What Does Moneyline Mean? What Is Line Betting and How to Read Them?

What Is A Moneyline Bet?

A moneyline bet simply involves you picking one of two teams to win the game. No catch, no angle, just the right answer or the wrong answer.

The Favorite

Each side in a matchup for a moneyline bet is given a separate numerical value called the “odds.” The odds are determined by oddsmakers and sportsbooks based on how the two opponents match up, and each number is displayed with a minus sign (-) or a plus sign (+) in front of it. The side with the minus sign is the favorite

Here is an example from an NFL game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs of what moneyline odds will look like at an online sportsbook:

New England Patriots vs Kansas City Chiefs
TeamMoneyline Odds
New England Patriots-120
Kansas City Chiefs+150


In this moneyline scenario, the Patriots are the favorites, which you can tell by the minus sign (-). Let’s say you wager $100 on the Pats. A winning bet would give you a payout of $180 – your $100 comes back along with your winnings of $80.

The Underdog

Going back to that Patriots vs Chiefs example. Kansas City is the underdog because of the plus (+) sign next to their odds. Oddsmakers believe they are less likely to win.

If you were to bet that same $100 on the Chiefs and they won, you’d get a payout of $250 – your original wager comes back along with your prize of $150.

Betting on the underdog, in this case, the Chiefs is considered riskier but you get a bigger reward. Conversely, betting on the Patriots is less risky, which means it comes with less reward.

You can use our profit calculator to figure out your expected payout.

What Do Minus (-) And Plus (+) Odds Mean?

We primarily use American odds because the majority of betting sites use them, especially when displaying moneyline odds.

The number with the minus sign (-) signifies what you’d have to bet to win $100 while the number with the plus sign (+) is what you’d win if you bet $100.

Instead of citing an NFL matchup, let’s try an NBA example between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics.

Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics
TeamMoneyline Odds
Los Angeles Lakers-140
Boston Celtics+175

For the Celtics, you would only need to wager $36 to win $100 since they’re the underdog. But for the Lakers, you would need to bet $140 to win $100 in profit.

The amount you bet is completely up to you but using $100 units makes it easier to track, especially for recreational sports bettors, because bankroll management is essential for long-term success.

The Three Types of Outcomes on A Moneyline Bet

When you make a moneyline bet you might, correctly, think there are only two options. You either win or lose, right? Well, there’s actually a third option.


This is fairly obvious. The team you bet on to win pulled it off and you take home the profits from your wager (plus your stake).


Again, fairly obvious. Unfortunately, the team you thought would win fell short. Your wager is kept by the sportsbook.

Three-Way Lines | Draw or Draw No Bet | Even or Pick 'Em

There are a few other different types of money line bets that you should be familiar with.

Three Way Lines

As the name suggests, this adds a third option to your money line. You see these more frequently with soccer, but you’ll find them with other sports as well. With a three-way bet you’re wagering on the outcome of the game in regular time, where either side can win, lose, or draw.

If you’re confident in a side winning in regulation a three-way bet might be a good option because you’ll get better action.

Draw or Draw No Bet

If a draw took place when a draw wasn't offered as an option the bet is settled by returning your stake, just like a "push". You'll see this more often with soccer.

Even or Pick 'Em

This happens when there isn't a clear winner between the two sides. There is no favorite. You'll see moneyline odds on Pick 'Em games be exactly the same for both sides. 

How To Handicap Moneyline Bets

Before placing any moneyline bets, an experienced sports bettor will do extensive research into the game. Breaking down matchups, odds and specific team advantages is all part of the process of handicapping sports.

Below are some of the key aspects of a matchup that all bettors should know as well as why they’re important to the outcome of a moneyline wager.

Sportsbook Odds

Once a matchup is announced in any sport, sportsbooks will release betting odds for the matchup for the moneyline. Bettors should be scanning daily matchups to see if there’s an odds disparity from previous games as these numbers will move once the market has a chance to react.

Tracking the odds from when they opened, to when you place your bet, to the start of a game can provide key indicators of what the betting public is thinking and how oddsmakers see a game playing out.

Home Vs Road Performance

The prevailing theory in sports is that teams typically perform better at home than they do on the road. But there are also teams that excel when playing away from home. 

You should analyze how each team performs in these situations to determine if recent results at home or on the road will be relevant to an upcoming matchup.

You may find that a team like the Toronto Raptors lost five straight games at home but is now hosting the Chicago Bulls and has won five straight games in this matchup. This data may not be the decisive factor when placing your moneyline bet but it certainly needs to be taken into consideration.

Matchup Edges

Researching a specific matchup and how it could potentially impact the game requires a lot of experience and study but for new bettors, it could be as simple as looking at offense vs defense.

For each sport, there are many specific player matchups that can impact a game and your moneyline bet. For example; whether specific NFL teams have problems stopping pass-catching running backs or if an NBA team struggles to stop opposing guards.

In MLB, how a team fares against left-handed pitching can be crucial. In hockey, a critical factor is how a team performs when having to play on the penalty kill. Each sport and game has a matchup edge and it’s up to you as the bettor to try to exploit it.

Recent Play

Every team in sports goes through ups and downs in a season. No team goes undefeated (except for Arsenal, the Dolphins and the Patriots).

