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.

Having a choice between the money line and the point spread gives the bettor more options. Consider a scenario where there is a strong favorite for a game. You might want to guarantee a smaller return by betting on the favorite to win on the money line – or you might want to almost double your money by betting on that team to not only win, but win by more than a certain margin. Conversely by backing the dog, on the money line you’ll receive a better return for your money but by backing the same team against the spread you have the insurance of still being able to win even if the team don’t.
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.
With money line bets the goal is to pick the outright winner of a game or event without the use of a point spread. While money line betting is available for sports where point spreads are used, they’re most popular in sports like baseball and soccer where very few points are scored. Money lines are also used for sports where points do not determine the winner or loser, as in auto racing or tennis.
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If the team is an underdog, then the moneyline number represents exactly how much you would get paid in profit for a correct pick. So if we were to bet $100 on the Boston Celtics and won, we would get paid $145 in profit. Seems easy enough, but you may already be asking what happens if you don’t want to bet in increments of $100. This is totally fine and still straight forward to figure out.
In cases when there is a point spread and moneyline offered on an event, such as an NFL football game, many bettors will place a wager on the moneyline and point spread of an underdog they feel has a chance to pull the upset. They will safely bet the point spread because they feel the game will be close, but will also put themselves in line for a nice payday if the underdog wins straight-up.
That was all before Charles McNeil, a math teacher from Chicago, invented the concept of the point spread. An avid gambler, McNeil created what he called “wholesaling odds” and started his own bookmaking operation in the 1940s. He started out offering this new style of betting on football, but his business model grew to include basketball.  McNeil changed the way sports betting was done, and his legacy lives on today in what we now call the point spread.
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