When betting on sports that do not usually offer a point spread, one of the most fundamental and common occurrences is what is known as a money line bet. Boxing is a good example of a sport that does not offer point spread betting. You pick the winner and there is nothing more that you can bet on. Baseball is another sport that uses money line betting, although baseball does also have a point spread betting system. This type of betting is much less stressful and much easier to understand if you are a beginner. So what is the money line and how does it work?
Simply put, a game with a money line bet looks like this:
New York Yankees -150
Boston Red Sox +130
In the above example, the Yankees are the team favored to win the baseball game. The negative sign next to the Yankees is your indication of the favorite. The Red Sox are the underdogs. The plus sign in front of their name tells you so. Since the Yankees are a large favorite to win this game, a sports bettor has to wager $150 to win $100. Similarly, since the Red Sox are such large underdogs, sports books will pay a sports bettor $130 for every $100 wager. If you placed a bet on either team in this instance, you just bet the money line. You are placing a bet to win straight up.
These types of bets are popular because there are no points involved. If your team wins the game, you win the money line bet. It does not get any simpler than that. The larger the favorite, the more cash you will have to risk just to win $100. The bigger the underdog, the more risk you take and the more the sports books will pay you for betting $100. In boxing, it is more realistic to see larger favorites and heavier underdogs. When James (Buster) Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson in 1990, a $1500 money line bet on Douglas would have won you $57,000 (and it did, to one very lucky and very opportunistic bettor).
Money line betting is not the only betting option in sports but it is the easiest for the beginner to understand and the easiest to place. Be careful though, as sports books will charge you heavy juice, or vigorish, for heavy favorites. Public perception is what sets the lines, not the potential outcomes of games. Blindly picking the favorites because they should win will bankrupt you very fast — and the sports books of the world know this all too well. They are masters in exploiting that fact and that is why they remain highly profitable businesses. If you are new to the sports betting world, money line bets are a great place to get started while you learn how other types of wagers work. It requires little knowledge of betting in general and will keep you entertained while you learn the rest of the basics. Having a solid understanding of money lines and how they are calculated will give you an advantage when deciding where your bet should be placed.
Michael publishes articles discussing current trends in sports, as well as how-to guides for both beg