September 9, 2022

Moneyline Betting: What Is It and How Does It Work?

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Moneyline Betting: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Ever heard the term “moneyline betting” and wondered what it meant? Looking for tips on how to win more or to understand how moneyline odds are compiled? Whatever your questions about betting on the moneyline, this guide has got the answers!

We’ll reveal everything you need to know about this popular form of sports betting, including the best sportsbooks in the USA. Finally, we’ll walk you through how to register and place your first moneyline bet.

Ready to get started? Then let’s go!

Best Moneyline Betting Sites in the USA

The first thing to do before diving into the mechanics of moneyline betting, is reveal our top-rated sportsbooks.

Our collection of industry experts has checked each and every one, to ensure they are properly licensed and offer safe payment methods. What’s more, they also provide first class customer support and competitive moneyline odds on dozens of popular sports.

Code: BBCSUSA

1

BetMGM-Sportsbook

Bet

$1000

Risk-Free

Bet

$1000

Risk-Free

99

points

  • Risk-Free First Bet up to $1000
  • Excellent sports betting app available
  • Wide range of sports and betting options in the US

99

points

BetMGM review
Code: BBC

2

pointsbet-sportsbook-free-bets

Risk

$2000

Free Bet

Risk

$2000

Free Bet

98

points

  • Get two Risk-Free Bets up to $2000
  • Huge range of sports and betting options
  • Promo code: BBC

98

points

PointsBet review
CODE: BBCFULL

3

Caesars-Sportsbook

Risk

$1250

Free Bet

Risk

$1250

Free Bet

98

points

  • Take advantage of a $1250 Risk-Free Bet
  • Wide range of betting opportunities
  • Promo code: BBCFULL

98

points

Caesers review

4

Draftkings-Sportsbook

Bonus

$1000

20%

Bonus

$1000

20%

98

points

  • Get a 20% sports betting bonus up $1000
  • Massive range of sports and markets
  • DFS and Casino games available

98

points

DraftKings review

5

Fanduel-Sportsbook

Bonus

$1000

Risk-Free

Bonus

$1000

Risk-Free

98

points

  • Licensed US Sportsbook
  • Get up to $2000 in bonuses and refunds
  • Fanduel has a great reputation and excellent customer service.

98

points

Fanduel review
NJ,PA,IN,IO,VA,AZ

6

Unibet-Sportsbook

Risk Free

Up $500

Bet

Risk Free

Up $500

Bet

97

points

  • Generous risk free bet welcome offer worth up to $500
  • American and international leagues are well covered
  • Extremely competitive odds

97

points

Unibet review
NJ Only

7

Borgata-Sportsbook

Bonus

$100

Free Bets

Bonus

$100

Free Bets

94

points

  • Wager $20 and get $100 in Free Bets
  • Excellent Sportsbook App for iOS and Android
  • Promo code: BORGSBBC

94

points

Borgata review

These brands are among the most trusted bookmakers in the USA today. So you can be sure of a secure, reliable and enjoyable moneyline betting experience.

Contents

Are you looking for a specific piece of information regarding money line betting? If so, you can use the links below to find your way to the relevant section.

What Is a Moneyline Bet?

The moneyline, sometimes written as “money line”, is the most simple way to bet on sports in the USA. Moneyline betting involves picking which team will win a game or which individual will win a specific contest.

A boxing money line, for example, would look something like this:

Oleksandr Usyk (-205) vs Anthony Joshua (+160)

While an NFL money line might be displayed along these lines:

Buffalo Bills (-135) @ Los Angeles Rams (+115)

There are no handicaps involved and the number of points scored is irrelevant. In fact, there are no other factors involved with moneyline betting at all. It’s purely about finding the winner.

What Is a Moneyline Bet?

How Does Moneyline Betting Work?

First of all, you need to decide who you think is going to win the contest. Once you have an opinion and know how much you want to bet, you need to check the moneyline odds. These tell you exactly how much you stand to win from your bet.

Let’s focus on the NFL moneyline example from earlier on. You’ll notice that LA’s odds have a positive value. Whenever you see the + sign, you know straight away what your profit would be if you placed $100. In this case, your $100 stake nets you $115 if the Rams go on to win. You’ll also have the stake refunded, so this bet would return $215 in total from a $100 wager.

On the other hand, negative odds (-) show that selection is strongly fancied to win. Here, the odds represent how much you would need to stake in order to make a $100 profit. So in the case of the Bills, a $135 bet would make a $100 profit for total returns of $235.

Three Way Moneylines

In the USA, the money line tends to be a straightforward choice between two opponents. That’s because US sports like basketball, baseball and football go to overtime in the event of a tie. There will always be a winner.

