Money Line Bets

Money Line Bets

If you’ve spent much time gambling on sports, you’re likely to have come across betting options that look something like this: +130 or -120. These are known as “money lines,” and they represent an option that many bettors often overlook. That’s a pity, as they’re easier to use than the point spread once you understand how they work. In fact, this was the method most commonly used by bettors before the point spread came along in the 1940s.

This article is devoted to the fine art of money line betting, from the basics of how they work to some finer points on how to make these odds work for you. While reading this article doesn’t guarantee that you’ll win your next parlay bet, it should at least make you knowledgeable enough to carry on an informed conversation with fellow sports gamblers.

How the Money Line Works

A point spread bet is concerned with both the winner of a sporting event and their margin of victory. The money line keeps things simple by cutting this equation in half, as it’s only concerned with which team (or individual athlete) walks away as the winner.

In order to better illustrate how a money line bet works, let’s look at a fictional game between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

• New England Patriots -240

• Pittsburgh Steelers +220

The team that’s favored to win always has a minus sign in front of their number, while the underdog is indicated with a plus sign. This translates to the following:

• A gambler betting on the Patriots (the favorite) must wager $240 in order to win $100.

• A gambler successfully betting on the Steelers (underdog) will receive $220 if they wager $100.

While the $100 unit is commonly used when discussing sports betting, keep in mind that you can bet whatever amount you feel comfortable with. This could be as little as a couple of bucks or as much as a few thousand dollars. No matter the size of your bet, the posted money line remains the same.

For example, let’s assume that you wagered $50 on the Steelers instead of $100. Since the size of the wager has been cut in half, the payout would also see a similar reduction. According to initial odds for the Steelers, a $50 wager would yield a profit of $110. Meanwhile, a $200 wager (double the original bet) would result in a payout of $440.

What Sports Use the Money Line?

You should be able to find money line wagers for almost all athletic competitions, but they’re most common with hockey and baseball. This is due to the fact that lots of games are decided by a narrow margin, and this renders the point spread ineffective in many cases.

Individual sports such as boxing and tennis also thrive on the money line wager, although the odds for a favorite can often approach ridiculous levels. For example, in a tennis match pitting a Grand Slam champ against a relative unknown, it’s not unusual for the gambler to have to wager $1000 or more just to pick up $100. Of course, anyone who’s able to correctly predict an upset in this sort of situation would be rolling in the cash.

Basketball and football also use the money line, but this form of betting isn’t always available for every game. In cases where the point spread grossly favors one team over another, sportsbooks might not offer the money line option. This doesn’t happen that often, but it’s still something to be aware of.

Money Line Tips

Now that you have an idea of how the money line works, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. But before you run off to predict the upset of the decade, take a moment and look at these helpful tips for betting the money line. You may not wind up using them all, but at least a few of them should find their way into your arsenal of sports betting tricks.

When you’re betting on the NBA (or just about any other sport), always pay attention to the home and away performances of each team. Few teams are as strong on the road as they are at home, although finding the exceptions to the rule can give gamblers a huge advantage in picking underdogs.

Most sportsbooks do not allow the player to place a money line bet on two competing teams. This is an important fact to keep in mind before placing any wager.

The fatigue factor is important when betting on MLB games. Players start to wear down over the course of the season, and this is especially true following the All-Star break. In an ideal situation, you want to find a team that’s in the middle of a lengthy road trip and playing against an opponent who’s played the last few games at home.

Make smaller bets during the first week of the NFL season. The league has long strived for parity among the teams, and this has resulted in squads transforming from league doormats into contenders within the span of a season. Before you risk a lot of money on your hometown favorite, let the season develop for a week or two to see how last year’s dogs and favorites are performing.

Money lines may change between the time the player placed their wager and the start of the game. The player’s payout is subject to the money line that was displayed when their bet was made.


While money line bets might seem like an alien equation to anyone who’s not familiar with them, they’re actually quite easy to understand. Learning how they work opens up a whole new world for sports gamblers, especially those who enjoy risking their money on the underdog. This type of wager is available on all sports through reliable online bookmakers such as Bodog and TopBet, so be sure to give it a try the next time you’re in the mood to place a bet.