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What Is A Moneyline Bet? Beginner Sports Bettor's Guide

What Do Moneyline Odds Mean?

As pertaining to sports betting, "Moneyline odds" is a type of betting odds used primarily to indicate the likelihood of a particular outcome, such as the win of a specific team or individual. Unlike point spreads, which focus on the margin of victory, Moneyline bets are straightforward win/lose wagers.

This is a simple way to bet on the outright winner of an event without considering the point spread. So as a result, it is utilized in sports that have lower scoring margins, such as baseball, hockey, and soccer.

Basics of Moneyline Odds

When viewing Moneyline odds, they are expressed as either a positive (+) or negative (-) number. That is to say, it will appear as the following:

Example of Positive Odds (+150):

When looking at this example, it indicates how much profit you would make on a $100 bet. For example, +150 means you would win $150 on a $100 bet.

Example of Negative Odds (-150):

When looking at negative odds, it shows how much you need to bet in order to win $100. For example, -150 means you need to bet $150 to win $100.

How Moneyline Odds Work

There is a concept of underdogs and favorites when reading moneylines, explained more below:

  • Underdog: The team or player with positive Moneyline odds (for example: +150) is considered the underdog, meaning they have a lesser chance to win.
  • Favorite: The team or player with negative Moneyline odds (e.g., -150) is considered the favorite, meaning they have a greater chance to win.

So the question then becomes how to calculate the implied probability for both positive odds and negative odds.

Example Calculations for Positive Odds:

When trying to figure out the percentages for positive odds, it's calculated by first dividing 100 by the odds then adding 100. For example, if the odds are +150, the implied probability is calculated by the following formula: (100 / (150 + 100)) * 100 = 40%.

Example Calculations for Negative Odds:

When looking at the same thing but in regards to negative odds, if the odds are -150, the implied probability would be (-150 / (-150 + 100)) * 100 = 60%. This implies a 60% chance of success.

Comparing Moneyline Odds to Other Types of Betting Odds

Since Moneyline odds only entails betting on the outright winner of a game or match, there is no need to consider the margin of victory, as you just need to pick the winner, which will be presented as either positive (+) or negative (-) odds, as previously explained, and this will in return correlate to the payout one receives.

Moneyline Odds vs. Points Spread

On the other hand, Point Spread betting takes into consideration points differentials in a victory or loss, which is based on what the bookmaker sets the margin (spread) at, and this amount is what the favorite must win by, or the underdog must not lose by more than that amount.

This format is presented as a number of points; example: (Team A: -7.5; Team B: +7.5). So in regards to the payout, it will be the same for both teams, considering the spread is the benchmark. In particular, the payout tends to be around -110 (bet $110 to win $100).

In regards to this, bettors must consider how much the favorite will win by or how close the underdog can keep the game. In this example, considering the spread, 'Team A' must win the game by 8 points or more. Then on the other hand, if 'Team B' wins or loses by less than eight points, then choosing that team would be the winner.

Moneyline Odds vs. Over/Under

While Moneyline Odds focus on outright winners and specific odds, Over/Under (Totals) deals with betting on whether the total number of points scored in a game will be over or under a specified amount set by the bookmaker.

This usually is presented as a total number of points; example: (Over 48.5 points; Under 48.5 points). Then the payout will be similar if the points are more or less than the specified amount (-110). When looking at over/under betting, a winner doesn't need to be chosen, as the only thing that matters is the total score, which needs to be higher or lower than the set number.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Moneyline Betting


  1. Simplicity- Only need to pick a winner.
  2. Direct Win/Loss Outcome- Don't have to worry about points or margin of victory.
  3. Flexibility in Underdog Betting- Can make better returns on your money when betting on the team with a less chance of winning, because of higher odds.
  4. Appeal in Low-Scoring Sports- As stated above, sports with lower scoring margins, like baseball, hockey or soccer can be bet on in an efficient way by utilizing Moneyline wagers.


  1. Lower Payouts for Favorites- When betting on the team that has a higher chance of winning, it requires the bettor to risk more money to win less.
  2. Higher Risk for Underdogs- The team with the less chance of winning has a higher payout, but they are more likely to lose.
  3. Less Engaging in Uneven Matchups- In games with a heavy favorite, the betting will include a low payout for the team that is supposed to win, while also having high risk for the underdog team.
  4. Lack of Complexity- Bettors sometimes would prefer having more say in the predictive outcomes of games such as scores or point differentials. With this in mind, Moneyline bets might feel too simple.

Factors Influencing Moneyline Odds

When looking at Moneyline odds, there are various factors that bookmakers consider when setting the odds. Having comprehension of these factors can help a bettor make more well informed decisions. First, before making a bet, one should look at the following:

Team Performance and Statistics:

  • Recent Performance: The recent performance of a team can help determine future outcomes. Bettors can take into account how well a team has been performing in recent games, and this could be a crucial factor. More often than not, a team on a winning streak is going to be favored, while on the other hand, a team on a losing streak might be an underdog.
  • Head-to-Head Records: When looking at the historical matchups between the two teams, this can influence the odds. Usually, if a team has a better record vs. a certain opponent, in previous matchups, then they may be more likely favored.
  • Home/Away Performance: Home-field advantage is common in most sports, and this is seen in looking at how teams perform when playing at their home stadium, court, or arena compared to when they are on the road.
  • Season Statistics: The overall performance statistics matter when betting on a team. For example: points per game, efficiency ratings, and defensive stats all can impact odds.
  • Situational Factors: Teams sometimes have difficult travel schedules which can affect the performance of the team. For example, it is important to consider if a team is playing on short rest due to instances such as back-to-back days with a game.