However, sports rooted in other parts of the globe, such as soccer or ice hockey, can finish level. Because the tie is a legitimate result, you can also bet on such an occurrence. As a result, moneyline betting involves three selections in these sports, displayed something like this:

Leeds United (-130); Draw (+265); Sheffield United (+390)

In sports where three way moneylines are common, it’s still possible to find a more familiar two way bet. Keep your eyes peeled for the “Draw No Bet” market, as this is effectively the same as a traditional US moneyline. If the match ends in a tie, that’s deemed a push and your stake will be returned. So the only available betting options are to pick which team will win the game, just like the classic moneyline bet.

Three Way Moneyline Bet

Moneyline Betting Terms Explained

In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the most common terms used in the world of moneyline betting.

  • Favorite. Whichever pick is most fancied to win the contest. They will have the lowest odds, as they have the greatest chance of winning according to the bookmaker.
  • Underdog. The least fancied pick is known as the “underdog”, or an “outsider”. Since the probability of winning is low, their odds will be bigger.
  • Pick ‘em. If the contest is too close to call, the bookmaker will set identical odds on both sides of the moneyline. This is referred to as “pick” or “pick ‘em”. You might also see the odds written as “PK” in this case.
  • Push. Some markets, such as Draw No Bet, return your stake in the event of a tie. That is known as a “push”, a term borrowed from the casino world.

Moneyline Odds Formats

So far in this guide to moneyline betting, we’ve only considered the odds in the classic US format. But sports betting is an international business, so you might come across betting sites whose odds are displayed in different ways.

In the United Kingdom, for instance, fractional odds were favored for hundreds of years. In more recent times, they are making way for the preferred system in Europe, which is decimal odds. These allow for much more nuanced betting than either UK or US odds, which is preferable for both bookmaker and bettor. It’s also much easier to calculate parlay returns when using decimal odds.

Finally, different parts of Asia all adopt their own odds display formats too. Indonesian odds are very similar to American odds, only they’re presented as decimals rather than three digit numbers. But Hong Kong and Malsian odds take slightly different approaches, as you can see in the example table below.

StakeAmericanDecimalFractionalMalayIndonesianHong KongReturn
$1+1502.506/4-0.671.501.50$2.50
$5+2253.259/4-0.442.252.25$16.25
$20-2001.501/20.50-2.000.50$30

How are Moneyline Odds Compiled?

Most online betting sites today take their odds from an external source. A team of sports traders will use complex statistical models to generate the probabilities of each outcome. Data is entered, including recent results, player injuries and the location of the game, before the odds are generated automatically. Humans will cast an eye over the output to ensure no errors and they may adjust them slightly.

Once the moneyline betting probabilities are known, these can easily be converted to odds. The moneyline odds are also used to automatically derive dozens of other betting lines. However, the odds compilers must first build in the bookmaker’s profit margin, before arriving at the final odds.

How a Sportsbook Makes Money

You may have heard the terms “vigorish” or “juice”. These refer to the house edge built into all sports betting odds, including the money line. Much like a roulette wheel in a casino, the bookies pay you slightly less than the true odds suggest they should. Over time, those small edges add up into profits. After all, betting sites are not charities!

Calculating Implied Probability

We have already explained elsewhere how moneyline odds demonstrate what our bets will pay if they win. But they also illustrate the implied probability of the selection’s success.

You can actually calculate the probability, as well as the exact profit margin, on any betting market for yourself. Let’s take the earlier boxing line as an example. In order to calculate odds which have a positive value, you need the below formula:

100 / (100 + Odds) * 100 = probability

So taking Joshua’s price, we have:

100 / (100 + 160) * 100 = 38.46%

To calculate the implied probability when the odds are negative, you need to use the following formula:

Odds / (100 + Odds) * 100 = probability

That means that the chances of Usyk winning, according to this bookmaker at least, are as follows:

205 / (100 + 205) * 100 = 67.21%

Now that we have both probabilities, adding them together gives us 105.67%. That means a 5.67% margin when betting on this particular moneyline. Or, to put it another way, for every $105.67 the bookmaker takes in, they’ll pay back $100 and hold $5.67 in profit.

Why Do Moneyline Betting Odds Change?

The different profit margins seen when moneyline betting sometimes explains why the bookmakers offer different prices to each other. Another factor is simply that the compilers used may have slightly differing opinions on how the contest will unfold. However, a third factor in why odds change is the weight of money.

The aim of bookmaking is to try and end up with a completely balanced book. However, sports betting doesn’t tend to work like that. Most people want to back the favorite on the money line, since they are most likely to win.

