What Is Moneyline Betting?

Everyone makes moneyline bets without even knowing it. Even non-gamblers make moneyline bets. Betting the moneyline for a game is possibly the most simple way to wager on sports. Bettors just choose a player or team to win. If the bettor chooses the winning side, the sportsbook will pay the amount due. It’s really that simple.

There’s no point spread with a moneyline bet. Bettors are just picking the winning side. While placing a wager is simple, trying to understand how the moneyline pays might be a bit complicated. Both sides of each moneyline wager are paid on a different schedule and that could make this kind of bet confusing.

The favorite team or player on the moneyline is the team that’s expected to win. This side of the bet usually listed with a minus (-) sign. The underdog team or player on the moneyline is the team that’s expected to lose. This side of the moneyline is usually listed with a plus (+) sign. These signs signify how either side of the wager will pay. The minus side will pay less than original wager while the plus side will pay more than the original wager.

Example of a Moneyline Wager

Low scoring sports like baseball, soccer, and hockey are usually bet on using a moneyline. The best way to explain how moneyline bets are paid is with an actual example. Let’s use a baseball game since this is the most popular American sport that most often uses a moneyline.

  • Boston Red Sox +150
  • New York Yankees -160

The easiest way to understand moneyline wagers is using $100. A $100 wager on the underdog Boston Red Sox would pay $150 should the Red Sox win. Bettors often like picking underdogs because they are usually “plus” money. This side of the moneyline bet pays out more money per unit than a wager on the favorite.

In this example, a $160 on the favorite New York Yankees would pay $100 should the Yankees win. Since the favorite is considered the better team, a winning wager will usually pay out less than the original amount wagered.

When a winning bet is reconciled, the original wager is also returned to the bettor with the winning bet. In this example, the Red Sox winner will be paid $250 ($100 wager + $150 win). The Yankees winning will be paid $260 ($160 wager + $100 win). While the total win is similar in this example, the wager on the favorite has more money at risk.

Looking Deeper Into Moneyline Wagers

The two sides of each moneyline wager are essentially the opposite of each other. When wagering on the favorite it’s easiest to work from the dollar amount that will return a win of $100. When wagering on an underdog it’s easiest to understand how the moneyline pays based on how much a $100 wager will pay.

Understanding how a moneyline wager pays isn’t simple but it’s not very complicated. That said, it might take running through a few examples before fully grasping the payouts. Moneylines for football and basketball games are often tied to the point spread. When a game has a large point spread it usually has a large moneyline. Both are separate bets but are shown together in a sports wagering app screen and in a brick and mortar sportsbook.

The odds may be different at various sportsbooks so consider this just an example of point spread line and a moneyline.

  • Los Angeles Rams -10
  • New York Jets +10

The moneyline wager may be offered as follows:

  • Los Angeles Rams -450
  • New York Jets +325

In this example, a $450 wager on the big favorite Los Angeles Rams will pay $100 if they win. Likewise, a $100 wager on the underdog New York Jets will pay $325 if they win.

Moneyline Parlays

Moneyline parlays are growing in popularity. A parlay is a single wager that is comprised of multiple results. The payout for a parlay is greater than an individual wager on each player or game. Underdog moneyline parlays are becoming popular because the payouts can be very large. Moneyline parlays are becoming popular because of the perceived ease of choosing multiple favorites to win. Choosing one winner is difficult and multiple winners at the same time is even more difficult.