Recently updated on April 17th, 2020
If you are at all familiar with sports betting, you will know that there is a stark difference between moneyline and point spread bets. Although both of these bets are placed on the outcome of a game, one is focused simply on the end result, whereas the other measure the degree of success.
With moneylines and spreads being the most popular types of bets at online sportsbooks, a lot of gamblers are faced with the “moneyline vs point spread” dilemma on a daily basis.
Point spreads tend to be more popular when gamblers bet on leagues such as the NFL and the NBA. However, moneylines tend to be preferred by bettors who focus their energies on the MLB or NHL. (You might notice a pattern with high vs low scoring sports already).
In general, the simplest answer to the point spread vs moneyline debate is that both are great betting options. But your pick should be based on certain situational factors, which we aim to discuss.
We have created the ultimate guide to answer all your questions related to the moneyline vs point spread debate. Some of the areas we focus on include:
- How moneylines work
- How point spreads work
- When to use each of these bets
We also list a bunch of sportsbooks with great odds that you can explore if you feel the need to test your newfound gambling knowledge about spreads and moneylines.
Moneyline Vs Spead Betting Links
- Best Online Sportsbooks
- Point Spread Betting Explained
- Moneyline Betting Explained
- Moneyline Vs Spread Betting: Which is Better?
- Spread Vs Moneyline – FAQs
Spread betting (also known as handicapping in some countries) is a very popular form of betting. Although it may seem confusing to novices, many sports bettors regard betting on a point spread the best form of gambling.
Essentially, you bet on the score difference between the two teams featured in a game. The sportsbook crunches the numbers and declares a favorite and an underdog. Then, they post the number of points they expect the favorite to win the match by.
You can then bet on whether the favorite will beat the line or whether the underdog will cover. The aim is to level the playing field and allow for fair odds on both the favorite and the underdog.
All this theory may seem very confusing, so here is an example that may help clear things up a bit if you are a bit lost.
Let’s say you visit a sportsbook and see the following point spread line:
Green Bay Packers -6.5 -105
Seattle Seahawks +6.5 -115
In such a scenario, if you place your bet on the Packers to win, they need to win the game by at least seven points. The -6.5 next to the line is what indicates this. A line will always have 0.5 difference to avoid potential draws (or “pushes”) in which the sportsbook needs to pay you back what you bet.
However, if you bet on the Seattle Seahawks, all you need is for the team to lose by fewer than 7 points. So, even if the Seahawks lose, you could still win if they beat the spread. Of course, you also win if they beat the odds and win the game.
The number located next to the 6.5 next to each team is the odds on the line. If you are unsure of how to read odds, we have a dedicated guide that explains how to do such, which we recommend you have a look at.
Advantages of Spread Bets
Here are some of the advantages associated with spread bets:
- Spread betting sometimes allows you some room to breathe, especially if you bet on the underdog. All you need a team to win or lose by a certain score, which is sometimes more attainable than an outright win. This especially true in cases where two really good or bad teams are playing against each other.
- Often, paying attention to statistics needed to make better spread bets allow you to understand team momentum better. And this will help you make better future bets on which team will cover the spread.
- Finding value spread bets is pretty easy. Sometimes, sportsbooks get these kinds of bets wrong, and the difference between is much smaller or larger than their algorithm suggests.
Disadvantages of Spreads
Here are some of the reasons some bettors choose to avoid spread bets:
- Spread bets allow you to bet on your favorite team, even if they are terrible. Sometimes, this will lead to a load of emotionally-charged bad bets. For example, you may be angry that the Cleveland Browns lost last weekend and may miss the playoffs, so you slot them to lose their next game by 20 points even though they are playing a bad team.
- Spread bets are usually only offered on team sports. So, if this is your favorite type of bet, you are kind of limited in the sports you can bet on.
Moneylines are bets in which you simply pick who you think is going to win the game. The total score is irrelevant in this bet. Continuing with the example line we used above, the moneyline on that same game could be:
Green Bay Packers -355
Seattle Seahawks +435
With this line, you can infer who the sportsbook favors to win the game by simply having a look at the odds. In the example, it is pretty clear that the Packers are favored because you would need to bet $355 to win $100 if you bet on them.
However, a $100 bet on the Seahawks would win you $435. If you are unsure of how we got these numbers, we must again refer you to our guide on how to read odds.
Advantages of Moneylines
Here are some of the pros that come with making moneyline bets:
- Moneylines are easy bets to make. You are simply betting on who you think will win the game, which is much better easier to predict than how much a team will win a game by. The final score is irrelevant as long as the right team wins.
- Along with over/unders, moneylines are a great place to start your adventure into sports betting. A lot of other bets require you to look at all sorts of other stats and facts that may take a while to get used to.
Disadvantages of Moneylines
Here are some of the reasons you may want to ignore moneyline bets:
- Moneyline odds don’t offer big payouts on heavy favorites. Look at our example lines above. Both spread bet options allow you to bet a small amount to win a fairly good return. However, with the moneyline option, this is only true if you bet on the underdog.
- If you consistently bet on favorites, you will need a high win-loss percentage to cover for your losses. Given the unpredictability of sports, this isn’t always possible.
- Moneylines don’t allow for the same flexibility that spreads do. As explained above, spreads don’t require a team to win outright for a bet to be correct. But with moneylines, it’s pretty black and white: you either win or you lose.
In the debate of money line vs spread betting, there isn’t a clear answer to which is better. Quite simply, when debating which to use on your next bet, you should focus on three factors:
- What type of bettor you are (i.e. whether you feel comfortable with all the research required for a spread bet).
- The odds available on the moneyline and spread (i.e. if you want to bet on a favorite and the moneyline bet has terrible odds (for example, you need to bet $500 to win $100), don’t do it).
- Whether the spread is available as spread aren’t available on every sport.
Once you have looked at all of these factors, you will be able to make a decision on whether to go for the moneyline or the spread.
The answer to this question is dependent on the line and bettor. Overall, spreads are usually definitively better in games where there is a clear favorite to win.
Again, this depends on the bet. However, as a general, moneylines overall force bettors to pay more juice in situations where there is a clear favorite.
You can parlay moneylines and spreads but not on the same game.
Moneylines could include overtime but also not. In sports where a draw is a possible result before an overtime period, it is important to make sure that you select the betting option that fits your desires. Just note that 3-way moneylines don’t include overtime.
A bet with negative odds is more likely to happen, which is why some bettors may try to take a chance on such an outcome. However, we would not recommend doing this often as the payout usually isn’t worth it.
Covering the spread means that a team has beaten the predicted margin stated by sportsbooks. Either the favorite wins by more points than predicted, or the underdog loses by fewer than predicted.
Check out our other sports bet guides: