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Betting on the Money Line

Sports fans who enjoy wagering on baseball and hockey can sometimes be confused by the numbers and symbols commonly used by oddsmakers on the betting board. The key concept to understand when betting on these particular sports is that they mostly use moneylines rather than point spreads and involve simply picking the winning team.

So instead of seeing a team favored by 2.5 points like in football and basketball, there might be a small moneyline associated with comparable ‘chalk’ in baseball and hockey such as -120, which means you would need to wager $120 to win $100.

Likewise with underdogs, you may get 6.5 points in football and basketball – meaning the team can lose by up to 6 to cash your bet – but a similar +200 moneyline would translate to a $200 profit on a $100 wager if your team wins the game straight-up.

Moneyline Betting Explained

While you have the opportunity to wager on the moneyline in just about every sport, baseball and hockey are the two team sports that use it as the primary betting option. The main reason is that baseball and hockey results tend to be much lower scoring, with the teams each totaling single digits in runs and goals, respectively, for the most part.

Meanwhile, scores ending 43-27 in football or 110-97 in basketball are examples why it makes more sense to use point spreads for those specific sports. In other words, smaller results lead to moneylines becoming the betting option of choice made available by oddsmakers, and larger numbers require them to mainly utilize point spreads.

Moneyline Betting in Baseball

This is an example that you may see on the baseball odds board:

Toronto Blue Jays -185
Baltimore Orioles +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 at -185 (bet $185 to win $100), and Baltimore is listed as the underdog at +165 (bet $100 to win $165). In explaining the concept of moneyline betting further, it might help to view the number 100 sitting between the favorite and underdog values: +165 +100 -185

Because the Blue Jays are favored, the sportsbook needs you to risk more to bet on them. After all, they should win this game. So wagering on baseball favorites with moneylines calls for you to risk a certain number ($185 based on -185) in order to win $100. On the other side, the sportsbook is also willing to reward you for taking the underdog, so they give you an incentive to bet on the Orioles. In this case, you would risk $100 in order to win $165 (+165) on Baltimore.

Moneyline Betting in Hockey

The same principles and same math apply with moneyline betting on the hockey odds board. The Boston Bruins may be -130 favorites against the Buffalo Sabres, who may be listed as +110 underdogs. You risk $130 to win $100 on the favored Bruins and wager $100 to win $110 on the underdog Sabres.

It is a pretty simple concept once you get the hang of it, and you will also start to see profitable opportunities in football and hoops where wagering on the moneyline makes more sense than betting the point spread. If you really like an 8-point underdog in the NFL and think they will win, you can take the eight points and hope they cover the spread. Or you can check out the moneyline option where they might be +280 and make more money betting them to win ($280) than on the point spread ($100).

Now that you hopefully have a better understanding of how moneylines work, visit the MLB odds and NHL odds pages for the latest numbers on those sports. You can also find out where to bet the moneyline and learn about other wagering opportunities available by checking out our Top Sportsbooks page.

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