What is Moneyline in Betting? – The Moneyline Bet Explained

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Written by Dan Fitch

Updated: 08:26 am EST, 02/07/2024

The moneyline is a betting market where you simply wager on the result of a sporting event. We’re going to take a deep dive into the topic of what is moneyline in betting so that you completely understand how they work.

How Does Moneyline Betting Work?

When you click on any sporting event between two opponents that is covered by offshore sportsbooks, you are likely to be met with three markets.

The moneyline is normally positioned in the middle of that three, reflecting its importance. It is generally the most wagered upon market amongst sports bettors, due to its simplicity. With a moneyline wager you are merely betting on which team or individual will win a sporting contest.

How that victory comes about, or the margin of the win doesn’t matter. Let’s give you an example that will help you to understand how moneyline sports betting works.

Here’s the moneyline from an NBA game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics. The betting odds indicate that the Celtics are the favorites and the Mavericks are the underdogs.

We will tackle exactly how these odds work later on in the article. For now, let’s keep it simple and just say that they indicate the implied probability of either team winning.

All that you need to know is that a successful bet on either team will see you turn a profit. If you bet on the Mavericks on the moneyline and they win, your bet is a winner.

If you bet on the Celtics and they are victorious, then that bet would be a winner. It doesn’t matter if the Celtics win by a single point or 20, as the margin of the victory doesn’t impact this market. The only thing that you are being asked to do is to predict the result.

What is a 3 Way Moneyline?

You’ll have noticed in our last example that there were just two possible outcomes. Either the Mavericks would win, or the Celtics.

In the NBA there are no ties, with the game going into overtime if the scores are level at the end of regulation play. So there are only two possible results.

There is the possibility of ties in the NFL, but it is such a rare occurrence that it makes more sense for sportsbooks to only offer odds on either team winning. If there is a tie on an NFL moneyline it results in a push.

Yet there are sports such as soccer where ties are commonplace. For these sports three-way lines are used, rather than a two-way market.

Let’s take a look at the moneyline on a soccer game between New York City FC and Columbus Crew.

Note that there are three options. New York head the betting at +130, with Columbus Crew at +200 and the draw at +240.

With this 3 way betting market, rather than the standard two options, it is more common to have a situation like this where the selections are all rated as underdogs. Having three possible outcomes ramps up the difficulty and the odds reflect this.

How to Read Moneyline Odds

Understanding moneyline odds can be tricky for new bettors. The American odds format is not quite so straightforward as those used in other parts of the world, but is simple enough once you get the hang of it.

Let’s go back to the example of NBA moneyline odds that we touched upon earlier. If you recall, the Dallas Mavericks were taking on the Boston Celtics, with the moneyline looking like this:

As you can see the Mavericks are priced at +200, with the Celtics at -240. A plus sign in American odds indicates an underdog, while a minus shows a favorite.

So in this instance the Mavericks are the moneyline underdogs at +200. The Celtics are the moneyline favorites at -240.

For underdogs, the figure after the minus sign shows how much you would win if you bet $100. So a $100 bet on the Mavericks at +200 could see you win $200.

In the case of favorites, the figure after the minus sign shows you how much you need to bet to win £100. So to win $100 on the Celtics at -240, you would have to bet $240.

That’s moneyline odds explained. If you want to better understand how they work, we’d recommend playing around with some examples on a moneyline bet calculator. A betting calculator can instantly reveal a potential payout.

Most Popular Sports Leagues for the Moneyline Bet

As we’ve said, the moneyline is the most popular of the many betting options that are available at sportsbooks. So let’s take a look at how this market works in the most popular sports at these sites.

NFL Moneyline Betting

Football is a sport where it sometimes makes more sense to bet on the spread. If there are massive favorites in football games, they will be available at unattractive odds on the moneyline. In such an instance, the spread can provide more value. For more even games, that provide more even NFL moneyline odds, it is a very popular option.

NBA Moneyline Betting

Basketball is another sport where the spread can make more sense that the moneyline, depending on how close the game is likely to be. Even more so than football, this is a high-scoring sport. Spread betting can therefore help to make an equal market from an unequal content. For games that are a pick ‘em, the moneyline is the place to bet.

MLB Moneyline Betting

In baseball games it is the moneyline that is the clear favorite amongst MLB fans. Compared to football and basketball, it’s a relatively low scoring sport. For the majority of games, the odds are close enough that the moneyline is the most popular market. There is the option to bet on a ‘listed pitchers’ moneyline, which is made void if the specified pitchers fail to start for each team.

