Moneyline vs. Spread Betting

14 min read

Understanding the Differences: Moneyline vs. Spread Betting

Moneyline Vs Spread

Sports betting has experienced tremendous growth in recent years to become a popular form of entertainment. With the rise of online platforms and the increasing accessibility of sports events, people now have a wide range of betting options available to them. However, it is important to approach sports betting with caution and make informed decisions to increase the chances of success. In this article, we will discuss two popular bet types in North America: Moneyline and Spread betting. Moneyline betting involves picking a team or individual player to win a game with weighted odds reflective of overall ability deeming one side the favorite and the other the underdog. On the other hand, spread betting demands the favored team win a game by a specified margin (spread) in order to help level the playing field and add an extra layer of complexity to the bet.

This guide offers an impartial and transparent analysis of moneyline and spread betting, highlighting the differences in odds and payout structures across different sports and betting platforms. By examining user feedback, we aim to gain valuable insights into the experiences had and opinions regarding these betting options. Our ultimate goal is to empower bettors to make well-informed decisions when choosing their preferred types of bets.

Understanding Moneyline Betting

Moneyline betting is a popular option among sports bettors because of its straightforward nature. This type of bet offers a simple choice - either you win or you lose. Although there are other variations of the bet, such as 3-way betting and parlays, we will focus on the basic concept of a moneyline bet.

Basics of Moneyline Betting

  • What it is: A wager on which team or player wins a game outright. The odds attached to each choice dictate the payout for a winning bet.
  • Odds Representation: Favorites are denoted with negative numbers (-150), indicating the amount you need to bet to win $100. Conversely, underdogs have positive numbers (+130), showing the amount you’d win on a $100 wager.
  • Popularity: Newcomers to sports betting often find moneyline bets to be a straightforward choice, especially in sports like football, basketball, or hockey, where there is a clear favorite or underdog.

Strategic Insights

  • Building a betting strategy: Moneyline wagers are often considered a good foundation for a betting strategy, especially in sports with lower point spreads. This is due to the straightforward nature of simply picking winners.
  • Three-Way Moneyline Betting: In sports like soccer and hockey, the option for a tie or draw introduces an additional layer, offering more nuanced betting strategies.

Moneyline Bet in Action

TeamsPoint SpreadMoneyline
Portland Trail Blazers+8.5 -115+275
Chicago Bulls-8.5 -105-345

This example from DraftKings effectively demonstrates the contrast between moneyline and spread betting.

  • The odds of Chicago winning by nine or more points at -105 juice are reduced due to the 8.5-point handicap, while the -345 moneyline odds are costlier with the Bulls heavily favored and only needing to win the game to secure the bet.
  • Alternatively, the odds of Portland covering the 8.5-point spread are greater (-115) because it has two ways to win the bet: winning outright or losing by eight points or less. The moneyline for the Trail Blazers offers a larger $275 return on investment, which reflects their status as significant underdogs to win the game.

Understanding the concepts of moneyline betting not only clarifies one of the most basic forms of sports betting but also highlights Its simplicity. That coupled with the potential for significant payouts, particularly when betting underdogs, makes it a preferred bet.

Exploring Spread Betting

Point spread betting, often referred to as spread betting, introduces a layer of complexity and strategy beyond the straightforward win-or-lose scenario of moneyline betting. Football and basketball bettors appreciate spread betting because it offers a higher return on investment when betting on favorites. It also reduces the risk when betting on underdogs, as they don't necessarily have to win the game but just keep it close to win the bet.

What is Spread Betting?

  • Definition: A form of betting where the outcome is determined by the accuracy of the bettor’s prediction regarding the margin of victory, rather than the outcome of the event. 
  • Function: The sportsbook assigns a handicap to the favored team, known as the point spread, to level the playing field with the underdog team. This spread represents the expected difference in score between the two teams.

How Spread Betting Works

  • Betting the Favorite: To win a bet on the favorite, the team must win by more than the assigned point spread. If a team is favored by 9-points, it must win by no less than 10 points to be a winning bet.
  • Betting the Underdog: To win a bet on the underdog, the team must either win outright or lose by a margin smaller than the point spread. If a team is getting 9-points, it must win outright or lose by eight or fewer points to be a winning bet.
  • Push Scenario: If the game’s final score lands exactly on the point spread, it results in a push, where the original stake is returned to the bettor’s account.

Strategic Insights

  • Line Movement: Point spreads can fluctuate based on betting trends, injury updates, and other factors. Experienced bettors monitor these changes across multiple sportsbooks to find the most favorable odds. 
  • Key Numbers: Especially in NFL betting, certain margins of victory occur more frequently. Recognizing the importance of key numbers like three and seven points can guide strategic betting with 15.04 percent of NFL games ending in a 3-point margin of victory and 9.15 percent ending in a 7-point margin dating back to 2000.
  • Sport-Specific Spreads: Different sports utilize unique types of spreads, such as the puck-line in the NHL and run-line in MLB, each tailored to the scoring nature of the sport.

