How to Bet the Moneyline

How to Bet the Moneyline
Kelsey McCarson for Bookies.com

By Kelsey McCarson | | 3 mins

Betting moneylines is the simplest way to enter the sports gambling market because it’s as easy as picking the winner of an event and expecting the bookmaker to pay out winnings per the moneyline numbers.

There is nothing else to calculate or consider when placing the wager. There are no point spreads in moneyline betting, so how to bet the moneyline is as straightforward as it could possibly be.

Pick the winner. Make the right choice. Win some money.

How Moneyline Betting Works

The moneyline is two or sometimes three numbers set by bookmakers. These numbers determine winnings based on $100 amounts. Wagers do not have to be made in $100 increments. The moneyline numbers are only set this way to help bettors determine bets and ratios quickly and efficiently when reviewing the lines.

For moneyline bets, the negative number indicates which team or person is favored to win the event per bookies.

For favorites, the negative number represents the dollar amount one must wager to return $100 on the bet.

For underdogs, the positive number represents the dollar amount one would win as a return on a $100 wager. The same holds for the moneyline on a draw or tie.

Moneyline Betting Explained

Most American sports betting opportunities fall into one of two categories, point spread betting or moneylines. Where betting point spreads involves determining both who will win the event as well as the spread in points, moneyline bets involve only picking the winner of the event.

In this way, it’s a more simple avenue to playing the betting market.

Some gamblers prefer the straightforwardness of placing moneyline bets over point spread bets even when both are offered. When placing a moneyline bet, one doesn’t have to worry about, or try to factor in, all the different things involved in whether a player or team can both win the event and cover the points spread.

In some low scoring sports, such as hockey or soccer, the total scores of the events, as well as commonly seen point differentials between winners and losers, are so small that betting point spreads becomes an intensely complicated proposition.

For this reason, many bettors prefer betting the moneyline when it’s offered by bookmakers.

Placing wagers on moneylines can also make it easier to parlay groups of bets without being stymied by the same kinds of things that hinder winnings when attempting to parlay a group of point-spread bets.

Again, picking winners is easier for most bettors than picking both winners and point spreads.

Perhaps most importantly, though, moneyline bets often pay out more than point spread bets. This is especially true when betting on the underdog, where it’s commonplace to win more than initial wager as a return.

Finally, moneyline bets are especially attractive to bettors who have solid reason to believe the bookmaker’s underdog has a legitimate chance to beat the oddsmaker’s favorite.

This is especially true in sports or leagues that typically garner fewer overall bets in the market from bettors because that usually means they are given less attention and scrutiny from bookmakers.

What is a Two-Way Moneyline?

In a 2-way moneyline, a wager is placed on either option, the favorite or the underdog. If the event ends in a tie or a draw where neither betting option wins the event, the bet is cancelled and the wager is returned to the bettor as a push.

For example, the following NFL betting moneyline offers two ways to place a wager on an event featuring NFL teams:

  • Dallas Cowboys -150
  • Green Bay Packers +130

In order to win $100 on a bet picking the Dallas Cowboys, the favorite, to win the game, a wager of $150 must be placed on Dallas. In comparison, a $100 bet on the underdog, Green Bay, would return $130 should the Packers pull the upset and win the game.

What is a Three-Way Moneyline?

A 3-way moneyline is the same as a 2-way moneyline except that it also includes odds on a tie or draw. Bookmakers offer 3-way moneylines on sports or events where ties or draws are likely to occur.

Take the following as an example of a 3-way moneyline in boxing betting from a fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor:

  • Mayweather – 400
  • McGregor +300
  • Draw +1200

A 3-way moneyline pays out the same for either fighter on a winning bet as the two-way moneyline, but because the draw is listed as a betting option, only wagers placed on the draw will return winnings if the draw happens.

So, if Mayweather and McGregor fought to a draw, wagers placed on either fighter to win the fight would be lost. Conversely, a $100 wager placed on the draw via a 3-way moneyline wins $1200 if the draw happens. If either fighter wins, bets placed on the draw lose the bet.

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