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What is a Moneyline in Sports Betting? (June 2024)

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Moneylines are the most basic types of bets you can make on a game. Basically, it is a bet on the outcome of the game. This can be the winner of a tennis game, which fighter will win in a boxing game, or which team will win in a game of any team sport. For the most part, it is a two-way bet, but there are also sports in which there are three possible outcomes. In football, for example, games can end in a draw. For games in those sports, you will have the option of betting on team A to win, team B to win, or on the game to end without a winner. Otherwise, it is a simple case of team A (or player A) or team B (or player B) winning.

What The Odds Say

When you see a two-way or three-way moneyline, you can read the probability of each outcome through the odds. The odds are generated by the bookmaker to represent the likelihood of the outcomes. Just by looking at the odds, you will be able to tell quite a few things. You may tell, for example, if there is a favourite and how highly the bookmakers rate them.

Two-Way Moneylines

Sticking to two-way moneylines, here is an example of a game in the NFL:

  • New England Patriots at 2.1
  • Las Vegas Raiders at 1.8

There is not a large difference between the two teams. The potential returns on the bets from a stake of $10 are $21 and $18 – meaning there is only a $3 difference. You can determine the implied probability of the odds using the formula (1 / odds) x 100

In this case, the New England Patriots have an IP of 47.61% and the Las Vegas Raiders have an IP of 55.56%. Now, this adds up to 103.17% – which would be impossible. The extra 3.17% is the “juice” – that is – the surplus that the bookmaker takes. Going back to the IP values, you can see that there is no large difference between the teams.

Now take the following example:

  • Kansas City Chiefs at 1.2
  • Buffalo Bills at 4.8

Here, there is a far larger gap between the two teams. The Chiefs have an IP of 83.33% and the Bills have one of 20.83%. In this example, the Chiefs are the heavy favourites to win.

Three-Way Moneylines

For the football bettors, moneylines work in exactly the same way. The fact that there are three possible outcomes just means that you will have three bets to pick from instead of two. Here there is an example of a more evenly-balanced match:

  • Bayern Munich at odds 2.5
  • Draw at odds 3.3
  • Juventus at odds 2.87

Bayern Munich is the favourite to win, but only just. The team is given an IP of 40% of winning. Juventus has a 34.84% IP of winning, and the bookmaker gives a 30.30% IP for a draw. Going on what the odds imply, this game should be close and therefore the odds on all of the outcomes are long.

  • Barcelona at odds 1.7
  • Draw at odds 4.2
  • Ajax at odds 4.2

Now in this fixture between Barcelona and Ajax, the odds highly favour Barcelona. The Spanish team is given a 58.82% chance of winning. The odds of Ajax winning or the game ending in a draw both have an IP of 23.80%.

Appeal of Moneylines

Moneylines are arguably the most popular bets, as there are no requirements other than picking the outcome. They can attract punters who do not watch the sports in question and simply rely on the odds for a point of reference. This is an especially dangerous tactic, because those punters may not know what they are spending their money on. For example, if you are an avid NBA bettor but start betting on table tennis, how will you know whether the odds are really that great? When checking out the bets on NBA fixtures you can rely on your knowledge of the teams and players. Of course, you can check out statistical information about the parties involved, but it is still riskier than betting on what you know.

On the other hand, predicting a moneyline can be easier than predicting other types of bets. When you are thinking about how many goals may be scored, which player will score, or how many corners there will be – you bring a lot of variables into the picture. Compare that with simply asking a friend – who do you think will win the game? And the answer is always one or the other (or a draw in football). It is somewhat easier to determine and you will not have to sit and wait for the corners to rack up or hope that your player does not get injured or substituted.

How They Can Be Used

Sometimes your gut instinct will scream for you to accept an amazing offer. If a team is performing poorly and they are suddenly up against a formidable opponent, the odds may be gigantic. You may feel that the team will surprise everyone and overcome the favourites. This can be down to a newfound inspiration or simply a refusal to lose to the team that tops the league or division.

However, you cannot always bet on the underdogs. It works in the same way with favourites, that you cannot always bet on them as anything can happen and you will eventually lose. The risk may not be your biggest problem either. The potential returns of betting on a heavy favourite can be extremely short. Unless you bet big money, it will not bring you the big payout you may aspire for. Therefore, a lot of punters turn to parlay bets.

Parlays (Accumulators)

A parlay bet is a series of bets that are joined into one bet slip. You will need all your selections to come through to win the bet, which makes it far riskier than placing the bets individually. However, the odds will be compounded together to create far larger returns. Picking out 2 or more moneylines and combining them is a tactic that many punters use. You can pick a handful of “safe” bets and compound their odds. You can also pick 2 or more “safe” bets and add 1 “risky” bet to the parlay that ramps up the odds considerably.

The risk will increase with each bet you pick, but this does not change the IP of each individual match. If you only picked favourites then on paper you should win each game. However, you will need all your games to win, and that is where you need to make smart decisions.


Though moneylines are simple, they are appealing to both diehard punters and newbies. They are the first odds you can find on any fixture, and will instantly give you an idea of who the bookmaker backs to win. You will have plenty of statistics to research if you want to learn all the strengths and weaknesses of the player/team you are betting on. They may not bring the longest odds, but moneylines remain one of the most popular sports bets in the market.

Lloyd is passionate about online gambling, he lives and breathes blackjack and other table games, and he enjoys sports betting.