What Is A Moneyline Bet?

what is a moneyline bet

This guide is going to explain everything there is know about moneyline bets in sports. No matter where you are in your betting career, there’ll be something of value that you can learn.

For beginners, you’ll see what a moneyline bet is and why they are used. For professionals, you’ll see some line movement analysis that can help you start crushing.

Here is the ultimate guide to moneyline betting.

What Is A Moneyline Bet?

A moneyline bet is a wager on which a person or team will win a particular sporting event. It doesn’t matter if or how they win, just that they do.

That means that if you have ever just placed a bet on someone to win down the local casino or online at any point in your life, it was a moneyline bet.

However, what often gets people confused about moneyline bets is how they are presented in sportsbooks and how they pay out.

Depending on how the bet is presented will affect the amount you win from the bet.

By the end of this article, you’ll understand all there is to know about making money from a moneyline bet.

Benefits Of Moneyline

There are two main reasons why both professionals and casual bettors both love to make moneyline bets.

Firstly, there are incredibly easy to make.

Why spend time creating complex sports investing strategies when you can make just as much money placing simple bets?

It’s not even close. The chances of making a mistake are a lot lower and there is often a lot of value that can be found from plays that may go unnoticed.

Everyone can pick a winner from a sporting event. All that remains is deciding whether the risk is worth the reward.

For beginners especially, they don’t need information that can potentially confuse them.

Secondly, and this was briefly touched on above, it’s a lot easier to find value from the markets.

Now, this does not mean that it’s easy. If it was, everyone in the entire would choose to be a digital nomad and likely be a millionaire.

However, with just some simple mathematics, it’s possible to determine if there is value from a particular bet.

Understanding Favorites And Underdogs

In every game to bet on, there will be a favorite and an underdog.

If there wasn’t and sportsbooks listed every team with an equal chance of winning, the sportsbooks would lose a lot of money very quickly as everyone would just bet on the better team.

The goal of every sportsbook is to balance the odds between the favorite and the underdog as best they can so, no matter who wins the match, they make money.

Payouts are altered based on how heavy a favorite a team is. The more likely one team is to win, the more money the bettor will have to risk to make a profit, and vice versa.

If you can find value from an underdog, you can get a huge payoff if they go on to win.

While the betting odds will usually be in line with how the teams compare, they are always subject to change.

This is because sportsbooks always want to make sure that they are getting enough money on either side of the betting lines.

Example Of A Moneyline Bet

Here is a fictional match between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers and associated betting lines:

Capitals -200

Rangers +300

There are multiple elements to break down here.

The first line is a bet on the Capitals to win and the second is a bet on the Rangers to win. The Capitals have a negative sign next to them, indicating that they are the favorite. Likewise, the Rangers have a positive sign next to them, indicating they are the underdog.

The numbers then show how big of a favorite or underdog that team is in the match. The bigger the number, the bigger the favorite or underdog. For example, a team at -200 is a bigger favorite than a team at -150.

These numbers do not reflect how a sportsbook thinks who will win, rather, how the money has been bet on the game.

Understanding Betting Odds

Moneyline betting odds can be displayed in a number of ways but is mostly dependent on your location.

Moneyline bets can be presented in 3 formats:

  • American
  • Fractional
  • Decimal

If you are from America, your sportsbook will show you American odds. Fractional and decimal odds are more popular in Europe and Asia.

However, most sportsbook let you change the betting odds to the format of your choice.

So, going back to the previous example, we can deduce that the odds were displayed as American odds.

If they were displayed as fractional odds they would look like:

Capitals 1/2

Rangers 3/1

In general, if the numerator (the first fractional number) is smaller than the denominator (the second fractional number), they are the favorite.

If the denominator is smaller than the numerator, they are the underdog.

If they were displayed as decimal odds they would look like:

Capitals 1.50

Rangers 4.00

In general, if the number is smaller than 2.0, they are are the favorite. If the number is greater than 2.0, they are the underdog.

Even though each set of odds look so different, the payouts are exactly the same.

Let’s now analyse the how to calculate the payouts from each format.

American Odds Payout

Sticking with the same example, here it is again in American odds:

Capitals -200

Rangers +300

American Odds Favorites

To calculate the odds on the favorite, divide 100 by the American odds (ignore the negative number) and multiply the resulting number by the bet size:

Profit = (100/Odds) * Bet Size

Now, let’s imagine that we place all our bets in $100 units:

Profit = (100/ 200) * $100

Profit = 0.5 * $100 = $50

American Odds Underdog

To calculate the odds on the underdog, divide the American odds by 100 and multiple the resulting number by the bet size:

Profit = (Odds/100) * Bet Size

Again imagine that our bets are in $100 units:

Profit = (300/100) * $100

Profit = 3 * $100 = $300

Note that both of these scenarios are recording just profit.

