How to Bet on Moneylines

Since sports betting is now a reality in Virginia, moneylines have (or likely will) become a big part of your life. They’re one of the most basic types of sports bets and no sportsbook, online or live, operates without them.

If you’re new to sports betting, the notations for a moneyline bet might look a bit confusing. We’ll break it down for you.

What is the moneyline?

A moneyline bet is one of the simplest bets a sports bettor can make. It’s a bet on which team will win the game, match, or contest.

No other element plays into the determination of the bet. Neither the margin of victory nor the total number of points scored matters to a moneyline bettor.

The moneyline is always visible by the three-digit number next to each team’s name. Except in rare situations, each game will feature one team with a positive number and one team with a negative number.

What do moneyline numbers mean?

What each number denotes is the payout ratio associated with a successful bet on that team.

The team with the positive number next to its name is the underdog and is ostensibly expected to lose. Therefore, the money line is how much a winning $100 wager will pay out to the bettor.

Conversely, the team with the negative number next to its name is the favorite for the game. The sportsbook expects this team to win so the number is how much a player must pay to win $100.

It’s important to understand that these numbers are ratios, not hard numbers. You don’t have to bet in $100 increments to participate in moneyline betting. Your potential payout will scale according to the size of your bet.

If you’re having trouble wrapping your head around moneylines, the examples below should help show how moneyline betting works.

Examples of moneyline bets

Below are some real-world examples of moneylines that were real bets on DraftKings Sportsbook at one time.

One thing that you’ll see is a discrepancy between the amount of the payout and the total amount of money that you can expect to receive on a winning bet. The amount that the moneyline is publicizing is the profit that you can expect to make, but you can also count on receiving the original value of your bet back.

NBA: Phoenix Suns vs. Washington Wizards

  • Suns: -305
  • Wizards: +245

In this NBA moneyline example, the Suns are favored to beat the Wizards fairly handily. A quick check of the point spread betting line accompanying this game predicted that Phoenix would win by 7 or 8 points despite having a similar record as the team from Washington D.C.

You may notice that the values associated with each team are different. Part of the reason that there is a discrepancy in the value of moneylines is that the sportsbook injects its profit into the payout ratio. Sample payouts include:

  • $100 on the Suns: $32.79 profit, $132.79 total
  • $100 on the Wizards: $245 profit, $345 total
  • $305 on the Suns: $100 profit, $405 total
  • $305 on the Wizards: $747.25 profit, $1052.25 total
  • $50 on the Suns: $16.39 profit, $66.39 total
  • $50 on the Wizards: $122.50 profit, $172.50 total
  • $5 on the Suns: $1.64 profit, $6.64 total
  • $5 on the Wizards: $12.25 profit, $17.25 total

MLB: New York Mets vs. Boston Red Sox

  • Mets: -110
  • Red Sox: -106

While a money line for a game usually features a positive and negative number, it’s not a guarantee. Some games, like this one, have two negative moneylines.

When you see two negative moneylines, you’re essentially seeing the sportsbook shrug. The two teams are so closely matched that there’s no way to know who will win. So, the sportsbook only slightly favors the Mets as a way to eke out a tiny profit for itself.

Incidentally, you would never see two positive moneylines in the same game. That would mean that the sportsbook is predicting both teams to lose somehow. Sample payouts include:

  • $110 on the Mets: $100 profit, $210 total
  • $110 on the Red Sox: $103.77 profit, $213.77 total
  • $106 on the Mets: $96.36 profit, $202.36 total
  • $106 on the Red Sox: $100 profit, $206 total
  • $50 on the Mets: $45.45 profit, $95.45 total
  • $50 on the Red Sox: $47.17 profit, $97.17 total
  • $5 on the Mets: $4.55 profit, $9.55 total
  • $5 on the Red Sox: $4.72 profit, $9.72 total

Moneylines in other bets

The moneyline format is extremely versatile for the sportsbook to use. So, you will see the moneyline format pop up in many other types of bets, and its inclusion might seem a bit curious.

Straight odds on a bet

Moneylines can be used to express the odds on a bet. Rather than publish the odds as 2:1, 3:1, 5:1, or the like, the sportsbook will convert the odds into a moneyline format.

As it turns out, calculating betting odds for a moneyline bet is rather simple. To generate a moneyline for a longer odds situation, you need only multiply the first number by 100.

So, for instance, a bet that is 2 to 1 against can also be expressed as +200, a bet at 3:1 is +300, and 5:1 is +500. Conversely, if you want to convert moneyline odds to straight odds, just divide the moneyline figure by 100.

This kind of formatting is common in several different types of wager, but one of the most prominent places is in futures bets. For instance, here is a sample of a futures golf bet on DraftKings for the PGA’s WGC – St. Jude Invitational:

  • Jon Rahm +850
  • Justin Thomas +1,000
  • Rory McIlroy +1,150
  • Bryson DeChambeau +1,200
  • Patrick Cantlay +1,800
  • Xander Schauffele +2,000
  • Tyrrell Hatton +2,200
  • Webb Simpson +2,200
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick +2,800
  • Collin Morikawa +2,900
  • Daniel Berger +3,000
  • Brooks Koepka +3,000
  • Hideki Matsuyama +3,000

You can easily figure out what these bets are if you simply divide the numbers on the list by 100. So, another way to express that list would be as follows:

  • Jon Rahm: 8.5/1
  • Justin Thomas: 10/1
  • Rory McIlroy: 11.5/1
  • Bryson DeChambeau: 12/1
  • Patrick Cantlay: 18/1
  • Xander Schauffele: 20/1
  • Tyrrell Hatton: 22/1
  • Webb Simpson: 22/1
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick: 28/1
  • Collin Morikawa: 29/1
  • Daniel Berger: 30/1
  • Brooks Koepka: 30/1
  • Hideki Matsuyama: 30/1

Please note that this trick only works if the moneyline bet is positive. A negative moneyline means that you are going to be laying odds, so you’ll have to divide 100 by the moneyline number, and it will always result in a fractional answer.