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What Is a Moneyline Bet in Sports Betting? Definition, Examples

What Is a Moneyline Bet in Sports Betting? Definition, Examples article feature image

Pictured: Lamar Jackson. (Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images)

A moneyline bet is a wager on a team to win a game. But the odds are adjusted based on each team or player's ability, so the amount you win or lose can vary greatly, depending on the event. The sportsbook isn't giving you the better team at the same price as an inferior team.

Moneylines use American odds, which are centered around a $100 bet, though it scales up and down depending on your bet size.

Let's look at NFL Week 1 in 2023. We expect the Ravens to be much better than the Texans this season, which is why Baltimore is -450 against Houston in the opener. The Texans are +350.

  • A line at -450 means you must wager $4.50 for every $1 you want to profit.
  • At +350, you'll win $3.50 for every $1 wagered.

The moneyline between the Jets and Bills on the other hand is almost even, with Buffalo at -120 and New York at +100. That's because these two teams are expected to be much closer in ability this season.

The point spread on the other hand levels the playing field by giving the worse team a handicap but evens the payouts on both sides.

Moneylines, Explained

Table of Contents
1. How Does it Work?
2.Placing a Moneyline Bet
3. Calculate Moneyline Odds
4. Why Bet Moneylines?
5. Is There Juice on Moneylines?

How it Works

Moneylines will be formatted in American odds at a sportsbook like FanDuel.

A moneyline in American odds is centered around winning or wagering $100 on a given bet.

When Betting a Favorite: The odds for favorites will have a minus (-) sign in front, and indicate the money you need to risk to win $100.

When Betting an Underdog: The odds for underdogs will have a plus (+) sign in front, and indicate the money you'll win for every $100 risked.

Let's use a UFC fight as an example, with odds from FanDuel.

1) The Favorite

Khabib was a -290 favorite over Tony Ferguson, who was a +230 underdog.

moneyline definition example

Let's say you're betting on the favorite Khabib at -290. You need to risk $290 and to win $100. If he wins, you pocket $100, plus your original $290 back.

2) The Underdog

If you're betting on Ferguson at +230, a $100 bet would win you $230, plus your original $100 back.

You don't need to bet $100 on everything of course — that's just how the odds are displayed — and these moneyline odds scale to any bet amounts.

It's often easier to think about American odds in $1 increments — for every $1 you want to win betting on Khabib, you have to risk $2.90. For every $1 risked on Ferguson, you'd win $2.30.

You can use our odds calculator to make non-round, more difficult conversions. And sportsbooks will always calculate the payouts for you.

The basic formulas to calculate them on your own are below.

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How to Make a Moneyline Bet

Making a moneyline bet at a sportsbook like FanDuel is easy, and no different than making a point spread bet.

  • Find your desired sport
  • Click the moneyline next to the team or player you want to bet to highlight it.
  • Head to your bet slip on the right side of your screen
  • Click "Login & Place Bets"
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How to Calculate Moneyline Odds

Sportsbooks will always make the calculations for you. But if you want to calculate moneyline payouts on your own, here's the easiest way:

Favorite: Multiply the amount you want to win by (Moneyline / 100)

So if you want to win $35 betting on Khabib at -290, you'll do the following formula and arrive at a $101.50 bet:

Win Amount x ((-1 x Moneyline)/100) = Wager

$35 x 2.9 = $101.5

Underdog: Multiply your wager by (Moneyline / 100), or divide the amount you want to win by (100 / (100 / Moneyline)).

So if you want to win $100 on Ferguson, you would do the following and arrive at a $43.48 bet:

Win Amount / (230 / 100) = Wager

$100 / 2.3 = $43.48

Here's another example where the odds are closer to 50/50.

For every $1 bet on Darren Til, you'll win $1.02.

So a $50 bet on Till wins $51 (50 x 1.02).

For every $1.20 risked on Robert Whittaker, you'll win $1.

So a $50 bet on Whittaker wins $41.65.

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Why Would I Bet a Moneyline?

In low-scoring sports like baseball and hockey, the moneyline is the most popular bet.

In higher-scoring sports like football and basketball, the point spread is the most popular.

But the moneyline is a good alternative if you…

  • Think the underdog will win the game straight-up
  • Think the favorite will win but not cover the spread

This is an oversimplification, but these are generally two reasons people bet moneylines.

Moneylines also apply to any futures markets, like betting the Super Bowl winner before the season. All 32 teams have a moneyline that corresponds with their likelihood of winning the Super Bowl.

Here is a recommended resource list to help you bet smartly on football:

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Is There Juice on a Moneyline?

Juice is the cut a sportsbook takes on each bet, and there is juice on moneylines. It's the gap in between two moneylines.

Sportsbooks aren't letting you off the hook that easy, after all.

That's why you have to risk more to bet on a favorite than you would win betting on the underdog.

Take this hypothetical DukeKentucky college basketball game in which Duke is a 2.5-point favorite. Here's what the moneylines might look like.

  • Duke -140
  • Kentucky +120

The implied probability of the Duke winning is 58.33%. For Kentucky, it's 45.45%. That adds up to 103.8%, meaning the sportsbook has a 3.8% hold on this wager.

Some books will offer 10-cent lines on baseball moneylines, meaning a -140/+120 moneyline would turn into -135/+125, which is quite advantageous for the bettor.

Here are a couple of recommended resources to help you bet with insight on college basketball:

Next in Betting Education 101: Juice in Sports Betting

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