Player Injuries and Lineup Changes:

Other components to consider have to do with what players are playing in the game, which includes the following scenarios:

  • Key Player Injuries: If a star player or important contributor on a team is not playing or is playing hurt, then this certainly will lead to less favored odds of winning.
  • Suspensions and Absences: Just like as it pertains to injuries, sometimes suspensions or other reasons for a player's absence can change the odds one way or another.
  • Lineup Changes: Coaches often adjust their lineups, which can affect playing time of certain players on their respective teams, this can lead to a team performing better or worse.
  • Returning Players: When an injured or suspended player is returning to the lineup, it more often than not will give the team greater odds of winning.

Public Betting Trends and Market Movements

Many times the public opinion can sway the odds one way or another. For example the following all apply to betting odds:

  • Public Betting Trends: Oftentimes bettors will heavily side with one team or another. With this in mind, the amount of money and number of bets placed on each side can influence Moneyline odds, because bookmakers adjust odds based on the betting volume to balance their risk.
  • Sharp Money: This has to do with bets being placed by professional bettors, who often influence odds more than general public bets. So as a result, bookmakers observe and analyze which direction the sharp money is heading.
  • Market Movements: Much like the stock market, odds can change rapidly due to shifts in the betting market. If a large amount of money is placed on one side, bookmakers will want to balance their books, so they will adjust the odds to encourage bets on the other side.
  • Media and News: Media members, who give their expert opinions can definitely change the public perception, and this also includes news reports that will influence betting decisions, which in return will adjust the odds.

Strategies and Tips for Betting with Moneyline Odds

Identifying Value Bets

  1. Compare Odds Across Bookmakers- Finding best odds from various bookmakers, which will help you to get maximum potential on the return for each bet.
  2. Understand Implied Probability- When using the formula to change the Moneyline odds to a probability percentage, it puts everything into perspective to see the likelihood of the bet having a favorable outcome.
  3. Analyze Underlying Factors- By researching the team/player's previous game history/performances, you can make better informed bets that take into account various factors that all influence outcomes.
  4. Monitor Market Movements- Looking into how odds change over time, can lead to finding potential betting opportunities to capitalize on.
  5. Use Betting Models- Using forecasting models, which takes into account previous data to make predictive estimates on future outcomes, you will have a greater opportunity of finding value bets.

Managing Risk with Moneyline Bets

  1. Bankroll Management- By having a budget, you can set yourself limits which means only allocating a certain percentage of your total bankroll for each bet. This ensures avoiding big losses, and puts one in position to have sustainable long term success.
  2. Avoid Chasing Losses- Don't give into the human inclination to get back what you lost right away. Realizing losing is a part of betting allows one to keep the right perspective, otherwise emotional bets can lead to a downward spiral.
  3. Diversify Your Bets- You can eliminate risks by betting on multiple games and sports, this will help avoid big losses. For example, it is important to consider that blowouts and injuries can affect the outcome of a single game.

Utilizing Advanced Metrics and Analytics

  1. Advanced Team Metrics- By utilizing metrics (in addition to traditional stats) in decision-making, there can be a better understanding of a team's expected performance.
  2. Player Performance Metrics- When taking an in-depth look into the individual performances of players, one can smartly assess the results of the game.
  3. Situational Analysis- Viewing scheduling details and player home/road splits, will make one better informed to predict performances.
  4. Tracking Betting Data- Logging previous bets and keeping records of outcomes can help one gather data for future analysis/research, enabling profitable strategies.

Common Mistakes to Avoid with Moneyline Odds

1.) Overvaluing Favorites

When betting heavily on favorites, this can lead to low returns and low value bets as a result of influence on public perception. In order to avoid this, one may consider evaluating implied probabilities, as this will compare one's own assessment to that of the team's chances.

Furthermore, by looking for value, one may find that the underdog team might have better value odds, as long as their implied probability is not as high as the assessed probability. Lastly, by spreading the bets across various games, this will help not only manage risk but also increase potential return on bets.

2.) Ignoring the Impact of Home/Away Games

Not taking into account the impact of a team playing at home or away can lead to unfavorable betting outcomes. Home teams often have the advantage due to situational factors being in their favor, while away teams may have external factors affecting their performance.

With this in mind, when analyzing home/away splits, one will have better comprehension pertaining to ensuing on-field performances. Next, by considering team travel schedules, one will find more often than not, the teams that are playing back-to-backs are more likely to underperform their projections.

3.) Misinterpreting Line Movements

Important to keep in mind, not all movements in the market are correlated with the real probabilities. That is to say, when misreading line movements, it can lead to bad betting decision-making. First, one must understand the causes, by analyzing the difference between public betting trends that influence the market, compared to actual circumstances that will affect the outcome of the game.

Next, by following sharp money bettors and what they are betting on, you can make more informed decisions, for they more often than not have better information regarding the correlation between true probabilities and potential outcomes.

Ultimately when betting, patience is key, as one's assessment should correlate with how the market is moving. When one understands the true probability odds, they are on track to giving themselves the best possible chance to win.

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