What is a Moneyline in Sports Betting?

What is a Moneyline in Sports Betting?

betJACK Training Camp
3 years ago
5 min read

The moneyline in sports betting is the easiest to understand. You simply pick a winner and back them with an amount of your choosing. But how is the moneyline represented? What do you need to know before placing your first bet? Let’s find out.


The Moneyline in Sports Betting Explained 

A moneyline is the odds of a game straight up, meaning no advantage or handicap is given to either team. With moneyline bets, you will either see a (+) against the underdog or a (-) next to the favorite.

So, for instance, a standard moneyline bet could look like this: 

Minnesota Vikings (-150) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (+175)  

In the above example, the Vikings are the favorites to win the matchup, while the Bengals are underdogs, as we explain below. 

Picking the Favorites and Underdogs in a Moneyline

Before deciding where to place your money, you will need to understand which team is favored and which is the underdog. Thankfully, this is super easy when looking at a moneyline. 

The favorite is always represented with a (-), and the underdog is always represented with a (+). So, in our above example, you can see that the sportsbook favors the Minnesota Vikings to beat the Bengals. 

Taking $100 as a standard unit of betting, if you’re backing the favorite, you need to bet the stipulated amount ($150) to return $100. Make sense? 

Conversely, if you fancy the Bengals for the upset, the figure listed is how much you stand to profit if you bet $100 (in this case, $175). 

Let’s look at another example just to be sure. 

If the Browns are (-300) to beat the Texans in an upcoming match, you would need to bet $300 just to win $100 in profit. If the Texans were given odds of (+220), you would win $220 in profit if you bet $100.

As you can see, understanding the moneyline is super straightforward, and providing you remember what the plus and minus stand for, you shouldn’t encounter any issues. Don’t worry too much about trying to work out what this means for betting amounts other than $100 (not everyone has deep pockets) because sportsbook software will do this for you.

Can You Bet on a Tie in a Moneyline? 

In sports like basketball and baseball, a tie is a freak event that typically only ever results from a set of strange circumstances or occurrences. But what if you’re placing a bet on a soccer game where ties are commonplace?

In some instances, a bet on the moneyline will be returned if a game ends tied. However, in soccer markets, it’s common for sportsbooks to offer three-way markets where you can cover the tie if you like.

Here’s an MLS example to illustrate what we mean: 

Columbus Crew (-220) Tie (+150) LA Galaxy (+190)

Exactly the same rules apply, but you can also bet on the tie. In this case, a $100 bet on the tie would return a $150 profit. It’s important to note that most ties in soccer refer to the outcome after the regulation 90 minutes.

If the game goes to extra time and penalties (if it’s a cup competition), the sportsbook is unlikely to pay out if one of the teams wins after a shoot-out unless clearly stipulated in the terms of the bet.

Why Should you Bet on a Moneyline? 

The most significant advantage to betting on a moneyline is that it’s the easiest type of sports bet to understand (although the over/under bet is also simple). You can clearly see the favorites and underdogs, and it’s easy to work out how much your bet will return, even without the use of a sports betting calculator. 

Instead of risking your profit with a spread or parlay bet, you can just keep things nice and simple and focus on the one match that you have bet on.

This rules out the likelihood of an underdog scoring a last-minute touchdown out of nowhere and scuppering a five-team parlay that you thought was a dead cert! 

For anyone new to sports betting, wagering on the moneyline in the early days is a smart move, as it allows you to build confidence and understand what you’re doing before you crank things up a notch.

The Verdict: Should you Bet on the Moneyline? 

The moneyline is the easiest type of sports bet to understand and is like the bread and butter of sports betting. When you’re new to a sportsbook, placing some wagers on the moneyline is a great way to get accustomed to sports betting and will help you build confidence in the market. 

As you become more used to sports betting, consider cranking things up a little by exploring different markets and looking for other ways to profit from your favorite sports. 

Moneyline in Sports Betting FAQs 

Are moneyline odds the same at every sportsbook?

Not necessarily. While the favorite and the underdog are likely to be the same, you will find that sportsbooks price teams differently. You might, for instance, see the favorites at (-200) in one place and at (-170) in another. It’s always a good idea to do your research before betting on the moneyline so you can get the best price.

How is the moneyline different from a parlay?

A moneyline is concerned with one outcome, while a parlay is concerned with multiple outcomes. For example, you only need to pick one team in a moneyline, and at the end of the matchup, you will win or lose the bet depending on that team’s performance. 

In a parlay, you can pick multiple teams to win to improve your odds. Instead of just betting on the Bengals in a match week, you might select the Browns, Giants, and Vikings to bolster your odds. But be careful - for a parlay to come in, you need all of your teams to win. A last-minute touchdown from one of the underdogs could ruin your entire bet.

Is a moneyline bet safe?

Ultimately, any type of bet comes with risks attached. It’s impossible to see into the future, so your money is at risk when you gamble, even if you’re betting on a clear favorite. 

The moneyline in sports betting is so popular because it’s easy to understand and doesn’t come with the complexities of other markets. When you’re new to sports betting, the moneyline is the best bet type to start with.

For all you need to know, check out our glossary of Sports Betting Terms HERE!

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