What is a Moneyline Bet? Meaning and Examples

Posted by Joe Ellison .

Novice sports bettors and those new to sports betting should embrace moneyline bets and odds before they do anything else. A moneyline bet only requires you to pick the winner of an event. This guide will explain moneyline betting, provide real world example of moneyline odds, chop up the differences between moneylines and point spread bets and share tips on line shopping.

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What is a Moneyline Bet?

Moneyline bets feature three elements, which are the favorite, underdog and, in some cases, a PICK or PICK’EM. Your task is to pick the winner of the matchup. That’s it.

The Plus and Minus Odds Explained

When reviewing moneyline odds on the favorite, you’ll notice a minus-prefix before the number. This is based on a $100 wager, but you are not required to wager $100. It just makes the bet calculation easier.

For example:

FavoriteOdds$100 Bet Wins
Chiefs-115$86.96

A $100 wager on the Chiefs -115 moneyline would earn you $86.96 plus recoup your original stake. You would need to wager $115 to win $100.

The moneyline underdog odds will come with a plus-prefix before the number. This is also based on a $100 wager.

For example:

UnderdogOdds$100 Bet Wins
Broncos+175$175

A $100 wager on the Broncos +175 moneyline would pay $175 plus your original $100 bet. Although it’s easy to fall in love with favorites on gameday, this is why there is money to be made targeting undervalued underdogs.

Moneyline Bet Outcomes

Moneyline Win

Moneyline Win

The best outcome of a moneyline wager is a win where you get paid out based on the odds on your bet slip. For example, a +200 moneyline win would pay 2-to-1 and hand you $200 on a $100 wager plus your original bet.

Moneyline Loss

Moneyline Loss

If you wager $100 on a sporting event, entertainment award show category or tennis Grand Slam finale, and that team or person does not win, the sportsbook keeps your $100.

Moneyline Push

Moneyline Push

Say the Chiefs and Raiders are playing on Monday Night Football and the game ends in a 20-20 tie, your moneyline wager did not generate a winner and thus your bet is a “push” and money bet is returned to your online sportsbook account.

How to Bet the Moneyline

Bettors who want a simple “Yes” or “No” choice of winners prefer moneyline betting. In this bet, you pick which team or player will win and bet accordingly. To learn how to bet the moneyline, let’s take a look at typical moneyline bets in the NFL and NBA.

Example of a Moneyline Bet for the NFL

Let’s imagine a theoretical bet in Week 18 of the NFL between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions. The bookmaker installs the Green Bay Packers as a -190 favorite, while the Detroit Lions are +160 underdogs. If you placed a $100 bet on the Lions, then you would receive $160 if the Lions won the game. That is, you’d receive your original $100 wager back plus $160.

If you made the same $100 bet on the Packers, then you would win $52.63 if the Packers won. That is, you’d receive back your original $100 bet plus another $52.63.

Example of a Moneyline Bet for the NBA

NBA moneyline bets often are much different. In the regular season, the odds between the favorite and the underdog do not always have a wide gulf. Let’s imagine a theoretical bet between the Phoenix Suns and the New York Knicks on an NBA game. The bookmaker installs the Phoenix Suns as a -115 favorite, while the New York Knicks are -105 underdogs.

If you bet on the Suns and they won the game, then that $100 bet would net you $86.96 in profits or a total $186.96 payout. If you bet on the Knicks and they won, then the $100 bet would net the bettor $95.24 in profits or a total $195.24 payout.

Implied Probability

When making a moneyline bet, it helps to understand implied probability, which is the overall likelihood of a betting outcome as it relates to the odds. Two formulas help players calculate implied probability: one for negative odds and one for positive odds. For negative odds (favorites), the formula is Odds/(Odds + 100) * 100 = implied probability. For positive odds, the formula is 100/(Odds + 100) * 100 = implied probability.

Using the NFL example above, the Green Bay Packers’ implied probability would be 160 / (160 + 100) x 100 = 61.54%. The Detroit Lions’ implied probability would be 100 / (160 + 100) x 100 = 38.41%. The implied probability of the Packers winning would be 61.54%, while the implied probability of the Lions winning would be 38.41%.

