How Does The Moneyline Work? Moneyline Betting Explained 


Introduction To The Moneyline

Moneyline betting is to bet on which team will win. For that reason, the moneyline is considered  the most straightforward form of sports betting, and the easiest betting market for beginners to wager on. In this article, we explain moneyline betting in depth, including examples, how it relates to American odds, and where the term moneyline comes from. In all, this article covers:

What Is Moneyline Betting?

To bet on the moneyline is to simply bet on the winner of a match or game. In sports betting, there are endless types of bets you can place and a moneyline bet is the most basic form of betting there is. At a sportsbook, these odds will be labelled as “moneyline” in their respective column. Moneyline odds can be written in American odds format, Decimal, or Fractional.

When you see odds listed elsewhere, such as on a sports news channel or in a review, these will typically always be moneyline odds unless otherwise stated. For example, the UFC will list betting odds on their fight cards. Even without a label, you can recognize the odds listed are for which side will win – which is the moneyline:

An example of a moneyline listed at the ufc.

Moneyline Outcomes & Draw-No-Bet Meaning

In a moneyline bet there are usually only two outcomes, Team A or Team B is the winner. When you bet on the moneyline, either your bet will be successful and you’ll win, or you’ll be unsuccessful and forgo your stake. For beginners, moneyline bets are arguably the easiest to wager on as they’re simply a matter of selecting who you think will win. 

For some sports there may also be a draw (also sometimes called a three-way line) or a draw-no-bet option. A draw is the opposite of a draw-no-bet in sports betting. When betting on a low-scoring sport, such as soccer, either a draw or draw-no-bet option will likely be listed. This is because it’s difficult for sportsbooks to create a point spread for these sports. 

Instead, sportsbooks will list the moneyline as a draw-no-bet which means if the teams tie, your stake will be returned. Alternatively, a draw may be listed as a third option to bet on. When a draw is listed, you can bet that the teams will tie instead of just picking a winner. If a draw is an option and a tie occurs, the only way to win is if you selected a draw as your bet. If you selected a team to win, you will lose your stake. 

Which Sports Use Moneyline Betting?

Nearly every sport available at a sportsbook will have moneyline odds, however some sports and sportsbooks will have specific rules around how to bet the moneyline. At some books, the winning team must win within regulation time, and does include any last minute penalty shots. As always, read the terms and conditions before you choose your sportsbook. For some sports, the moneyline will be one of the only markets available because point spreads are not an option. For instance, the moneyline is one of the most popular wagers for baseball and hockey. Here are some of the most common sports that offer moneyline bets:

  • Baseball: Moneyline odds are the main way of betting on baseball. They’re straightforward and involve betting on the winner of the game.
  • Hockey: Hockey also usually uses moneyline odds. The “main” moneyline odds are for the full end result, overtime and shootout included, and then there are 60-minute moneyline odds which are bets on the teams to win “in regulation.”
    Soccer: Moneyline odds are used in soccer, though proposition bets are also very popular.
  • MMA (Mixed Martial Arts): Moneyline odds are widely used for betting on MMA fights, where you wager on the fighter you believe will win.

For other sports, moneyline wagers will be available but they may not be the most popular option to bet on. Some such sports include:

  • Basketball: In the NBA and college basketball, point spreads are more commonly used for betting. While moneyline bets are available, point spreads are the primary choice for basketball bettors.
  • Football (American Football): Football betting in the NFL and college football do offer moneyline bets, but bettors tend to prefer betting on point spreads, and futures
  • Golf: Golf tournaments typically use odds to win outright rather than traditional moneyline odds, as there are typically more than two opponents. 
  • Auto Racing: Similar to gold offs, auto racing, like NASCAR and Formula 1, typically uses odds for drivers to win races rather than moneyline odds. 

The Moneyline vs. American Odds

You may often hear the term moneyline used interchangeably with American odds. This is somewhat incorrect because although American Odds use the moneyline, the two are actually separate concepts. Even if you bet at a sportsbook that uses fractional or decimal odds, you will still see the moneyline listed as an option. 

That said, the term moneyline does originally come from American odds. The ‘original’ moneyline is a visual tool we can use to represent how American odds work. American odds either show the amount you need to bet to win $100 (negative odds), or how much you could win if you bet $100 (positive odds). The moneyline represents this concept visually. As shown below, the moneyline is a line that displays a range of positive and negative numbers on a scale (or line) with 100 in the middle. 

The moneyline shown as a graph, with 100 in the middle and points increasing by 50.

We can think of the moneyline scale as moving from left to right, as shown by the red arrows. If we bet on negative odds (on the left of the scale), we’ll win $100 (at the midpoint). If we bet $100 on positive odds, we’ll win an amount to the right of the midpoint. 

By this definition, the moneyline visually represents how American Odds work. This is also why American odds are frequently referred to as the moneyline. More accurately, we can say the moneyline originally referred to American odds, but nowadays it more commonly means to bet on the winner. This is also where the term “lines” comes from in sports betting, and why sometimes you’ll hear the phrase “setting lines” or “competitive lines” used to refer to odds.