Spread Betting in Action

TeamsPoint SpreadMoneyline
Duquesne Dukes+9.5 -115+375
BYU Cougars-9.5 -105-500
  • BYU is a 9.5-point favorite at reduced -105 juice to defeat Duquesne at BetMGM. Bettors disinterested in ponying up $500 on the Cougars to win outright on the moneyline have the option to instead spread bet BYU and only lay $105 to win $100. 
  • The Cougars would need to win the game by no fewer than ten points to secure a winning bet. A $115 spread bet to win $100 on the Duquesne would in turn need to see the Dukes either win outright or lose by nine or fewer points.
  • Bettors utilizing spread betting pay less in juice, but need to overcome the sportsbook’s handicap to win the bet.

The appeal of spread betting lies in its potential for higher payouts, while the strategic depth adds to sports betting as a whole. It keeps games interesting even when the outcome seems decided, offering an ever-changing betting experience. However, the increased complexity and risk mean it’s generally more suited to experienced bettors that better understand the fundamentals of spread betting.

Where to Find Moneyline and Spread Betting

Key Differences Between Moneyline and Spread Betting

When considering the differences between moneyline and spread betting, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the fundamental distinctions and outside influences involved. Here’s a comparative analysis focusing on those key aspects: 

AspectMoneyline BettingSpread Betting
Bet TypeBets on the team to win the game outright.Involves a handicap given to the favored team.
OddsOdds determine the payout, with favorites having negative numbers and underdogs positive numbers.The favorite must win by more than the spread; the underdog can lose by less than the spread or win outright.
PopularityPopular in sports with clear favorites and significant point spreads, like soccer, tennis, football, basketball, and baseball.Utilizes half-points to avoid ties, offering a more detailed betting approach.

Pros & Cons of Moneyline vs. Spread

Moneyline Pros

  • Enhanced payouts on underdogs.
  • Transparent odds.
  • Versatility across sports.

Spread Betting Pros

  • Handicap establishes fair competition. 
  • Limits risk betting underdogs.
  • More betting variety.

Moneyline Cons

  • Favorites have limited value.
  • Underdog bets carry higher risk.

Spread Betting Cons

  • Lower Payouts.
  • Less value backing underdogs

Responsible Betting Strategies to Consider for Moneyline and Spread Betting

When sports betting, strategic considerations play a pivotal role in deciding between placing moneyline or spread bets. Each factor significantly influences the decision-making process of bettors, guiding them towards the most suitable betting type based on their individual preferences and responsible gambling strategies.
 

Moneyline Betting

  • Understanding Value: Look for bets where you believe the odds offered are a good value compared to the likelihood of the outcome. This requires a deep understanding of the sport and the teams or players involved.
  • Research: Perform thorough research on team performance, head-to-head history, player injuries, and other factors that could influence the outcome.

Spread Betting

  • Understanding the Spread: Learn how spreads are set by bookmakers and how they adjust based on how people are betting. This understanding can help you identify value bets.
  • Watching for Line Movements: Lines can move based on the actions of sharps or the betting public. 
  • Understand the Risks: Spread betting can be complicated and involves a higher level of risk. Make sure you fully understand the bets you're placing.

General Advice for Both Types of Betting

  • Stay Informed: Continuously update your knowledge about the sports, teams, and players you're betting on.
  • Emotional Control: Don’t let emotions drive your betting decisions. Always approach betting with a clear, rational mind.
  • Educate Yourself: Learn about responsible gambling practices and the signs of problem gambling.

Final Thoughts

It's essential to understand the dynamics of moneyline and spread betting before placing bets on either at any sportsbook. Moneyline betting involves predicting the outright winner of a match, while spread betting introduces a handicap to balance the odds. To navigate these markets effectively, thorough research and a clear betting strategy aligned with personal goals are crucial. Moreover, practicing responsible gambling habits and prioritizing the protection of your bankroll ensures a more enjoyable and sustainable betting experience. Continuously seek to enhance your knowledge and skills utilizing both moneylines and point spreads to potentially further contribute to your success at betting on sports.

Moneyline Vs. Spread FAQs

Moneyline Betting
What is moneyline betting?
How do I read moneyline odds?
Spread Betting
What is spread betting?
How does the point spread work in spread betting?
Strategic Insight
What factors should I consider when making a moneyline bet?
How can I strategize for spread betting?
Comparing Moneyline vs. Spread Betting
What are the pros and cons of moneyline betting?
What are the pros and cons of spread betting?
External Influence Factors
How do injuries affect moneyline and spread betting?
How does weather impact moneyline and spread betting?
User Reviews
What are some factors to consider when choosing a sportsbook for moneyline and spread betting?
How can I analyze user reviews to inform my betting decisions?
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Meet Our Authors

