When the point spread was invented in Chicago by Charles McNeil the money line took a backseat. When two unevenly matched teams played, the playing field was leveled by having the favorite give points (for example Chicago Bears –7) while the underdog got points (Minnesota Vikings +7). No matter which team the bettor took the bettor would always risk $110 to win $100. The extra $10 needed to win $100 is called the juice or the vig, it is basically the house’s or the bookie’s take. It’s 10-percent of the bet so it would take $33 to return $30 and $440 to return $400 etc. (winning bettors get the vig back).
Where people seem to get confused with moneyline bets is with how they are presented and how they pay out. While the criteria to win a moneyline bet will never change, the amount you win and how the bet is presented will change. Don’t worry, though. It’s easy to understand if it’s presented to you properly. We are going to cover this thoroughly in the coming sections. You’ll be a moneyline expert ready to crush the books when you get done with this guide.
If the bookmaker was only confident enough to give Seattle a field goal’s lead on the Patriots, it was clearly going to be a tight game. Oddsmakers aren’t often that wrong about flagship games like the Super Bowl. All things being equal, it’s likely the betting public would have taken the Seahawks to win the game and have been done with it. But throw in the point spread that gave the Patriots 2.5 points, and the proposition seems more equal.
The simplest way to think about a moneyline is to consider a base bet of $100. A moneyline is a number larger than 100, and it is either positive or negative. A line with a positive number means that the team is the underdog. If the line, for example, was +160 then you would make a profit of $160 if you were to bet $100. Obviously, then, the team is a bigger underdog the bigger the number is - a +260 team is perceived to be less likely to win than a +160 team.
In addition to the spread bet, a very common "side bet" on an event is the total (commonly called the over/under or O/U) bet. This is a bet on the total number of points scored by both teams. Suppose team A is playing team B and the total is set at 44.5 points. If the final score is team A 24, team B 17, the total is 41 and bettors who took the under will win. If the final score is team A 30, team B 31, the total is 61 and bettors who took the over will win. The total is popular because it allows gamblers to bet on their overall perception of the game (e.g., a high-scoring offensive show or a defensive battle) without needing to pick the actual winner.
Let's take a look at a sample Asian handicap bet to make this make more sense. Some things are just better learned through getting your hands dirty. For example, imagine that you choose to bet Manchester United at (-1, -1.5). Half of your bet would be for Manchester United at -1, and a half would be at Manchester United -1.5. Let's say Manchester United wins the game by one goal. You would push on your first bet and lose on your second bet. If you bet $100 on this, you would receive $50 back for the push and lose on the other portion of your bet.
The only real downside to betting basketball point spreads is that the sportsbook charges a vig. While this is a downside, it is to be expected and is no different from placing any other sports bet. Obviously, the sportsbook has to make money somehow because they have to pay employees, pay for their servers or equipment, and pay for their customer service to keep you happy. This really isn't a negative about point spread bets, but just something that you should be aware of.
On the other hand, betting which team is going to score first is a bit of a crapshoot. Sure, you could try and predict who has the better chance of winning the opening toss, but even then it’s going to be a bit of a gamble to predict which team scores first. If you’re betting on this bet, you’ll only be guessing, and therefore have no way to exert an edge over your competition.
As we did with the underdogs, we need to figure out how much we will profit for each $1 that we wager. For underdogs, we divided the moneyline number by 100. For favorites, it is the exact opposite. We will take 100 and divide it by the money line number. So, for this example, we will take 100 and divide by 155 and get about $0.645 or about $0.65 in profit for every dollar that we bet.
The term moneylines can have two definitions: a type of bet and also the odds attached to certain bets. Starting with the type of bet, moneyline bets simply focus on the outright winner of a game. With point spreads, you have to consider a margin of victory. With totals, you’re looking at the combined score of the two sides involved in the game. But if you’re betting on the moneyline, your only focus is who will win the game outright. There is no tying; just winning or losing. But there is more to understanding the moneyline, including the odds and what they tell you. Read on below to get a better idea of how they work.
Straight bet - Amid all the fancy and lucrative-looking bets that are available, never lose sight of the value in a standard straight bet. You probably should learn and practice this bet often before learning any others, and it should be noted that people who bet for a living or a large portion of their income place straight bets almost exclusively.

We do want to make sure to point out that this is total money returned and not your profit. We went over the difference above when discussing the American odds. Let’s take a look at the same bet again, but this time with decimal odds. We should be expecting to see a profit of $33.33 for an Eagles bet and $240 for a Falcons bet since we know that the bets are the exact same and are just presented in a different format.
A common mistake that new bettors will do is to bet every single game. Unfortunately, this is not a winning strategy no matter how sharp you are. Stick to betting the games where you actually see value. Here's what we mean by value. Let's say in our earlier example that you agree with the sportsbook that the Florida Gators should win the game by seven. You should not bet this game then no matter what if the line is -7. If you're right, the best you can do is tie on your bet. When you pick a side, you're basically going to be guessing and flipping a coin. Theoretically, you'll win as many times as you lose, but you'll be paying the house percentage every single bet and slowly bleeding your money and profits away.
Earlier, we explained how the implied probability of -240 is 70.59% and how the implied probability of +210 is 32.36%. Notice these two probabilities total 102.95%. The extra 2.95% is the bookmaker's advantage. It's called vig, and it's basically a commission that they charge customers for placing wagers. By removing the vig, you can see what the fair odds on the game would be.
You can bet the money line option in every single sport that is offered up. It is the simplest form of betting and it is also the primary way to bet sports in which a point spread isn’t available (think hockey or baseball). Money line wagers are also available in football and basketball, but the point spread wager is much more popular. It is also used in tennis, golf, boxing, MMA, cricket, table tennis, and any other sport you can think of that has a winner at the end of the game.
Some professional or seasoned bettors only use the point spread bets and are wildly successful. Their success comes from making correct picks, not from overcomplicating the situation. We're going to walk you through the basics, and the mechanics of a basketball point spread bet, discuss the popularity and benefits, and offer some tips and strategies to help get you moving in the right direction towards profitability with these bet types.
You may often notice that the spread is sometimes set at an even number such as 3, 6 , 10, etc. In this case if the favored team won by the exact amount set for the spread the bet would be pushed, and all bets would be returned. For example, if the Patriots were 3 point favorites and they won by a FG (3 points) than this would results in a push, meaning no matter which side you bet on you would get your money returned to you.

