Sports fans who enjoy making bets on the NHL can occasionally get confused by the numbers and symbols used by bookmakers.
They will often use the Money Line rather than point spreads which means you only pick the team which you think is going to win. The money line is the preferred way for wagering on baseball and hockey because they tend to be lower scoring margins.
If you compare that a high scoring sport like football however, it is not uncommon to see differences in scoring to be over 10 points. This is the same in sports like basketball, where the scores tend to be a lot higher than in the NHL and MLB.
This article will be describing what the Money Line is and how it should be used to
Before going any further, you should see our previous article on sports betting terminology to get familiar with all the terms.
What Is The Money Line Used For?
A better question to ask would be: When is the Money Line used?
Money Line wagers are used when a point spread cannot be created. Sports like hockey, baseball and soccer usually have very small winning margins so point spreads become useless.
A bettor will make a wager on the winner of a match without it ending in a tie at the end of the game. If you make a bet with the 2-way Money Line, your bet results in a push in the result of a draw.
It’s better to look at an example of Money Line betting in hockey to make it easier to understand.
Money Line Betting In Hockey
Imagine we are going to bet on the upcoming Penguins vs Bruins match. The point spread for the game may look something like:
-2.5 for the Penguins vs +2.5 for the Bruins.
This means that, in the eyes of the bookmakers, the Penguins have a better chance of the winning the match than the Bruins.
For this example, we place a bet on the Penguins to win.
Once the match has finished, the bookmakers will deduct 2.5 points from the team’s total points scored. We will have won the bet if the Penguins beat the Bruins by 3 points or more. If not, we lose the bet.
In comparison, when it comes to a Money Line bet, you only choose who will win according to you.
The purpose of the point spread is to create interest in bettors on both teams. The numbers must be attractive enough to bettors that both the favourite and the underdogs are backed.
The Money Line betting odds must reflect the point spread. Going back to our Penguins vs Bruins example, you will see the odds as something like:
-210 for the Penguins vs +200 for the Bruins.
If you place a Money Line bet on the Penguins to win, you must stake $210 to win $100. If you bet on the Bruins to win, you stand to make a $200 profit betting $100.
Money Line Betting in Baseball
Similarly to hockey, the matches in baseball tend to have low scoring margins and so Money Line betting becomes far more profitable than points spread.
Baseball is a very tactical sport, so there are some specific factors you must take into account when betting:
Offence – The Hitters
You should be looking at each team’s batters and how effective they have been during this and previous seasons. Make notes of the following stats:
- PA (Plate Appearances) wOBA (weighted On-Base Average);
- OBP (On-Base Percentage);
- ISO (Isolated Power).
Defence – The Starting Pitcher
Similar, you should be looking at the effectiveness of each team’s starting pitchers. Keep in mind that it’s likely they will be swapping regularly throughout the season due to number of games.
The pitching stats you should make note of are:
- IP (Innings Pitched);
- WHIP (Walks Plus Hits per Innings Pitched);
- ERA (Earned Run Average);
- WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player).
Money Line Betting In Cricket
Cricket is like betting on baseball in the sense it’s a very tactical sport. There are plenty of factors to think about before placing a bet. For example, cricket is often debated as being the toughest sport to win away from home. Some more elements to cricket betting include:
Offence vs Defence (Bowlers vs Batters)
Often a team’s advantage comes from having a strong battling line up or bowling attack. Knowing the line ups will help you decide if a team will try and outscore their opponents or bowl them out as quickly as possible.
Teams will have a variety of different bowlers each with different techniques eg fast, straight line bowling or spinning. Each technique works better depending on the playing field, known as the ‘wicket’.
These will typically be green, dry or flat. Each one comes with advantages that favour the bowlers or batters:
- Green wickets favour fast bowlers because the ball bounces off the seam much easier;
- Dry wickets favour spin bowlers because as the pitch crumbles, the balls spin more violently;
- Flat wickets favour the batsmen because it’s easier to read the direction of ball.
This is one of the biggest external factors that effects cricket results. The conditions can easily turn the result of a match around. For example, heavy rain can cause significant delays which increases the chance of a draw.
