a budget for betting before you begin, and make sure you stick to it. Winning and losing a wager can evoke strong emotion, but in order to be successful in sports betting, you should detach yourself from the adrenaline. If you’re frustrated at losing, don’t place an ill-researched bet. The same applies for when you’re on a hot-streak. 


Keep Up to Date


The odds on a moneyline bet can change and fluctuate at a whim. If a large series of wagers come in for one team, it’s likely that bookmakers will adjust the odds and make them shorter. 
In addition, injuries, squad issues and even external factors such as unexpected severe weather can cause the odds to change. If you’re on the pulse of all latest sporting developments, there’s a small chance you can spot mispriced matchups before the odds accurately reflect the changes. 


Identify and Bet on Value


Odds on any market reflect the bookmaker’s calculation on an outcomes implied probability. If you’re operating your own statistical modelling, you’ll also be able to calculate what you believe should be the price.

If you believe a team should be slight underdog, at moneyline odds of +180, but an online sports betting company offers a price of +340 then this would represent a huge value opportunity for you. This is not something that newcomers can do immediately, but as you learn more about betting it’s certainly something to look out for. 

Conclusion

Moneyline betting should be viewed as the foundation of sports betting. At its core, it’s the most simple type of wagering. Learning how to use it, and how to master it can stand you in good stead for becoming a successful sports bettor. 

Using our short, illustrative examples of wagers and guidance on how best to utilize the information moneyline betting provides you, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an experienced sports bettor. 

If one thing’s for certain, it’s that this is just a short introduction to the complex world of betting. There’s a plethora of in-depth strategies and alternative markets at a click of a button. The more you learn, the better equipped you’ll be to find the best fit for you.
 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Do I need to wager $100 on every moneyline bet? 


No. Simply put, moneyline odds are presented in American Odds format which uses $100 as the base wager. If it was on a less round number, then understanding and reading the odds would become extremely difficult and confusing.  


What does +300 moneyline represent in normal odds? 


A +300 moneyline bet would return $300 profit on a $100 wager, therefore making the odds 3/1 in fractional terms or 4.00 in decimal odds. 


Can you put moneyline bets in parlays? 


Yes. You are often able to pick multiple teams to win their respective contests and combine them in a parlay. A parlay will provide you with better odds, but if one choice fails, then your bet will be settled as a loser. 


When should I bet on the moneyline? 


Betting on the moneyline is simply choosing the definitive outcome of a contest, regardless of victory margin. You should therefore bet on the moneyline when you’re confident in the outcome of a contest. 


What happens if an NFL game is a tie? 


In the rare case that an NFL game is a tie and there has been no points scored in overtime, a bet will be settled as a “push” or a “void”. If it’s part of a parlay, only the leg that ends as a tie will be voided and the rest of the bet will be settled as if it’s a smaller parlay. It’s important to check each individual bookmaker’s terms and conditions, but this is common industry practice.

Ollie Ring

Ollie Ring

Ollie Ring is an experienced sports-writer, having produced gambling and sports content for well over 5 years. An avid Watford fan, Ollie has been to over 55 of the football grounds in England and has also held a season ticket at the home of Surrey Cricket Club, The Kia Oval.

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