For beginning sports gamblers, moneylines (sometimes called money lines or American odds) can be confusing. Unlike point spreads, which are concerned with who wins and by how much, a moneyline is solely dependent upon who wins. Moneylines are used most commonly in low-scoring games like baseball or hockey, but they may also be used in boxing and other sports.
There's another reason to bet the underdogs on the moneyline as well. If your handicapping has made you feel very strongly that a poor team is due for a big win then the moneyline allows you to profit much more handsomely from your conclusion than a point spread bet does. The moneyline, then, is a powerful situational tool for people who closely follow the NBA.
You'll also usually be given the option to wager on the game with the money line in football and basketball. In this case, all you have to do is pick the winner of the contest, but there's one drawback. If you bet on the team that's expected to win, you can find yourself risking much more money than you stand to win. Each team is assigned odds, much like in a horse race where a 2-1 favorite will pay out much less than a 15-1 longshot. This method also evens the playing field for bookies, sportsbooks and other gambling institutions.
Betting on sporting events has long been the most popular form of spread betting. Whilst most bets the casino offers to players have a built in house edge, betting on the spread offers an opportunity for the astute gambler. When a casino accepts a spread bet, it gives the player the odds of 10 to 11, or -110. That means that for every 11 dollars the player wagers, the player will win 10, slightly lower than an even money bet. If team A is playing team B, the casino is not concerned with who wins the game; they are only concerned with taking an equal amount of money of both sides. For example, if one player takes team A and the other takes team B and each wager $110 to win $100, it doesn’t matter what team wins; the casino makes money. They take $100 of the $110 from the losing bet and pay the winner, keeping the extra $10 for themselves. This is the house edge. The goal of the casino is to set a line that encourages an equal amount of action on both sides, thereby guaranteeing a profit. This also explains how money can be made by the astute gambler. If casinos set lines to encourage an equal amount of money on both sides, it sets them based on the public perception of the team, not necessarily the real strength of the teams. Many things can affect public perception, which moves the line away from what the real line should be. This gap between the Vegas line, the real line, and differences between other sports books betting lines and spreads is where value can be found.
The most common NFL spreads are usually set between about 2.5-10.5 points, but you will also almost always have games each week with spreads lower than 2.5 and higher than 10.5. In the event that the oddsmakers feel the game doesn’t need a spread, it would be set at 0 or what some call a pick’em (both teams are given even odds to win for this type of bet).
Sometimes sportsbooks will offer “reduced juice” at certain times or “nickel lines” that drop the -110 down to -105 in an effort to attract more bets. This is why it definitely pays to shop around for the best lines possible before placing your wager. Because the ultimate goal is to always make the most money you can, putting yourself in position to lay less to win the same amount is one way to help make that happen.
NFL moneyline betting continues to gain popularity as many begin to understand the value of moneyline bets, especially in betting the underdogs. In this type of bet, there is no spread to beat, your team needs only to win the game “straight up” (SU), and there is no requirement for how many points they need to win by. The juice is the only number you really have to pay attention to with moneyline, where the negative value indicates the favorite (-140) and a positive one means underdog (+120).