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A Beginner's Guide to Moneyline Betting

By: Russell Potvin

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Moneyline betting, considered an American term for match winner, is a wagering option for the team you think will win the match outright with no handicap involved. This is a common way of betting on football, baseball, hockey, and soccer, making it a popular betting alternative as opposed to point spread betting. In this article, we will explain how to read and understand a moneyline, provide the uses for a moneyline bet in various sports, introduce you to a moneyline calculator and the math involved, explain the differences between money lines and point spreads, and include a recommendation for one of the best online sportsbooks offering competitive moneyline odds.

How to Read a Moneyline

Before you can read a moneyline, you will first need to understand moneyline odds. The money line odds can be expressed as either a negative or a positive. A negative moneyline is the amount a bettor is required to stake to win $100, and a positive moneyline is the profit a bettor will win for every $100 staked. For instance, +180 means a bettor will need to risk $100 to win $180 profit, and -175 means a bettor needs to risk $175 to win $100 profit. In other words, the team with a - (negative) symbol will always be considered the favourite to win the match, and the team with a + (positive) symbol will always be considered the underdog.

Uses in Sports Betting

Football Moneyline

Los Angeles Rams -400

Seattle Seahawks +400

In this example, the Los Angeles Rams have taken on the role as the favourites to win the match, going off at -400 on the betting line. This means, for every $4 risked on Los Angeles to win, a $1 profit is returned. Therefore, if you wager $40 on Los Angeles to win, you stand a chance to win $10. On the other hand, Seattle Seahawks have been set as a +400 underdog. This means, for every $1 risked on Seattle, a $4 profit is returned. Therefore, if you wager $10 on Seattle Seahawks to win, you stand a chance to win $40.

Baseball Moneyline

New York Yankees -300

San Francisco Giants +200

This is a moneyline example you could find in Major League Baseball. The Yankees are matching up with the Giants, with New York set as the favourites. New York is the favourite due to the minus symbol, indicating the amount that needs to be risked to make a profit. At -300, a $1 profit will be made for every $3 risked on the Yankees to win the match. On the other side, at +200, this is the same as stating 2/1. This means, for every $1 risked on San Francisco to win the match, a $2 profit is returned.

Hockey Moneyline

Chicago Blackhawks -200

New Jersey Devils +200

This is a moneyline example for the NHL, the Blackhawks are matching up with the Devils. Chicago has taken the role of the betting favourite, set at -200 on the betting line. This means a $2 wager is required to profit $1. So, if you had to bet $200 on Chicago, a $100 profit will be returned if the bet is won. On the other side of the equation, the Devils have taken the underdog role, at +200, making it the same as saying 2/1. For every $1 risked on New Jersey to win, a $2 profit is returned.

Soccer Moneyline

Manchester United -120

Barcelona F.C +220

This is an example of a moneyline you would find in the English Premier League. For Manchester United, who is considered the favourite team in the game, the -120 indicates that you need to wager $120 to win $100. For Barcelona, considered the underdog team, the +220 indicates that should you wager $100 on them and they win the match, you will receive $220 in winnings.

Moneyline Calculator

sports betting online money lineNow that you have a clear understanding on moneyline odds, we can look at how bookmakers make a profit. This is referred to as the Vig, or more commonly known as under-juice, juice, the take, or the cut. This is the amount charged by a bookie, or bookmaker, for taking a wager from a punter. A bookie will make a profit by inflating negative moneylines and shorting positive money lines. A term that you will need to be familiar with is cents. Giants -190 / Yankees +170 is said to be a 20 cent line, basically referring to the gap between -190 and +170. In addition, if one site is offering -190 and another site is offering -186, the first site will have a 4 cent better prize. A 10 cent line can also be referred to as a Dimeline (example: -160/+150) and a 5 cent line can also mean a nickel line (example: -130/+125).

When making a moneyline wager, you are basically betting on the outright winner of the match without taking point spread into consideration.

