Moneyline Betting Explained

Moneyline betting is pretty straightforward and involves betting on who is going to win. Unlike points spread which looks at both the winner and margin of victory, a moneyline bet only cares about who wins the game, without considering points.

Though this is probably considered the simplest type of bet, it can be confusing to understand how payouts work if you don’t know how to read odds. So we’re here to break it down for you.

Sports that are typically lower scoring (baseball, soccer, hockey) are usually bet using a moneyline. However, it is also popular in football.

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Negative Moneyline Odds

One of the most frequently asked questions about negative odds is, “Do negative odds result in a lower potential profit?” The answer is no. Your profit on those odds is just less than it would be compared to positive odds.

So, what happens if you bet on negative odds? Well, negative odds typically denote favored teams. Consequently, your wager won’t profit as much as it would with positive odds, even though you’re more likely to win the bet.

How Does a Negative Moneyline Work?

For instance, a $100 wager on +220 odds would return a profit of $220. However, a team with -220 odds would require a $220 bet to return a profit of $100.

Say you want to bet on a game where the Tennessee Titans are the underdogs at +185 and the New England Patriots are favored to win at -215.

In this case, you would need to bet $215 on the Patriots to earn a $100 profit.

Negative Moneyline Odds
Negative Moneyline Odds Explained

Betting on a team with negative odds is probably a safer bet because they’re considered the favorite, but it also costs more and returns a lesser profit. This example is the same for every sport.

For the favorite, the calculation for your profit is (100/Odds) * Bet Size. So if your team is listed at -150 and you bet $100, your profit would be (100/150) * $100 = $66.67.

Moneyline betting can be a great way for beginner bettors to introduce themselves to odds. However, it can also be great for seasoned bettors to find unique betting opportunities.

Understanding the Implications of Negative Moneylines

Negative moneylines not only indicate the favored team but also provide insights into the betting landscape. Here are a few additional points to consider:

  1. Risk vs. Reward: While negative moneylines offer a higher chance of winning, they come with lower potential profits. It’s essential to weigh the risk and reward before placing a bet.
  2. Market Perception: Negative moneylines often reflect the consensus opinion of bettors and oddsmakers regarding the stronger team. Understanding market perception can help inform your betting strategy.
  3. Adjusting Bet Size: Since negative moneylines require larger bets to yield a significant profit, bettors may need to adjust their bet size accordingly. This ensures a balanced approach to risk management and potential returns.
  4. Comparing Negative Moneylines: When comparing negative moneylines across different sportsbooks, slight variations may exist. Analyzing these differences can help identify value and maximize potential profits.

Positive Moneyline Odds

Positive odds are assigned to the perceived underdog. Moneyline odds are often referred to as American or US odds. Unlike point spreads, where teams may be favored by 2.5 points – moneyline odds are awarded to teams individually and involve bigger numbers.

Positive numbers refer to teams not favored to win; underdogs. These teams may be less likely to win, but they will also bring in more money if they do.

How Does Positive Moneylines Work?

Here’s an example. Say you want to make a wager on who will win a specific game. Using the same odds as before, the Tennessee Titans are underdogs at +185 and the New England Patriots are favored to win at -215.

Since the Titans are the underdogs, their profit margin is also higher. For a $100 bet on Titans, you’d turn a profit of $185 for a final payout of $285.

Positive Moneyline Odds

Sometimes you’ll see a moneyline with a lot of positive numbers. Currently, if you were to look up the odds for which teams will be in the SuperBowl 2025, they would pretty much all be listed as positive numbers. In this case, the higher the positive number, the lower the team is on the totem pole.

Since right now there is still a lot up in the air and a lot of potential for things to shift, everyone is pretty much considered an underdog. However, as an example let’s say you want to make a wager that the Ravens (currently +900) will win. Every $100 bet, in this case, would turn a profit of $900 in return if they win.

For the underdog, the profit calculation is (Odds/100) * Bet Size. So if your team is listed at +650 and you bet $100, your profit would be (650/100) * $100 = $650.

