What is a Moneyline Bet?: Picking Winners in Sports Betting

Moneyline bets are for bettors who want to pick the outright winners. If you don’t want to sweat whether the favorite wins by 7 or more points, then you should try moneyline betting. In the grand scheme of sports betting odds, this is the simplest way to bet on sports.

Today, we show to how read moneyline betting odds, discuss how this type of bet works, offer examples of NFL and NBA moneyline bets, and give tips for winning plays.

What is a Moneyline Bet?

A moneyline bet is simple as can be. The sportsbook offers a bet on the favorite, an underdog, and the rare pick’em bet. Whatever the case, the object of moneyline bets is to pick a winner. You won’t have to deal with a point spread.

How to Read Moneyline Bet Odds

Because Americans love moneyline bets, they usually are written with American odds. Also, they use the plus and minus notation system, which indicates the favorite and the underdog. If a team or player has a minus (-) in front of it, that is the favorite.

Conversely, if a team or player has a plus (+) in front of it, then he tends to be an underdog. Sometimes, both main betting propositions are plus propositions, so the team with the lower number in this case would be considered the favorite.

With moneyline bets, the plus (+) denotes how much you win if the bet wins. If a team is +220, then you would win $220 on a $100 bet plus the original bet back. Thus, the sportsbook would hand back $320 to you if you won a +220 bet.

At the same time, a -220 bet would indicate you have to bet a lot of money to win $100. If you wanted to win $100, you would have to bet $220. That means the team is a big favorite.

Moneyline Bet Results

The results are pretty straightforward, too. Three options are possible.

Result Payout or No Payout?
Win If you bet $100 on a +225 underdog, then you would win $225 if your side won. You’d receive $225 in winnings plus the original bet of $100.
Loss If you bet $100 on a +225 underdog, then you would lose your $100 bet.
Push If the bet pushes, then the money is returned to bettors on both sides of the wager. Thus, if you bet $100 on the game, then you would receive your $100 stake back.

How to Make a Moneyline Bet on the NFL

It’s easy to make a moneyline bet on NFL games. Once you’re signed in to the sportsbook, click on “NFL” or “Football”. This should take you to the list of games. Pick the game you want to bet on, then click on the team you favor. Once you do this, you should see options for spread betting, over/under betting, and moneyline betting. Choose the “Moneyline” option.

Moneyline Betting: The Favorite’s Odds

Let’s assume you want to bet on the Dallas Cowboys versus the New York Giants. Then let’s assume the Dallas Cowboys are the favorites in a game versus the New York Giants. If the Cowboys are -120 favorites, then a bettor would need to bet $120 in order to win $100.

If you want to see what a $100 bet on the Cowboys would net, then you divide 100 by 100th of the number of the bet. In other words, a -120 bet would be divided by 1.2, so the payout on a $100 bet would be $83.33.

Moneyline Betting: The Underdog’s Odds

An underdog moneyline bet works in the opposite way. First, the payout calculation is much more straightforward. In this case, you multiply the moneyline bet’s odds by a factor of 1.

Therefore, a +150 bet means you would win $150 if you bet on the New York Giants and they won. If the moneyline odds were New York Giants +250, then the bettor would win $250. If the Giants were a +1000 underdog, then the payout would be $1000.

How to Make a Moneyline Bet on the NBA

NBA bets work much the same way, though the lines in NBA regular season games tend to be smaller than they are in NFL moneyline bets.

Moneyline Betting: NBA Favorites

Let’s say the Denver Nuggets are -110 favorites in a game versus the Phoenix Suns. If the Nuggets are -110 favorites, then the bettor would need to bet $110 to win $100.

If you want to see what a $100 on the Nuggets would produce, then you divide 100 by 100th of the number of the bet. Therefore, you would divide 100 by 1.1, so the payout would be $90.90.

Moneyline Betting: NBA Underdogs

An underdog bet on an NBA team is more straightforward. You would simply multiply the (+) line by a factor of 1.

Henceforth, if a +130 bet on the Phoenix Suns and it won, then the payout would be $130. If the Suns were big -260 underdogs, then the payout would be $260. If the Suns were huge -520 underdogs, then the payout would beat $520.

Moneyline Bets and Implied Probability

By looking at moneyline odds, you can calculate the implied probability that one team or the other will win. Calculating implied probability is a way to get a broad gauge of the expected odds that one team will win.

