How Does the Money Line Work in Betting?

Most people are familiar with the term “money line,” but not necessarily how it operates in sports betting. Let’s take a closer look at this term and how it relates to betting on sports.

What Is the Money Line?

If you’re a fan of the NFL, you may have come across the money line often. This is the line that sets the point spread for NFL games, and it can either be bet on the “money line” itself or on whether the team with the point spread will win the game. Every NFL team is exactly even money when it comes to the money line, so if you’re unfamiliar with NFL betting, you’ll want to keep this in mind.

Why Is It Called the “Money Line”?

The NFL money line is also referred to as the “total money line,” which refers to the fact that the payout on this line is determined by the total amount of points scored in the game — not just the final score. This means that if a game ends in a draw, the money line will still payout as if there had been a win (or loss)

How Does the Money Line Work in Betting?

When someone places a bet on the money line, the bet is initially considered a push. The sportsbooks take the bet as a free bet because they assume that the majority of people who bet on the money line will bet on their team to cover the spread. Therefore, most of these bets will be against the “spread,” and the sportsbooks will make a profit off of them regardless of the final score.

There are exceptions to this rule. For instance, if the Patriots win the Super Bowl by a large amount, the winning bettor will likely want to collect on their winnings without having to cover the spread. In this case, they’d pay out at -110 to +110 on the money line, and the sportsbooks would have to cover this cost. Fortunately for them, the Patriots did exactly that in 2018, when they won the Super Bowl by a score of 28-27.

How Do You Work the Money Line?

Working the money line means placing bets on whether the selected team will win or lose, as opposed to simply betting on the spread. You’ll want to do this by selecting the “side” you think your team will win, as the money line gives that result a 50% chance of happening (at least in theory). For example, if you think the Chargers will beat the Steelers, you could place a bet on the Money Line to see if they’ll cover the 3 point spread or not.

Example of a Money Line Betting Scenario

In the 2016 NFL season, the Buffalo Bills hosted the New York Jets in a game that went down to the wire. With 6 seconds left and the game tied, 28-28, both teams had a shot at a comeback, but only one could emerge victorious. It was the Bills, who scored the winning touchdown with 15 seconds left on the clock to secure a 35-31 victory.

Since the game was tied at 28-28, we’ll use the money line for this example. Before the game started, bettors placed bets on both sides of the game. After the coin toss, they placed their bets again, but this time on the money line. Since there were only two teams in the game, the line was an even 2.5, and both teams were equal money. The only difference was the point spread. When the game started, the Jets kicked off first and then the Bills returned the favor by kicking off twice as well. This resulted in a scoring rally that saw both teams score in the first three minutes of the game. After that, however, the tides turned, and the Bills shut out the Jets in the second half, winning the game 35-31.

Back in the present day, the LA Chargers are taking on the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2019 AFC Championship Game. The Chargers won the previous game 26-23, and now have a shot at another berth in the Super Bowl. While the spread on this game has been set at 3.5 points, which gives the Chiefs a decent amount of room for error, the money line makes it a bit more interesting. Before the game, the Chiefs were a -3.5 favorite in the game due to their 23-point victory over the Chargers in the first game of the year. However, the Chargers held a team conference before the game and decided that they would like to “pound” the Chiefs on the money line, meaning that they would like to make sure that they get at least twice as many points as the Chiefs in this particular game. Therefore, they are currently 5-0 in NFL games this year with an average score of 28.0 points per game. Since the spread is only 3.5 points, this essentially makes the Chiefs the 4.5 point underdog in this game. However, if the Chargers win the game by at least 10 points, they’ll win the bet.