Moneyline Bets: Draw or Tie

When the outcome of a game is a draw or tie, but neither of those options was provided as a moneyline bet then the full amount of the bet will be returned. Nothing was lost or gained. This type of result is also referred to as a “push” in the sports betting community.

This type of result can occur in the NFL, as it did in the ’21-’22 season between the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers when they went to overtime and the game ended 16-16. Prior to the game, according to Caesar’s Sportsbook, the moneyline odds were -250 Steelers and +205 Lions. No matter the money bet on either moneyline outcome, it would have been returned in full.

How to Identify a Good Moneyline Bet?

Though a lot of bettors prefer betting on other markets, there are some great incentives to moneyline betting. Though moneyline betting often has low return rates for favored teams and athletes, the real value in moneyline betting comes from the underdogs.

This doesn’t mean that it’s never worthwhile to bet on favorites. It’s just important to recognize the right opportunities. One of the best opportunities to bet on a favorite is when you think a sportsbook has undervalued them use a BetMGM bonus code to have some extra cash to try for yourself. In moneyline betting, an undervalued favorite is one of the best strategies for success.

Finding Undervalued Moneyline Bets

To find an undervalued favorite, you also need to look at less high-profile games. High-profile games in the NFL attract a lot of betting interest and often the odds and subsequent payouts reflect that.

Here’s an example. Say the Detroit Lions are scheduled to play the Indianapolis Colts. Neither of these teams is high-profile enough to avoid moneyline betting. Doing your research and checking the moneyline market will help you assess the best option for an undervalued favorite.

On the flip side, a game that involves a popular team (say, the Patriots) as the underdog is also a great moneyline betting opportunity. Often in these situations, the public will back the popular team (regardless of them being not favored). In this circumstance, betting on the other side would be a valuable and smart moneyline betting opportunity.

Consider Specific Matchups

Another important consideration is to look beyond not only the popularity of a team but also the quality of a team. For instance, there have been plenty of “good” teams who have lost infamous upsets to teams not considered as worthy. Important things to consider are how consistent a team is and how the teams measure up. What are each team’s unique strengths and weaknesses? How do they each play under pressure?

The Patriots are considered a great team, but they still lost to the Eagles in the 2018 Super Bowl, despite being favored by 5.5 points to win. Another important point to consider is where the teams are playing and if you think they will have an advantage at home. Considering these points will help you make successful moneyline bets.

Moneyline betting is ideal for times when you’re not convinced the favorite will cover the spread, but you still think they’ll win. Moneyline betting is a safe option in that case. As long as they win, so do you. The tradeoff is obviously lower odds and payout. However, there is great value in moneyline betting when you know what you’re doing.

Moneyline Bet Calculator

If you want to compare the moneyline with fractional or decimal odds, or just check the implied probability of winning, try our moneyline bet calculator. All you have to do is enter the odds and our calculator will do the rest.

Odds Converter

Enter Your Odds (Converts Automatically)

Fraction Decimal American Implied Probability (%)

Moneyline Expert

Once you feel like you understand the concept of moneyline odds and betting, you’ll be ready to start looking through online sportsbooks to see which one has the most favorable odds. It’s also important to keep in mind that not all online sportsbooks are available in the 50 states. Find your home state at the list here and begin your sports betting journey. Good luck!

Moneyline Betting FAQs

Can you combine moneyline bets and make a parlay?

Yes! Parlays are a very popular way to bet on sports and combining multiple moneylines or adding a moneyline to prop bets, spread bets, etc. are also options.

Do moneyline odds differ between sportsbooks?

Absolutely. For example if BetMGM has the Los Angeles Rams at -250, while DraftKings has the odds at -200, and you believe the Rams will win the game, you’ll get a greater profit from placing a bet on DraftKings.

After I place a bet and the moneyline odds change, does that change my bet?

No. Whatever the moneyline odds were when you placed the bet, will remain the same for your bet.

What is a micro bet?

Micro betting or live betting as it’s also known, are bets made during the course of a game on props, what the next play will be, who will score next, etc. This form of betting does not relate to moneyline betting.

Do moneyline bets include overtime?

Yes. If a game were to go into extra time your moneyline bet would still be affected by the outcome of the result.

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