Identify the type of line you are looking at. All online sports books offer you the chance to have your lines in an "American" or "Money line" version. If I were you, I would use this as my standard. An "American" line uses either a + or - before a number to indicate odds. So a -120 and a +120 are two very different odds on a team… I will explain the differences shortly. Two other less common variations exist: decimal odds and fractional odds.


The biggest advantage of the moneyline for the NBA is that your team doesn't have to overcome the point spread for you to win your game. If your handicapping leads you to believe that one team is likely to win but you can be less certain that they will win by as much as the point spread then the moneyline may be attractive. You are sacrificing some potential return because the moneyline won't pay as much for the favorite as the point spread will, but it's obviously better to make a small profit than it is to lose a bet. This is particularly attractive in basketball because the favorites can often face large point spreads and teams can win comfortably and effectively without covering the spread.

Since draws are more common in soccer, most soccer markets offer 3-way spreads. When making a Soccer Spread wager, the team you wager on must cover/beat the goal spread. This means that the favored team must win by more than the outlined number of goals or the underdog will receive that number of goals as a head start. If you wager on the spread draw, you are wagering that the game will end in a draw when the spread value is applied to home team. (The team displayed first)


Point spreads are determined by football 'experts' to even the playing field between two teams. Normally one team will be favored to win over another team. These 'experts' determine the number of points that one team will beat another team by. For example, Chicago is favored to beat Minnesota by 10 points. On the web site it will appear like the following:
Notice that point spreads adjust the score for the favorite team. This is easiest to see with an example: If the New York Knicks are playing the Boston Celtics, and Boston is favored to win by a 4-point spread, then a bet on Boston only pays out if Boston wins by more than 4 points. A bet on New York pays out if New York wins or if they lose by less than 4 points.
Have you ever heard of moneyline betting? It's an American term that's traditionally associated with betting on the major US sports. These wagers are available in other parts of the world too, but they're typically referred to as win bets. The same principle applies though. When you correctly select which team will win a match, you'll get paid out at the relevant odds.
These bets are less popular as of now, but most sportsbooks are starting to offer them as they are growing in popularity. The reason for the growth is that more people are starting to understand them and see that they can help you cut down some variance and risk, while still ensuring that there is no draw. The reason for the name is that these bets are growing extremely quickly in popularity in the Asian countries and betting markets. Most online sportsbooks are starting to offer these fairly regularly now.

Moneylines have a tendency to move quite a bit in both directions leading up to a game, match, or fight. It’s a delicate dance that you’re going to have to master if you want to find value and push your edges to the max. Sports betting is a profit source that is all about small edges. Finding and being able to capitalize on these small edges is the key to being profitable long-term.

The spread on offer will refer to the betting firm’s prediction on the range of a final outcome for a particular occurrence in a sports event e.g. the total number of goals to be scored in a football match, the number of runs to be scored by a team in a cricket match or the number of lengths between the winner and second-placed finisher in a horse race.

Bets on "Race to X Points / Race to X Goals..." and similar offers refer to the team/participant reaching the earliest particular tally of points. If the offer lists a timeframe (or any other period restriction) it will not include any other points tallied from other parts of the event which are not related to the mentioned time frame. Should the listed score not be reached within the stipulated time frame, all bets will be declared void, unless otherwise stated.

Additionally, we’ll discuss line movement, how the casino profits (important for you to understand), and moneyline betting strategies that can help you crush the books. These strategies will range from basic to advanced, so even the most seasoned of sports bettors should expect to get some value from this. Feel free to skip to a specific section if you came here for specific information. If you’re newer or it’s been a while since you’ve bet, we highly recommend reading this guide from top to bottom, as the sections will build on knowledge from previous sections.
Sportsbooks will use a variety of methods to set their line on a game. Some firms will use computer simulations, some will use a form of power ratings, some will use an experienced team to set the line – some may even use a combination of all three. Other books may even wait to see where their rivals set their lines before dipping their toe in the water themselves.

Now, just to point out, the fractional odds and the moneyline/American odds give us our profit. The decimal odds give us our full payout which includes the return of our original bet. You are still getting your original bet back with the moneyline/American and decimal odds, it’s just not reflected in that calculation. If you want to see your full payout (basically how much money they should hand you), simply add your original bet amount to your profit number.


The first part of each line tells you who you are betting on. The first line is a bet on Mike Tyson and the second line is a bet on Old Man River. Next, you’ll see a plus or a minus sign. The plus sign signifies the fighter who is an underdog, and the minus sign signifies the fighter who is the favorite. As you can see, Mike Tyson is the favorite and Old Man River is the underdog.
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.
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