If too much money comes in for one selection, the sportsbook could take a big loss. So they will cut the price to make it less attractive. At the same time, they will lengthen the outsiders to encourage betting on that site of the line.

Should You Bet on the Moneyline?

Moneyline betting is really easy, making it one of the most popular ways to bet on sports. It’s a great entry point for newcomers, as all you need to do is pick the winner.

There are no complex permutations to consider, no handicap spreads or unusual rules. So as long as you have an opinion on which team will triumph, and some cash in your betting account, you can get involved.

Because moneyline betting is common, the bookies tend to offer more competitive odds. The more exotic bet types often have a higher vig. But money lines are among the best value bets there are. Plus, it’s very easy to calculate the implied probability from money line markets. So the serious bettors who estimate their own probabilities will favor betting on the moneyline.

Moneyline vs Spread

Whether to bet on the handicap spread or the moneyline is very much a personal preference. The two markets are directly linked, no matter what the sport. The heavier a favorite is on the moneyline, the greater the handicap will be for the underdog.

Experienced bettors can play the two lines off against each other to try and find value bets. For example, if an NFL team has moneyline odds of around -350, they will usually have a handicap of around -8. So if a bookmaker is offering a -8 spread but odds greater than -350, you might have spotted some value.

Live Moneyline Betting

Placing bets after a game has already started is known as live, or in-game betting. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s now the most popular form of sports betting in the world. Up to 70% of a modern bookmaker’s turnover now comes from live betting.

Rapid improvements in technology have driven this, such as the development of smartphone betting apps and super fast internet connections. It’s now extremely easy to place a bet, given that you’re carrying around several online bookmakers in your pocket at all times.

Whether you’re watching the game in the stadium, a bar or on your coach, you’re only ever  a few clicks away from in-game moneyline betting. The best mobile sportsbooks offer all kinds of cool features too, such as early cashout, Same Game Parlay and live streams.

Live Moneyline Betting

Bonuses at Top Moneyline Betting Sites

Online betting is a competitive industry, so it’s understandable that bookmakers are always fighting for our attention. Among the many ways a sportsbook can differentiate itself from the rest is through bonuses and promotions. Let’s take a look at the most common deals that are up for grabs at the top moneyline betting sites.

Deposit Match Bonuses

Many online sportsbooks in the US will reward players for making real money deposits. Often, this comes in the shape of a first time deposit bonus. In that case, when you load your new account with cash for the first time, the betting site will boost your deposit with bonus funds.

For instance, a 150% deposit bonus would earn you an extra $150 in betting credits if you added $100 to your account. These bonus funds are almost always valid when betting on moneyline markets. And what’s more, some bookies offer reload bonuses, which are smaller match bonuses on your subsequent deposits.

Free Bets

As an alternative to a deposit bonus, many sportsbooks in the US prefer to give free bets as a welcome offer. In that case, whatever amount you choose to deposit will be matched as a free bet token. They are sometimes given to repeat customers too, as a reward for their loyalty.

How does a free bet token work? It’s pretty simple. Just make your picks and place your wager using the free bet reward. If you lose, it costs you nothing, but if you win, the profits are yours to keep. Of course, you won’t receive the free bet stake in your returns. Free bets can alway be used to wager on money lines.

Risk-Free Bets

It has a similar sounding name, but a risk-free bet is a little different to a regular free bet. This requires you to first place a qualifying real money wager. Moneyline betting counts, as does any spread or totals market. Check the terms and conditions of your chosen sportsbook to see the full list of eligible markets.

If your bet wins, that’s fantastic. But if it loses, you’ll have the real money stake refunded to you as compensation. And that’s why this offer is dubbed a “risk-free” bet, as you know you’ll get a second chance if you lose.

BetMGM $1,000 Moneyline Risk-Free Bet

Moneyline Betting Strategies

Okay, let’s now take a look at a few tips to consider when formulating your moneyline betting strategy.

1. Understand Value

Perhaps the most important thing to understand when betting on the moneyline is the concept of value. If you were offered odds of 2 to 1 for a coin flip, you’d surely bite their hands off. But if you lost that flip, it wouldn’t mean that you’d made a bad decision. Over an infinite period of time, that bet would guarantee you profit, because it’s offering value.

Whenever a bet pays more than it really should do, we are looking at a value bet. Most bookies aim to pay less than the true odds, thus guaranteeing a long term profit. But sports betting is a game of opinions and it’s possible that the bookies can make mistakes. If you’re going to bet seriously, you must learn how to compile your own odds to help you spot mistakes and value bets.

