When it comes to betting on sports, everything starts with the moneyline. It’s the most basic and well-known bet type there is, and knowing how to calculate the moneyline is also imperative for eventually making different kinds of wagers.
Moneyline bets are simply wagers on which team will win a game. If the side you select wins, your bet will cash and you’ll earn a payout. If your side loses, the wager is graded as a loss.
Compared to every other type of bet, moneylines are easy to understand. But don’t assume that makes these bets automatic wins. In fact, it can be quite challenging to earn profits on a consistent basis, even if successfully picking the winner of a sporting event can feel like it should be a simple process sometimes.
Whether you’re new to sports betting or used to gambling on an everyday basis, a little bit of guidance can help. So keep in mind the following list of things to know before placing these bets, including moneyline betting tips and strategies.
10 Things To Know About Betting Moneylines
We know by now that moneyline bets are made on one side or another to win a game, regardless of any point spread. That’s enough information to blindly gamble your money at any number of online sportsbooks, but it’s not nearly enough to give you the best chance at having success.
Before putting any money down, bettors should be aware of all aspects of what they’re betting on. That isn’t just reserved to the game and the two teams taking part, as it also means the type of bet being placed. So if you’re betting on sports and considering these wagers, which is a virtual certainty at some point or another, be aware of the following aspects of betting the moneyline.
1. How A Moneyline Is Set
Moneylines are set by oddsmakers well in advance of all sporting events, as are odds for point spread or totals betting. They rely on mathematical formulas and algorithms on top of their own expertise when comparing the two teams. Once you add it all together, sportsbooks have an idea of what the line should be.
From there, oddsmakers must take into account all of the additional factors that are in play for that specific game. This includes home field advantage, injuries, weather, schedule, and recent performance, among other things. These components are all baked into where the line begins. Once oddsmakers get a clearer picture of the game, an opening line is set.
2. Why Moneyline Odds Change
It’s important to keep in mind that the opening line is just a starting point, and nobody knows that better than the oddsmakers. Lines will adjust and shift from the time they are posted until the start of the game. But why?
Those who set the lines are, in part, attempting to forecast where the public action will go, and set an opening line which will lead to that eventual outcome. What oddsmakers want to do is attract an equal amount of action on both sides to limit the amount of liability being taken on.
If a large majority of the betting population is on a particular side, the sportsbook will react by shifting the line to a point that attracts action going the opposite way, which would start to even things out. But how much that line moves changes with each situation.
If sportsbooks feel the sharps (aka professional bettors) are on the same side as the public, a huge line move could be in store. But if oddsmakers are seeing signals that the most well-respected bettors out there are on the other side, the line may not move very much despite all that public support. It could even go the other way, which would constitute reverse line movement.
3. How Moneyline Odds Work
When you open an online sportsbook app and choose a game, the moneyline is likely the very first thing you see. It’s a three digit number, though can be more in some cases, that lays out how much one team is favored over the other to win a game.
The team that oddsmakers see as more likely to win is labeled the favorite, and a minus sign is placed next to the line. The team viewed as less likely to win is the underdog, and a plus symbol accompanies its odds. Let’s take the following example in which we use MLB odds:
- Los Angeles Dodgers -140
- San Diego Padres +120
In this case, the Dodgers are the favorite at -140 and the Padres are the underdog with a +120 moneyline. Now that you know what the oddsmakers see as the most likely outcome, it’s time for you to place your own bets. But first, you need to know how to read moneyline odds and compute the amount you stand to win or lose with a given bet.
4. Calculate Potential Wins & Losses Based on 100
Bettors need to compute potential wins and losses ahead of time in order to properly manage their bankroll. While online sportsbooks will calculate payouts inside the bet slip before any wagers are placed, being able to do it on your own will help save time and quickly help diagnose the amount you may want to risk.
Calculating moneylines is quite simple once you base your math off the number 100. From there, adjusting for the exact amount of your bet is much easier. With favorites, the moneyline represents the amount you must risk for every $100. So if the Dodgers are -140, bettors must risk $140 to win $100 in profit.
For underdogs, the moneyline is the amount bettors can win if risking $100. At +120, a moneyline bet on the Padres of $100 can win $120 in profit, for a total payout of $220.
5. Shop Around For Moneylines
There are far too many bettors out there settling for subpar lines, and you don’t need to be one of them. Line shopping involves comparing odds at multiple sportsbooks before placing any bets. This is a way for bettors to receive the best possible odds and get the most value for their money.
Shopping for lines is important in all aspects of betting, but especially with moneylines, and that’s why it’s imperative to have multiple online sportsbook accounts. Oddsmakers are always tweaking their odds, and moneylines can vary quite a bit from site to site. If a team could be +120 at one sportsbook but +130 at another, you’d always want the option of receiving a better payout.
You may not think that a few cents on the dollar is that important but once you add them all up, consistently shopping for lines can certainly have an impact on your bottom line.
See below for the list of our most trusted sportsbooks to compare moneyline odds.
6. Look For Sharp Line Movement
One common moneyline betting strategy that all recreational bettors should be employing is the search for sharp line movement, which is caused by the most well-respected bettors who do this for a living. Tracking line movement and public bet percentages can sometimes provide an indication that pros are fading the public, and maybe you should too. One scenario where this is identifiable is when the public is heavily in favor of one side, but the line shifts against the masses and into the other direction. This is referred to as reverse line movement.
