What is a Moneyline Bet?

A Moneyline is a set of odds bookmakers place on opposing sides of a sports game. You can only win this kind of bet by correctly predicting the side that will win the game or, in some cases, predicting that it will be a draw.

Moneyline bets are not all created the same. Bookmakers set odds once the match-up is announced and often adjust the odds regularly until the game begins. These odds reflect what the oddsmakers think the game's outcome will be and whether they believe both sides are evenly matched or not.

Because Moneyline bets are the most basic type of bet for any sports game, you can find them in every sportsbook and on almost any event of your choice. They are easily the choice of most young punters.

How Does a Moneyline Bet Work?

A Moneyline bet is the best place to start if you are new to sports wagering and don't know the meaning of all the terms. All Moneyline bets follow a simple, easy-to-understand principle, and you'll find that Moneyline bets are available for almost every sport in a sportsbook. Essentially, they are the default bet type in most sportsbooks.

A game in a sportsbook can either have a 2-way Moneyline or a 3-way Moneyline. A 2-way Moneyline bet option is often available for sports where there is no possibility of a draw, such as Basketball. This type of bet only has two outcomes available for the bettors to wager on, and these outcomes include:

  • Win: The team chosen by the bettor wins, and the sportsbook pays out the profit dictated by the set odds and the original stake.
  • Lose: The team chosen by the bettor loses, and the sportsbook keeps the stake while the bettor gets nothing.

Most Moneyline bets are 2-way and involve something known as 'Draw No Bet,' in which a draw between both teams leads to cancellation of the wager. When this happens, bettors are repaid their stake with no profit, regardless of the side they were on. In games where there is a significant chance of a draw, such as Soccer (or European football), there is a third outcome available, or a 3-way Moneyline. Bettors can wager their stakes on the possibility of a draw and get the chance to turn a profit. 

Theoretically, 2-way Moneyline bets give you a 50% probability of winning, and 3-way Moneyline bets give a 33% probability. However, other factors are worth considering, which can more accurately determine how likely your stakes will turn a profit. It is crucial, for one, to examine the set odds and what they say about the possible outcomes of the match.

What Does Moneyline Odds Mean?

Moneyline odds are the numbers that help you calculate how much you stand to gain by placing your bet on a particular team, depending on the size of your stake. Different systems can dictate betting odds, but most bookmakers use American odds because they are easy to understand. The standard betting unit when using American odds is 100 or $100. This system means that the closer the set odds are to 100, the more even the match is perceived.

It is important to note that not all sportsbooks set their odds. Only a select few do. Most use the odds set by respected oddsmakers and adjust them as the market changes and new information about the game comes to light. A quick Google search can tell you whether or not a sportsbook also functions as an oddsmaker.

Bookmakers give positive odds to the side they see as the underdog or the side most likely to lose in a match. Let's assume a bookmaker sets odds of +150 for a sports team. If you bet $100 on the team and they win, you earn $150, making the total payout (stake plus profit) sum up to $250. Many sports enthusiasts enjoy betting on the underdogs because it yields positive money since the profit is often more than the stake.

Sportsbooks give negative odds to the favorites or the side perceived by the sportsbook as the most likely to win. Odds of -250 set by a bookmaker on a sports team means you have to wager $250 to win $100. Although safer, it is more difficult to turn a significant profit from betting on the favorites than betting on the underdogs. 

The margin between the odds placed on the competing teams can tell you a lot about the bookmakers' opinion regarding these teams. If both teams have similar odds, then the bookmakers believe that the competitors are an even match. On the other hand, if there is a wide margin between the odds, then the bookmakers most likely believe that there is a clear winner.

Practical Examples of Moneyline Bets

Moneyline bets have a consistent format in every sportsbook, and they look something like this:

Florida Panthers -145 vs. Chicago Blackhawks +100. 

This NHL game had clearly defined favorite and underdog sides, which means that the market-determined that the game leaned in favor of the Florida Panthers. The fact that there wasn't a huge margin between the odds for both teams indicates that the oddsmakers entertained the possibility that the game could favor the Chicago Blackhawks. If you had placed a $145 wager on the Florida Panthers, you would've won $100 because the Florida Panthers won this particular match. 

