Typically, if you’ve made a bet on sports in the past amongst friends or at the casino, you probably made a moneyline bet, and you didn’t even know it. “I bet you $10 the Broncos are going to win tonight.” That’s a moneyline bet. You may also hear the bet referred to as a to-win bet in some circles, but just know that they are referring to the same type of bet.
Jeff Gordon has been reporting and writing since 1977. His most recent work has appeared on websites such as eHow, GolfLink, Ask Men, Open Sports, Fox Sports and MSN. He has previously written for publications such as "The Sporting News" and "The Hockey News." He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism in 1979 with a bachelor's degree.
In the United States, most bookmakers use the moneyline format to express the odds they offer for wagers. Thus, moneyline odds are also commonly referred to as American odds. They can be either a positive number or a negative number. A positive number shows how much profit a winning wager of $100 would make, while a negative number shows how much needs to be staked to win $100.
Winning at sports betting is challenging. If it were easy, everyone would quit their jobs and do it, and sportsbooks would all be out of business. What makes it so challenging is that the lines are usually set pretty spot on which means it's a bit more challenging to pick the correct side of the bet. That being said, it's definitely not impossible to make money betting basketball point spreads. You'll have to develop a winning strategy and continually tweak it until it's perfect. Here are a few tips and strategies that will help point you in the right direction.
The secret to winning sports bets is finding value and picking winners. There is absolutely zero correlation between the complexity of a bet and how likely you are to win. In fact, you could say that there is a negative correlation because a lot of bettors don’t fully understand the complex bets they are making, meaning they are more likely to make mistakes and incorrectly assess value.
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.
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.
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A point spread - Lets take, for a hypothetical situation on one of the types of football bets (using the point spread), that the Kansas City Chiefs were visiting the Detroit Lions and Detroit was established as a six-point favorite at game time, which is commonly written as Detroit -6. Kansas City would be the underdog and displayed as Kansas City +6. If you bet the favorite, Detroit has to win by more than six points to win your bet. Remember, the Lions are favored by six points, so we subtract six points from their final score on a spread bet. If Detroit were to win 27-20, Lions bettors would win their wager. If the Chiefs were to win the game by any score and you picked the Chiefs you would win not including the extra six points. If the Lions were to win, 20-14, it would be exactly six and a push, so you would get your money back.
Moneyline parlays are growing in popularity. A parlay is a single wager that is comprised of multiple results. The payout for a parlay is greater than an individual wager on each player or game. Underdog moneyline parlays are becoming popular because the payouts can be very large. Moneyline parlays are becoming popular because of the perceived ease of choosing multiple favorites to win. Choosing one winner is difficult and multiple winners at the same time is even more difficult.
This means that the people betting the big bucks are going to end up shifting the line considerably. A lot of times, you will see a moneyline released, and then it will quickly shift. Usually, this is a skilled big bettor taking advantage of what they think is an opportunity. Ideally, you’ll want to jump on bets before these skilled bettors get ahold of it.
This highlights a notable advantage of the moneyline wager. You get to control, to some extent, the risk versus reward. For example, you might be quite certain that the Cardinals are going to win this game, but not convinced that they're going to cover the spread. So a moneyline wager is the safe option. There's less money to be made, but less chance of losing. On the other hand, you might think that the Packers are going to cause an upset. Rather than betting on them to cover the spread, you can bet on them to win outright. There's less chance of winning such a wager, but the potential returns are much greater.
If you wager $100 cash on odds of +100, you are staking $100 cash to win $100 cash. Your total potential return is $200, which is your initial stake plus your winnings. If you wager $100 free play on +100, however, your total potential return is just the $100 winnings. Whether you win or lose, your free play is used up. Obviously, free play bonuses aren't worth as much as cash bonuses, so that means it's up to you to squeeze as much value out of them as possible.
The optimal situation for bookmakers is to set odds that will attract an equal amount of money on both sides, thus limiting their exposure to any one particular result. To further explain, consider two people make a bet on each side of a game without a bookmaker. Each risks $110, meaning there is $220 to be won. The winner of that bet will receive all $220. However, if he had made that $110 bet through a bookmaker he would have only won $100 because of the vig. In a perfect world if all bookmaker action was balanced, they would be guaranteed a nice profit because of the vig.
Understanding how a moneyline wager pays isn’t simple but it’s not very complicated. That said, it might take running through a few examples before fully grasping the payouts. Moneylines for football and basketball games are often tied to the point spread. When a game has a large point spread it usually has a large moneyline. Both are separate bets but are shown together in a sports wagering app screen and in a brick and mortar sportsbook.
Sometimes a line will move far enough to create a “middle” opportunity. Say the Texas Longhorns end up facing the Wisconsin Badgers in the first round of March Madness. If you have Texas early as a 5-point favorite, and I move the line to Texas –7 later in the week, then you can also place a bet on Wisconsin +7. If Texas happens to win by six points, both your bets cash in. Texas winning by either five or seven gives you a win and a push. Any other result creates a win and a loss, so you’re only risking the vigorish.
You don’t have layers of complexity to fight through to see if your prediction is a positive expected value move (one that is going to make you money). With some simple mathematical calculations, you can figure out whether or not there is value in a bet. Even if you don’t like math and would prefer not to use it when assessing value and making your picks, it’s still much easier to “eyeball” value with moneyline bets because of the simplicity.
This is called line shopping and is an integral part of sports betting, especially with moneyline bets. Most good sports bettors will have accounts on lots of different sportsbooks so they can check the lines on every bet they are making. Whichever book has the best lines for them is where they’re going to place their bet. To be honest, with how easy it is to shop lines online, the only reason you wouldn’t is if you were too lazy and didn’t care enough about your bottom line.
Another popular form of golf betting involves matchup propositions, in which two golfers are paired against each other in a head-to-head wager, with a betting line on each golfer set by the oddsmaker. The golfer with the better (lower) score wins the matchup. (If one golfer continues play in the tournament after his opponent misses the cut, the golfer who continues play wins the matchup.)