What is a Moneyline Bet?

A moneyline wager on a sportsbook involves answering a very simple question:

Who do we think will win the game or match? 

There are various other forms of bets we can make on a sportsbook (against-the-spread betting, over/under betting) that involve betting against point spreads and totals. These bets will appear with lines from the sportsbook that we are asked to bet against, while a moneyline total will appear with only the win/loss odds. 

Example moneyline total

The reason a moneyline bet appears with only odds is simple: in a moneyline, there are no other contingencies to consider. No totals or spreads to bet against. In a straight moneyline bet, all we are attempting to do is pick the winner. 

In a lot of ways, this makes the moneyline bet the simplest wager you can make on an online sportsbook. Unlike against-the-spread or over/under bets, the main concern with a moneyline bet is determining the winner – and if you can pick the winner with regularity, you can often beat the moneyline odds long-term. 

So while understanding concepts like line movementimplied probability and line shopping is important on the road to becoming a savvy moneyline bettor, the simpleness of the moneyline bet does make it a sports betting favorite for newer bettors.

How Do Moneyline Bets Work?

Most moneyline bets involve exactly two sides and, in most cases, a favorite and an underdog. Identifying the underdog or favorite in a matchup is typically quite simple. The underdog will always have a line that is represented by “positive odds” (with +100 being the lowest positive odds possible). Meanwhile, the favorite’s line has “negative odds.” You can see the difference via the 2023 Super Bowl odds below regarding how the sides are presented. 

Moneyline odds example

With positive odds on the Chiefs (+105), they were underdogs and deemed as the side less likely to win the game. Conversely, the Eagles’ -125 odds made them the favorite and viewed as more likely to emerge victorious. 

Knowing how to read the odds is important when betting moneylines, as the odds can tell us how the bookmakers think a game will proceed. Specifically, looking at the spread of the odds between the two teams can tell us how competitive the game or matchup is likely to be. 

Sticking with the Super Bowl example, the Chiefs were barely on the positive side of the odds at +105. So, at +105, the oddsmakers considered Kansas City a small underdog and expected a close game. 

However, if the Chiefs were at +300, the oddsmakers would be telling us KC was a far bigger underdog and saw the game as a potential mismatch. Additionally, at +300, the Chiefs would have paid out substantially more than they did at +105. 

How Do Moneyline Bets Pay Out?

When attempting to determine your total payout on an underdog moneyline bet, you can view the American betting odds as indicative of how much money you would win on a $100.00 wager. And, underdogs in moneyline bets typically pay out more than the wagered amount. Let’s walk through a few examples.

For the Super Bowl, you could calculate a total payout on a $100.00 wager on the (+105) Kansas City Chiefs by doing the following:

  • $100.00 (wager) at +105 (odds) = $105.00 (winnings)
  • $100.00 (wager) + $105.00 (winnings) = $205.00 (Total payout)
Betting odds calculator

But what if the odds were to change to +300? Well, our winnings skyrocket! 

  • $100.00 (wager) at +300 (odds) = $300.00 (winnings)
  • $100.00 (wager) + $300.00 (winnings) = $400.00 (Total payout)

The odds for a favorite in a moneyline bet work in a similar fashion but require a little more thought. Again, let’s use the Super Bowl example. 

The negative moneyline odds on Philadelphia don’t indicate total payout but instead how much you need to wager to earn $100 in winnings. So, with the Eagles at -125, you would need to wager exactly $125.00 to receive a back $100.00 payout

  • $125.00 (wager) at -125 odds = $100.00 (winnings)
  • $125.00 (wager) + $100 (winnings) = $225.00 (Total payout)
Betting odds calculator

From a sports betting standpoint, since the Eagles were favorites (or more likely to win), it makes sense that they would require a larger investment compared to the underdogs to get back a similar return.

“Even” or “Pick’em” moneyline odds 

Moneyline bets don’t always have a favorite and an underdog. Sometimes, the odds on both teams will be the same if the oddsmakers expect the game to be extremely close and both sides are equally as likely to win. 

When the moneyline odds are equal, this is generally referred to as odds being at even (EV) or pick’em (PK) status. In this scenario, sports bettors would receive the same payout regardless of which side they bet. Let’s look at a different example.

