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What is Moneyline Betting?

Moneyline bets are as straightforward as the come. Simply put, you are picking a team to win and if that team wins you win the bet. This does away with all the point spreads and complicated props and boils down to who gets the “W” at the end of the day. At first a moneyline bet might look a little confusing because of the way the odds are displayed, so let’s breakdown how a moneyline bet might look on a sportsbook website.

As you can see, this is a typical sportsbook betting page for a Monday night NFL matchup between the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers. In the middle we find the moneyline options and thus the odds for each moneyline pick.

If you pick the Browns to win, your odds are +160 and if you pick the 49ers to win your odds are -186. This means that the 49ers are favored to win because they are given a negative number. The Browns are the underdog because of the positive number. The numbers are still important, though, as they signify how much you can win if you place a moneyline bet on either team.

If you bet $186 on the 49ers with these odds, you will win back $100. Basically, if you bet the amount shown for the favorite, or the negative number, you will get back $100. If you bet $100 on the underdog, or the positive number, you will get back the amount shown. So if you bet $100 on the Browns to win the moneyline you will get back $160. Moneyline prices correlate with how big the spread is.

Just like with almost all sports betting there is usually a favorite and an underdog (sometimes in a pick’em spread game, the moneyline prices will be the same). The favorite will take more money to have a big payout but has less risk. Choosing the underdog has more risk but takes less money to have a bigger payout.

The odds may seem a little confusing at first, but once you understand them this becomes the simplest way to bet in sports. Just pick who you think is going to win – doesn’t matter by how much -- and which bets you think have the best risk-to-reward ratio. 

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