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Home » what does moneyline mean in betting
Peter Addison
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In sports betting, the ‘moneyline’ or ‘money line’ is simply how American betting sites represent ‘win’ odds. It is identical to ‘1X2’ in UK betting, except that you cannot bet on the tie, or draw. In the rare circumstance of a tie occurring, your stake is returned to you. At UK betting sites, moneyline betting is usually only available on US sports.

This page will de-shroud the mystery of moneyline betting, and also recommend a few UKGC-licensed online bookmakers where you can place your moneyline bets. By the end of this page you’ll have a full understanding of just what does moneyline mean in betting, and whether it is right for you.

What is Moneyline Betting?

The ‘moneyline’ is an American term, and is one of the four key ways that US sports bettors tend to bet on sports (the others being, if you are interested, the spread, totals, and player props). When a sporting contest is evaluated in terms of which side is more likely to win, one team is selected as the ‘favorite’ and one as the underdog. The odds are then given to specify the potential payouts should the winning side be selected by someone placing a bet.

You may ask yourself, what is the difference between moneyline betting (in the UK) and ‘1X2’ betting. Well, there are a few …

To cement this understanding of moneyline betting, here are a trio of examples.

american football moneyline betting

Above we have an American football game, the Lions against the Chiefs. The Chiefs are the favourites at -290, and the Lions are the underdog at +235. The prices mean you would have to bet £290 on the Chiefs to win £100, or if you bet £100 on the Lions, you’d win £235.

baseball moneyline bet

Next, MLB (baseball moneyline betting). Here it’s the Twins against the Guardians. This game has been called so tight that BOTH teams are the favourites! You would need to bet £110, no matter which side you backed, to win £100.

basketball moneyline bet

Finally, here’s the moneyline from an NBA game, the Lakers against the Nuggets. Here, the Nuggets are the favourites, while the Lakers are the underdog. To win £100 with a Nuggets bet, you’d need to wager £210, and a £100 bet on the Lakers would win you £175.

How Does Moneyline Betting Work?

There’s nothing that special about moneyline betting – it’s just the one of the ways that people in North America are accustomed to betting. The equivalent term in the UK would simply be fixed odds betting. You back either the favourite, or the underdog, not matter the sport.

There is one crucial difference though if you are comparing moneyline betting to fixed odds betting in football, or any other sport where a tie is possible. With football as our example, you can bet on any event finishing in a tie. With moneyline betting, you can’t.

You may ask, why is this so? Why can’t you bet on a tie? The answer is, in US sports (where moneyline betting is the most common), ties are extremely rare. In all four major US sports there are all kinds of rules in place, such as overtime and extra periods, designed to find a winner.

Ties do happen, though. For example, there were two tiesin the 2022 NFL season. This begs the quest, what happens to a moneyline wager if a game ends in a tie?

It’s another question with a simple answer – it’s a push. Your stake is simply returned to you.

When to Use Moneyline in Betting

Basically, unless you are betting on football you’re probably, in a way, using moneyline betting all the time. Any bet that’s not a outright (i.e. overall winner) bet on any event that cannot end in a tie is a moneyline bet.

tennis moneyline bet

Above is an example of a tennis moneyline bet. It’s the opening match of the 2023 US Open, Taylor Fritz against Novak Djokovic. As you would naturally expect, Djokovic is the clear favourite – you would need to bet £800 on him just to win £100. A £100 bet on Taylor Fritz would win you £500.

At UK betting sites, moneyline betting is only really offered on the four main US sports – basketball, baseball, American football and ice hockey. Remember though, any bet on any single market event (not an outright) where a tie is not possible, qualifies to all intents and purposes as a moneyline bet.

Using a Moneyline Bet Calculator

Money line bets usually come expressed in American odds, which can be confusing to some. At UK betting sites though, you are free to have the odds expressed in the more common fractional or decimal format. Just change the format if you find calculating in American odds gives you headaches.

If you do want to go ‘full yankee’ and stick to American odds, there are just two rules to remember:

  • If the price is negative, the number is the amount you would need to bet in order to win £100
  • If the price is positive, the number is the amount you win if you were to bet £100

You should be able to work out your moneyline bet winnings or potential winning easily if you follow these rules. We do offer a number of bet calculators to save you from mathematical migraines, and you can use them easily to calculate your moneyline bet winnings, especially as you can quickly use them to convert from American to fractional or decimal odds.

