The term moneyline is actually somewhat misused in sports betting as it really just means a type of odds format. Technically, it is a way to represent the odds/payouts for a win bet, but we’re not going to split hairs. What we’d like to point out is that the odds on each participant in a sporting contest can be listed in one of three different formats.
Moneyline bets are by far the most popular type of sports bet that you can make. What’s great about moneyline bets is that they are not only simple enough for beginner sports bettors to understand and utilize properly, but they are also heavily used by professional sports bettors to rake in huge wins every single day in sportsbooks all across the world. In fact, there are many wildly-successful professional sports bettors who exclusively use moneyline bets in their winning strategy.
Let's say you decide to bet $100 on Liverpool, and they lose the game by two goals. You would push on the first half of your bet and win the second half of your bet. You would receive your $50 back for the push and $43.48 in profit on your second bet. Basically, the sportsbook would hand you back $143.48 total, which would include $50 for the push, $50 for your original bet, and $43.48 for the push.
Say the Bears are a six-point favorite over the Lions and the total is 42. To bet the Bears, you must "lay the points," meaning they must win by seven or more to cover and give you the win. Betting the underdog Lions, you are "taking" six points, and they can lose by five or fewer, or win the game outright, and you have a winning bet. If the Bears win by exactly six, both sides "push" and all bets are returned. It's also a push if the final score equals 42, otherwise the over or under will win.
If you’re betting in a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, though, you’re going to have to figure this information out yourself. The book will print on your ticket how much you stand to win, but they aren’t going to let you come up and ask a million times what the payout is going to be. You’ll need to calculate it yourself (or head online to place your bets).
The point spread bet is a bet designed to give each team an equal chance of winning a particular game. Obviously, not all teams are equal, so the sports-books have devised a mechanism to even up the teams, and that is by taking points/runs/goals off the team who is favored. The more a team is favored, the more the gambling site will take off them, enough to theoretically make the game a 50/50 chance.
Anybody who wagers on the 49ers would need them to win by 7 points or more for a winning bet. Those betting on the Rams (+6.5) would need them to lose by 6 points or less (or win) for a winning wager. It's also worth mentioning that a half point is used in many point spreads (such as the -6.5/+6.5) to prevent pushes because no team can score half a point.
Reading sports betting lines becomes easier with practice and experience with different sporting events. What looks like a jumble of letters and numbers actually gives a lot of information in a tiny amount of space. Different sports have different types of wagers available, such as the run line in baseball or the puck line in hockey, both of which replace the money line found in our football example. The more experience you have watching and gambling on different sports, the faster you’ll be able to read betting lines.
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.
Here in this point spread example for the NFL, the Falcons are playing the Panthers. Atlanta has been set as a three-point favorite on the betting line. That means that for Atlanta to cover the spread that has been set, they will need to win by at least four points. And for Carolina to cover the point spread, they can do so with a loss by two points or less, or obviously a win straight up. If the Falcons win by exactly three points, the bet would result in a push with no payouts.
If you bet $100 on the Magic, you would get $105 in return. If you bet $100 on the Mavericks, you would get $90.91 in return. You might be asking yourself why they aren’t paying out the same amount on both sides of the game. The reason is that the difference is the house rake. Sometimes referred to as the vig or the juice, this is the small percentage that the sportsbook takes off the top for facilitating the action. The percentage that the house takes will vary, and different sides of the bet will pay for it.
If you’d prefer to simplify things and only bet on whether a team wins or not, moneyline bets are going to be more of your style. A moneyline bet is a wager on which team wins the game. If the team you bet on wins, you win. If they lose, you lose. As we’ve stated earlier, the sportsbooks must do something to ensure they get as close to an even amount of money on both sides of a bet. With spread bets, they alter the number of points a team must win or lose by.
If you are betting on a sport where there are multiple entrants, like in a race or tournament, you may find that every entrant is paying out at favorite odds. This is because it’s much more challenging to pick a winner from a large field, and the sportsbook will be rewarding you for that. Just know that when you see the plus sign, you will be getting paid better than even money for a correct pick.
With moneyline bets, there is no point spread to manipulate. Instead, the sportsbook will alter the payouts you’ll receive for a correct pick. The bigger the favorite, the less you’ll get paid. The bigger the underdog, the more you’ll get paid for a correct wager. This line will fluctuate as the sportsbook needs it to in order to encourage or discourage bets on either side.
The -110 on either side is like paying a tax or commission to the sportsbook. Bettors would pay 10 percent (aka juice) to the sportsbook, which is essentially a fee for brokering the wager. So, the -110 indicates that a bettor must risk $110 to win $100. Some sportsbooks will even reduce the juice for you which means you can earn the same $100 payout but risk less money to do it.