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What is Moneyline Betting?

A moneyline bet in sports betting is one of the easiest wagers you can place. There are two (or three in some sports) outcomes of a game or match, and you must choose the outcome you think will occur.

Essentially, you must pick the team you think will win the game. When starting out as a new bettor, it’s advised to start with moneyline betting to get your feet wet, as it can be the easiest to understand and the simplest bet to place.

In most sports, you have a 50/50 chance of predicting the correct game outcome. But to first determine which team you think will win, it’s wise to start by looking at the odds. Betting odds are assigned to each team based on their likelihood of winning the game. These odds determine your entire bet, from the probability of winning, to the amount you would be awarded if you did in fact win your wager.

Let’s start by looking at the odds associated with moneyline betting, and how to read them.

Moneyline Betting Odds Explained

While it’s important to understand your moneyline betting odds, it’s important to know the difference between the three different odds formats. Your sportsbook may allow you to toggle between the three – they all represent the same odds, but they are displayed in different ways that can be tricky to understand if you’re not familiar.

American Odds

In the United States, American odds are most prevalent. These are displayed as a plus or minus amount, usually in the hundreds or thousands or even tens of thousands for a huge underdog.

A good trick to remember when reading American odds is that it’s showing you how much you might win betting the underdog on a $100 wager, or conversely, how much you need to wager to win $100 by betting on the favorite.

For example, if you’re looking to place a moneyline bet on the NFL, you might see:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -105

Kansas City Chiefs +130

The negative number represents the favored team, and the positive number represents the underdog. So you would win $130 by betting $100 on the Chiefs, and you would need to bet $105 to win $100 by betting on the Buccaneers.

These numbers are quite low as these two teams are pretty closely matched, but if you saw something like -300/+650 you would assume that the Buccaneers are heavily favored and the Chiefs have a slim chance of winning.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds have been popular in Europe for the past few decades and are very common still in the United States even with American odds. It’s pretty simple to understand, your decimal odds number represents the return for every dollar you wager.

If you’re doing the mental math on this and want to quickly figure out how much you will earn, you will do the following: multiply your wager amount by the odds. The Buccaneers/Chiefs odds would look like this:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1.95 (which means for every dollar wagered, you would win 95 cents plus your initial $1)

Kansas City Chiefs 2.3 (which means for every dollar wagered, you would win  $1.30 plus your initial $1)

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds aren’t nearly as popular in the United States as they are in European countries like the United Kingdom, but they are an option nonetheless and should be mentioned. Odds are displayed as fractions, and you essentially need to multiply your amount wagered by the top of the fraction and divide that result by the bottom.

So, if we were to bet $10 on the Chiefs with the same moneyline odds as above, their odds would be 13/10, so we’d multiply 10×13 then 130×10 = $13 plus your initial $10 for a payout of $23.

Tip: If you bet the same amount as the denominator (the bottom number) you will win the numerator (the top) plus your initial stake.

Implied Probability is a great calculation that can help you with your moneyline betting. This number will show you the exact value placed on each team by the oddsmakers. While American odds still are quite new, you’d need to convert your odds to decimal for this calculation.

To convert to decimal, you will need to use the following calculations.

1+(+American Odds/100)

1+(100/-American Odds)

Chiefs are the underdog: 1+(130/100) = 2.3

Buccaneers as the favorite: 1+(100/105) = 1.95

Now we can calculate the implied probability of winning. To do so, you will need to divide one into your decimal odds.

So, 1/ 2.3 = 43.47% implied probability that the Chiefs will win.

This calculation can be an important part of your betting strategy if you’re looking for guidance on the likelihood of your team winning based on the odds given.

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Moneyline Betting By Sport

While moneyline betting is extremely easy to understand, and while it’s relatively straight forward and standard across most sports, there are a few sports or situations that require some extra strategy. Here are brief outlines of popular sports and how moneyline betting can slightly vary depending on which sport you choose to bet on.