Below is an example of a hypothetical scenario:

Manchester United +320 vs. Manchester City -120 Draw +270. 

Here is an example of a 3-way Moneyline in which the bookmaker judges that the most likely outcome is Manchester City winning. If you bet $100 on Manchester United, and they win, you get $320 in profits, while if you bet $120 on Manchester City and they win, you only get $100. If you bet $100 on there being a draw, you earn $270.

In some rare cases, there is no favorite or underdog. The oddsmakers tend to be neutral regarding both teams. Here is an example:

Cleveland Browns -110 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers -110

In this case, the market judges both teams to be evenly matched. You will get the same profit ($100 if you bet $110) regardless of which team you choose, as long as your prediction for the game is correct.

Moneyline Strategy: Favorites vs. Underdogs

The huge risk involved might not make it enticing for you to bet on the underdogs over the favorites. Sometimes, however, this is the best strategy to secure maximum payout. While it is crucial not to let the potential returns guide your decision-making, betting only on favorites is a disaster waiting to happen because favorites lose sometimes.

Granted, underdogs tend to lose more, on average, compared to the favorites, but this doesn't mean it is never worth it to bet on an underdog. Underdogs are not all the same. Certain circumstances could give some underdogs an edge and lead to them winning the match. On the other hand, other underdogs will only yield losses if you bet on them.

When betting on the Moneyline, you need to remember to be strategic and undergo some research before placing your bets. Hence, you have to be familiar with the sports games or events before placing a Moneyline bet.

Moneyline Parlays

Although the idea that you can stack up your winnings to lead to an even bigger payout can be very appealing, it is best to approach parlays with caution.

Moneyline parlays are particularly difficult to navigate because they hinge on every bet in the parlay having a positive expected value (+EV). For this to be possible, you will have to correctly predict the winner of each game in that parlay or risk losing your stake, including your winnings. Many new bettors make the mistake of wagering Moneyline parlay bets and essentially give all their money to the house. Because of how tricky and risky it can be, it is best to tread carefully and leave Moneyline parlays to experienced sports bettors.

Moneyline Vs. Spread: Which is Better?

Spread bets, or 'betting against the spread,' involve determining how close or distant the final score spread will be before the game begins. They are much harder to win than Moneyline bets because they involve predicting which team wins or loses and the win or loss margin.

On the flip side, spread bets tend to have better payouts than Moneyline bets. Moneyline bets can be lucrative if you correctly predict that the underdog will win. Still, since that only happens occasionally, the Moneyline bet is not an ideal option for a generous payout. With the spread bet, there is potential for a better payout if you make an accurate prediction.

Moneyline bets are a great way to get introduced into the sports betting world and to make a profit without necessarily taking huge risks. They are, in a way, a safer alternative to spread bets if you're new to sports betting and trying to find your footing. Spread bets generally involve more risk than Moneyline bets but more potential payout. Experienced sports bettors often play them. 

Line Shopping with Moneyline Bets

If you have decided to place your bet on a particular sports team, why settle for the lower price offered by sportsbook A when you can get a better price for your wager at sportsbook B? 

Line shopping involves checking various sportsbooks to find the best price for your wager. Line shopping allows bettors to get the most profitable price on the betting market and turn in maximum profit.

Before locking in your Moneyline bet in any sportsbook, shop around and make sure that there aren't any other sportsbooks offering a better price. It might not seem like a lot at first, but even a difference as small as $15 can be significant if your bet turns up a profit. 

Best Moneyline Sportsbooks in the US

  • WynnBet Bet $100 Get $100 in Free Bets Licensed in AZ, CO, IN, MI, NJ, NY, TN, VA
    • New Betting Site (2020)
    • Boosted Bets Daily
    • Great Betting App for iOS and Android


How do you win a Moneyline bet?
What does a 200 Moneyline mean?
Is it possible to Parlay Moneyline bets?
Do Moneyline odds change after they have been set?

Robert is responsible for all content on BettingGuide US. Robert previously worked as a poker dealer during his college years at MIT where he studied Computational Science and Engineering. With a great interest in gambling, Robert likes to go in-depth when writing so that you can make a wiser choice when choosing an operator.

Last updated: 5/16/2022