There is no more basic form of betting than the moneyline wager. This also means that, in most cases, it's the least lucrative form of betting. But you can use its simplistic nature to your advantage if you know how. Moneyline bets don't include spreads. They don't pay attention to overs and unders. There are no hoops to jump through. You're making a straightforward decision on which team is going to win or lose. That's it.
Money Line Bets Explained
Because you don't have to decipher point margins or scoring totals, the return on moneyline bets are not as lavish when rolling with the favorites. At best, in a tightly contested matchup, you are looking at even money. Usually, though, you'll be working with something like -150 or even -550 when investing in a moneyline's favorite.
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And that's fine. You don't ever want to have to bet $550 to make a $100 profit, but at least you know the alpha is heavily favored. If nothing else, it gives you peace of mind if you decide to pair this outcome with another and make a parlay stew.
That's the underrated part about moneylines: You can drum up the returns by parlaying a few of them. You'll need to get all of your guesses correctly to be successful, but it's far easier to pick three straight-out winners than it is to hit on a triumvirate of spreads.
Now, in the event you wish to bet on an underdog, you're in great shape. Your returns will be better on them. But don't go investing money in a team that's at +600 just because you can get $600 for betting $100. Chances are you won't win; that's why said team is such an obvious underdog in the first place.
Still, if you feel really strongly about a team that's not getting love at the sportsbook, picking them to pull of an upset is a good way to make some serious cash.
When To Make Moneyline Bets
Moneyline bets are fantastic options when you're building up parlays. You ostensibly get to take a bunch of simple bets and combine them into one bigger wager that offers a better return on your investment.
Of course, in this instance, you are more likely to whiff on one of your choices. But if you are working with just clear-cut favorites, you're more likely to hit on your aggregate wager.
More than that, moneylines are for those who are not comfortable with certain spread situations.
Maybe you know a team that's favored by 10 points is going to win, but you're not sure if they are going to beat their opponent by at least 11 points. Or perhaps you know a six-point underdog is not only going to cover that spread, but actually going to win. It's in these cases that you should be going for the moneyline numbers.
Underdogs are going to be your most profitable options—particularly stark underdogs. If, for argument's sake, the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers are 13-point favorites over the Milwaukee Bucks, and you truly think the Bucks are going to win, there's a chance you can make a quick $500 by only risking $100—or something similar on that scale.
As enticing as this sounds, though, remember this is not a system to be used thoughtlessly. Don't go making a bunch of $100 bets on big-time underdogs just to hope you hit on enough to make a ton of money. That's not how this works.
Moneylines, unlike spreads and the over/under, aren't subject to as much randomness. It's easier to say Team A is much better than Team B, and therefore, Team A is going to win than it is to say Team A will beat Team B by X number of points. Favorites aren't just going to win more often than not; they are going to win almost all the time. That's why they are favorites.
It's different if you are dealing in teams with slight edges. A -110 isn't a huge difference. Once you start getting to -200 and above, you know to take that team seriously.
So while it's important to have the courage necessary to single out convenient underdogs, it's equally important not to abuse that license. You will not be as successful at the sportsbook if you approach underdog moneylines with a completely cavalier attitude.