Moneyline Bet

A moneyline bet is one of the most simple wagering options available to bettors in the United States and around the world. 

This handy guide will explain what a moneyline bet is, how it works, how odds are assigned on the moneyline, how moneyline bets are calculated, whilst also providing some useful pointers around moneyline betting strategies. 

What is a moneyline bet?

A moneyline bet (sometimes referred to as a 1X2 bet or win bet) is a simple wager whereby a bettor predicts the result of a match/contest involving two teams or two contesting players.

There are two or three outcomes you can bet on with the moneyline, depending on the sport. In some sports, draws are so infrequent that the moneyline will only offer two options, Team A to win or Team B to win.

In other cases however, you will see two win options (one for either team/player) and a tie option (also known as a 3-way moneyline). Tie (or draw) options are most popular in sports where the scoring is generally quite low, for example soccer games. 

How does moneyline betting work? 

Quite simply moneyline betting is making a wager on the outcome of a match/contest. Usually one team/player will be the favorite to win the contest, whilst the other will be the underdog.

The favorite of the contest is effectively who the sportsbook believes is most likely to win the contest and the underdog is the team/player that they deem to be the most likely to lose the contest. The favorite will traditionally be represented with minus odds (-), whilst the underdog will be listed with (+) odds.

Above you will see a real life example of a Moneyline bet on Draft Kings  (see the third column). 

The moneyline on the Indiana Pacers vs Washington Wizards looks like this:

IND Pacers +105

WAS Wizards -125

The -125 odds shows us that the Washington Wizards are the favorites in the contest according to Draft Kings. Whilst the +105 odds on the Indiana Pacers indicates that they are the underdogs of the contest. 

A $10 bet on both sides of the moneyline would return this:

  • A $10 winning moneyline bet on the Indian Pacers at +105 would return a total of $20.50. This is because $10 of that is your stake returned and the remaining $10.50 is pure profit. 
  • A $10 winning moneyline bet on the Washington Wizards at -125 would return $18. As your $10 stake is returned, whilst you make $8 profit on the Wizards winning.

Strong favorite and underdog moneyline example:

Above is an example of a strong favorite and a big underdog in the NFL moneyline (see third column). Effectively the higher the number in the odds on both sides of the moneyline represents just how fancied or unfancied a team or player are.

Here we have the moneyline on the Chicago Bears vs LA Rams in the NFL game looking like this:

CHI Bears +280

LA Rams -365

A $10 winning bet on each team in this instance would look like this:

  • A $10 winning bet on the Chicago Bear at +280 would return $38. With your $10 stake being returned and a total profit of $28. 
  • A $10 winning bet on the LA Rams at -365 would return just $12.74. Just a mere $2.74 profit with your stake $10 being returned on top. 

As you can see the profit margin on winning bets on the LA Rams is so small compared to that of the Chicago Bears. That is because the bookies are so confident in the chances of the LA Rams winning that they are offering far less attractive odds on them. 

Whereas on the other side of the moneyline, the sportsbook is offering far more generous odds on the Chicago Bears, that is because they are confident that the Chicago Bears will lose and offer greater odds to try and entice people to bet on them. 

How are favorites and underdogs determined on the moneyline?

Although occasionally you may see two teams so evenly matched that they have identical odds or very close, most of the time there will be a clear favorite and underdog in the moneyline. 

A sportsbook will look at both teams or players. Their recent and long term form, league position, the quality of their roster, whilst also taking into consideration things like injuries to key players etc. All of these things and much more contribute to the decision to award favoritism on a moneyline bet. 

Just how strong a favorite a team or player is deemed, depends on the qualities of both teams. 

If you have two teams facing off against one another. Team A is top of the conference, winning lots of games and Team B is at the bottom of the conference, struggling for wins or any sort of form. Then you know Team A is going to have very short odds and Team B is going to have much more appealing longer odds. 

Why are moneyline bets so popular?

Although point spread bets are the most popular sports betting option in the United States, moneyline bets are not far behind in the popularity stakes due to its simplicity. 

It doesn’t matter how your selected team or a player wins, as long as they do, then your moneyline bet will settle as a winner and that is an attractive option for bettors. 

Other advantages of moneyline bets include: 

  • Being a great option for underdog backers: Although point spreads will give underdog backers a helping hand by assigning them additional points, you are likely to get far less attractive odds backing an underdog on a points spread than on the moneyline. 
  • Those who fancy backing the favorite to win but not to cover their allocated spread: You will generally see worse odds allocated to a favorite on the moneyline than on the spread, but that is because not only does the favorite have to win on the spread, they also need to win by more than their allocated spread (cover their spread). Whereas with a moneyline bet you know that simply your team has to just win, by any means or margin, which makes moneyline betting a popular option for favorite backers as well. 
  • More appealing to those who bet on low scoring sports: In sports such as hockey, baseball and soccer, moneyline is the most popular bet type as it is more difficult to win a points spread bet on lower scoring sports. 

