Moneyline Betting Explained

Betting on the moneyline is the simplest wager a player can make. There are no handicaps involved nor does anything spectacular need to take place to win these bets. Players who bet on the moneyline are purely betting on which team they think will win the game.

That is all there is to it. You will take the odds listed on the team and if the team you choose ends up winning then you will make money. Many people make moneyline bets even outside of casinos and sportsbooks.

If you are with a friend and bet them that the Yankees will win tonight’s game, then you have made a moneyline bet. In this article we will discuss everything you need to know about the moneyline including odds, pros/cons and tips for making the best moneyline bet.

Moneyline Details

In the intro it was stated that a moneyline bet is simply a bet on which team/athlete/racer will win a certain event. The end game for these types of bets is making sure your team wins. Since there is the possibility of overtime in almost every sport, bookmakers will take this into account.

It is different at each sports betting site, but one of the more common ways to do this is to make separate lines. One will include overtime and one will not.

Obviously, the one that includes overtime will have lower odds since there are now two options besides a win. A team can now draw or lose by the end of regular time. If the teams are tied at the end of the game and you bet on a win without the possibility of overtime, you have just lost your bet.

If you bet with overtime, then the team you picked must be the winner at the end of the overtime period/s. 

The odds between these two markets are not drastically different. It will usually be less than a .4 difference. For the added comfort, it is not a terrible deal. Other than the possibility of overtime, there is not that much more to moneyline betting. You can do this on any sport, not just the main team sports.

For example, you could make a moneyline bet on a NASCAR race by betting on which driver will win the race. However, they are at their most popular on low-scoring sports such as baseball, soccer and hockey. Due to their simplicity, moneyline bets are the most popular type of bet by far. 

Moneyline bets will almost 100% of the time be the main market listed for every game. Sometimes listed by itself, but oftentimes accompanied by the main total and handicap markets. The odds for moneyline bets will be standard. For American odds, the chances for one team may be -240 and + 300 for its opponent.

The team with the negative sign in front of their odds is always the favorite, making the positive team the underdog. For every $100 you stake on the underdog to win, you will return the odds listed.

The team with the negative sign in front of their odds is always the favorite, making the positive team the underdog. For every $100 you stake on the underdog to win, you will return the odds listed. So in this example you will make $300 for every $100 you wager.

For the favorite, the number listed is how much money you have to stake in order to win $100. So here you would have to stake $240 to win $100. 

The odds will move reflecting the markets and sharp bettors, but most importantly the bookmaker. It is the bookmakers job to make sure they return a profit on every game. If every single bettor bet on one team and that team wins, the bookmaker would be paying out all of the bettors and would be keep none of the money.

In fact, he would be losing two or three times the amount wagered. This is definitely not a successful business model.

Therefore, it is the bookmaker’s duty to make sure there is an even amount bet on both sides of the game. The bookmaker will also implement a built-in profit to each market.

This is why even though you may have a 50/50 game, the payouts will not be even money. This margin is called the juice or vig, and is usually around 10%. 

Tips for Moneyline Betting

The most important tip for players is to understand the second side of the odds. The odds are not only there to tell you how much you will make, but also signify what your chances of winning the particular bet are.

This is very important for the player to know, especially new players. Experienced punters will likely understand the chance of winning a bet simply by looking at the odds.

For beginners though, the experience necessary to do this is not there yet. There are plenty of calculators available online for players to easily figure out what the implied probability of a specific market winning is. For example, odds of -190 gives the player a 65.6% chance to win the bet if the player chooses that option. 

The reason this is so important is now you can start to look for markets that have a higher probability to win than is stated on the books. This is how professional bettors will make money; by finding odds that are higher than they should be and taking them.

You can determine this yourself using a multitude of methods. You can assess all of the different statistics associated with the game and try to piece together a percentage that you believe is more accurate.

Or you could just go with your gut feeling. If one sports betting site is giving the New England Patriots a 73% chance to win (-275) and you believe it should be around a 90% chance you would be wise to take it.

Important to note is that sharp (professional) bettors and the betting public can move the odds as well. Watching the lines and waiting for the perfect odds to appear is a good strategy if used right, similar to watching stock markets and waiting to buy or sell. 