While recent games are no guarantee of what’s to come in the future, it’s a strong indicator of how things are going for the team overall. If one team is surging while the other is flailing, you’ve found an important variable to consider.

Different game sample sizes are excellent to use for determining recent play and can be found by using our extensive game log database. A good way to start is by using the last 10 games for a team in the NBA, MLB or NHL or the last three games for an NFL team. 

Moneyline Strategy

You've done your research on what team should win. Great. Now what are some strategies you should consider just before making that bet?

Betting Favorites Vs Betting Underdogs

If you’ve gotten this far, then you know moneyline odds have favorites and underdogs but experienced bettors don’t solely use potential return as their compass for picking a winner.

For example, you may find that after your research, favorites have been relatively safe wagers, but the payouts aren’t what you have in mind, so you get impatient and start looking for larger odds to cash in on.

Soon, you’ll begin to understand those huge underdogs are that way for a reason. You may win occasionally backing underdogs but the mindset of only betting on teams that aren’t favored is a disaster waiting to happen. Also, we can’t stress this enough. Not all underdogs are created equal.

Regardless of payout, the main goal for ANY moneyline bet is to win. Making the correct call is the bottom line, so your choices should revolve around which side you think has the greater chance to win.

The Connection From The Moneyline to the Point Spread

While moneyline and point-spread bets are different, they are connected in some way. At least when it comes to the possible payout. The favorite on the moneyline will be the favorite on the point spread but with better odds. 

Read this page to find out more about the difference between moneyline and point-spread betting. 

Moneyline Odds Shopping

Just like your mama said, you better shop around, especially for moneyline odds. If you shop around you can find slight odds differences, which is why line shopping is essential for a sports bettor.

For example, a matchup between the Lakers and Celtics may see varied odds for the moneyline at two different sportsbooks:

Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics
TeamSportsbook 1Sportsbook 2
Los Angeles Lakers-140-120
Boston Celtics+150+130

Let’s say you want to take the Lakers to win the game but the moneyline odds are -140 at the first sportsbook then you check a second sportsbook and the Lakers’ moneyline odds are -120.

That may not be an eye-popping difference, but it's still an extra $11.90 on a $100 bet. For free.

Advanced Moneyline Betting Strategy

You've gone through all that advice and you're still hungry for more? Good. Here are some more advanced tips for you.

Situational Moneyline Betting

As you become more comfortable with sports betting and understanding moneyline odds, there are a variety of scenarios that may arise that aren’t as common as the examples above. Let’s explore those:

No Obvious Favorite

Think back to the Pick 'em section from earlier. You’ll come across many of these pick 'em games regardless of which sport you’re focused on. When evenly matched teams square off, it can be close to a toss-up in terms of which side will win.

For example, in a really tight NFL game, you could see moneyline odds like this:

Minnesota Vikings vs New Orleans Saints
TeamMoneyline Odds
Minnesota Vikings-105
New Orleans Saints-115

As you can see, neither team has plus odds (+) because the sportsbook feels that both teams have a nearly equal chance of winning the game. However, that doesn’t mean you should flip a coin and hope for the best.

You’ll still need to handicap the game in search of a winner. It doesn’t matter how even teams may seem at first glance or according to the odds. There is almost always an edge to be found. If nothing stands out to you, there’s no shame in passing on a game that legitimately is too close to call.

Lower-Scoring Sports

Unlike football and basketball where scoring happens fairly regularly through a game, other sports like baseball, hockey and soccer are typically low-scoring. That’s why moneyline betting can be a primary betting choice for these sports because there are so few scoring opportunities.

For hockey, a standard final score is 3-2 or 2-1. This can also be the case for soccer. For baseball, MLB final scores can vary but generally don’t surpass 12 runs between the two teams. That’s why point spreads don’t typically apply to these sports and moneylines are the easier way to go. 

Just like in football or basketball, you would still take the same thought process in making your moneyline bet. But because there will be less scoring, bettors need to know that there are only a few moments within these games that will likely determine the outcome of a bet.

How & Who Sets the Moneyline

The moneyline is set by the oddsmakers and reflects what they believe will get equal action from bettors on both sides. You can read our resource on "Who Sets the Line" to find out even more.

Moneyline FAQs

Can you put moneyline bets in parlays?

Absolutely. Multiple moneyline bets can be combined on the same ticket. Parlays most often include moneyline bets in combination with spread and totals.

Can you put money and spread bets together in parlays?

Yes, you can. Moneyline and point-spread bets are often parlayed together. Check with your sportsbook on how to do so.

Do moneyline prices differ from one sportsbook to another?

The moneyline price can differ depending on the sportsbook you're looking at. That's why it's important to shop around for the best odds possible.

Will the moneyline change once it's set

Yes, the moneyline odds can change. Sportsbooks are frequently truing to balance the action and reduce their liability. Factors from injuries, public betting, lineup changes can all affect the moneyline after it is initially set.

Can the moneyline price for my bet change, once I've bet it?

No. Once you've placed your bet you've locked into the odds at the time of the wager. If the line moves your bet stays the same. 

What does a +200 moneyline mean?

Think of this as a 2-to-1 bet. A +200 line would return $2 in profit for every $1 wagered. 

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