Moneyline vs Spread - What's Best for Bettors?

Cameron Kozinets
By: Cameron Kozinets
28 May 23
Blog
Spread vs Moneyline
Spread vs Moneyline - Which is Better?

Bettors have a lot of different options on sports betting sites when trying to choose markets. But typically, there are two markets that bettors come back to most on betting sites. Those markets are Moneyline and Point Spread bets.

These are the two betting markets you’ll likely find on sportsbooks ranging from Bodog and Sports Interaction to PowerPlay and BetVictor. While these two markets reign supreme, which one is the best? 

In this guide, we’re going to look at Moneyline vs Spread betting. First, we’ll explore what both these markets are and how to use them. We’ll then dive into is it better to bet spread or moneyline markets? Let’s get started.

Moneyline Betting Explained

Before we can get to work comparing these two markets, we must properly understand them both. Let’s start with Moneyline betting. This is the most popular, straightforward betting that can be found on just about every betting site imaginable.

A Moneyline bet is when a bettor wagers directly on the outcome of a sporting event. If a bettor bets on a team on the Moneyline, that means they’ve picked them to win.

For example, if you are mobile betting and want to wager on the outcome of the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. the Vancouver Canucks, and you pick the Toronto Maple Leafs to win, all that needs to happen for your bet to cash is the Maple Leafs to end the game as winners.

Moneline odds are typically displayed in a way where bettors can clearly see each team’s projected probability. With the aforementioned Maple Leafs vs. Canucks game, the odds in the American format would be shown as Maple Leafs -150, Canucks +120. Bettors would then select the outcome they believe will happen.

With sports that have ties, like soccer, the odds would be shown as Arsenal +110, Tie +150, and Tottenham +120.

Moneyline Betting Pros & Cons

Moneyline betting is the most popular market you’ll find, with many bettors choosing to use it more often than any other, whether they are using betting apps or desktop sites. But why? Well, to explore what makes Moneyline betting so common, let's look at the pros and cons of this form of betting.

ProsCons

Simple:

Moneyline bets are ideal for beginners, although bettors of all experience levels love them. They are simple and straightforward. Bettors don’t have to track some unpredictable, confusing result. They just have to pick who will win a game.

Betting the Favorite Has a Low Payout:

Typically, because there are only two possible outcomes of a Moneyline bet, betting on the favorite will not yield a high payout. While with matchups oddsmakers expect to be close, it can still be worth betting on a favorite; in Moneyline bets with heavy favorites, it typically isn't worth bettors' time to bet the favorite.

Betting the Underdog Can Have Huge Payouts:

One of the nice things about Moneyline betting is that when bettors pick an underdog, and it hits, there can be a lot of money in it for them. Underdog bets have high payouts with Moneyline markets depending on how much a team is favored.

Need a Direct Result to Occur:

One of the nice aspects of other forms of betting is that there is some margin for error. With spread betting, teams just need to stay within or outside specific margins. With Moneyline, the team you bet on needs to win directly, or the bet doesn't cash.

Easier to Make a Decision:

With Moneyline bets, bettors only have to pick which team will win or lose. This means the predictability of an outcome is a little higher, as it isn't based on something harder to project, like a final score.

Moneyline Betting Tips

  • Parlay Heavy Favorites: Betting on heavy favorites with the Moneyline is not a smart strategy because the upside is not significant for bettors. However, if you still want to bet favorites, parlaying a heavy favorite on the Moneyline with a different outcome can boost your odds.
  • Find Sneaky Underdogs: The key to successfully betting on the Moneyline is finding matchups where oddsmakers are overlooking the underdog. The most value from Moneyline betting comes from underdogs, so keep your eyes peeled for teams that have good chances of winning but favorable odds for bettors.
  • Check Line Movement: Follow the line movement before placing a bet. The professional gamblers, also known as the sharps, will wager heavily on certain outcomes. These pros know what they are doing, so track the movement from the sharps to get extra insight into what the professionals think.
  • Do Your Research: Always do research before wagering. Track recent performance, injury updates, and matchup favorability because the more knowledge you have, the better you can predict the winner of a game.

Spread Betting Explained

Moneyline betting is very straightforward, which adds to its popularity. But point spread betting is slightly more complicated and likely just as popular. The key thing bettors need to know is that point spread betting is a bet on the final score differential of a game.

A point spread bet will be a wager on a line that shows the differential a team is supposed to win by or lose by. Bettors can choose to bet for the spread, meaning that the favorited team will win by more than the projected differential, or against the spread, meaning that the favorited team will not match the projected differential, winning by fewer points than the line or losing.

Let’s look at an example that will also show us what point spread betting lines typically look like. A spread will typically be represented as a + or -, with the additional odds for the bet next to the line.

Say the Chicago Bears are playing the Buffalo Bills, and you head to your favorite NFL betting sites to wager. The Bills have a line of -5.5 (-110), and the Bears have a line of +5.5(-110). What this means is that the Bills are favored by 5.5 points, and a bet of $110 on them to cover the spread will yield a payout of $100 profit. If the Bills win the game by six or more points, the bet cashes. If you bet on the Bears, they must lose by five or fewer points or win outright for your bet to cash.

In sports like hockey, where the score differentials tend to be marginal, puck line betting is the dominant spread format. In this, the differential is set at a standard of -1.5 or +1.5. The odds have more variation in puck line betting because the differential is more similar.