What are the potential disadvantages of a moneyline bet?

Although we already know moneyline bets are one of the most popular wagering options and one of the most commonly offered bet types by sportsbooks. There may be times where moneyline bets are not the best option for you. Let’s take a look at a couple:

  • When looking for value on your confident favorite picks: As already highlighted, you will find shorter odds offered on the favorite on a moneyline bet than that of a point spread. So if you are extremely confident in your favorite pick and believe they will win fairly comprehensively. It would make more sense in that instance to back the favorite on the spread, than on the moneyline, as you know you would get better odds and stand to win more.
  • No points advantage for underdog backers: When backing the underdog on the points spread, You know that you will have at least a .5 point advantage before the event begins. That means that if there is a tie or perhaps the favorite wins, but doesn’t cover their spread then you would still win your underdog bet on the points spread. Whereas of course if you backed the underdog on the moneyline and they tie or narrowly lose, your bet would settle as a loser. 

Moneyline In-Play / Live Betting

Moneyline betting is also one of the most popular bets to place in-play and live. Whilst the clock ticks away during a game/contest, point spread betting may be an unfavorable option, especially backing the favorite, knowing that they will need to cover the spread with time running out. 

The benefit of moneyline live betting is that you know you only need your selected result to win, which can be an attractive option when a team is perhaps level on the scores or even slightly behind but you have an inkling that the team/player will go on to win the contest but perhaps narrowly. In that instance moneyline backers would be paid out as winners. 

Moneyline live betting is also a popular option for those who like to bet on lower scoring sports such as baseball, hockey and soccer. As games will often be a lot tighter with no obvious winner throughout the contest. 

Let’s say it’s the soccer Champions League and it’s PSG vs Man City. Both teams are fairly evenly matched, they are both champions in their domestic leagues and have world class talent. 

The game is tied at 1-1 heading into the 75th minute of the game. With time running out and just 15 minutes left on the clock, the sportsbooks would likely offer fairly attractive odds on either team to go on and win the contest. The likelihood is whoever scores the next goal would go onto win the match. So you can see how low scoring sports where the games are on a knife edge is where live moneyline betting is an attractive option to bettors. 

Moneyline Parlays

Moneyline bets are the most popular betting type to include within a parlay. A parlay bet is effectively two or more bets compiled into one, which gives bettors the potential to form bigger odds than on single bets and the potential for bigger returns. Check out our parlay bet guide for a detailed look at how they work. 

Moneyline bets are so popular to include within parlays due to the simplicity of a moneyline bet. For example you just need one player/team to win the contest with a moneyline bet, which helps when parlays are generally a lot harder to win. 

Here’s how four moneyline picks would look combined into a parlay on FanDuel:

To place a moneyline parlay pick, you would first go to your chosen sports section page. In my case this is the Major League Baseball. Let’s say I really like the chances of the following four teams winning their individual games: Toronto Blue Jays, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals.

I would select each team’s moneyline win option, which as you can see has highlighted all of them. That would then compile them all into my bet slip to form a parlay.

We can now see that all four individual moneyline picks have combined into one parlay bet. Moneyline bets are the perfect ingredient for parlay bets because often single moneyline bet odds are short on favorites so combining them to form a parlay offers the chance of much more appealing odds and returns.

Moneyline bets in American Odds, Decimal Odds and Fractional Odds

You will most commonly see moneyline bets represented in the traditional American formats in the United States. So for example let’s say that Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals are facing off in the NFL, the American odds may look like this:

 Kansas City Chiefs  -135

Arizona Cardinals  +115 

We already know that the minus (-) sign shows us that the Kansas City Chiefs are the favorites of the contest and the plus (+) sign tells us that the Cardinals are the underdog. 

You might see the same moneyline betting market offered in decimal odds and that would look like this:

Kansas City Chiefs  1.74

Arizona Cardinals   2.15

Decimal odds are one of the most simple odds formats because the numbers effectively tell you how much payout you’d receive from a $1 bet. 

So for example a $1 bet on the Chiefs would return $1.74, as the decimal odds guided. Whereas a $10 bet would return $17.40, just moving the decimal point one place to right. A $100 bet would return $174.00 and so on.

In some European countries such as the United Kingdom, fractional odds are the most common odds format. The same moneyline betting market on the Kansas City Chiefs vs Arizona Cardinals in fractional odds would look like this:

Kansas City Chiefs – 0.74/1

Arizona Cardinals – 1.15/1

Fractional odds work in a similar way to decimal odds, except the number to the left of the ‘ / ‘ is how much profit you’d stand to win for every $1 bet. 