The formula is different for positive odds and negative odds, but neither is hard. Here is the formula for calculating the implied probability for both types of moneyline bet, plus notes on how to use these odds.

Type of Odds Formula Implied Probability
Positive 100 / (Odds + 100) x 100 = Percentage Chance of Winning
Negative Odds / (Odds + 100) x 100 = Percentage Chance of Winning

Let’s say the Philadelphia Eagles are playing the Los Angeles Rams. If the Eagles are -120 favorites over the Rams, then the formula would be 120/(120+100) x100 = 54.54%.

For the Rams, the formula would be 100/(120+100) x100 = 45.45%. The bookmaker is implying Philadelphia has a 55% chance of winning, while the Rams have a 45% chance of winning. It should be a close game, but the Eagles are a clear favorite.

Moneyline Betting vs. Point Spread Betting

If you’re having a hard time deciding whether to make moneyline bets or point spread bets, here are a few things to keep in mind about each. You’ll find good reasons to make either type of bet, so it’s based on your preference. Over time, we recommend that you try both types of sports bets.

Pros of Point Spread Bets Pros of Moneyline Bets
Simpler payout rules Just pick a winner
Gives underdogs a better chance to win Makes rooting for your team easier
Allows same-game parlays Also allows same-game parlays

Keep in mind the last point. Parlays are multi-part bets which require every bet to win in order for the player to be paid out. Parlay bets don’t pay out as often, but when they do, it leads to a huge payout for the bettor.

If you mix a moneyline bet and a point spread bet, you could create a same-game parlay. Let’s say you think the Philadelphia Eagles will win the game, but the Los Angeles Rams will keep the game close. You could make a moneyline bet on the Eagles, but make a point spread bet on the Rams.

While you’d have to thread the needle, making a same-game parlay on Eagles-Rams could net a huge payout if you were right. Keep in mind that sportsbooks push parlay bets because they want you to lose more often.

Moneyline Betting FAQ

What is a moneyline bet?

It’s a bet on whether one team or the other wins — it’s that simple. Betting the moneyline is simply betting on who will win. When you bet the favorite, the sportsbook pays less if you win. When you bet on the underdog, the sportsbook pays out more.

Should I make a moneyline bet or an Over/Under bet on a game?

Make a moneyline bet if you only want to pick a winner. If you don’t want to have to worry about point spreads and over/under totals, then moneyline is the way to go.

If you don’t know who’ll win but you have a sense of the type of game it’ll be (defensive struggle or shootout), that’s when you make an over/under bet. Read our section on total betting to learn more about over/under bets.

What does a 200 moneyline mean?

Actually, it matters whether it’s a -200 or a +200 moneyline bet. If it’s a +200 bet, you have to wager $100 in order to win $200. If it’s -200, then it means you have to bet $200 in order to win $100. Or if you want a closer comparison, a -200 moneyline bet means you would have to wager $400 in order to win $200. It’s a huge difference.

What is a $100 moneyline bet?

Again, it depends on whether you bet on the favorite or the underdog. $100 is the base amount that you compare the wager to in order to determine payouts. If you wager on a +115 underdog, then you would need to wager $100 in order to win $115. If you bet the -120 favorite, then you would need to bet $120 in order to win $100. Or you would need to bet $100 in order to win roughly $83.

Is it spelled “money line” or “moneyline”?

The correct spelling is “moneyline”, though Grammarly may correct you if you don’t add it to your dictionary.

Is moneyline a good bet?

Yes, if you only want to bet on the winners. It’s a great wager if you tend to back the favorites because you can bet on the better team and win most of the time. If you prefer to bet on underdogs, then moneyline bets won’t win as often — but will pay out more when they do win. Point spread bets are better for people who like to bet on the underdog but maintain a higher win rate.

What’s better: a moneyline bet or spread betting?

Again, spread betting is great for people who want to bet on underdogs but have a roughly 50/50 chance of winning. A point spread bet handicaps the game or match, so the underdog has an equal chance of winning the bet. The moneyline bet is all about picking winners, so it’s a great wager for bettors who don’t want to deal with the numbers and simply want to pick winners.

Is moneyline picking the winner?

Certainly, it is. The moneyline bet is simply picking the winner.