When it comes to the easiest bets in the sportsbook, it doesn’t get any more straightforward than the moneyline bet. All you have to do is pick a winner. No point spreads to cover or totals to go over.
Just who wins the game. Very simple, indeed. Plus, to make this bet even more accessible, every head-to-head sport features the moneyline.
Of course, as with any wager in the sportsbook, there is much more to consider. After all, picking a winner isn’t always easy. The moneyline presents a unique opportunity for sports gamblers and must be understood completely to be used successfully.
To place a moneyline bet, sports gamblers will simply pick the winner of a game. No points or totals. Just who wins.
Yes, the moneyline is easy to understand, but this does not in any way make it simple to win. It is here where the moneyline bet goes from simple to complex as there is a risk versus reward to consider. First of all, both teams are given odds that determine the payout of the bet.
These odds determine which team is the favorite and which is the underdog. So, since all you have to do to win the moneyline wager is to pick the winner, the favorite will not pay out as much as the underdog. Thus, depending on the two teams and their matchup, you need to consider the risk versus reward.
Since the odds are the most important part of the moneyline wager, the question becomes, is the risk worth the reward? After all, favorites are favorites for a reason and will usually win the game.
Is it worth wagering a lot of money only to receive a fraction in return? What if there is an upset? What if there is terrible weather? Or a spate of injuries?
There are countless factors to consider before placing a moneyline wager with the favorite.
This risk versus reward works conversely as well. Is there enough reward for the risk of wagering on the underdog? Does the underdog team seriously have a chance? Or is this like trying to hit the lottery?
To determine if the risk is, in fact, worth the reward when wagering on either the favorite or the underdog, you’ll need to understand how the odds work in sports betting and, especially, moneylines.
Simply put, the moneyline odds determine what your payout will be if the wager wins. These odds are expressed in many ways around the world, but make no mistake, they are all saying the same thing.
In some regions of the world like Europe, they appear as decimal numbers. In other parts of the world, they are fractions. Any way you see them, they are telling you what you will receive for winning a moneyline bet.
In the United States, you’ll see the odds expressed by a number (usually a three-digit number) next to the team name on the wager slip. For example, if the New England Patriots are home favorites versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, the wager slip would appear like this.
NFL moneyline bet
Even from such a simple betting slip, there is actually plenty of information presented here. The (+) next to the Pittsburgh Steelers informs us that they are the underdogs, the same way the (-) next to the New England Patriots informs us that they are the favorites. The fact that the New England Patriots are on the bottom lets gamblers know they are the home team, just like a newspaper box score.
It can be a bit confusing at first, but once you learn the formula for calculating the moneyline odds, you’ll be able to understand the payouts without a problem.
In American sportsbooks, the moneyline odds are expressed in terms of $100. Of course, this does not mean you have to place $100 moneyline bet; it is simply the way the sportsbooks express the payout.
As stated, the team with the (+) number is the underdog, so a win is going to pay out more than the original stake. A positive number tells you how much you stand to win on a $100 wager.
Using the example above, this means a $100 moneyline wager on the Pittsburgh Steelers would pay out $300. As you can see, these are 3 to 1 odds, only expressed as +300. This translates to a $50 wager paying out $150. Or a $250 wager paying out $750. A $10 wager pays out $30, etc.
As common sense will probably tell you, the negative (-) moneyline bet is calculated in the opposite manner. Here, the number tells you how much you’d have to wager to win $100.
After all, the (-) number is for favorites, and betting on the favorite is not going to earn you as much as betting on an underdog. Using the example above, you would have to wager $250 to win $100.
Applying these odds, a $10 bet would pay out $4. A $50 wager would pay $20. These are the equations you need to know to better calculate the risk versus reward of a moneyline bet. However, there is still more to it than just calculating a payout.
It is important to realize two things about sports betting and sportsbooks. One, sportsbooks do not work for free, and two, sportsbooks are not in the business of placing bets.
So, how do sportsbooks make money? Well, there will be a fee built into the odds of every wager they offer. You may not see it, but it is there.
Usually between 5% and 15%, this fee is often referred to as the “vig” or the “juice,” and it aims to ensure that the sportsbook is collecting money on every wager placed no matter the outcome of the game. Therefore, the odds you are receiving from the sportsbook are not actually the “true odds.”
These odds are designed to entice sports gamblers to bet while still ensuring the sportsbook collects. This way, the sportsbook can keep all the money from the losing side of a wager while paying out less than that amount to the winning side.
Since the sportsbooks are setting the odds, they have no problem finding room to pay themselves the juice. Of course, this affects your risk versus reward because the odds you are seeing may have little to do with how much of a favorite one team is over the other.
It’s more about payouts and, make no mistake, after decades of practice, sportsbooks are good at this. There is an art to offering odds that will not only benefit the sportsbook but also compel sports gamblers to wager at said sportsbook.
This is how sportsbooks profit on not just moneyline bets, but all bets.
Knowing how sportsbooks make a profit will help sports gamblers understand how odds are set. Remember, odds are set to ensure the sportsbook sees a profit, not to handicap the game.
Using the example above, we can see how this plays out. If the Pittsburgh Steelers are a +300 underdog to the New England Patriots, shouldn’t the Patriots be a -300 favorite over the Steelers?
