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What is the Moneyline in Sports Betting?

by August 22, 2018

The Moneyline is a wager option where sports bettors are betting on who will win the game, with the favored team seeing reduced odds and the underdog receiving increased odds. When it comes to football, the spread is generally the primary betting option for most sports bettors. It’s a little more straightforward in that your win amount is generally the same regardless of which side you pick. However, with the moneyline, you can see a favorite at -130 while the underdog is at +110. This discrepancy is where you can find hidden value as a sports bettor.

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How the Moneyline Moves?
While the spread would generally move as well, what you see move tends to be the spread itself as opposed to the odds. With the moneyline, as the market sways the odds your potential payout sways as well. The moneyline can move for a number of reasons. The general public can hammer a specific side (especially a heavy favorite) which causes the line to move to a more favorable value for the opposite team. Sometimes oddsmakers may learn of some insider information ahead of everyone else and adjust the line accordingly. Lastly, some oddsmakers will see that their sharp bettors are hitting a particular side and adjust. While the moneyline may move one way or another it’ll be difficult to know which reason the line is moving in any particular scenario.

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When to Bet the Moneyline?

While some sports are perfect for moneyline betting, like MLB where there’s value on a daily basis, for football the value can be harder to spot and less frequent as the spread is where more of the value lies. There’s no specific strategy on betting the moneyline that is guaranteed to be a profitable endeavor. You can’t always bet on the favorite or the underdog. Because of this, you have to be cognizant of when you are perceiving a value. It’s important to remember some of the general trends. The general public likes to bet on favorites because people prefer to win more often than lose. Regardless of what the lines are, this can cause the lines on favorites to become inflated but, in turn, can inflate underdogs into becoming a value. Ultimately, it’s all about finding situations where your projected win percentage is considerably greater than the break-even percentage for the given lines.

Betting on favorites will be tough to find a value for, but you can expect to find it on occasion. With that said, if you are betting on a favorite it should be because you’re confident they’ll win often enough to be a profitable wager at the given odds but not as likely to cover the spread at those odds. Let’s say team A has a spread of -5. This moneyline may be something along the lines of -250. At this line, it’ll be tough to argue a value but with defensive-focused teams, you may do your research and say Team A has a 75% chance to win, though at that price your break-even rate is 71.4%. Now on the flip side of this, let’s say you only expect them to win by more than 5 50% of the time. With the spread, your break-even point is 52.4%. These scenarios will be few and far between, but when they do present themselves, don’t be afraid to pull the trigger, just don’t get caught up in picking favorites too often as history shows that sportsbooks will usually make you pay a premium for these picks.

While it’ll be tough to find a lot of value on favorites, underdogs are a different story. Of course, you won’t be able to just throw money on every underdog you see, but there are definitely times that it’s a more profitable bet on the moneyline than to take the points on the spread. This is especially true when the spread is 2.5 points or less. You’d likely be able to get a moneyline of about +110 instead of the -110 and +2.5 points. The key here is that very few games are decided by 1 or 2 points, so if you handicapped this game as a 50/50 proposition, then getting the +110 will be a much more profitable proposition. It doesn’t have to be just small underdogs, you can still find value with larger underdogs as well. On a +7 underdog, you may be able to get a +285 moneyline. If after your analysis you see the underdog will win 33% of the time, then you now have another profitable situation where your break-even percentage is at 26%.

Break-Even Chart

Juice Break-Even Win Percentage Juice Break-Even Win Percentage
-105 51.2% 100 50.0%
-110 52.4% 105 48.8%
-115 53.5% 110 47.6%
-120 54.5% 115 46.5%
-125 55.6% 120 45.5%
-130 56.5% 125 44.4%
-135 57.4% 130 43.5%
-140 58.3% 135 42.6%
-145 59.2% 140 41.7%
-150 60.0% 145 40.8%
-155 60.8% 150 40.0%
-160 61.5% 155 39.2%
-165 62.3% 160 38.5%
-170 63.0% 165 37.7%
-175 63.6% 170 37.0%
-180 64.3% 175 36.4%
-185 64.9% 180 35.7%
-190 65.5% 185 35.1%
-195 66.1% 190 34.5%
-200 66.7% 195 33.9%

In Conclusion
Sports other than football focus more on the moneyline, like MLB where that’s the primary way to bet, as you’ll find a lot more value on a day-to-day basis. When you’re betting football games, don’t forget to take a peek at your moneyline options. While the moneyline won’t always be more valuable, there are a number of scenarios where that’s where the smart money will be.

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Kyle Kontos is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Kyle, check out his archive.

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