What is the moneyline? How do you bet it?

What is a moneyline?

A moneyline is a set of sports betting odds in which you bet on one side to simply win outright. Oddsmakers set the moneylines based on each side’s chances of winning the game or event. 

Moneyline odds are very popular with new sports bettors because you’re simply picking which side will win. Moneyline betting is one of the three most common ways that people bet on sports, along with point spread betting and Over/Under betting

Moneyline betting is most often done in baseball and hockey as well as one-on-one sports like boxing and tennis. However, sports like the NFL, college football, NBA, and NCAA basketball also see plenty of moneyline bets.

Learn what moneyline betting is with this infographic from Covers.com

How to bet the moneyline

We can use the Super Bowl LIV moneyline as an example of how to bet on NFL moneylines:

Super Bowl Moneyline

Moneyline odds from Super Bowl LIV

Based on this NFL moneyline, the Kansas City Chiefs are the favorites to win. We know this because their moneyline odds have a minus (-) before them. The San Francisco 49ers are the underdogs because they have a plus (+) before their moneyline.

Kansas City is a -130 moneyline favorite. That means that in order to win $100 betting Kansas City’s moneyline odds, you would need to risk $130. San Francisco is a +110 moneyline underdog. That means that if you risk $100 on San Francisco’s moneyline odds, you could win $110.

Kansas City won Super Bowl LIV 31-20. Since moneyline betting only requires a team to win outright, anyone who bet Kansas City -130 on the moneyline would have won their wager.

How to read moneyline odds

Moneyline odds are based on each team’s implied probability to win the game and because not all teams are equal, moneyline odds will vary from game to game. 

Games that are expected to be close in competition will have less variance between the two sides’ moneyline odds. The Super Bowl LIV moneyline above is an example of a game that was expected to be close in competition.

Games that are expected to be one-sided will see a larger gap in the moneylines. In a college football game where top-ranked Alabama is playing an FCS opponent and is expected to win easily, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Crimson Tide as a -10,000 favorite on the moneyline. This would mean bettors would need to wager $10,000 just to win $100!

How to win a moneyline bet

Winning a moneyline bet is simple: just pick the winner. However, how much you win depends on the moneyline odds you bet and how much money you wager. 

The higher a team’s probability is of winning the game (and the lower the risk), the less their moneyline odds return. The lower the probability of winning (and the higher the risk), the bigger the potential payout is for the moneyline. 

If you bet $100 on a -130 moneyline favorite (lower risk), you could win $77 (plus your original $100 wager). If you bet $100 on a +110 moneyline underdog, you could win $110 (plus your original $100 wager). 

You must be cautious of the size of the moneylines you bet and how much they return. A $100 bet placed on a -250 moneyline favorite will return a profit of just $40. If you were to bet $100 on five moneyline favorites at -250 odds each ($500 wagered in total) and won three of those five bets, you would lose $80 overall – despite going three for five with your bets.

Use our moneyline calculator to find out exactly how much you can win based on different odds as well as the implied probability for those moneylines.

Which sports use moneyline betting?

Pretty much every sport uses moneyline betting as it’s one of the simplest ways to bet on sports. In addition to the NFL and college football, let’s look at a few examples from other popular sports. 

Moneyline betting in basketball

While point spreads are the preferred method for betting on basketball like the NBA and NCAA basketball odds, moneylines are almost as popular.

An example of NBA moneyline odds

In this example, the Toronto Raptors have a slightly higher probability of winning the game against the Golden State Warriors. Oddsmakers have set the Raptors as -125 moneyline favorites against the Warriors, who are set as +105 moneyline underdogs. 

Moneyline betting in baseball

Moneylines are the most popular way to bet on MLB odds due to 28 percent of all baseball games being decided by only one run.

An example of MLB moneyline odds

In this example, the New York Yankees are sizable -400 moneyline favorites to beat the Detroit Tigers, who are +330 moneyline underdogs. That means that if you want to win $100 betting New York, you’d need to risk $400.

Moneyline parlays

Moneyline parlays allow you to tie together multiple moneyline bets and wager a single amount for a larger possible payout. The more moneyline picks you add to your parlay, the more money you could potentially win. 

However, for your moneyline parlay to win, all of the picks involved in the parlay must be correct. The more moneyline picks added, the higher the risk, and therefore the higher the payout. But even if four of your five parlay picks are correct and only one is wrong, the entire moneyline parlay loses.

If you want to make a moneyline parlay, find out how much money you could win using our easy moneyline parlay calculator.

Moneyline FAQs

You win a moneyline bet by simply picking the winner of the game or event.

Point spread bets require a team to win/lose by a certain margin while moneyline bets only require the team to win, regardless of the final margin.

3-way moneyline bets are most often bet in soccer, due to the high percentage of games ending in a draw. Three-way odds allow you to bet on either team to win or a draw result.

If the moneyline is -200, it means the team is the favorite and you must wager $200 to win $100. If the moneyline is +200, it means the team is the underdog and you could win $200 if you bet $100.

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