Understanding Moneyline Odds and Why They Change

Now you know what does moneyline mean in betting, understanding moneyline odds in American format is actually easier than you think. For some reason, Americans like tight odds which explains why points spread betting is so popular (we’ll take a deeper dive into that later). Americans also like tight sporting contests – they seem to dislike the idea that a team can turn up for a game and have no discernible chance of winning. This is why there are hardly ever any repeatedly dominant teams in US sports, or at least not in the way that Manchester City are currently dominating the EPL, or Bayern Munich dominate the Bundesliga.

So, going back to our previous rule, the favourite will have negative odds, and the underdog positive odds. You will notice though that most odds – positive or negative – seemingly rise above 200. This reflects the tightness of American sports contests. Any team -200 or lower could be regarded as a hot favourite, and any team +200 or higher a genuine outsider.

Moneyline odds fluctuate, just like any other type of odds. The closer to the event, the more the odds change as more information becomes available, such as news of injuries, rested players or suspensions, or anything that may effect the ‘normal’ outcome of a contest.

In addition, the placement of large bets on one side of the moneyline will cause bookies to tighten their odds and hence minimise their risk of making heavy losses.

How Does a Moneyline Bet Pay Out?

If basic terms, if your bet wins, you get paid and if it doesn’t, you don’t. If it’s a tie, it’s a push (your stake is returned to you). But, how much do you win if you do win? All the odds calculations we’ve mentioned mention £100 bets (as this is a UK site we’re using GBPs and not USDs), but what if you don’t want to bet £100?

The calculations are not so bad, but they are not as easy to do as calculating from decimal odds, or even fractional odds, but let’s go through them:

If the Odds are Positive:

Potential Return = Stake + (Stake x (Odds / 100))

If the Odds are Negative:

Potential Return = Stake + (Stake / (Odds / 100))

Lets go back to one of our earlier examples to show how this works:

american football moneyline betting

Let’s go for a winning £2.50 bet on the Lions. As the odds are positive, we use the first formula:

  • Returns = £2.50 + (£2.50 x (235 / 100))
  • Returns = £2.50 + (£2.50 x 2.35)
  • Returns = £2.50 + £5.875 = £8.375

Now let’s do the same for a winning £2.50 bet on the Chiefs. As the odds are negative, we use the second formula:

  • Returns = £2.50 + (£2.50 / (235 / 100))
  • Returns = £2.50 + (£2.50 / 2.35)
  • Returns = £2.50 + £1.064 = £3.564

As you can see, the mathematics are not very friendly, so we may point you in the way of our handy range of bet calculators once again.

Most Popular Sports for Moneyline Betting in the UK

As we have explained previously, moneyline betting in the UK is identical to any form of betting where there is no possibility (or a very, very scant possibility) of a tie, however, ‘moneyline’ betting is usually associated with the US, and therefore US sports. Here we take a look at three of the most popular betting options.

Basketball Moneyline Betting

basketball icon Moneyline betting on basketball in the UK is most associated with the NBA, which is seen as the world’s premier basketball competition. The NBA season runs from October through to April each year, with the playoffs following in May.

NBA or basketball moneyline betting can be a good skill to hone, as the favourites in basketball do win more often than the underdogs but upsets are always possible. The FIBA World Cup is another popular basketball moneyline competition, as is betting on the WBAN, and basketball competitions in Brazil, China and in eSports.

Baseball Moneyline Betting

baseball icon

Baseball is another popular pastime for moneyline betting and by baseball moneyline betting, we really mean Major League Baseball, or MLB. However, betting on a baseball games is an extremely difficult thing to get right. Teams play 162 games per MLB season, and even the best teams will expect to win less than 100 of them. With baseball, we always advise you to be careful with the size of your stakes.

The other major world league for baseball is the NPB in Japan, but you’ll also find leagues in Korea, China and other Central American countries.