SideMoneyline odds
Team 1-110
Team 2-110


Even or pick’em moneyline odds will often be set at -110 (invest $110.00 for a $100.00 payout). However, different online sportsbooks can have different odds available in pick’em situations. Some books may even choose to give more generous odds of -105 (invest $105.00 for a $100.00 payout). 

Ensuring you have access to multiple sportsbooks and can line shop for the best available price and value is an important part of being a successful moneyline bettor. 

Three-way Moneyline Bets

Three-way moneylines are rarer than traditional moneyline bets. The three-way moneyline introduces the draw or tie element into the moneyline wager giving sports bettors another option to consider. 

These kinds of moneyline bets are only available in sports where matchups can end in a draw after regulation. Soccer is the most popular sport for three-way moneylines, but hockey is also an option at most sportsbooks. 

Apr 15, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis City forward Klauss (9) celebrates with fans after a game against FC Cincinnati at CITYPARK. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Many books will also have three-way lines available for MLB, NBA, college football and the NFL, but they are not nearly as popular or prominent as the straight-up two-way moneylines in those sports. Here’s an example of a typical, three-way moneyline offering in a soccer match. 

Side or ResultMoneyline odds
Team 1-120
Team 2+250
Draw or Tie+220


When betting on sports that can end in a draw after regulation, it’s important to know which kind of moneyline bet you’re backing. For example, if you placed a three-way moneyline bet on a side to win the game in regulation, and the regulation period ends in a tie, you lose – even if your team goes on to win in overtime or a shootout. 

However, in a traditional two-way moneyline wager in any sport that can end in a tie game – any result where neither team was declared the winner (through OT or a shootout) would result in a push or voiding of your bet. This scenario would see your initial wager returned to you with no profit. 

Three-way moneylines can be advantageous when trying to get bigger payouts on a favorite in sports like soccer, hockey or football. However, understanding the extra risk they involve is important before choosing to use them over two-way moneyline bets. 

Why Do Moneyline Odds Change?

Pre-game moneyline odds can, and often do, shift. Whatever odds a team opens up at on the moneyline for a certain match or opponent aren’t necessarily the same as the closing odds. In the 2023 Super Bowl, the Chiefs actually opened as -135 favorites on the NFL moneyline and were initially seen as far more likely to win than when they closed at +105 two weeks later.

Patrick Mahomes Super Bowl pre-game

While dramatic news can certainly cause lines to move, the main reason for a sportsbook to move or change their moneyline odds is due to them reaching a risk threshold with wagers taken. As a result, they’ll attempt to balance things out by adjusting the moneyline odds, enticing bettors to give more action on one side versus another.

In the Super Bowl, it’s clear by the line movement on the Chiefs (whose moneyline odds dropped from -135 to +105) that the oddsmakers were trying to induce more action on Kansas City while simultaneously stymying wagers on the Eagles as their odds became less appealing. If the sportsbooks didn’t make this move, they might have been left with too much action on the Chiefs and could have exposed themselves to a big loss. 

 Hence, instead of leaving a line static, sportsbooks will move the odds and make the side with less action more attractive – while also shrinking the odds on the popular team (thereby making them less attractive). This is because sportsbooks, despite their love for gambling, are actually savvy investors who would rather be guaranteed a profit by having equal action on both sides and using the vig (or the juice) that is built into their odds to gain their edge. 

Implied Probability and How It Works

Implied probability is a statistical term referring to the likelihood of a betting outcome. It can be calculated through the given moneyline odds on any game or match available on a sportsbook. As I mentioned, we can also use these implied probabilities to help us calculate the vig (juice) that the sportsbooks are charging us by adding up the implied probabilities of both teams and seeing the edge that the sportsbooks are adding.

Knowing both the implied probabilities and the vig is an important part of moneyline sports betting. Implied probabilities allow us to see what betting win rate we need to be profitable. If the probability of a team winning is set at 25%, then we would theoretically need to be winning any bet placed on them (at those specific odds) at a 30% rate or greater to win in the long term and beat the vig. 

Getting to see the amount of vig added to the lines is also hugely important. Not every sportsbook has the same betting lines available, and many will charge more or less vig than the industry standard. As such, avoid high vig bets and line shop for better odds whenever possible. 