2. Avoid Heavy Favorites

A simple moneyline betting strategy is to avoid playing heavy favorites. Don’t misunderstand us though. A big favorite could still be a value bet if you think that the odds are wrong. But as a general rule, you’ll need to risk too much in order to win too little. And when it goes pear shaped, it can wipe out your bankroll.

Imagine a moneyline selection with odds of -2500. That means you’d need to stake $2,500 just to make a profit of $100. Unless you have an enormous bankroll, which most sports betting newcomers do not, give this type of wager a miss.

3. Sure Bets

Perhaps the best moneyline betting strategy of all is to find sure bets. There are two approaches here. By comparing the different odds at multiple betting sites, it’s possible to bet both sides of a line and guarantee a profit. Such opportunities don’t come along too often. But you can find plenty of websites online to help identify sure bets.

A similar and slightly easier approach is to take advantage of welcome bonuses at moneyline betting sites. Open a new account and make a deposit to qualify for a free bet. You can use this free bet to wager on one side of a moneyline. Then, place a bet on the other side of the line using real money at a different bookmaker. Again, there are lots of free matched betting resources available on the internet to help you.

How To Start Betting on the Moneyline

It’s actually pretty easy to start moneyline betting. But if you’re unsure how to begin, you can rely on the below guide to walk you through the process.

1: Select a sportsbook

There are so many online betting sites to choose from that it can be tough to know where to start. That’s precisely why we’ve compiled the list found elsewhere on this page. Now you don’t need to do the research for yourself, simply choose one of our trusted bookmakers.

2: Create an account

Load up the betting site’s homepage or start the app if you choose to download one. Hit the button to open the signup form and fill in your personal details. All licensed sportsbooks in the US have to collect such information as a protection against fraud, money laundering and other criminal activity. So don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal and safe to supply this data.

Register your account - getting started with moneyline betting

3: Secure the bonus

All of the top moneyline betting sites in the United States today offer a welcome bonus. But each bookmaker does so in a different way. That’s why it’s important to read the terms of the promotion, in case you miss out on free bets or bonuses. For example, you may be asked to insert a promo code during registration. Failure to do so means you’re ineligible to collect the welcome offer.

4: Add some funds

Once you’re done with the registration process, your new betting account will be ready to go. But you can’t bet on moneyline markets until you actually have some real funds in your wallet. So visit the cashier, pick out a payment method and make your first deposit.

5: Choose a sport

Next, it’s time to browse through the many different sports on offer at your chosen betting site. The top moneyline betting sites offer up to 40 different popular sports from around the world. But as a minimum, you’ll find the most common US sports, such as baseball, basketball and football. These are usually backed up by soccer, ice hockey, MMA, boxing, golf and tennis.

6: Place your bet

Once you’ve settled on your desired sport, you can drill down into the various competitions on offer. For instance, there’s more to hockey betting than just the NHL. Most moneyline betting sites offer the top European leagues, as well as international competitions. When you’re ready, click on the odds to add picks to your bet slip. Finally, insert the stake amount and strike that first bet!

Conclusion

Thanks for checking out our guide to moneyline betting. You should now have all of the necessary tools to jump in and make your first bets. If you’re ready to get started, check out the step-by-step walkthrough featured earlier in order to help you set up.

In addition, take care to stick to the trusted sportsbooks listed towards the top of our guide. This will ensure that you only place your moneyline bets with the most secure sites, avoiding the rogue operators. Good luck!

FAQs

Is moneyline betting legal in the USA?

Sports betting is now permitted in more than 30 US states. If it’s legal to bet on sports in your state, then moneyline betting is definitely allowed!

What are some good moneyline betting sites in the United States?

Our favorite sites for money line betting are listed at the top of this guide. We consider dozens of criteria when assessing them, only recommending the safest and most reliable bookmakers offering the best odds.

Can I parlay moneyline bets?

Absolutely! All sports betting sites in the United States permit parlay betting and adding moneyline markets is extremely common.

How do you place moneyline bets online?

To get started with moneyline betting, you can refer to the detailed step-by-step guide found a little further up this page. Follow our instructions and you’ll be off and running with the minimum of fuss.

Why was my bet on the moneyline canceled?

First of all, if a scheduled game is not played, your money line bet will be refunded. With sports that originated outside of the USA, such as soccer, traditional betting lines usually include the draw option. However, some US sportsbooks offer a money line that doesn’t offer the draw. In that case, it’s possible that your bet could result in a push.

Why do bookmakers have different moneyline odds?

Money line betting odds are determined by multiple factors, some of which vary between bookmakers. The sportsbook’s desired profit margin is a major factor, but so is the amount of money wagered at that betting site. We’ve explained in more detail elsewhere on this page.

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