However, on the opposite side of the fence, stay away from markets with inflated, inaccurate odds for a team or player. If you believe both teams have an even chance at winning the game, but one of the teams is listed with a 74% chance to win, then you must immediately ignore that team.

In fact, in that situation you would bet on the other team.

When you make bets on teams with inflated and undeserved odds, you are cheating yourself out of value. Even if you end up winning that bet, the profits will be lower than they should have been and you are taking a bigger risk for less money. Always figure out what the implied probability is that the odds are giving, and then make your moves. 

Shopping lines is good for every type of market simply because they allow you to find the best odds. So if you do find some value in a game’s odds, do not be afraid to shop around on other sports betting sites to see if there is more value to be had. Have an account at two or three sportsbooks so you can easily see where the best odds lie and instantly place a wager. Also, if you are betting on races, do not bet afraid to bet on multiple entrants in the race.

This also applied to futures bets. Most of the time, the odds on each contestant are high enough that you can still make a profit betting on five different entrants and still come away with a profit when only one of them wins. Of course, you stand to lose 5X as much money if they all lose, so do not make a habit out of it.

However, if you think a specific race is going to come down to two or three racers, then why not make a bet on all three; assuming that the odds are sufficient and it makes sense. 

The last piece of advice for betting on the moneyline is to avoid heavy favorites while also giving the underdog a little more attention. When betting on teams that are heavy favorites to win, the odds will usually reflect this, which is not good for the bettor. Some games will only return a few pennies on the dollar for a winning bet. Are you really going to wager $100 just to win $102? The unecessary stress that this causes should not be undergone through free will.

You always have to remember that even the favorite teams lose some of their games. I know I would not be okay if I lost $100 to an outcome that had fewer than a five percent chance to happen. This leads us to looking at the underdogs more and more. The odds will be better, and most of the time are actually higher than they should be. Underdogs win games more or less often depending on the sport, however even winning bets 30% of the time on underdogs can make a player very profitable.

Underdogs win games more or less often depending on the sport, however even winning bets 30% of the time on underdogs can make a player very profitable.

So forget about your win/loss record for now and start to focus on the odds and how much you stand to make compared with how much risk you are taking. Doing these things will eventually mold you into a master bettor. 

Pros and Cons 


Easily the biggest advantage to using moneyline bets are their ease of use. To make a decent moneyline bet the player only needs a limited amount of knowledge about one or both teams. Any bettor, beginner or experienced, has the ability to confidently choose which team will win, assuming they at least have basic knowledge of the sport and teams/league. There is no need to factor in other variables such as handicaps. 

Betting on the underdog can actually be very profitable using moneyline bets. Every good team has bad days, meaning that the loss column in the team’s record is not imaginary. Favored teams will lose, and when they do you should be there to profit. Odds on underdogs will always be higher than the favored team. One strategy I like to apply is find two or three underdog teams who I think have a good chance to win. If the odds line up right, I will bet and make a profit even if only one of the teams wins. 


One of the cons of this type of bet correlates with the advantage of betting on the underdog. If you decide to instead take the favored team, you will be given low odds. Almost always, the odds will not even give the player even money if they win.  When you factor in the chances of the favored team losing, it can be difficult to make confident and profitable bets. The player needs to have a high win percentage to break even betting this way, which is difficult to achieve even for professional bettors. 

There is also no variation with this bet which can make things more difficult. If the player makes a moneyline bet, then they need that team to win no matter. This becomes even more difficult when you factor in the possibility of a draw. Most bookmakers will offer separate markets for games with one including overtime and the other without. To avoid the possibility of a draw, you will need to take the bet with overtime included, which means taking lower odds as well.  


Moneylines bets are simple wagers that require a more complicated approach when using them. They are easy to win only in theory, because games are influenced by so much more than just the quality of the two teams. In addition to the tips provided in this article, you should be prepared to do as much research necessary in order to find value. This could mean looking at statistics for more than an hour on just one game. Or going to multiple sports betting sites to find the best odds. Betting on the moneyline can be very profitable if the player knows what they are doing. However, even beginners can get valuable experience starting with moneyline bets. By learning about how moneyline odds work, you have taken the biggest step towards being proficient in using them. Just remember what you have learned and to apply it whenever applicable.