7. Moneylines Are Perfect For Beginners
Moneylines are the simplest form of betting there is, and it’s definitely recommended for those who may just be getting their feet wet with wagering on sports. The concept of picking one side or the other is the most basic way to do things, and calculating wins and losses is relatively easy once you know how to read odds.
Before jumping into spreads, props, or anything else, understanding all there is to know about moneylines is will make everything else even easier.
8. Heavy Favorites Are Going To Cost You
The betting public is full of recreational gamblers who, as a group, tend to side toward favorites more times than not. Despite being asked to risk more than they would be if betting an underdog, there are plenty of occasions when the favorite is the right play.
That said, bettors should only be willing to go so far when it comes to betting favorites on the moneyline. The bigger the favorite, the more you have to risk to earn any type of substantial payout. Again, this doesn’t mean ignore the favorite, but set a limit for the most you’re willing to pay on the moneyline. Winning is fun, but it only takes a couple of big favorites losing to significantly hurt your bankroll.
9. Implied Probability Helps Assess Value
Implied probability is a conversion of moneylines into a percentage, and it tells us the expected probability of a team winning. If you feel a team has a better chance of winning than its implied probability suggests, that bet has value and could be one worth making.
Calculating implied probability varies depending on whether the odds are negative or positive. Negative odds will result in an implied probability over 50 percent, while positive odds will result in an amount lower than 50 percent.
For negative odds the formula is Negative Odds / ( Negative Odds + 100) x 100. This means that a team with -120 odds has a 54.55 implied probability of winning the game. The larger the favorite, the higher that number will be.
For positive odds, the formula shifts to 100 / (Positive Odds + 100) x 100. A team with +125 odds would have a 45.44. The higher the moneyline and longer the odds, the lower the implied probability will be.
10. You Can Parlay & Live Bet Moneylines
Bettors are not restricted to just taking one moneyline by itself or betting on the pregame line. Sportsbooks allow bettors to build parlays, which is to combine multiple selections into the same wager in exchange for a higher payout. Betting sites also offer live lines, constantly updating the odds throughout the course of the game. These are two of the most common ways that bettors utilize moneyline betting.
Sports With Moneyline Betting
Just about any sport that bettors are considering wager on will be done so with a moneyline of some kind. Whether you’re a fan of basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, mixed martial arts, tennis, golf, or nearly any other sport you can think of, there are betting options available with moneylines.
Live Betting Moneylines
Live betting is wildly popular these days, and moneylines may very well be the most common type of in-game wager. Sportsbooks update moneylines as the game progresses, altering odds as the action takes place. Bettors are given the opportunity to wager on the same game at varying prices from the time it begins until the late stages of the contest.
It may appear like live betting on a moneyline is just an option for someone who misses the start of the game. And while it is, in-play lines are so much more than that also. Some bettors build their entire moneyline strategy around live odds.
Live betting on moneylines offers you the chance to do a few things. One is to double down on the side of your choosing at any moment you wish. Depending on how the game progresses, there could be a wide range of moneylines that a team throughout a contest.
Another is to hedge an earlier wager, which involves betting against the original wager in order to guarantee a win. If the team you picked goes ahead, the live line will shift and suddenly, the opposite side could have some value. Placing a smaller bet on the opposite side is a way to ensure that no matter the result, a profit is incoming.
Moneyline Parlay Betting
Parlays allow bettors to combine multiple sides into the same wager in exchange for a larger payout. These are a fan favorite among those in the recreational betting community for obvious reasons, as they offer a chance to earn a large payout with a small investment.
Parlays must have a minimum of two selections but can include up to 15 at some sportsbooks, including BetMGM. For example, take the following NFL betting odds combined into a parlay:
- LA Chargers -125
- Indianapolis Colts -145
- NY Jets +180
Once you add all three selections to the bet slip, the odds explode to +751 for this bet. That means that with a $100 risk, you can win $751. With a $10 bet, you’d stand to win over $75.
Parlay payouts vary with every bet, and the odds are impacted by what is included in the wager. Each additional selection boosts parlay odds, though you take on the risk of needing another side to come through for you. Underdogs have a much larger impact on the increase in parlay odds, but there’s also risk in taking large favorites to win outright.
The thing about parlays is that they can be difficult wagers to profit from because all sides need to win for the bet to be successful. One loss spoils an entire parlay, even if every other pick is correct.
This is why it’s recommended that if you are going to bet parlays, to limit them in both the number of selections and the amount of money you spend. But there are also ways to use parlays with much more modest payouts.
One popular strategy is to combine multiple moneyline favorites into one bet. This way, bettors can avoid the massive juice that comes along with betting on a favorite by itself. Use the following example:
- Los Angeles Rams -350
- Kansas City Chiefs -210
These moneylines are a bit steep to be taking on their own, with the Rams costing more than triple your reward and the Chiefs costing over double. But odds become -112 when you combine the two together, which is a much more manageable price. There’s always a risk when asking two teams to win instead of one, but these are still moneyline selections that can earn you profits by winning without any regard for point spread.
Bettors are not required to build wagers consisting of just moneylines, either. Moneylines are welcome to be included in wagers that have point spreads, totals, and even props at some sportsbooks.