Once the bet has settled and you win, you receive your profit and your original stake.

So, from the Capitals winning, the payout would be $150 ($100 stake + $50 profit). From the Rangers winning, the payout would be $400 ($100 stake + $300 profit).

Fractional Odds Payout

The fractional odds payout is mostly applicable to European sports bettors and is perhaps the most difficult to calculate as it requires the bettor to solve the fraction.

To calculate fractional odds payouts, divide the top number by the bottom number and multiply the result by the bet size.

Profit = (Top Number/Bottom Number) * Bet Size

As a reminder, the fractional odds for both teams were:

Capitals 1/2

Rangers 3/1

For a moneyline bet on the Capitals at 1/2:

Profit = (1/2) * $100

Profit = 0.5 * $100 = $50

For a moneyline bet on the Rangers at 3/1:

Profit = (3/1) * $100

Profit = 3 * $100 = $300

Decimal Odds Payout

Decimal odds payouts are calculated by multiplying the number by the bet size. This actually produces the total money returned rather than just the profit.

Total Money Returned = Decimal Odds * Bet Size

As a reminder, the decimal odds on both teams were:

Capitals 1.5

Rangers 4.0

For a bet on the Capitals, the total money returned is:

Total Money Returned = 1.5 * $100 = $150

To calculate the profit, subtract the initial bet by the total money received so the profit from this bet would be $50 should the Capitals win.

For a bet on the Ranger, the total money returned is:

Total Money Returned = 4.0 * $100 = $400

Using the same logic above, the profit from this bet would be $300 should the Rangers win.

Moneyline Line Movements

The first half of this article covered the basics but this next section starts to explore the advanced concepts of moneyline bets.

There are other ways to bet on sports, such as 1×2 betting and over/under betting.

To learn about the basics of 1×2 betting click here. If you want to know about over/under betting click here.

Otherwise, let’s continue discussing the moneyline.

Let’s bring back something that we mentioned earlier:

The goal of every sportsbook is to balance the odds between the favorite and the underdog as best they can so, no matter who wins the match, they make money.

To ensure they always make a profit, sportsbooks will move the betting line based on how much money is going on either side.

Let’s work through an example. Imagine a fictional NFL game between the New England Patriots and the Cleveland Browns. The odds may look something like this:

Patriots -150

Browns +170

The public thinks that the Pats are going to win this match comfortably, so the money starts falling heavily on their side. While sportsbooks like to see the influx of money, it still needs to see some on the other side. So to compensate, sportsbooks will increase the payoff on a Browns win to attract bettors.

The new lines may look something like this:

Patriots -190

Browns +210

If you had placed a $100 bet on the Patriots earlier and they win, you would make $66.67 profit. However, if you placed a bet now and they win, you would make $52.63 profit.

In terms of the Browns, the earlier bet would make $170 profit from a $100 bet but the same bet would now make $210 profit.

Why The Moneyline Moves

There are more reasons for the moneyline to move than just the number of bets coming in, which are as follows.

First of all, there are the people that make big bets. Remember, it’s the amount of money going on either side that determines the betting lines.

If 10 people make $50 bets on the home team but just a single person bets $5,000 on the away team, the lines will move to attract action on the home team, even though more people bet on the home team.

Big bettors usually make their bets close to when the lines first come out, meaning that the biggest line movements also happen during this time.

Secondly, there are unexpected updates, such as injuries and suspensions. If a team’s best player is suddenly ruled out, the lines will change dramatically.

A sudden change in weather conditions can also have significant effects on betting lines. For example, stronger-than-expected wins can affect a baseball team’s strategies and force them to play a different way.

Implied Probability

The implied probability of a moneyline bet is the percentage chance of the team you are betting on winning the match. It is calculated by dividing the risk by the reward and multiplying the result by 100%:

Implied Probability = (Risk / Reward) * 100%

The original stake is the risk. The original stake plus the projected winnings are the reward.

Imagine a fictional game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Boston Bruins with moneyline odds of:

Penguins -210

Bruins +200

As the Penguins are favorites, so the profit from a $100 bet would be $47.62. Therefore, the total reward from this bet is $147.62.

The implied probability calculation is:

Implied Probability = ($100 / $147.62) * 100%

Implied Probability = 0.6774 * 100% = 67.74%

Therefore, the Penguins have a 67.74% chance of winning this match.

In the case of the Bruins, the profit from a $100 bet would be $200. Therefore, the total reward from this bet is $300.

The implied probability calculation is:

Implied Probability = ($100 / $300) * 100%

Implied probability = 0.3333 * 100% = 33.33%

Therefore, the Bruins have a 33.33% chance of winning this match.

The reason why implied probability is important is that if you think that a team has a greater chance of winning than the implied probability suggests, there is a lot of value from that bet.

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