NFL Betting Lines: The Money Line

What Is The Money Line?

The money line bet is one of the most common types of wagers any sports bettor could ever make. It is the kind of wager that has been used for centuries among enemies and friends alike. I imagine it must have started when two people met and simply watching something happen decided to bet on it, “I bet you that man will beat that other man”. That is all that the money line wager is, a way to bet on which team will be the winner of the upcoming match. It is one of the three most common types of wagers and can be found on the NFL betting lines for when the sports fan wants to bet on any of the NFL season match-ups.

Finding the Money Line

The money line bet, as mentioned before, is located on any of the NFL betting lines that can be found on any of the many great online sportsbooks that are out there. All you have to do is go out and find the best sportsbooks and odds, and make sure they have the moneyline bets.


When looking at the different NFL betting lines on the sportsbooks, many sports bettor may encounter a few different name variations for this wager type. The most common variations are Money Line, Money, or with a simple abbreviation of ML. Another easy way to spot the money line wager is to look at the odds, as they tend to only have one set of odds, and no Price; the reason for this is that the odds and the price are the same thing with the money line.

NFL Money Line Betting Steps

The first step when using the money line is to use the information that is given. There are two pieces of information that can be attained through the money line odds, the Favorite/Underdog teams, as well as pay-in/payout amounts.

The Favorite and Underdog

During any NFL matchup, there will always be a better team that has better chances of winning the match, while the other team has fewer chances of winning. This is when you would determine which team is the Favorite and which team is the Underdog; with the Favorite having higher chances and the Underdog having lower chances of winning.

The way a bettor determines which is which is by looking at the odds. You can notice that there is a negative () and positive (+) sign in front of the odds. The negative () symbol will always represent the Favorite team, while the positive (+) sign will always represent the Underdog team. This is important to know because sometimes bettors will just go with their instinct and not on facts, and that could lead to losing the bet.

The Pay-in and Payout

The odds also determine how much a player needs to either pay-in or how much a bettor will get in a payout when placing a bet. The way this works is that it combines the Favorite and Underdog information with it in order to calculate the price.

When looking at the negative () value, which is for the Favorite, that is how much money the sports bettor has to invest in order to win $100. The bettor has to invest more in order to get less, since the team is more likely to win.

When looking at the positive (+) value, which is for the Underdog, that value is how much money the bettor will win if they invest $100. This happens since the bettor is taking a bigger risk by betting on the Underdog, so they will get a bigger payout but the risk of losing is greater.

Calculating the Pay-In and Payout

You know where the information is located and what each of the numbers and symbols represents, but what if you want to bet less than $100 or want to bet more than just $100. This is a simple calculation that sports bettors can use when wanting to calculate how much money they need to invest on the Favorite or how much money they could win if they bet on the Underdog.

Calculating the Favorite

When trying to figure out how much to wager on the Favorite in order to get a certain payout or when trying to see how much you could get, by investing a certain amount, it is always important to realize that when betting on the Favorite, the payout will always be less than what was initially invested.

To determine how much you need to invest based on how much you want to win:

  Desired Payout Calculation Amount to Wager
$50 (Odds / 100) x Desired Payout $190
$150 $570

To determine the payout amount based on a set amount of money you want to wager with:

  Amount to Wager Calculation Payout Amount
$80 Amount Wagered / (Odds / 100) $21
$130 $35

By using either of these calculations, the sports bettor can determine how much money they would need to wager in order to win a certain amount of money or how much money they could potentially win by betting with a predetermined amount. Remember, this is how you calculate the pay-in/payout when betting on the Favorite.

Calculating the Underdog

When betting on the Underdog team, it is much simpler to find the payout amount since this wager depends solely on how much you want to wager with. Either way, we can also find out how much money you would need to wager with in order to win a certain amount of money.

To determine the payout:

  Amount to Wager Calculation Payout Amount
$50 (Odds / 100) x Wager Amount $155
$150 $465

To determine how much to wager with depending on how much you want to win:

  Desired Payout Calculation Amount to Wager
$80 Desired Payout / (Odds / 100) $26
$220 $71

The payout will always be greater than the amount you wager with when betting on the Underdog team, simply because the team has fewer chances of winning. The higher the risk of losing, the higher the payout will be; be sure to do your research before placing a bet, since it might be better to bet on the Underdog when the games are evenly matched.


Now you should be able to understand, answer, explain and use the following:

  • NFL Money Lines
  • Money Line Odds
  • How does the money line work?
  • What is the money line?
  • How do I use a money line calculator?

Money Line Betting – Conclusion

The money line is just one of three common wagering types that can be found on the NFL betting lines, so be sure to read and understand the Point Spread and the Total Points bets in order to increase your chances at picking the right bets.


Additional Resources

  • Bovada – Football Moneyline Rules – Moneylines are offered only when the point spread is between 3 and 10. If the spread is exactly 3 or 10, moneylines are offered only when the line is standard (-110).
  • Excellent post on understanding money lines. – If you are good at math, this has what you need : The key to understanding money lines is in determining what chance of winning gives me a positive expected value. Suppose that we must bet x dollars to win y more and that we have a probability of victory p. Then we can expect to win py dollars and expect to lose (1-p)x dollars.
  •’s Intro to MoneyLines Page