We’ve already covered that a moneyline bet is easy to make and is the most popular type of sports bet for beginners and for professional bettors. Now let’s talk about exactly what it is. A moneyline bet is a sports betting wager on which team or person will win a game or sporting contest. Simple as that. When you make a moneyline wager, you are betting on who will win a contest. It doesn’t matter how they win, by how many points, goals, or runs they win, or how long it takes them to win. All that matters to win a moneyline bet is that the team or person you bet on is victorious.
In most football games there is a favorite and an underdog. Very occasionally there are games where the two team are completely evenly matched, but for the most part one team is favored over the other to win. With point spreads, the idea is to create an even money proposition when betting on the game. So the favorite has to win by at least a certain number of points for a wager on them to be successful, and the underdog has to lose by no more than a certain number of points for a wager on them to be successful. The bigger the gap in quality between the two teams, the bigger the point spread.
Betting on sporting events has long been the most popular form of spread betting. Whilst most bets the casino offers to players have a built in house edge, betting on the spread offers an opportunity for the astute gambler. When a casino accepts a spread bet, it gives the player the odds of 10 to 11, or -110. That means that for every 11 dollars the player wagers, the player will win 10, slightly lower than an even money bet. If team A is playing team B, the casino is not concerned with who wins the game; they are only concerned with taking an equal amount of money of both sides. For example, if one player takes team A and the other takes team B and each wager $110 to win $100, it doesn’t matter what team wins; the casino makes money. They take $100 of the $110 from the losing bet and pay the winner, keeping the extra $10 for themselves. This is the house edge. The goal of the casino is to set a line that encourages an equal amount of action on both sides, thereby guaranteeing a profit. This also explains how money can be made by the astute gambler. If casinos set lines to encourage an equal amount of money on both sides, it sets them based on the public perception of the team, not necessarily the real strength of the teams. Many things can affect public perception, which moves the line away from what the real line should be. This gap between the Vegas line, the real line, and differences between other sports books betting lines and spreads is where value can be found.
Piggybacking on the simplicity of moneyline bets is the ease with which you can properly assess value. Now, you’ll notice that it doesn’t say “Easy to Find Value,” and that is because it’s never easy to find value in sports betting. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it for a living. What it says, though, is that it is easier to find value with moneyline bets because of the simplicity.
Moneyline bets will move the line based on the amount of money coming in on each side of the bet. It has nothing to do with who the sportsbook really thinks is going to win the game and everything to do with that delicate dance of getting the right money on both sides. For example, let’s say that the line for the Magic and Mavericks game is the following:
If you place wagers on US sports, then chances are high that you've heard of point spreads. Here's how they work; if a game has Patriots -9.0 and Vikings +9.0, the Patriots are 9.0 point favorites and the Vikings are 9.0 point underdogs. Unless otherwise stated, no matter which team you bet on, you'll be required to risk $1.10 for each $1.00 you want to win. For Patriots bettors to prevail, they need their team to win by 10 or more points. A 9-point Patriot victory would be a push (a tie). For Vikings bettors to take home the victory, they need to either win the game or lose by less than 9 points.
The number that comes after the plus or minus sign is how significant of a favorite or underdog the teams are, regarding points. In the first game, the Bengals are a 1.5 point underdog. This means that the sportsbook thinks the Bengals are going to lose the game by 1.5 points. This means, by default, that the Chiefs are a 1.5 point favorite. This means the sportsbook thinks the Chiefs are going to win the game by 1.5 points.
With all that being said, there is one situation where we'd suggest the moneyline wager is usually a better option than a point spread wager. This is when you like three point underdogs in an NFL game. Only a small percentage of NFL games are decided by three points or less, so if you think a three point underdog is going to cover then you might as well bet on them to win outright. This will generally give you a much better return.
The second way is “eyeballing it.” If two teams play 10 times, how many times do you think a certain team is going to win? If you say they are going to win 6 times, then you think they are going to win 60% (6/10) times. Looking at it as a series of multiple games makes it a lot simpler for you to grasp and predict. Then, you just convert that number to a percentage and compare it with the implied probabilities offered at the sportsbooks. If there is value, go for it.
What this means is that in each contest, there is going to be a favorite and an underdog. It’s important to point out that when you look at a moneyline bet, and you see that a team is a favorite or an underdog, this is only in relation to the money that is being bet. While these numbers will usually be in line with which team is the actual favorite and underdog, it could be different. Remember, the betting lines are tweaked so that the sportsbook can get the right amount bet on each side of the contest.
When you’re looking at over under bets, what you need to know is that that’s the combined score of the two teams for a game. In this case, it doesn’t matter who wins the game. All that matters is the final score. For example: let’s say that the New York Yankees are playing the Boston Red Sox and the total is 9.5. It doesn’t matter who wins the game but if the two teams combine for a total score of eight runs, say with a final score of Boston winning 5-3, then the game goes under. Or if the two teams combined for 10 runs – no matter who wins – then the game goes over. So when you’re looking at the odds and you see a total next to the moneyline or point spread, that tells you the over-under that is set for the game and you have to decide whether it will go over that set amount or under.
One important assumption is that to be credited with a win, either team only needs to win by the minimum of the rules of the game, without regard to the margin of victory. This implies that teams in a winning position will not necessarily try to extend their margin—and more importantly, each team is only playing to win rather than to beat the point spread. This assumption does not necessarily hold in all situations. For example, at the end of a season, the total points scored by a team can affect future events such as playoff seeding and positioning for the amateur draft, and teams may "run up" the score in such situations. In virtually all sports, players and other on-field contributors are forbidden from being involved in sports betting and thus have no incentive to consider the point spread during play; any attempt to manipulate the outcome of a game for gambling purposes would be considered match fixing, and the penalty is typically a lifetime banishment from the sport, such is the lack of tolerance for gambling in sport.
As we mentioned, moneyline/win bets take into account who the favorites and who the underdogs are and will pay out winning bets accordingly. Here’s a quick example that will make this clear. Imagine that Mike Tyson (one of the greatest boxers of all time) is going to fight against an 80-year-old man. If the sportsbook let you bet on either side of the fight and paid you the same, would that be fair?
Betting “against the spread” (ATS) just means you’re betting on the point spread in a particular matchup as opposed to the moneyline, or some other type of wager. Bettors often use a team’s ATS record to gauge its performance against the spread. For example, the New England Patriots were 11-5 ATS in the 2017 regular season, meaning they covered the posted point spread 11 times, and failed to cover five times.
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