Moneyline Betting Explained

There are a variety of methods through which you can place a wager on a sporting event, but the simplest and most common form of betting is a moneyline wager. The beauty of moneyline wagering is that you are not giving away points. You are just playing a straight wager on either the favorite or the underdog in a specific game, and your winnings will be determined by the amout of your wager and whether it is a negative or positive moneyline.

Moneyline Wagering Is Easy, Popular And Simple

Prior to every game, a handicapper is assigned the task to create moneyline odds, attaching a negative moneyline to the favorite and a positive moneyline to the underdog. The design behind this form of handicapping is to create a betting market that will be active and balanced on both sides of the wager. Because the favorite is supposed to win the game, you are giving away odds by betting on them. Backing the underdog is the more risky wager, so the bookmakers give you odds to encourage you to take the risk.

How Does Moneyline Bets Work


Take a look at the above betting lines on a Major League Baseball game between the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels. The moneyline is in the middle. The Angels are favored to win the game, so that team has been assigned a negative moneyline. Since the Athletics are the underdogs, they receive a positive moneyline.

Moneylines are based on wagers of $100. In this case, you would be required to bet $125 on the Angels to win $100. But if you bet the same $100 on the Athletics, the return on a winning wager would be $105. Of course, you should keep in mind that just because the handicappers base the moneyline on a $100 wager, that doesn't mean you are required to bet $100. The odds are calcuated at the same rate no matter if you bet $5 or $5000 on a specific game. 

Were you to play a runline wager on this game, you'd require a certain margin of victory to cash your ticket. And if you bet on the total, then you would need to see a specific number of runs scored - in this case over or under 8.5, depending on which way you bet - to be a winner.

With the moneyline, you just need the team you bet on to win the game. No more, no less. You will find moneyline wagering is offered on all of the major sports, including the NBA, NHL, NFL and NCAA and the same formula for caculating how the moneyline operates applies in each of these sports. It is the main form of wagering offered on baseball and hockey games.

The same logic applies to other sports like boxing, auto racing, golf, soccer, UFC, rugby and tennis. Establishing a pointspread on these sports would not be an easy chore, so all straight bets on the outcome of any of these events will be offered via the moneyline wager. In the case of football and basketball, where pointspread wagering is also popular, you should sit down and calculate your best betting option before determining how you will place your wager.

NFL Moneyline Wagering

While the most prominent wagering lines featured on the NFL are pointspreads, the fact of the matter is that betting the moneyline is more popular, because first of all it is an easier bet to make, and if you bet the favorite, that team isn't required to secure victory by a certain margin of points as it would be were you to place a pointspread wager.

With a pointspread bet, the Atlanta Falcons might be eight-point favorites to defeat the New Orleans Saints. To win that bet if you played the Falcons, they would need to win the game by nine or more points. But if the Falcons were assigned a moneyline of -150, you would win $100 if you bet $150 on the Falcons and they just beat the Saints. That's why bettors often prefer to go with a moneyline wager over a pointspread wager. You don't need as much to happen in order to cash a winning ticket.

To win a moneyline bet, all the team you've wagered on has to do is win the game outright. The margin of victory could be one point, or it could be 20 points. This is immaterial to your bet. As long as the team you backed wins, you also win. In the case of underdogs, a moneyline of +350 - meaning you'd get a return of $350 on a $100 wager - might prove a more appealing option to you than making a pointspread bet when the team you like is an 11-point underdog.

The Philadelphia Eagles were +160 underdogs to win Super Bowl LII, so Eagles fans who backed their team to dethrone the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots to the tune of a $100 wager took home $160 profit when the Eagles emerged as 41-33 winners.

Three-Way Moneyline

This is a common form of wagering in soccer. It gives you three options to play with your moneyline wager - favorite win, underdog win, or draw, the latter being a common result in soccer.


Look at the above odds from a Japanese League Divison 2 match between Kamatamare Sanuki and Fagiano Okayama. Kamatamare Sanuki is a heavy underdog with a moneyline of +400, meaning you'd get a $400 return on a $100 wager if they came away winners. On the other side of the coin, Fagiano Okayama is the -130 favorite, so in order to take home a $100 profit you'd need to bet $130 on them and hope that they were triumphant.

The third option at the bottom is simply a draw , or a tie game as we North Americans like to call such an end result. There are no spread or total wager options on this bet, just a moneyline of +220. So if you bet $100 on this match finishing up all square after 90 minutes and that's what happens, you are going to collect $220 on top of your $100 initial wager.