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Gambling 101: Moneyline Betting

What does moneyline mean in the gambling world? How can bettors make the most cash on moneyline bets?

What Are Moneyline Sports Betting Odds?

Once available only in Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Montana, legalized betting is now offered in several states. From recreational bettors to high rollers, millions of Americans place bets on a variety of events everyday. While odds on pro and college sports are the most prevalent, prop-betting options on politics and entertainment are also readily available.

This SI Gambling 101 feature explains moneyline odds and provides examples of pros and cons associated with them. Also know as a “straight up” bet, moneyline wagers require bettors to pick which side will win outright. Moneyline favorites will always have negative odds while the underdog side receives a plus price. Neither side receives a point-spread advantage or disadvantage on straight up wagers. Original bet amounts are returned to players on all winning moneyline wagers.

How Do NFL Moneyline Betting Odds Work?

NFL moneyline odds run the gauntlet from razor close to astronomical. Although they are two separate options, moneylines are closely tied to the point spread odds. A favorite listed at -1 (-110) ATS will have its moneyline set at around -120 while the underdog would be priced with +105 odds. At the other end of the scale, a -15 point favorite would have a price that’s closer to -1500 while the underdog would have a +900 moneyline. Here is the Super Bowl LIV moneyline odds and payouts:

  • Kansas City Chiefs: -130
  • San Francisco 49ers: +110

The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas listed Kansas City as the favorite to win Super Bowl LIV. Posted with a -130 moneyline, bettors earned a $100 profit on $130 wagers when the Chiefs defeated the 49ers. Had San Francisco won as +110 underdogs, bettors would have received a $110 return for every $100 bet. NFL moneylines require a large investment to earn a small return on favorites. Bettors can pay less to earn a high return on underdogs but pups are a much more risky wager.

How Do MLB Moneyline Betting Odds Work?

As with any sport, proper research is required to cash winning MLB moneyline bets. That begins with starting pitchers as a stud like Gerrit Cole can help bettor’s cash tickets throughout the season. Cole posted a 20-5 record during the 2019 season and he’s the type of starter who can be added as an anchor on parlay tickets. If you like Los Angeles (-160) plus Atlanta (-145), a $100 bet returns a $174.57 profit. Adding Cole and the Yankees (-275) boosts the return to $274.41 on a three-leg parlay.

Venue also needs to be considered as bettors often receive value with a quality team when they play on the road. During the 2019 season, New York was an underdog (+162) when they visited Boston. Five days later they were (-130) favorites when the Red Sox visited the Bronx. Bettors earned $162 on $100 bets when New York won in Boston but the return fell to $76.92 when they won at home. Home field advantage isn’t always a top consideration when betting on baseball moneylines.

How Do NBA Moneyline Betting Odds Work?

Basketball moneylines produce one of the largest odds swings of any sport. That includes placing bets on a contest between a top ranked team and a squad that’s well out of contention. Those NBA wagers require a huge investment that generates a small return. That is especially true when it comes to top caliber teams playing at home. They can be priced at -1000 and higher. Betting $1000 on a -1000 moneyline returns a $100 profit and that’s a lot of money to risk for such a small reward.

When considering NBA moneylines, watch for decent odds on home teams in contests that feature two top contenders. For instance, the Milwaukee Bucks were -150 moneyline favorites at home against the Los Angeles Lakers back in 2019. Both teams were playing well at the time so that kept the price on the Bucks at reasonable rate. Milwaukee won and paid 66.67 on a $100 bet.

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Tying odds in the -300 to -500 range together on parlay tickets can help bettors gain some value on high priced moneylines.

How Do NHL Moneyline Betting Odds Work?

NHL moneylines are a popular betting option since the odds normally don’t have the wild price swings found in other sports. That’s especially true when two evenly matched teams square off as illustrated by the 2019 Stanley Cup Final moneyline odds. During the seven-game series the largest line on a favorite was priced at around -175 while the biggest underdog price was in the +155 range. The modest price swing generated reasonable bets and returns on Boston and St. Louis during the series.

Moneylines give bettors an advantage over puck lines since one-goal games are common in hockey. A match between Toronto and Arizona provides an example as Toronto was listed at -1.5 (+120) on the puck line and (-210) on the moneyline. The Maple Leafs won the game 3-2 in overtime so moneyline bets returned $100 on $210 wagers and puck line bets lost. While there is no such thing as a “lock” betting on moneylines favorites is a “safer” option than giving up goals with puck lines.


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