NFL Moneyline Betting

Since we used the NFL in our earlier examples, we will be brief when explaining NFL moneyline betting. Your job is to determine which team will win the game – simple as that. You don’t need to concern yourself with how many points are scored, just which team will get the W at the end of the game. Your moneyline bet will include overtime play as well, so even if regular time ends in a tie, there will be no push (where your bet is essentially canceled and you receive your stake back), whoever wins in OT will win overall.

NBA Moneyline Betting

If you’re looking to bet the moneyline on an NBA game, you will follow the same principles as above. While point spreads tend to be a bit more favorable in the NBA, they still are relatively popular. Basketball is such a high-scoring sport, and the score changes so rapidly, it can be hard to predict the outcome. You might see odds that range from -110 to +1200 (a huge underdog for a regular season matchup).

MLB Moneyline Betting

MLB moneyline wagers are straight forward and simple, you have the same goals as you would betting on any other sport, and baseball games go into extra innings which eventually allow for a winner. The only instance where your moneyline wager might not play out and create a push situation would be if the game is rained out.

Another option that some sportsbooks offer in moneyline betting is to tie the starting pitcher to the bet. This means if that pitcher doesn’t end up starting, you will receive a push and get your money back.

NHL Moneyline Betting

The NHL is another sport where the moneyline bet is the easiest option available, you simply pick which team you think will win. With lower scoring games and close competition, it can be a little more challenging to predict the outcome of games of this caliber. NHL odds can be much lower than other sports, with huge favorites weighing in at -300 or -250. The margin of error is so narrow in the NHL, oddsmakers aren’t willing to take that risk, so the odds are usually pretty modest.

MMA/Boxing Moneyline Betting

Moneyline betting is by far the most popular boxing or MMA betting type, as the sports themselves offer the perfect situation for moneylines. There are two fighters and two outcomes, you just need to choose the fighter you think will win the bout. It doesn’t matter how the fighter wins or how many rounds it takes, as long as the referee raises your chosen fighter’s arm at the end of the fight, you won your bet.

Soccer Moneyline Betting

Now, while the above sports all followed very similar and true moneyline betting standards, soccer is different. Soccer offers a three-way moneyline, which includes a third option: the Draw.

The draw, or a tie as it’s commonly referred to in America, allows a third option instead of having a push, where you’d get your money back if the teams tied.

The tie is relatively common, but not common enough that the odds will reflect it as a favored outcome. Usually, the odds for draws are higher than either team, making it the ultimate underdog in that situation, and allows you to potentially profit big, given the game ends in a tie.

The same rules apply, just add a third option for the draw.

Golf Moneyline Betting

Golf is another sport with different moneyline rules. Moneylines aren’t usually the most common wagers placed, as futures boards are more equipped to handle the quantity of golfers in attendance of a tournament, but there are usually moneyline odds disguised as golfer matchups.

Golfer matchups pit two players against each other head to head, whether they’re paired by the sportsbook or the tournament itself. These head-to-head matchups can also be expanded into group matchups with three or more options as well.

How to bet the Moneyline FAQs

What is a Moneyline?

A moneyline wager is a type of sports bet where you pick the winner of a game or match. There are odds associated with the two teams playing, and you will win a certain amount based on a team’s likelihood of winning.

What happens if teams tie in a Moneyline?

In most sports, it’s nearly impossible to tie – there are always overtime periods or quarters, or extra innings, depending on the sport. The only instance that a tie is possible is in soccer, where sportsbooks offer Three-way Moneylines. 

How do I calculate my winnings with a Moneyline wager?

It depends which odds format you use, but if you’re using American odds, you can easily determine winnings off a $100 wager on either the underdog or favorite. The underdog’s odds show how much you’d win if you bet $100, and the favorite shows you what you need to wager to win $100.

Now that you understand moneyline betting, you can head over to the sportsbook to start betting on your favorite sport!

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If you want to continue learning more about sports betting options, we recommend the following articles:

NBA Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

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