While point spreads are the default betting option for high-scoring sports such as football and basketball, other wagers rely on the moneyline instead. The moneyline, alternatively referred to as the Money Line, is a style of betting that cares only about who wins. The margin of victory is irrelevant. It may seem complicated at first, but many bettors find the moneyline more attractive than a point spread wager when both are available.
Since only the winner matters, the favorite is almost always the statistically-favored play. Sportsbooks offer favorable odds on the underdog in an effort to balance the action. For example, here is what the moneyline might look like for a baseball game featuring the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies:
- Los Angeles Dodgers -160
- Colorado Rockies +130
A lot of information is contained in the above. The minus sign in front of the Dodgers indicates that they are favored in this game, while the plus in front of Colorado identifies them as the underdog.
The 160 indicates how much money a bettor would need to risk in order to make a profit of $100 on a Dodgers victory. The 130 in front of Colorado indicates how much profit a wager of $100 would earn on a victorious bet. Thus, you get more bang for your buck on a winning Rockies bet than a Dodgers one.
While the system is based on wagers of $100, bets of any size are accepted and paid according to the same ratios. If you wagered $10 on the victorious Rockies, you would make a profit of $13. Likewise, you would need to risk $16 on the Dodgers to make a profit of $10.
The bonus for betting on the Rockies ($30) is less than the penalty for opting for the Dodgers ($60). This is how sportsbooks make their money. If the favorite wins, they hope to have enticed enough action on the other side to cover their losses and break even. If the underdog wins, the format gives them enough juice to cover winning bets with profit left over. In general, bookies are rooting for the underdog in every contest.
While moneylines are most associated with sports such as baseball and hockey, they are often available for football and basketball as well. Moneylines generally offer higher payouts at the expense of the wiggle room offered by point spreads. If you really think a given underdog will win a game outright, you should bet the moneyline. The moneyline is also the best play when the point spread is small, virtually requiring the underdog to win to cash the best anyway.
The sports bettor needs every advantage they can get to beat the house, and a knowledge of how the moneyline works is an indispensable tool to do so.