In sports betting, the money line allows bettors to make wagers on a game’s outcome without having to give or receive additional points, as is the case with the point spread. With a money line bet, whichever team actually wins the game is the team that offers a payout. It is, in essence, a pure sports bet.
How the Money Line Works
When you wager using the money line neither team is given an advantage, although the bookmakers still make it difficult for sports bettors to make their choice. They do this by ensuring people who want to play the favorite bet more and win less than those who take the underdog. Conversely, when you bet on the underdog, you bet considerably less to win more.
Why does the money line work in this manner? Why don’t bookmakers simply offer both teams at -110? In a game in which a bookie believes that the teams are evenly matched, you may see lines that are close to equal. However, this is rarely the case. If sportsbooks simply offered games at even odds, then the betting pool would always be weighted heavily towards the favorite. If the favorite wins, that could cripple a bookie financially.
Therefore, the sportsbooks use the money line to make the underdog a more attractive bet and the favorite a less attractive one, hoping that about equal amounts of cash will be wagered on both teams, making payouts easy to make while the books profit from the vig.
Why Does the Money Line Exist?
Some sports do not lend themselves to spread betting. Those that have low point total or differentials, such as hockey, baseball, soccer, tennis, boxing, and golf, offer money line odds. Bookmakers are able to entice bettors to choose the underdog by providing them with steep payouts if the underdog wins the game, and making them risk a lot more to win little on the favorite.
Money Line and Vig
Many people wonder where the vigorish, or vig, is in a money line bet. Vig, which is also known as the “juice,” “cut,” and “take,” is the commission that the bookmaker collects on every bet. That’s how sportsbooks make money. Although the vig is clearly expressed in a spread bet where you have to pay $11.00 to win $10.00 and the book keeps a dollar from your original wager, it is much harder to discern in the money line.
The bookies get their vig by offering less of a payout on the underdog, pocketing the cash they don’t include, and by charging more than they should on the favorite. The bookmaker’s take is hidden, but it is there. Every sports bettor pays vig on every bet.
Example of a Money Line
The money line on a baseball game is fairly simple to read. Along with posting the start time of the game, the line will list the visiting team first, their line, and the starting pitcher. It will then offer the same for the home team. Here is a typical money line for an MLB game.
7:05 Baltimore Orioles +210 K. Gausman
Boston Red Sox -170 J. Lester
With the above money line, you’ll have to bet $170 to win $100 on the favored Red Sox, while you can wager just $100 to win $210 on the Orioles. Obviously, the payout on Baltimore is enticing. Although there won’t be equal amounts wagered on Boston and Baltimore, the bookmakers hope that there’s enough money on the Orioles to cover the payouts if the favored Red Sox do win.
Before Making Your Bet
Before you make any bet, it’s essential that you do all research necessary to make a smart decision. Read analysis by the pundits, perform your own matchup comparisons and statistical diagnosis, review injury reports, and cover as many different aspects of the contest as you can before placing your wager. During this time, you are attempting to determine who will win the game and if there is value in betting the underdog.
If you don’t like either team and you’re wagering on baseball or hockey, then check the respective run lines and puck lines, as the small spreads offered in these types of bets change the payouts considerably. In the above example, you may find that you get to bet little on Boston, who will be at -1.5 or, maybe even -2.5, and you’ll have to wager much more on Tampa Bay, who will be listed at either +1.5 or +2.5. If that is the case, Boston may be a good run line bet.
Win or Lose
With a money line wager, there is no push because no tie is possible. You will either win or lose your bet depending upon the actual outcome of the game. It’s that simple. Many people prefer the money line bet rather than the run line or puck line because it is cut and dry. However, there are times when taking the extra run or goal can be helpful.
Keep It Simple
With sports betting, always keep it simple by making individual money line bets rather than betting parlays. Parlays, which are very exciting because they offer big payouts, allow you to wager on multiple teams at the same time. Bettors like them because the payout odds are often much better than those you get with the money line. However, they pay out only when you get every game right.
As an example, a four-team parlay pays 12-1. Wager $100 and if you’re correct on each of the four games, you’ll win $1,200. What a great deal, right? Not really. Always remember that the bigger the prospective payout is, the tougher it is to hit it. A four-team parlay is exceptionally difficult to get right. Keep it simple. Wager on individual money lines or take the puck line or run line when appropriate. Bet parlays carefully and only on occasion. By keeping your methods simple and straightforward, you will ensure long-term success.