Moneyline Parlay Popularity

Whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze is often pondered amongst sports bettors. The “juice” in that instance refers to the vig or vigorish or “fee” bettors pay a sportsbook online to accept their bet. For example, if you see -110 moneyline odds, you have to RISK $110 for a chance to WIN $100, that $10 difference is the aforementioned “juice” on the bet. Because heavy moneyline favorites typically possess odds of greater than 2-to-1, or -200-or-greater, some bettors prefer to parlay moneyline bets rather than wager on a single event outcome.

For example, let’s say you wanted to wager on one favorite over another:

The Chiefs are -300 moneyline favorites over the Jaguars. So, a $300 wager would be required to win $100 should Kansas City beat Jacksonville.

However, let’s say you wanted to wager on four favorites instead of one:

  • Chiefs -300 over Jaguars
  • Buccaneers -225 over Panthers
  • Eagles -175 over Commanders
  • Bills -175 over Seahawks

If your four-team favorite parlay all win, a $100 bet pays $375.59 despite the heavy juice on each individual matchup. The risk is evident in that ALL four wagers must hit or the entire ticket is a bust. However, moneyline parlays are popular for this very reason.

Moneyline vs Point Spreads

For those new to sports betting, one of the most common questions we receive is, what’s the difference between betting the moneyline and betting the point spread. In this section, we’ll break down the differences between two of the most popular bet types at online sportsbooks.

Moneyline Bet

Remember, moneyline bets are easy to remember because all you need to do is pick the winner.

For example:

The Browns are -150 moneyline favorites over the Bengals +115

MatchupMoneyline
Bengals+115
Browns-150

Only three outcomes can occur, Browns win and pay $100 for every $150 wagered, Bengals win and pay $115 for every $100 wagered or the game ends in a tie and the bet pushes and the sportsbook returns your wager in-full.

Point Spread Bet

When you bet the point spread, you are doing more than picking a winner or a loser. The favorite must win by a certain number of points, while the underdog must lose by a certain number or win the game outright.

Taking that same example of Browns vs Bengals:

MatchupPoint Spread
Bengals+3.5
Browns-3.5

The Browns must win by 4-or-more points to cover -3.5, while the Bengals must lose by 3-or-fewer points OR win the game outright to cover the spread.

Example of Both

Though it’s not a common practice, it is possible to win a moneyline and point spread wager on the same event.

MatchupPoint SpreadMoneyline
Bengals+3.5+115
Browns-3.5-150

For example, if you bet the Browns moneyline and Bengals point spread and Cleveland wins 23-20, you’ve won both bets. The Browns moneyline wins and you add 3.5 points to the Bengals total to get a 23.5-23 outcome.

Live Betting Moneylines

Thanks to advances in software technology at the best online sportsbooks, moneyline wagers are now accepted before and during the game. Live betting moneylines, while an NFL, NBA or college football game is taking place is a great option if you aren’t confidence in choosing a side prior to the opening kickoff, first pitch or tip-off.

Once a game starts, live moneylines odds ebb and flow as the action plays out on the field, court, ice, etc. For example, say the Browns are +200 underdogs at the Buccaneers in the hours leading up to kickoff. If Cleveland jumps out to a 14-0 lead, live moneyline odds are going to swing in the favor of the Browns, while Tampa Bay’s odds dip. However, if you are like most and believe Tom Brady can lead them back to win, you’ll get better moneyline odds by live betting after the game has started.

You can also live bet moneylines from your mobile device, while at your favorite watering hole.

Line Shopping Moneyline Odds

Sportsbook A's Moneyline

Sportsbook A's Moneyline

It’s important to shop around at various online sportsbooks to find the best moneyline odds.

For example, say you truly believe the Cincinnati Bengals are going to win the Super Bowl and their moneyline futures odds are +800 (8-to-1) on Sportsbook A’s board.

Sportsbook B's Moneyline

Sportsbook B's Moneyline

When you hop on over to Sportsbook B and review their Super Bowl futures odds, the Bengals odds are +900 (9-to-1).

So, some quick math, Sportsbook A pays $800 on a $100 bet, while Sportsbook B pays $900 on that same $100 bet should the Bengals win the Super Bowl.

Place Your Bet

Place Your Bet

Line shopping can be done for moneylines as well as point spreads, and over/under point totals, too.

When you’ve found the best odds, go ahead and place your moneyline bet!

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Joe Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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