Other Major Leagues & Sports

Like baseball, hockey is a low scoring sport where the moneyline or puck line betting is a popular choice. One big team sport where the moneyline is slightly different is soccer, where the draw is an option to bet on. In individual sports like tennis, boxing and MMA, the moneyline receives a lot of business at sportsbooks.

How to Bet the Moneyline Online

Now that you better understand the moneyline bet meaning, you may be considering placing such a wager yourself. If that’s the case, follow our step-by-step guide to placing this bet.

1. Pick a Sportsbook

Take a look at our recommended sportsbooks, choose the one that best suits your needs and click on it. In this example we have used BetOnline.

2. Register

There is a green button marked ‘Join Now’ at BetOnline that you need to click. There will be something similar if you have chosen another sportsbook and it will present a registration form. Add your personal details and set your login.

3. Deposit

Now it is time to add some funds. Go to the cashier section, choose a payment method, decide on the amount of money that you want to deposit and confirm.

4. Make a Moneyline Bet

With money in your account you can place your first bet. Look through the betting markets until you find a moneyline bet that you want to back. Click on the odds, which will put the wager onto the bet slip. You can then choose your stake and confirm the bet.

Moneyline vs Spread Bet

A spread sees the sportsbook make a points adjustment to a sporting contest, in order to make the market more even. The favorite is given a points handicap that they must overcome, while the underdog is given a points advantage.

The spread offers an alternative to the moneyline for bettors. If a sporting contest is rated as a 50-50 bet or close enough, then it is the moneyline that tends to be the best choice.

Yet if there is an obvious favorite available at very short odds on the moneyline, then the spread often makes more sense.

Let’s show you a quick example, going back to the basketball match between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics. Check out the odds for the moneyline and the spread below.

The Celtics are the hot favorites at -240, with the Mavericks the underdogs at +200. On the spread the Mavericks as underdogs have been given a +6.5 points advantage, while the Celtics as favorites, received a -6.5 points handicap.

You’ll note that the market has been made even with this point adjustment. Both are priced at odds of -110.

If you bet on the Celtics with -6.5 points, they must win by a 7 point margin or greater, to win the bet. The Mavericks with +6.5 points must not lose by a margin great than 6 points, if they are to win the bet.

For those wanting to bet on the Celtics, the odds on the spread and the potential payout is a lot more appealing than the moneyline. If you think that they will win by 7 points or more, then this is the natural bet to make.

Pros & Cons of Moneyline Betting Explained

Our exploration of what is moneyline in betting would not be complete without looking at the pros and cons of these types of bets. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of the moneyline as we see them.


  • Sportsbooks strive to offer the best odds they can on moneyline
  • Straight-up wagers are more likely to win
  • Moneyline picks at short odds perfect for parlays
  • Add other bets to moneyline in same-game parlays


  • Spreads generally better for football and basketball
  • Often better value in more obscure wagers like a moneyline prop bet
  • Can be unappealing if there is a heavy betting favorite

What is Moneyline in Betting Strategy That Works?

By now you are ready to place your first moneyline bet. Before you do, consider these betting strategies.

Value is Key

It is easy to think that it is only with a positive moneyline bet that you will find value. The truth is that even a negative moneyline bet at short odds can represent value, if you know how to identify this concept. Value in betting is where the odds are bigger than they really should be, based on the true probability of the event occurring.

Study Hard

So how do you identify value on the moneyline? The best way is to be as knowledgable as you can about the event that you’re betting on.

Read the stats and keep up with the latest team news. Look out for anything that could impact the result. When you study hard enough, examples of expected value will stand out.

Find an Alternative

What do you do if you really like a pick on the moneyline, but you’re not crazy about the value of the odds? With short-priced favorites, you can add similar selections together to create a parlay bet.

Or maybe combine with a moneyline prop bet from the same event to make a same-game parlay. With so many markets and options available, there is always a solution to find a little more value.

Our Recommended Moneyline Betting Sites

We hope that you enjoyed our guide to what is moneyline in betting. When it comes to what makes a good sportsbook for betting on the moneyline, there are a couple of factors that we think are important.

The first is wide coverage of lots of different sports and then events within those sports. Secondly, the competitiveness of the odds are important, to ensure that your potential payout should you successfully pick the outright winner, is as large as you might expect.

All of our recommended sportsbooks deliver on these metrics. We think that the well-established bookmakers such as BetOnline and Bovada, are particularly strong when it comes to betting on the moneyline.


What does moneyline mean in betting?

How does a moneyline bet work?

Can you put moneyline and spread bets together in a parlay?

Does a moneyline bet push on a tie?

Why do moneyline odds differ on online sportsbooks?

How do you win a moneyline bet?

Can moneyline markets change once set?

Are moneyline bets a good wager?