Essentially, a moneyline bet is a bet on which team is going to win the game. There is no point spread or other handicap for either team, so if you pick a team and it scores more points than the other team then you win. Obviously there has to be a catch, though, or the bet would be way too simple. The sportsbooks balance their risk by setting different prices on each team. You win a smaller amount than you bet if you pick the favorite, and you generally win more than you bet if you pick the underdog. The stronger the favorite the less you will win, and vice versa.
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.
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 true purpose of a pointspread when it is released by any sportsbook is to try and attract an equal amount of betting action on either side of a matchup. If all the early money is flooding in on New England as the favorite with a seven point spread, the betting outlet handling this action is likely to move that betting spread to 7.5 points to try and attract some money towards Miami as the underdog.
This is because different bookmakers and betting sites price up games differently. So the odds they offer are not always the same. Remember the Packers versus Cardinals game we showed earlier as an example? We used the actual odds from a real betting site for that example. The following odds were also available for the same game, from various other sites.
The 2-way moneyline is what most North American bettors would simply refer to as “the moneyline”. This is one of the most common wagering options where the user bets which side will win the game straight up. (A draw or tie results in a push with the 2-way moneyline.) The term is sometimes highlighted during soccer betting to differentiate from the 3-way moneyline - a more popular option with the draw added as a wagering option.
Let's say you think Liverpool is going to win the game, but you think they are only going to win by three goals. If the first bet were the only bet available, you wouldn't be able to bet on this game unless you were a maniac. This handicap bet gives you more options, though! The next rectangle down is a similar bet except for this time it is Liverpool at -2, getting paid 13 to 5. If you take this wager, you need Liverpool to only win by three or more goals now, instead of four. If this happens, you will get paid at 13 to 5 or $260 for every $100 you wager. As you can see, this is more likely to happen, so you are going to be paid less for the bet. However, it does give you an option to bet what you want.
Futures betting also is offered on the major events in horse racing, such as the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup. In horse racing futures, if your horse does not start the race due to injury or any other reason, you lose the bet -- there are no refunds. On the other hand, the odds on your horse racing futures bet also are "locked in," regardless of the horse's odds on race day.
Changes to the lineup for a game will have a big effect on the moneyline as well as any other bets you’re looking to place on that game. If a superstar is suddenly out, it’s going to have a big change on where the money is coming in, which will inevitably cause a big shift in the line. Sometimes the sportsbook will even adjust the line preemptively if they anticipate a large change in where the money is going to be coming in on a particular game.
In an effort to have equal money on both sides of a wager, the sportsbook operator will move the point spread to attract money on the side that customers aren’t betting on. The odds for a point spread might change before the actual point spread. There are certain point spread numbers, like 3 and 7 in football, the sportsbook operators would like to avoid moving away from since they final score margin falls on these two numbers most often.
A money line, used in baseball and hockey, takes the place of a point spread. Money line betting is simply wagering on the contest based on a given price rather than a point spread. The team wagered on has to win the game outright, regardless of the score. The minus sign (e.g.-130) always indicates the favorite and the amount you must bet to win $100. The plus sign (e.g.+120) always indicates the underdog and the amount you win for every $100 bet. Using this example, therefore, you would bet $130 to win $100 on the favorite, while for the underdog you would bet $100 to win $120.
Identify the favorite. Lines with a - before the number (i.e. -200) indicate the favorite. A -200 should be read as: "For every $200 wagered, I win $100." When there is a negative sign, the line should always be read with relation to 100. That does not mean you have to bet that much, it's just easiest to understand! When a + sign is present, just reverse the reading, always keeping reference to 100:
Of course, it wouldn’t be. Everyone would bet on Mike Tyson, and the sportsbook would lose all of their money and close the next day. So what the sportsbooks do is they assess who is the favorite and who is the underdog and assign a value to how much in each direction they think they are. Let’s look at what the odds might look like for our fictitious fight and break down what everything means.
Let’s take a quick step back and talk about what the sportsbook’s goal is with any game they are offering action on. Ideally, the sportsbook wants to take the perfect amount of action (money bet) on each side of a game so that regardless of who wins, they make money. Their profit comes from taking a small percentage off of the top as a house fee for facilitating the action.
In the brackets after the last two games, you will see the odds associated with each of the bets. Let's say we made our earlier example bet of the Chargers -3 and the final score of the game was Chargers 21, Cowboys 14. Looking at this, we already know that we won our bet, but just how much money are we going to get paid? For this bet, we will get paid even money because that is what is posted in the parenthesis. This means that if we bet $100, we will profit $100 for winning our bet.
The most important thing you can teach yourself early on is: "Just because the books assign one side to be the favorite (even large, -200 or -300, favorites), does not mean that they will win." We have all seen favorites get upset, and it is important to avoid the temptation of finding comfort in the fact that the lines makers put one team as a favorite.
As an illustration, let's look at Super Bowl futures. Sports books list each NFL team with corresponding odds to win the Super Bowl. For example, the Ravens may be 5-1, the Redskins 12-1, the Cardinals 100-1, etc. If you place $10 on the Redskins and they go on to win the Super Bowl, you collect $120 plus your $10 back for a total payoff of $130. It does not matter whether your team covers the point spread in the Super Bowl. For the purposes of future book betting, the team has to win only the Super Bowl.