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what does money line mean

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The money line is a name for a sports betting market, based on the result of a sporting event. It’s primarily an American expression, so you tend to find it used for US sports. We’re going to explore the question of what does money line mean in betting, show you how it works and even give you some tips and strategies.

What is Money Line Betting?

what does money line mean in betting

Many people that are new to online gambling wonder what does money line mean in betting. The chances are that they already know, but are simply unfamiliar with the term and this type of bet.

The moneyline bet refers to a results-based market offered by betting sites on popular sports. Depending on the sport, it can have two or three potential outcomes. So a soccer match for instance, can see the home team win, or the away team win, or a draw, which means that there are three potential outcomes. There are 3-way moneyline bets available. A tennis match can’t be drawn, so with that sort of money line market, there are two results. Either Player A wins, or Player B.

As we mentioned in our introduction, moneyline betting is American in origin. The prices are displayed in a different way than UK or European punters might be used to with online bookmakers, but they essentially work in the same manner. Understanding how betting odds work in general will help you too. We’re going to explain exactly how the money line works in the next section.

How Does Money Line Betting Work?

To demonstrate what does money line mean in betting to you, we’re going to show you an example of a money line bet on NFL American football. Imagine the New York Giants are facing the Detroit Lions in a upcoming game. The betting lines are as follows: the Giants are priced at -145 in the mark, with the Lions at +125.

The negative number represents the moneyline favorites, which are the Giants, while the positive number represents the underdog. With the odds of the favourite based on implied probabilities, the number shows how much you’d have to bet to win $100 (or whatever currency you are using). So the Giants’ price of -145 has them as heavy favorites. You’d have to bet $145 to potentially win $100.

Money line odds of the underdog show how much you would win if you bet $100. So the Lions’ price of +125, shows that if you bet $100, you would stand to win $125. If the two teams were dead even in the betting, then both would be prices at underdogs.

So in a scenario with the Giants and the Lions were both given a 50/50 chance of winning, they might both be priced at -110. That means that in either case, you’d have to bet $110 on a moneyline wager to win $100, which gives the sportsbook the house edge that they factor into their odds.

If there is the chance of a draw/tie, which gives three possible outcomes, they would typically be priced up with one favourite and two underdogs. Alternatively, the market may state that a draw will result in your stake being refunded, leaving just the two win options. This sort of money line works like the Draw No Bet market in soccer.

Most Popular Sports for a Money Line Bet

As we’ve said, money line betting hails from the USA. It’s therefore most typically seen in the big four US sports, which are American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey. We’re going to take you through how money line betting works for all of these sports.

What Does Money Line Mean in American Football Betting?

The most popular market in American football betting is the money line. It’s a straight bet to see which out of two teams will win. Ties are possible in the NFL, but also extremely rare. If the score is level at the end of regular play, it will go into overtime and if they remain level at the end of that period, then the game is tied.

If you place a money line bet on NFL and the game ends level, then the bet will be made void.  There were only two draws in the 2022 NFL season, which demonstrates how rare an occurrence a tie is. Over the course of the regular season, there are 272 games on which you can bet on the money line. This is then followed by the playoffs, which conclude with the Super Bowl, which is the biggest money line betting event of all US sports.

Baseball Money Line Betting

When it comes to baseball betting money line is where the bulk of the wagering goes. It is fair to say that there are plenty of opportunities to place such a bet. Over the course of a regular MLB season, each team plays 162 baseball games. As there are 30 teams, that comes to 2430 games and that’s before you even think about the playoffs.

That’s a huge schedule, which absolute dwarfs that of rival US sports and creates plenty of money line betting opportunities. Ties in baseball are even rarer than in the NFL, so that’s not much of a consideration, but if there is one, your bet will be made void. The season concludes with the World Series, which sees the two finalists compete in a best-of-seven encounter.

What Does Money Line Mean in Basketball Betting?

With money line basketball betting in the NBA, you don’t have to worry about the prospect of a tie. If the scores are level, they just keep on playing overtime periods, until there is a winner. While there’s not as many games as in the MLB, the NBA still creates plenty of basketball betting money line opportunities, with a busy schedule.

Each team plays 82 games and with 30 franchises involved, that creates 1230 games in a regular season. Then there’s the playoffs and NBA finals, with all the encounters played over a best-of-seven format, creating even more opportunities for punters that like to money line bet on basketball.

Ice Hockey Puck Line Betting

Ice hockey betting has another term that UK and European punters may be unfamiliar with. Along with the money line, which concerns the result, there is the puck line, which is the same as sports spread betting, or handicap. Like the NBA, there are no ties to worry about. If the scores are level, there is overtime, followed by a shootout.

Another similarity with basketball money line betting is the amount of games. The NHL and the NBA have the exact same amount of games, with each team playing 82 times, creating a total of 1230 games in a regular season. The playoffs conclude with the finalists competing for the Stanley Cup, in a best-of-seven ice hockey games series.

Pros & Cons of Money Line Betting Explained

As popular as money line betting is, there are pros and cons. We think that the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks, but in the interest of fairness, here are both the pros and cons, as we see them.

  • Very simple bet addressing the result
  • Ties often result in a void bet
  • Popular wager so odds are generous
  • Loads of fixtures in US sports schedule
  • Not worth backing if there’s a heavy favourite
  • Odds take time to get used to for non-US bettors

Money Line Bet Calculator

As you will have seen when we answered the question of what does money line mean in betting, the odds of money line betting markets are pretty easy to work out.

That said, if you’ve been using fractional or decimal odds all your life, having to convert a new odds format can be somewhat tiresome. This is especially true if you’re trying to quickly gauge where the value is.

In such instances, using our free bet calculator is a smart move. It can quickly allow you to look between the new odds formats, get a better idea of where the value lies and look at potential payouts for moneyline bets

Understanding Money Line Betting Strategy

We’re now going to give you some betting tips and strategies for when betting on money line.

Do Your Research

When trying to predict a sporting result, it pays to do your homework. Make sure that you’re up to date with any selection or injury news, that could impact the result. Look at past form, the conditions and whether there’s any home advantage. The more research you do, they more likely it is that you will be able to spot instances where there are value odds with moneyline picks available.

Look For Value Underdogs

The biggest price in any money line betting market, lies with the underdog. Bigger is not always better in such an instance, but sometimes backing the outsider and large odds, makes sense. Do your research and you will spot underdogs that should really be available at a smaller price and sometimes, should even be favourites. This is an example of a value bet, but you have to look for them. So for example, you might find an NFL team that are used to playing in bad weather such as wind and rain, who are the outsiders against a team that plays their home games in the sunshine.

Take Advantage of Extra Features

There are all sorts of extra features at bookmakers which can aid your money line betting experience. Some bookies have tipping websites which can give you some good advice, while Cash Out is another useful feature.

You can back a selection on the money line and if the odds move in your favour during the action, you’ll get an in-play offer, allowing you to bank an early profit. Using a Bet Builder allows you to supplement your money line selection, with other bets from the same event, to create a same-game accumulator.

Do Money Line Odds Differ from One Bookie to Another?

As with any type of betting options and markets, moneyline odds vary between bookies. You’ll normally find that there is a general consensus on who should be the favourite and who is the underdog, though that’s not always the case. Yet some bookies will be more generous than others with their pricing. Keep an eye on odds comparison sites, as they will show you at a glance, where the best price can be found, for any money line market.


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Dan Fitch
Dan Fitch
Dan Fitch

A writer and editor for some of the top names in the gambling industry for nearly 20 years, Dan also works as a freelance sports journalist for publications and websites such as ESPN, FourFourTwo and LiveScore.