Well, yes, in a world without juice. However, the sportsbook is not saying the odds of the Patriots winning are three times more likely than the Steelers. It is only telling you what it will pay you if that happens.
Of course, there are oddsmakers working at sportsbooks that know the sports. Every aspect of sports, in fact. These are basically actuaries who are well-versed in every sport, every player, every team and every matchup.
They consider injuries, weather, records, history and on and on. The oddsmakers can set odds and then skew them in favor of the sportsbook with great accuracy. This is how odds are set in sports betting, by professional handicappers putting their finger on the scale.
The moneyline wager does have a reputation as a sucker bet and, once you realize how sportsbooks and oddsmakers arrive at their odds, it can be easy to see why. First of all, the disparity of odds between the favorite and the underdog shows an obvious advantage for the sportsbook.
Secondly, the returns on favorites to win are always going to be low, making betting moneyline favorites at times not worth the risk. Of course, the same can be said for the underdogs.
However, this does not mean that all moneyline wagers are sucker bets. In fact, there are many ways to turn a moneyline wager into a smart bet.
The key to making a smart moneyline bet is just like any other bet. You’ve got to develop a strategy that lowers your risk and increases your reward.
Of course, this is not easy to do, especially with the moneylines. Calculating the risk versus reward takes a lot of time and practice to perfect. However, find the right strategy and moneylines can become the smartest bets you place.
Just as with any wager in the sportsbook, you need to have a solid strategy to successfully employ it. The moneyline is no different.
Sure, simply picking winners much more often than picking losers is key to being successful, but the moneyline bet can be used in other ways to help you beat the sportsbook. Of course, there are many strategies and systems sports gamblers use, but here we have three basic strategies to use when betting on the moneyline.
The long game approach is exactly what it sounds like. This approach requires you to wager on only a few teams from the very start of the season until the end. These should be the best teams in the league who are sure to stack up wins and winning streaks. Think the Tampa Bay Lightning, Los Angeles Dodgers or any team with LeBron James.
These teams are going to win a lot and, therefore, they are usually going to be favorites. This means you’ll have to win much more often than you lose to make up the difference in odds.
Always bet the same amount and never miss a day. That’s how you move the risk versus reward in your favor. That’s how you play the moneyline long game.
When people think of parlay wagers, they usually think of betting a little bit of money on many teams to win a lot. Of course, a parlay wager only wins if every team you’ve picked wins.
This is what makes them so difficult but also why they pay out so well. However, when putting moneyline bets into a parlay, the parlay will actually move the odds in your favor.
Putting two or three favorites on the moneyline into a parlay will pay out much better than wagering on them individually. Parlaying moneyline favorites has always been professional sports gamblers’ way to pad their bankroll.
Many conservative sports gamblers are always looking to hedge their wagers, and moneylines are an excellent way to do just that. When sports gamblers wager on point spreads, they are leaving themselves a bit exposed.
After all, a few free throws here or a missed extra point there and, all of a sudden, their team has failed to cover the spread even though it’s won the game. This is one of the most frustrating moments in sports gambling. Of course, if a second wager is made on the moneyline, you’ve set yourself up for the perfect hedge.
If your team fails to cover the spread but still wins, you cut your losses by still collecting on the moneyline. Plus, if your team does cover, you’ve won both wagers. This is the simplest hedge, and all it requires is one more wager on a team you were already invested in.
For the most part, moneyline wagers are very similar from sport to sport. There is a favorite and an underdog. The juice is embedded in the odds.
The sports gambler only has to pick the winner. However, not all sports are the same, especially when it comes to scoring, which definitely affects moneyline wagers. Nowhere is this more evident than with baseball and soccer.
Moneyline bets in baseball have always been a bit different from other sports. This is due to starting pitching.
Baseball is one of the few sports where the defense has the ball. This puts great importance on the starting pitcher. Therefore, when it comes to setting the odds on baseball moneyline wagers, sportsbooks and their oddsmakers center those odds on the starting pitcher.
Obviously, this puts a lot of pressure on the starting pitcher to perform. A bad night or a bad injury early in the game can ruin a baseball moneyline wager.
As you can see, this is much different from other sports. Even in the modern game with extended bullpens and openers, baseball moneyline bets are still focused on the starting pitcher.
Of course, it is the scoring, or lack thereof, that makes the soccer moneyline bet different. Soccer is the one of the major sports where matches often end in ties.
This occasionally will happen in football but not as frequently as in soccer. Due to this, soccer moneyline bets take this fact into consideration, and sportsbooks will offer three options as opposed to the regular two.
With a soccer moneyline bets, there will be a favorite, an underdog and a tie, and all receive odds. It makes for a much more interesting moneyline.
Make no mistake, moneylines in any sport are interesting bets to consider. Sure, some of them can be sucker bets.
However, if you take into consideration how moneylines are established and what the odds are telling you, there is plenty of money on the moneyline, no matter the sport. There are many strategies to employ and a great long game to use.
The key is to learn to correctly evaluate the risk versus reward of every moneyline wager you place. Now you have the tools to do just that.
Moneyline bets are the key bets of any sportsbook; knowing how to use them is fundamental to being successful while gambling on sports.