Home Betting Guides What Is A Moneyline Bet?

What Is A Moneyline Bet?

It is the most straightforward yet most popular bet out there: the moneyline bet. The first sports bettors always wager on the moneyline as it is immediate to understand. To win, you just need to pick the correct side that will win. The difference with spread betting, is that the latter uses a handicap to try levelling the odds on both sides. When you bet on moneyline, you don’t have to worry about the spread: you need your selection to win and the moneyline wager will pay out. Although this is very easy to understand, it is worth analysing this popular type of wager in more detail.

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What is a Moneyline Bet?

As mentioned above, a moneyline bet simply wagers that one team or a player will beat the opponent. Once the game or match is over, the sportsbook will provide the following outcome: 

  • Win – if the selection you picked won the game. In this case the sportsbook will return the stake in addition to the winnings. 
  • Loss – Your selection has lost. In this scenario the sportsbook will keep the stake
  • Draw – If the game has ended with a tie, the wager will be void and the sportsbook will return the stake as if the bet was never placed.

You will find moneyline bets appearing at sportsbooks in a similar format: 

  • Chargers (-184)
  • Raiders (+154)

The best way to read those moneyline odds, is by using a $100 bet. By looking at the above example, the moneyline on Raiders was +154, this means that a $100 wager will pay out $154 in profit. For this to happen the Raiders, who are the underdogs in our example, would have to win the game, and the total payout will be $254 (as you will also get back the $100 you have staked). So the underdogs do pay out more money per unite than a wager on the favourite, and this is why bettors normally prefer to bet teams that are not favourite on moneyline. If we look at the Chargers, who were the -184 favourites, a bettor would need to wager $184 to get a profit win of $100. This is because the favourite is considered the team with the best chance of winning, so the pay out will be less than the original amount risked. 

How do moneyline bets work?

The payouts for the moneyline wagers depend on how sports betting sites assess the teams, but in general, if you are betting on favourites with moneyline wagers, you are risking a lot to win a little. Different regions in the world use different odds formats, but in New Jersey and across the nation, we have the American odds, which have a ‘plus/minus’ system which is based around the $100 wagers. A favored team will have a minus sign, which will be followed by a number. That number tells you the stake that you need in order to win $100. So if you have -300 that means you need to wager $300 to win $100. The underdog will have a plus sign with a number. That number does represent the potential winnings when placing a $100 stake. So if you have +300 that means you would win $300 when you place a $100 wager. 

Moneylines and implied probabilities

Moneylines do represent the current market expectation of an outcome in a sportive event. Even if you are not interested in wagering, you can gain valuable information about an event by analysing the betting market. For instance, lots of fans are keen to know what are the probabilities that their team will win the next match. But how do we figure out what are the implied probability from a moneyline? There is an easy formula to do so, all you need to do is substitute the absolute value of the American odds where the ‘x’ is into these equations: 

  • Negative odds: x/(x+100)
  • Positive odds: 100/(x+100)

Then, multiply the result by 100. So let’s say we have San Francisco 49ers (-380) at Detroit Lions (+290), the implied probability would be that San Francisco has a 79.16% chance to beat Detroit. The Lions will have a 25.64% chance of causing an upset. As you can see, those percentages add up to more than 100, which is why sportsbooks are likely to make money in the long term. Let’s find out how in more details. 

How Sportsbook earn money with moneyline bets?

If we take our example before, we do have San Francisco -380 and Detroit +290, but in reality, Detroit should be +380. The difference in the numbers is called the vigorish, also referred as the vig or the ‘juice’: in short it is the sportsbook charge for accepting your wagers. In a market with no vig, a fair market, Detroit would be at +380 instead of +290. But the bookmakers are businesses and need to turn a profit, so they do include some vig, even if you can benefit from promo offers and boost that they do run from time to time.

To find out how much ‘juice’ or vig is in a market, you just need to perform some simple maths. First, you need to get the ‘true’ implied probability from a line, then you have to divide those by the total implied probabilities of all options in the market. As the competition is fierce on moneyline markets, the vig tends to be lower than many other wagers types like props and futures. This is why moneyline do represents typically good value for the bettors, as the vig is in the region of 4-5%. For example, in a typical spread betting market with -110 on both teams, the vig is 4.54%. 

So, if, as a bettor, you believe that, for example, the probability of San Francisco are higher than the 79.16% quoted, then you should place a bet and expect a return. So by understanding odds and implied probabilities, you can also find good value opportunities to bet. 

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John was born and raised in London, John has always been in love with American sports. He started to write football articles back in 2006 on his own blog and has also worked for several newspapers. John other passion was betting and has worked as a trader for several top sports book in the UK. As sports trader and has joined leading UK betting tipping site BettingTips4You in 2013 and he is now head of content. He has a great passion for US Sports so hasn't wasted the opportunity to write also for NewJerseySafeBetting, now that online sportsbetting has been legalized in the state.