A moneyline bet is the simplest and most straightforward wager in all of sports betting. It is a bet that has potentially two or three outcomes depending on the sport. When there are two players or teams listed on a moneyline bet, bettors are choosing one player or team to win.
In the case of soccer (European football) or a boxing/MMA fight, moneyline bets could also have a third option, which is a “draw,” in which there is no winner or loser. Some sportsbooks will offer a draw as an option on a moneyline bet, some will offer what is called a “Draw no bet” option in which only a winning player or team can be chosen, but not a draw outcome. When bettors correctly choose an outcome, a sportsbook will pay the odds due the bettors.
What makes the moneyline a simple and straightforward bet is the lack of a point spread. All bettors have to do is a pick a winning side — or team or specifically a draw in a soccer/European football match or boxing/MMA fight if a draw is offered as an option. “Just win, baby” to quote the late, great Raiders owner Al Davis.
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Moneyline bet explained
There are three components of a moneyline wager: the favorite, the underdog and “even” or “pick ’em.”
(1) The favorite
The favorite is the player or team viewed as more likely to win. Using $100 as a standard betting unit, a bettor would have to wager the amount listed (i.e. -150) in order to win $100. In this instance, a bettor would have to wager $150 to win $100. If the bet wins, the sportsbook would pay $250, which is the stake ($150) plus the win ($100). A favorite is always represented with a minus sign on the moneyline.
(2) The underdog
The underdog is the player or team considered less likely to win. Again using $100 as a standard betting unit, a bettor would have to wager $100 to win the amount listed (i.e. +150) for an underdog win. In this instance, a bettor would wager $100 to win $150, thus totaling $250 for the payout. An underdog is always represented by a plus sign (+) on the moneyline and will pay out more money than the original amount wagered by a bettor.
(3) Evens or Pick ‘em
An evens or pick ’em bet is when two teams are so close in terms of level of play that the sportsbook decides to price them as equally likely to win or lose. In such a case, bettors would receive the same amount of money bet on the pick. In this instance, bettors would win $100 on a $100 wager, thus totaling $200. An evens or pick ‘em will usually have the word “evens” or “pick ‘em” listed on the moneyline. It will be represented by the equal wager amount (+100), or a combination of the terms such as (Evens +100). A winning even or pick ‘em play by a bettor will pay out the same amount wagered.
The three types of outcomes on a moneyline bet
Bettors win when they correctly choose the winning player or team outcome, or a draw if it is specifically offered as a potential outcome. The “draw” is sometimes offered as an option in a soccer/European football match or a boxing/MMA match.
Bettors lose when they do not successfully choose the winning player or team. Bettors also lose if they did not select “draw” for a game or fight that ends with such an outcome if provided as an option.
“Draw” or “no bet”
A “Draw no bet” occurs when a draw is not offered as an outcome on a moneyline bet when that outcome can potentially take place. This happens most in soccer/European football when a moneyline bet provides options only for either team to win. When a draw takes place with this type of wager, bettors have their full stake returned. If a draw is an option on a moneyline bet, however, the only way bettors win their wager is if they selected draw as the outcome. Otherwise, bettors lose that wager.
The connection from the moneyline to the point spread
While the moneyline bet does not include making a pick based on the point spread, it is connected to the point spread in terms of its potential payout. For example, picking a team that is a 3-point favorite will have a better payout than picking a team that is a 7-point favorite.
As an example, a team that is a 3-point favorite in an NFL game could have a moneyline status of -160 per $100 bet, which reflects a perceived fairly small gap in team levels; the underdog in this case would be priced around +135. As the point spread increases, selecting the favorite on a moneyline wager requires betting more money to achieve the same return. A team that is a 7-point favorite could be -350 on the moneyline and the underdog +285.
Note that the conversion from spread to moneyline varies from sports to sport. A 7-point win in an NFL contest is not quite the same as a 7-point win in the NBA.
Very heavy favorites, in the NFL for example, a 10+ point favorite will get into the -700 or higher range, meaning you’d have to bet $700 to win $100. But correspondingly, upsets happen often, and an underdog victory would pay around +500 if you go that way, or bet $100 to win $500. The point spread is the great equalizer!
Moneyline sports betting FAQ
Can you put moneyline bets in parlays?
Yes, you can put multiple moneyline sides in the same parlay bet. But keep in mind that choosing a couple or several favorites, especially heavy favorites, will not yield the same payout as if you were picking sides closer to even (-110) or underdogs.
Can you put money and spread bets together in parlays?
Sure can. The potential payout is based on the pricing of any spread bet(s) in the parlay. The standard vig on a spread bet is -110.
Do moneyline prices differ from one sportsbook to another?
Absolutely. Sometimes they’re pretty drastically different. It’s always wise to shop around for the best price for the side you like. For example you might see -200 on one book and -160 at another. If you bet the same $100 and your team wins, that’s an extra $12.5 profit if you got -160.
Are moneyline bets good bets?
They’re perfectly fine. Your bankroll, your call. It’s not a long-term winning strategy to bet big on heavy favorites; after all, favorites lose all the time. The “spread” is considered the great equalizer and involves a bit more handicapping (by how much will X team win or lose?), but there’s nothing wrong with just picking the winner straight up.
How do moneyline bets work?
The price established on one or other is a function of how competitive or talented each side is — independently and based on the particular matchup. Put simply, the bookmakers will assign a certain price that they think accurately reflects what it should cost the bettor to pick each side to win the game. The closer the price is to “100” (in American oddsmaking), the closer the teams are in terms of competitiveness. When it gets into the -120 to +120 range, it’s just about a “coin flip” — two evenly matched sides.
Will the moneyline change once it’s set?
Definitely. Spreads and moneylines and totals are all fluid. They will adjust based on the bets people are placing (“action”), especially bettors that a bookmaker knows to be “sharper” (well informed). Winning long-term is as much about getting the best price and good value, as it is being on the right side. For example if two people bet on the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl but John bet it one week before the Super Bowl at -130 and Joe waited until Sunday and got K.C. at -120, Joe is getting the better price and payout, percentage-wise.
Can the moneyline price for MY bet change, once once I’ve bet it?
No. This is opposed to horse racing, or “parimutuel” betting, where the odds/prices change up until the gates open. With moneyline betting, the price that you bet gets locked in when you hit “place bet,” and it’s accepted. So if you bet on the Packers-Lions and took the Lions at +300 (bet $100 to win $300) and then later in the week, Aaron Rodgers gets ruled out, and the moneyline shifts drastically for the Lions to +130 (almost even), you’re sitting pretty. But that cuts both ways; Packers bettors would be kicking themselves.