Betting on the Money Line

Sports fans who like to bet on baseball and hockey are often puzzled by the numbers and symbols around odds for these sports. What does -180 in baseball or hockey odds mean, for example? And in sports like basketball and football – where you have the option of betting the point spread or the moneyline – which is better?

Moneyline betting

You can bet moneylines in most sports, but it’s usually in baseball and hockey that you see it. That’s because games are typically 5-2 or 8-5 and not 43-27 in football or 110-97 in basketball, where the point spread makes more sense. With smaller numbers, moneylines become the option of choice. You may see something like this in the baseball odds section:

Toronto -185
Baltimore +165

Just like the minus and plus values on the point spread, those values designate underdogs and favorites in moneyline betting. In this case, Toronto is favored (-185) and the Orioles are baseball underdogs (+165). For moneyline betting, it makes most sense to view the number 100 sitting between the two moneyline values.

+165 +100 -185

Because Toronto is favored, the sportsbook needs you to risk more to pick them. After all, they should win this game. So baseball moneylines call for you to risk $185 (-185) in order to win $100. On the other side, the sportsbook is willing to reward you for taking the underdog so they give you an incentive to bet the Orioles. You risk $100 in order to win $165 (+165) on Baltimore.

Hockey moneyline betting

It’s the same breakdown and same math for hockey moneyline betting. The Bruins may be a -130 favorite against Buffalo, who may be listed as +110 underdog. Same rules apply. You risk $130 to win $100 on the favored Bruins and risk $100 to win $110 on the Sabres.

It’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it and you will start to see opportunities in football and hoops where betting the moneyline makes more sense than betting the point spread. If you really like an 8-point underdog and think they will win, you can take those eight points and hope they cover the spread.

Or you can check out the moneyline where they might be +160, where you will make more money betting the moneyline ($160) than on the point spread ($100).

Visit the NHL odds and MLB odds pages here for the latest moneyline odds on those sports. You can also take your new-found understanding about when to bet the moneyline and visit the Top Sportsbooks page here at to learn about them.