Mike made the decision to dive headfirst into the booming world of sports betting fresh out of college. Back in the day, when 1-800 pick lines and sports pagers were all the rage, he couldn't resist the allure, having grown up idolizing sports legends like Sweetness, MJ, and Slammin Sammy. Mike dedicated his early years to the industry, tirelessly analyzing games, writing articles with free picks, and selling his expertise on reputable handicapping sites. Unlike many others, Mike was known for his integrity and only released one Game of the Year per sport, per season. His hard work and unwavering commitment paid off, earning him a devoted following and propelling his career to new heights. Then came the explosion of Daily Fantasy Sports. Believe it or not, companies like DraftKings and FanDuel used to pay Mike's company to increase their brand exposure. Now, those same industry giants don't even bother responding to his emails. While Mike appreciates the convenience of being able to place legal bets in his own backyard, he can't help but feel disheartened by what has become of the industry. People are being led astray, falsely believing that a mere $5 wager on a 20-team same-game-parlay will be their ticket to financial security. If there’s one thing Mike learned from making book back in the day, it’s that parlays are a bookie’s best friend. A bankroll is the only leg you have to stand on in the battle with the books, and Mike’s here to offer up advice on how to protect it.

Cristina Varela Galan
Cristina Varela Galan
Problem Gambling Expert

Cristina used to work as a Psychology Assistant in the Bizkaia Pathological and Risky Gamblers Association. She was also part of a research team in Deusto University, specializing in pathological gambling area. While working there, she managed to develop her own project 

 “Exploring the association between emotional regulation, alexithymia, stressful life events and gambling in adolescent and young adult women”.

Paruyr Shahbazyan began his business career in 2000 as a private entrepreneur. Over thirteen years, he developed a deep understanding for business and leadership, laying a solid foundation for his professional journey.

In 2013, Paruyr stepped into the sports and betting industry as the founder and president of Bookmaker Rating. This online mass media platform, which he led until 2020, focused on providing in-depth analysis and insights in sports betting, earning a reputation for its quality content. 

Continuing his innovative approach in 2022, Paruyr co-founded Azuro, a decentralized betting protocol. This venture showcases his dedication to integrating advanced technology in the evolving landscape of sports betting. Through these diverse experiences, Paruyr has continuously influenced and shaped the betting industry, driving new trends and setting high standards.

 ExperienceYear
Engaged in private entrepreneurship2000-2013
Founder and President at Bookmaker Rating, an online platform focused on sports and betting2013-2020
Co-founder at Azuro, a decentralized betting protocol2022

"Innovation in sportsbetting comes from a deep understanding of both technology and the human element of sports." 

- Paruyr Shahbazyan, Founder, RG

 

Principles and Ethics

Paruyr Shahbazyan's core beliefs lie in the power of informed decision-making and integrity in the betting industry. He understands that the foundation of successful betting is not just about odds and predictions, but also about the trust and reliability of the information provided. Paruyr advocates for a betting environment where transparency and knowledge are paramount, ensuring that bettors are well-equipped with accurate data and insights.

Strategic Vision

Paruyr's vision is to revolutionize the sports betting industry through the integration of technology. He sees the future of betting as a blend of traditional sports knowledge with innovative tech solutions, like decentralized protocols, to enhance user experience and fairness. His aim is to create platforms that are not only user-friendly but also uphold the highest standards of ethical betting, contributing to a more responsible and enjoyable betting culture.

Future Perspectives

Looking towards the future, Paruyr envisions a betting landscape that is more inclusive, technologically advanced, and globally connected. He anticipates a significant shift towards more decentralized and transparent betting systems, driven by blockchain technology. Paruyr is committed to being at the forefront of this change, continuously exploring new possibilities and innovations that can redefine what it means to engage in sports betting in a digital world. His focus is on building systems that prioritize user empowerment, fairness, and the global growth of the sports betting community.

 

Anna Kravtcova
Anna Kravtcova
Problem Gambling Expert

Ph.D. in organizational psychology, an internationally certified psychologist (EuroPsy 2022, Cognitive behavioural therapy of mindfulness 2020, International Society for Emotional Intelligence 2017, Russian Psychological society 2014, American Psychological Association(Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychologist) 2011), speaker of many international conferences (USA, Brazil, Portugal, Czech Republic, Russia, etc.). TEDx speaker.

Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Editor-in-Chief

Sol's interest in sports was sparked at a young age, inspired by athletes such as Barry Sanders, Michael Jordan, and Wayne Gretzky. This early fascination evolved into a deep-seated passion, guiding him toward a career in sports journalism in 2007. Over the years, Sol has contributed thousands of articles and reviews to dozens of online platforms, sharing his research, knowledge, and perspectives.

“In the world of sports betting, truth is more valuable than any bonus offer.”

ExperienceYear
Content Manager, OnlineCasinoReports2012-2021
Sports Journalist, Dottraffic2009-2011
Content Writer, HouseTech2007-2009
Nick Ashbourne
Nick Ashbourne
Senior Writer

Nick has been fascinated with sports since he was first taken to a Toronto Maple Leafs game back in 1998, and he's written about them professionally since 2014.

Nick has covered baseball and hockey for outlets like The Athletic, Sportsnet, and Yahoo Sports, and his sports betting expertise has grown since its legalization in Ontario in 2022. 

Between 2022 and 2023 he worked for a betting startup called NorthStar Bets, and in 2024 he contributed to Oddspedia before joining the Responsible Gambling team.