For those who are new to sports betting, money lines can seem complicated at first. However, once the fundamentals of money lines are understood, this form of betting will be just as simple as betting the point spread. While point spreads involve not only who wins, but also by how much, the money line is based exclusively on who wins.
The money line is best explained by using a specific example, so let’s considered a baseball game between the Braves and the Mets. When viewing the odds for this game, they will appear similar to this:
Atlanta Braves +120
New York Mets -130
Using these odds, the Braves are the team that is favored to win the game, as indicated by the minus sign that is written in front of the number 130. The Mets are predicted to lose the game, as indicated by the plus sign in front of the number 120. In this case, bettor who wish to wager on the Braves would be asked to risk $130 for the chance to win $100. Those who wish to wager on the Mets would be asked to risk $100 for the chance to win $120.
It’s important to note that while money lines are always presented in units of $100, it is not necessary to wager that amount of money. The money line bets can involve both smaller and larger amount (minimums and maximums may apply for each sportsbook).
The money line is often applied to sports where the point spread would be irrelevant. This includes sports such as boxing, tennis, and auto racing. It can also apply to baseball, hockey, and soccer because even though there are margins of victory in these sports, they are often so small that generating a point spread becomes impossible.
Money line odds can fluctuate up until game time. If the likelihood of a win or loss increases or decreases, the odds will change to reflect that. The difference between the numbers will continue to change as the disparity between the team that is the favorite and the team that is the underdog increases. The reason for adjusting the odds is that bookmakers usually only generate profits when the underdog is the winner.
When the point spread is used in betting, the sportsbook hopes that there will be an equal amount of money being wagered on each of the teams. When this happens, some amount of profit is guaranteed. When the money line is used, the sportsbook or bookie knows in advance that more people will be wagering on the favorite, and stands to lose money unless enough people have wagered on the underdog, thus covering losses paid out to those who wagered on the favorite.
Money line bets are generally offered on all types of sporting events, even when point spread betting is also being offered. Point spread betting is extremely popular, but the money line should not be overlooked as it can provide a nice alternative for entering into wagers that are based simply on the favorite or underdog. Expect to find this type of sports betting being offered by all major online sportsbooks.