What is the moneyline? How do you bet it?

The moneyline is one of the easiest ways to bet on sports. We explain moneyline odds with examples from the NFL, college football, and more!

Last Updated: Aug 31, 2022 2:48 PM ET Read Time: 4 min

Moneylines are the simplest bets new bettors can make by just picking the winner of a competition.

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

The most basic moneylines are a two-way market involving a favorite and an underdog. Favorites have a higher implied probability of winning a game due to a number of factors, including skill, matchup factors, and sometimes home-field advantage. Underdogs have a lower win probability, usually for the same reasons.

How to read moneyline odds

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

Most often, moneyline odds are presented in an American Odds format that displays odds with positive and negative numbers that meet at 100.

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

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

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!

Some betting sites show odds in decimal format as well, where -110 is expressed as a decimal 1.91. In this case, you'd multiply your wager by 1.91 to see how much profit a winning bet would return.

You can use Covers' moneyline odds calculator to convert between American, decimal, and fractional odds, as well as see the implied probability and expected payout.

Moneyline favorites

Moneyline favorites have shorter, more expensive odds and will have a negative number, such as -110, meaning a bettor would have to wager $110 to win $100. A heavier favorite might have odds as low as -300, meaning a bettor would be wagering $300 to win $100 in profit.

A $10 moneyline bet on a favorite:

Odds Implied Win Probability Wager Expected Profit
-110 52% $10 $9.09
-200 67% $10 $5.00
-400 80% $10 $2.50
-1,000 91% $10 $1.00
-10,000 99% $10 $0.10

Moneyline underdogs

Moneyline underdogs payout at a higher value than your wager due to their lower win probability. When displayed using American odds, they have a positive number. A moneyline underdog might have odds like +150, meaning a $100 bet would profit $150.

A $10 moneyline bet on an underdog:

Odds Implied Win Probability Wager Expected Profit
+100 50% $10 $10
+110 48% $10 $11
+200 33% $10 $20
+500 17% $10 $50
+1,000 9% $10 $100
+10,000 1% $10 $1000

What is a 'pick em?'

A "pick em" moneyline is what happens when sportsbooks view both sides of the competition as evenly matched. In that case, the odds are set at +100 on either side, but Sportbooks will often attach a cost to such bets pushing them to -105 or -110. This is known as a vig or juice.

Draws and 3-way moneylines

Three-way moneyline bets are moneylines that include a third option to bet on a draw. They are the most common in soccer due to the high percentage of games ending in a draw, but books will offer draw options for other sports that only relate to the results of regulation and not overtime. 

In the example below, a bettor can bet on either team to win, but can also bet on a Draw +300 odds.

Result Odds
Team 1 +240
Team 2 -105
Draw +300

How to bet the moneyline

We can use this 2022 Week NFL Week 1 moneyline as an example of how to bet on NFL moneylines:

Team Odds Implied Probability
Buffalo Bills Buffalo Bills -135 57%
L.A. Rams Los Angeles Rams +115 47%

Based on this NFL moneyline, the Buffalo Bills are the favorites to win. We know this because their moneyline odds have a minus (-) before them. The Los Angeles Rams are the underdogs because they have a plus (+) before their moneyline.

Buffalo is a -135 moneyline favorite. That means that in order to win $100 betting Buffalo’s moneyline odds, you would need to risk $135. L.A is a +115 moneyline underdog. That means that if you risk $100 on San Francisco’s moneyline odds, you could win $115.

Moneyline betting only requires a team to win outright. If Buffalo wins, anyone who bet the Bills at -135 on the moneyline would have won their wager, while all bets on the Rams are graded as a loss. 

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?

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 college basketball also see plenty of moneyline bets.

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.

Team Odds Implied Probability
Golden State Warriors Golden State Warriors -125 56%
Toronto Raptors Toronto Raptors +105 49%

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

Team Odds Implied Probability
Detroit Tigers Detroit Tigers +330 23%
New York Yankees New York Yankees -400 80%

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 to 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 parlay calculator.

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