How to Calculate Implied Probability for American Odds

Converting American betting odds into percentages begins with using either the odds of either the favorite or underdog. 

Using the underdog’s odds, you can calculate the implied probability by taking 100 and dividing it by the sum of the odds plus 100. Let’s reuse our Super Bowl example (Chiefs +105) to see this process in action.

  • 100/(105 +100) = 100/205 = 0.487 or approximately 48%

For the favorites, the implied probability can be found by taking their odds and dividing it by the sum of the odds plus 100. Again, let’s go back to the Super Bowl (Eagles -125).

  • 125/(125+100) = 125/225 = 0.555 or approximately 55%

So now, we can see the implied probabilities before the Super Bowl started.

  • Chiefs: 48%
  • Eagles: 55%

If you add up the implied probabilities, the total is more than 100%. Since the Super Bowl can’t end in a tie, the extra percentage we see is the amount of vig or advantage that the sportsbook has built into the odds and is essentially charging us for making the bet. 

Hence, implied probabilities not only give us a way to view what kind of win rate or win expectations we’ll need to be up on a bet in the long-term but also give us a view into what kind of vig or juice a sportsbook is charging us for making the bet. 

Moneyline vs. Spread Betting

On a sportsbook, nearly every moneyline bet will be accompanied by another popular bet, most commonly referred to as an “against the spread” (ATS) bet. ATS bets are similar to moneyline bets in that they still ask us to pick one side of the game or match. Where they differ is how the books grade the result. 

In a moneyline bet, all a bettor needs is their team to win the game or match. However, whether or not the team wins the game is mostly irrelevant in an ATS bet. They’re graded based on the point spread provided by the sportsbook. 

Example point spread

Going back to the Super Bowl from 2023, we can see that making an against-the-spread bet on the Chiefs provides us with a +1.5 point spread and also a different set of odds with which to bet (-110 vs. +105)

If we were to bet the Chiefs on the point spread instead of the moneyline, two things would happen. 

First, we would no longer be betting on the result of the game but instead betting against the spread (in this case, Chiefs +1.5/Eagles -1.5). Since the Chiefs were underdogs, they would inherit a +1.5 cushion, as indicated by the current point spread. If they were to lose the game by one point, all Kansas City moneyline bets would lose, but our against-the-spread bet would still be graded a winner. 

Conversely, if we were to bet the Eagles on the point spread at -1.5, then we would not only need the Eagles to win but also to win by 2.0 or more points to cover the point spread. So, if Philadelphia were to win by just one point, all Eagles' moneyline bets would be graded winners, but Eagles’ ATS bets would not.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) celebrates scoring a touchdown on a quarterback sneak against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale on Feb. 12, 2023. Nfl Super Bowl Lvii Kansas City Chiefs Vs Philadelphia Eagles

Secondly, if we were to take the ATS bet over the moneyline bet, we would be wagering against a different set of odds. While the Chiefs had +105 moneyline odds, the line we are getting to bet them on the point spread is much smaller at -110. 

In essence, by taking the Chiefs on the spread instead of the moneyline, we are paying a price to inherit a better chance of winning the bet via the +1.5 spread. While a $100.00 investment through the moneyline odds could provide us with a $105.00 return, a $100.00 investment on a point spread bet would provide us with just a $90.00 return

On the flip side, betting the Eagles against the spread would actually provide us with better odds (-110) than if we were to bet them on the moneyline (-125) because an Eagles -1.5 spread bet requires them to win by at least a certain amount. So, since the against-the-spread bet is more difficult in nature to win than the moneyline bet, the sportsbooks reward us by giving more generous odds in the spread bet. 

The point spread acts like a handicap for the sportsbooks to even the odds. As the odds in a moneyline spread grow or shrink, so will the point spreads in an ATS bet. 

