If you’re just getting into sports betting, knowing when to go with a moneyline or point spread bet can help you avoid losing while maximizing your profits. While these are the two most common NFL betting lines, not many know the differences and when to opt for one over the other.
If you’re swimming in this boat, keep scrolling to learn each option’s pros and cons and the circumstances best suited for each option.
What Is Moneyline Betting
For most punters, this is the first wager they make. It’s the most straightforward and involves picking a team to win a game outright. The sportsbooks assign odds to each team, representing the amount you can win or need to win from $100 or need to wager to win $100.
These odds are the “moneyline” and are either positive or negative. The favorites are assigned a negative number, while the underdog has a positive value.
An example of odds for an NFL moneyline bet on a game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Cleveland Browns could be -550 for the 49ers and +400 for the Browns. This means you need to wager $550 on the 49ers to win $100. On the other hand, if you place $100 on the Browns, you can win yourself a cool $400.
What’s a Point Spread Betting
A point spread bet goes beyond picking the winner and predicts the margin of victory. The term “point spread” refers to a figure pre-set by the sportsbooks. It handicaps the favorite and gives an advantage to the underdog to try to even the playing field.
As you can already tell, point spread bets are slightly more complex than moneylines. But if you put your head to it, they are quite easy to grasp. Point spreads are some of the most popular types of sports bets and, like moneylines, use positive and negative numbers, with the favorite having a positive spread and vice versa.
Your pick has to cover the spread for you to in your bet. In my earlier example, the San Francisco 49ers had a -9 spread, meaning they needed to win by 10 points. Meanwhile, the Browns could only lose by at most 8 points for you to win. Should your pick wins or loses by 9 points, that’s considered a “push,” and the sportsbook will refund your original wager.
If the point spread was -9.5 and +9.5, you win your bet if the Browns lose by 9 or less. On the other hand, the 49ers have to win by 10 points to cover the spread. With this bet, the result cannot be a push or tie.
Which Is Better?
The best choice depends on the specific game you’re wagering on. If your analysis tells you the underdog might win the game outright, bet the moneyline. But if you feel they might come close but likely not win, go with the point spread.
While moneyline payouts are higher for underdogs, favorites often require a larger bet for a significant win. When betting on the favorite, the point spread can be ideal, especially if you think the underdog is unlikely to be competitive.
Additionally, moneyline bets are a good option if you don’t want to worry about the margin of victory. If your team is up by a comfortable number of points, you can relax and enjoy the rest of the game while waiting for your winnings.
Finally, you should also take into account your risk tolerance. If you care more about not losing than winning big, the moneyline is better for wagering on favorites, while the point spread is better when betting on the underdog. This hybrid strategy allows you to maximize your chances of winning while managing your risk.