So a $1 moneyline bet on the Chiefs at 0.74/1 odds would return $1.74. 

As your $1 stake would be returned and as you know from the fractional odds you stand to make $0.74 in profit. 

Whereas a $1 bet on the Cardinals at 1.15/1 would return $2.15. As we know your $1 stake will be returned but you will make a profit of $1.15 on top.

Moneyline betting strategy

Look for the best value with your moneyline bets: Finding value in sports betting is a key ingredient to a successful betting strategy. Value is basically any sports bet you believe has been incorrectly priced up by the sportsbooks. Placing more value bets over a long period should help you become a profitable bettor. The beauty of betting on value bets is you can potentially lose more over time than you win but still make a profit because of the value of the odds you are betting on.

Don’t go overkill on big moneyline favorite bets: As already mentioned, a key part of a successful betting strategy is finding value in your bets, and generally with strong favorite bets, you will not be getting great value. That is because the sportsbooks are not stupid, and they know that favorites are most likely to win the contest and they don’t want to be losing bucket loads of money on favorites, so they offer less appealing odds. 

You will often see strong favorites at ‘odds on’ which basically means you will not even make 100% of your stake back in profit. Sportsbooks of course think favorites will win but favorites do lose and more frequently than you may think. So you have to ask yourself, is it worth risking less than your total stake as profit on a regular basis? The answer is no and over time the bookmakers will win. 

Place your bets at the right time to get the best value: Monitoring the market when bets are first priced up can be a great tactic to get more value and better odds from your bets. Favorites will always be popular for bettors, so the likelihood is nearer the game/contest sportsbooks will shorten the odds on favorites as more people bet on them. So with favorites it’s advisable to get in on the act early, before everyone else places their bets on them in order to get the best value. On the flip side of that, if you fancy an outsider (underdog), It would be advisable to wait until just before the event to see if the outsider’s odds lengthen as people begin to aggressively back the favorite.

How to find the best odds for your moneyline bets

Here comes that word again, value, and when looking to place a moneyline bet it’s always a good idea to shop around from one bookmaker to another to find the best value odds. As we already know favorites will often have very short odds, so by shopping around different sportsbooks, you may find one that is offering a slightly better price on their odds, which of course would be worth pursuing when odds are already short. 

On the other hand if you’re looking to back an underdog, you can often find a big difference between odds offered on one sportsbook to another, especially if one sportsbook has taken a flurry of bets on a favorite which pushes out the underdog. 

Below are examples of two sportsbooks, FanDuel and Draft Kings and their odds on the San Francisco 49ers vs Detroit Lions in the NFL. (See middle column for moneyline market on FanDuel and third column on the right for the moneyline market on Draft Kings)


Draft Kings:

As you can see both sportsbooks are offering different moneyline odds on the same game on both the favorite and the underdog. 

FanDuel have their moneyline odds on the game as the following:

San Francisco 49ers  -390

Detroit Lions  +310 

A $10 bet on each at FanDuel would return the following:

$10 bet on SF 49ers at -390 would return $12.56

$10 bet on DET Lions at +310 would return $41.00

The odds at Draft Kings on the same game are as follows:

San Francisco 49ers  -380

Detroit Lions  +290

The same $10 bet on each team would return the following:

$10 bet on SF 49ers at -380 would return $12.63

$10 bet on DET Lions at +290 would return $39.00

So you can see in this instance, on this game it would make sense for me to place my moneyline bet at Draft Kings as they are offering better odds than FanDuel, which means a greater return on my stake.

Moneyline Bet FAQs

The moneyline in betting is one of the most simple bet types available. Whereby a bettor simply places a wager on a team or player to win a game or a contest, or both teams to draw. One team will usually be the favorite and the other will usually be the underdog.
Sportsbook traders will assess the quality of both teams/players to determine their moneyline odds. They take into account a number of factors including; recent form, historical form, quality of players within the roster and things like any key absentees in terms of players
Yes they do. Moneyline odds can move a number of times before an event. The biggest odds mover is an increase in betting activity on the market. More money on one selection will cause the odds to shorten. Whilst sportsbook odds can react to other factors such as extreme weather and injuries to key players.
Cashout is a big feature of moneyline betting and most sportsbooks will offer this. Cash out can be a handy tool when your moneyline bet is winning but only by a narrow margin.
As odds can be quite short on strong favorites, it is wise to look for value and whilst you can put in the hard hours researching yourself to try and find the best value bets. There are experts out there who will do this for you. Check out our moneyline betting picks and tips page.
Absolutely. Second to only point spread betting, moneyline betting is one of the most popular betting options out there and all the legal sportsbooks in the US betting states will offer this.

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