Favorite moneyline oddsUnderdog moneyline odds Point Spread (Approximate)
-125+105-1.5 (-110) /+1.5 (-110)
-150+125-2.5 (-110) /+2.5 (-110)
-200+160-3.5 (-110) /+3.5 (-110)
-325+245-7.0 (-110) /+7.0 (-110)


As a result, while moneyline and point-spread bets are entirely different entities, they are also intertwined. When the moneyline odds change, so will the point spread. They’ll grow or shrink in nature as the spread in the moneyline odds between the two teams increases or decreases. While a match with a moneyline spread of -125/+105 will have small point spreads, the more the gap between the moneyline odds grows, the bigger the spread will grow as well. 

Moneyline Betting Strategies

Using moneyline bets when you think there is an edge in taking a side at a certain line is done daily by recreational and professional bettors and referred to as “value betting.” It’s a practice that can be made easier via tools like implied probability and or odds calculators. 

Often, moneyline bets in leagues like the NBA or NFL can offer great value when breaking news becomes available. For example, if a starting quarterback were to get ruled out on a Thursday before a Sunday game, there is often a small window of opportunity to bet moneylines on that game, with great intrinsic value, before the sportsbooks adjust the odds.  

Additionally, line shopping is another very simple and fruitful technique that can also lead bettors to find good edges and values in moneyline bets. In line shopping, we simply look across different online sportsbooks (DraftKings Sportsbook, Fanduel Sportsbook, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, etc.) to find the best odds on a certain game or match. 

Moneyline bets can also be used in the act of hedging, which is where you are looking to secure a profit or limit the downside on a futures bet. Other practices like ladder betting and arbitrage betting also frequently involve the use of moneyline bets. 

Questions About Moneyline Bets

What is a Moneyline Bet?

A moneyline wager on a sportsbook involves answering a very simple question: who do we think will win the game or match? 

All we are attempting to do in a straight moneyline bet is pick the winner. 

What is a Three-Way Moneyline Bet?

The three-way moneyline introduces the draw or tie element into the moneyline wager and gives sports bettors another option to consider. If you bet a side to win a game in regulation in a three-way moneyline bet, and the game ends in a tie during regulation, your bet would be graded as a loss – even if your team goes on to win in overtime or a shootout. 

Three-way moneyline bets are only available in sports where games can end in a draw after regulation. 

Is a Moneyline Wager a Good Bet?

Moneyline bets can be good wagers for a variety of reasons. The main reason you would make a moneyline bet is that you believe there is good value on the betting line available on a specific side. 

In terms of implied probability, if you believe the chances of a team winning a game was 60% or greater, and their implied probability on the moneyline sat at 55%, then they would become a solid value to target in a moneyline bet. 

Moneyline bets can also be very useful when hedging and when performing arbitrage or ladder betting

Can You Put Moneyline Bets in Parlays?

Most online sportsbooks will allow you to include one or multiple moneyline bets in a parlay. Heavier moneyline underdogs will often significantly boost the odds and your potential payout in a parlay, but also offer a far lesser shot at winning the actual bet. 

Heavy favorites may have a better chance of hitting but offer lesser payouts. 

How you structure a parlay is important, and betting tools like parlay calculators can be useful in constructing better parlays. 

Can You Put Moneylines and Spreads in Parlays?

Yes, if you use a moneyline bet as part of a parlay, you can combine it with an against-the-spread bet from a different game. 

However, you can’t combine a moneyline bet and an ATS bet together in a parlay from the same side or game. New betting options, such as same-game parlays, will allow you to combine moneyline bets with other wagers within the same game.  

Do Moneyline Odds Change Prior to the Game Starting?

Pre-game moneyline odds can and often do shift. Whatever odds a team opens up at on the moneyline for a certain match or opponent aren’t necessarily the same odds that the side will close at. 

While dramatic news can certainly cause lines to move, the main reason for a sportsbook to move or change their moneyline odds is due to them reaching a kind of risk threshold with wagers taken – and wanting to balance things out more by enticing bettors to give more action on one side versus another.

Geoff Ulrich
Geoff Ulrich
Geoff Ulrich is a writer and content provider who works in the daily fantasy and gambling space for DraftKings and other operators. He loves the quest of finding the next batch of underrated breakout players for his season long and best ball teams and then proudly watching them become mainstream stars. An inquisitive person by nature, you can often find him on twitter (@thefantasygrind) tilting his latest bet or going over his favorite plays for the upcoming NFL or Golf slate.