Money Line Betting In Basketball
It is possible to place Money Line bets in basketball, however it is not as effective as it is for hockey and baseball.
Teams in basketball can be given more than a 50% chance of winning, meaning bookmakers use the betting odds to make their Money Line. Betting on a team to win outright puts you at considerably more risk in basketball.
Money Line Betting In Football
The same logic applies in football as it does in basketball. It’s more efficient to bet on the points spread in football.
Money Line Betting In Soccer
Particulary in soccer, they extend the 2-way Money Line to the 3-way Money Line. This involves betting on the favourite, the underdog or draw. Regular soccer matches do not go into overtime which enables the third Money Line option.
You may see Money Line betting on a soccer match displayed as ‘1X2’. 1 refers to a home win, X is a draw and 2 is an away win.
We place all our bets in units. See our guide on why it’s a much more strategic betting method.
Looking a little deeper
Bookmakers use point spreads to make a 50/50 betting proposition.
If you find other odds for the same game, but there is no point spread, they will probably reflect the same proposition that team A is more likely to win against team B.
They could be expressed like that: -150 on team A to win and +200 on team B to win. But, if you take a close look at them, you will see that this is not a 50/50 proposition.
In this case, you only need the team you back to emerge a winner. It does not matter how many points they will score over their opponents. They just have to win the game.
And that is the difference between a point spread and a Money Line wager.
This is where we start to get mathematical in our betting strategy.
The implied probability is the percentage chance of the team you are betting on winning the match. We calculate the implied probability of a Money Line bet by dividing the risk by the reward.
The money you place on your original stake is the risk. The original stake plus your projected winnings is the reward.
Let’s put this into practice using our Penguins vs Bruins example from earlier on.
Penguins were favourites to win at -210. To win $100, we need to stake $210. So, in this particular case, we are risking $210 to win $310.
Implied probability = $210 / $310 = 0.6774.
Therefore, Penguins have a 67.74% chance of winning this encounter.
If we decided to bet on the Bruins to win the match, we noted we stood to make $200 profit from betting $100. We are risking $100 to win $200.
Implied probability = $100 / $200 = 0.3333.
Therefore, Bruins have a 33.33% chance of winning this match.
This is a concept based from looking at the implied probability.
If you believe that team you are betting on has an even bigger chance of winning than what the implied probability suggests, you should make that bet.
This is known as expected value. It is also often referred to as EV.
Every time you place a bet, the bookmakers get a small cut. This is known as ‘vig’. We can calculate this from looking at our implied probability calculations.
We saw the implied probability of Penguins winning was 67.74% and the implied probability of Bruins winning was 33.33%.
If we add the two percentages together, we get 101.07%. That extra 1.07% is the vig. This is the edge that the bookmakers create over sports bettors.
We can calculate what the implied probabilities of each match, without vig, would look like by the following calculations:
67.74% + 33.33% = 101.07%
67.74% / 101.07% = 67.02%
33.33% / 101.07% = 32.98%
If we add the new implied probabilities together, we get 100%. These are called the fair odds. Ideally, we want to place bets with bookmakers that offer the ‘fairest’ odds.
Shop Around For The Best Odds
Each bookmaker will have a different vig, so this makes it important to look at your options.
It is impossible to find the best Money Line opportunities without understanding how to calculate the vig and the fair odds correctly. This is the only way to determine whether there is a positive expected value or not.
Let’s go through an example.
You find odds from bookmaker A of +450 for the underdog and -550 for the favourite. But then you find that bookmaker B offers odds of -490 for the favourite. These odds are much more favourable, so we decide to bet on the favourite with bookmaker B.
But when we do the calculations, it turns out that after removing the vig from the odds, we get fair odds of +466 and -466. Basically, there is no value in the odds of -490.
Bookmakers will change odds based on how the general public are ‘feeling’. If you can understand the lines the bookmakers are making, you will make large profits from Money Line bets. You will have a huge advantage over other bettors who haven’t got the same knowledge.
This has been a thorough explanation of a Money Line bet.
For higher scoring games, stick to making plays on the point spread. For the games where it becomes a lot less difficult to predict the scoring margin, use the Money Line.
Be sure to use all the formulas we have explained. These will make sure you are getting the best odds for the best returns.