You will also need to understand that all money lines have an associated implied probability. This will indicate how often they need to win to break even, and the math to calculate this is risk/return=implied probability. The return will refer to wager + win. So, for -120, you will need to risk $120 to win $100 and the return is $220 ($120 stake + $100 win). The math used on a calculator is 120/220= 0.5454 (54.54%).

Most novice bettors will usually make the mistake by assuming -350/+250 has a -300/+300 fair value line, which is incorrect. In terms of a calculator meaning, the correct way to evaluate this is -350 has an implied probability of 77.78% and +250 has an implied probability of 28.57%. You will notice that these total 106.35%. The reason they are higher than a 100% is the bookie's vig (advantage) as previously discussed. You can remove the vig by dividing both implied probabilities by their combined total (in this case 106.35%). 77.78%/106.35%=73.14% and 28.57%/106.35%=26.86%, giving you 73.14%+26.86%=100%. This means, as long as the vig (advantage) was divided equally, the bookmaker determined the favourite team will win 73.14% of the time, leaving 26.86% of the time for the underdog. If you enter these figures into an odds converter, you will notice 73.14% is -272 and 26.86% is +272 in American odds format. Initially, to come up with -350/+250, the bookmaker added a 4% vig to his starting probabilities. He obviously couldn't add 2% to the favourite team and remove 2% for the underdog team. He had to do this proportionally to how often each side will win. This meant giving 73.14% of the 4% to the favourite team and taking the remaining 26.86% from the underdog. Thereafter, he made some minor adjustments to show a better-looking number, offering him -350/+250.

Its also very important to calculate EV. The equation to correctly calculate EV is (win probability x win amount) - (loss probability x amount wagered) = EV. We will be using the same odds discussed above to calculate EV. $100 at -350 pays ($100/3.5=$28.57) and the chances of winning is 73.14% calculated earlier. This works out to (0.7314 x $28.57) - (0.2686 x $100) = $5.97. As we can expect to lose $5.97 for every $100 wagered, we will have a -5.97% expected return on investment (ROI). The bookie on average will profit 5.97% of our wagered amount. $100 at +250 pays ($100x2.5=$250) and we already know our chances of winning is 26.86%. This works out to (0.2686x$250) - (0.7314x$100) = $5.99. We have the same -5.97% ROI and the bookmaker on average will profit 5.97% of our wagered amount.

Key Terms:

  • Moneyline: Placing a wager or bet on a team that will win the match outright.
  • Odds: The moneyline odds can either be described as a positive moneyline, indicating a profit the bettor will make for every $100 wagered, or a negative moneyline, providing the bettor with an amount required to wager to win $100.
  • Calculator: Indicates the potential payouts and profits for both positive and negative moneyline odds.

Difference Between Moneylines and Point Spreads

When making a moneyline wager, you are basically betting on the outright winner of the match without taking point spread into consideration. There are still underdogs and favourites, but instead of being assisted by head starts or being handicapped, the competitors are given odds to win the event or game. When making a wager through point spreads, you are levelling the playing field, making betting on either the underdog or favourite equally attractive. Either the favourite team needs to win by the listed margin, or the underdog team will have a buffer to lose the event or game by that margin, or simply win it outright.

Online Sportsbook Recommendation

Bodog boasts with a stunning website, making online betting fun as well as entertaining. Entertainment has always been the heart and soul of Bodog and the website clearly conveys this beautifully with a sophisticated and modern layout. The betting odds at Bodog are great, and although they are considered odds followers, only posting their odds after other sports betting sites have done so, their spreads and money lines are extremely competitive. What really sets them apart is their selection of Futures, If's, and Props, which are the biggest for any other Canadian sportsbook. They also provide unique betting odds for Canadian sports that you won't find anywhere else.

The Value of Moneyline Betting

canadian moneyline sports bettingYou can either choose to take a lower risk to receive a lower potential payout or choose to take a higher risk to receive a higher potential payout. There is no magical formula for money line betting, you simply need to choose your sports wisely and balance your potential reward versus your risk. It would be beneficial to analyze every game individually when looking for value in both underdog and favorite moneylines.

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