Football Moneyline Betting

football icon So, what does moneyline mean in football betting? Well, as you might have guessed, we are not taking about the round ball game here. You can’t have moneyline betting in football (i.e. soccer) as a draw is a common and accepted result.

For football we mean American football and for American football we mean the NFL. Your football moneyline betting opportunities could be limited, as the NFL season runs from September to January. Football is more predictable than baseball although again, upsets are not that uncommon.

Moneyline Betting vs Other Markets

The most attractive feature of moneyline betting is perhaps its simplicity. It is the simplest bet that Americans make – you back a team to win. If your bets wins, it pays out. There can be nothing easier when it comes to betting.

Therefore, if you just like to pick winners, the moneyline betting is surely for you. If you want to dive deeper into your betting, then you might consider taking a look at other markets, such as totals, over/under and point spread bets.

Money Line Bets compared to Point Spread Bets

Let’s go back to one of our previous examples:

basketball moneyline bet

The first figures in this illustration are the point spread odds, which are always usually -11o (and for both teams). Point spread betting (which is not the same as UK spread betting) is a form of handicap betting, and your task is to back the winning side once the handicap is applied.

In this example, if you back the Lakers (the underdogs as you can see by the moneyline odds) then five points will be added to the final match score. This means that even if the Lakers lost 79-83, your bet would win as the Lakers get that five point bonus.

Conversely, if you were to back the Nuggets then five points will be deducted from their final score. So, a 83-79 win by the Nuggets would be a losing point spread bet, as the Nuggets failed to beat the spread.

You really need to understand your stuff to point spread bet. Not only will you need to pick the winning team, you will also need to consider how many points they are likely to win by. You can of course also pick the losing team, if you think the margin of defeat will not be as great at the spread predicts.

Point spread betting is a great way of backing the favourite while getting better odds. In our Lakers/Nuggets example. A £10 moneyline bet would win   £4.76 for a Lakers win, but a points spread bet would win £9.09 as long as the Lakers both won and beat the spread.

Moneyline Bets and Parlays – Do or Don’t?

A parlay is another American term. In the UK we would call such betting options a multiple or accumulator. Whatever term you use, it’s a string of single bets that are combined to make a multi bet. The potential payouts from the first bet in the chain become the stake for the second, and so on. You can easily work out from this premise that ALL bets in the chain need to be winning bets, else the chain breaks and your parlay is a losing one.

Is it worth it turning single money line bets into a parlay bet? After all, the more bets you add to a parlay bet, the more you stand to win. However, this comes with a cavaet that due to the unpredictable nature of US sports, and the tight odds, the chances of a winning parlay are slim, especially once you get beyond four selections.

It’s probably much more worthwhile placing four single moneyline bets than combining them into a parlay. If three of your moneyline bets win, then you will return a decent profit as opposed to zero profit from a failed parlay. Even if four legs of a parlay come in, the extra profit obtained is barely worth the risk.

Best Bookies for Moneyline Betting in the UK

In effect, all bookies in the UK will take moneyline bets as they are just fixed odds bets without the chance of a tie. You can even apply the moneyline principle to football by placing ‘draw no bet‘ wagers where your stake is returned should your backed game end in a tie.

As you now understand what does money line mean in betting, you will probably though want to look for UK betting sites with good coverage of the big four US sports. BetUK and SpreadEx will probably be our first choice, but there are more bookies worth considering. It is here that the odds are usually presented in the standard, moneyline format.

Final Words

We hope we have answered the question what is moneyline betting, and what is the moneyline in sports betting. It is just one of the common ways people in North America bet on their sports, where ties are extremely uncommon. Now you know what does moneyline mean in football betting (i.e. the NFL), baseball betting (MLB) and basketball betting (NBA), we hope you’re encouraged to at least consider moneyline betting, and we of course hope it will be a profitable experience.

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Peter Addison

A vastly experienced sports betting specialist, Peter joined SafeBettingSites in 2021 as a sports editor. Peter has been focusing on the iGaming realm since 2013, and had written millions of words on all aspects of online casino play and sports betting since then. His articles have been featured in numerous high-profile online publications. When not writing, Peter can be found playing his electric guitar. He is such a talented guitarist that his next-door neighbours often join in, adding percussion by banging loudly on the walls.

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