Point Spread Betting Pros & Cons

Point spread betting is incredibly popular, with it being one of the first markets most bettors start to experiment with. Let’s look at some of the different pros and cons of this market, then dive into some tips about how you should use spread betting.

ProsCons

Flexibility:

Spread betting is a flexible form of betting, especially when you factor in alternative spreads. With alternative spreads, bettors can create their own projected differential, with odds that adapt accordingly. This gives bettors more freedom.

No Massive Odds:

Unless you make an alternative spread and really adjust it, the chances of you finding spreads with massive odds is unlikely. Typically, a spread is near-even odds, meaning there isn’t a way to win a big payday without betting a substantial amount on single bet spreads.

Margin for Error:

The margin for error in spread betting can be more than with most other forms of betting, particularly when you are betting on an underdog that is projected to lose by a lot. If you bet on a basketball team that is +14.5, the team can get dominated, lose by 13, and you still win the bet.

Can Result in a Push:

This is less of a con and more of an inconvenience, but spreads can result in pushes. Not all spreads are decimals; some are whole numbers. If you bet on a -6 spread, and the game ends with the team you bet on winning by six, that is a push. You get the money you staked back but no winnings.

Even Odds:

Because spreads are based on score differentials, the odds are quite favorable, particularly when betting on a favorite. Typically, the odds for a spread are just above even for each of the two options, so bettors can get solid payouts.

Easy to Follow:

Like Moneyline betting, a spread is easy to keep track of. They both are very straightforward.

Point Spread strategies & tips

  • Edit the Spread If You Don’t Like It: As we've mentioned, changing spreads is possible with the alternative spread market. If you don't like a spread, you can edit it to be more favorable to the result you believe will happen and even get better odds depending.
  • Bet on Larger Spreads: The type of spread that has the biggest margin for bettors to succeed is betting an underdog on a massive score differential spread, like -18.5 in an NBA or NFL game. If the spread is -1.5 in an NFL or NBA game, you might as well bet on the Moneyline.
  • Check Team’s Performance Against the Spread: While it is easy to check a team’s Moneyline record (just look at their wins and losses), it is just as easy to see how teams perform against the spread. Simply Google a team’s record against the spread, and you’ll see how they do as a favorite or underdog against the spread.
  • Bet Favorites on Spread Over Moneyline for Higher Payouts: Betting a favorite on the Moneyline doesn't yield a big payout because, typically, favorites win, particularly if they are heavy favorites. If you have faith that a team will dominate, though, bet a heavy favorite on the spread, and you get close to even odds.

Point Spread vs. Moneyline

We’ve given you some insight into both Moneyline and point spreads, exploring what they are and how they work. Now, it is time for the moment you have all been waiting for: the comparison.

 It is hard to do a moneyline vs. spread direct comparison because what you prefer is going to depend largely on you. However, there are some inherent advantages and disadvantages each one has. To help give you a sense of what's better for you, our betting spread vs. Moneyline comparison will look at the similarities between the two markets, why Moneyline is better, and why the spread is better.

Similarities Between Moneyline and Spread

While we are looking at spread vs. Moneyline betting, let’s not forget that there are a lot of similarities between these two forms of gambling. Let’s look at three things that these markets have in common.

  • Straightforward to Follow: There are some gambling markets that are difficult for bettors to keep track of throughout the game. This is not the case with the spread or Moneyline. Both are very easy to follow along with.
  • Lots of Data Available: Spread and Moneyline bets are two markets where you can find a lot of data and information online that should dictate the decisions you make. Other forms of betting, like game or player props, won't have the same level of data and information online and are thus less predictable.
  • Incredibly Popular: Lastly, these are two of the most popular markets available. They are each important components of a good betting strategy and something bettors should familiarize themselves with to become experienced gamblers.

Why Moneyline is Better Than Spread Betting

Naturally, Moneyline vs spread betting comes down to different factors, depending on your needs, the odds, and the event. Let’s look at some reasons Moneyline betting might be better for you than point spread betting.

  • Can Have Higher Odds: If you want to win the most possible money on a single bet, Moneylne is better for you than spread betting. Favorites tend not to have high payouts when betting the spread, but if you correctly predict an underdog winning, then you can rake it in with huge odds. There are MLB, NHL, NBA, and NFL games where teams have odds as low as +600!
  • Easier to Predict: Because Moneyline is dependent on something that is very black and white, it can be easier to predict. You are simply guessing which team will finish on top, with nothing tied to score differentials or any other factor.
  • Most Straightforward Market: In that vein, Moneyline is the most straightforward market. For example, if you are tennis betting, you don’t have to count sets or games. All that matters is who wins in the end.
  • Great for Underdog Betting: As we've mentioned, Moneyline betting can have some massive payouts if you hit on the right underdog. This makes Moneyline betting popular for those who love chasing the dogs, as the payouts can be sky-high.

Why Spread Betting is Better Than Moneyline

Just because Moneyline betting has some perks that spread betting doesn't does not mean it is superior. Let's look at the converse side of the point spread vs. Moneyline debate and see why spread betting can be better for bettors than Moneyline.

  • More Flexible Than Moneyline: Moneyline is not a particularly flexible market in the slightest. Bettors are wagering only on the final result. Point spread has more flexibility, as bettors can use alternate spreads to create a line that is better for their specific concept of how the game will go.
  • Can Find Even Odds on Any Game: One nice aspect of spread betting is that you can find odds with near-even payouts for just about every game. This isn’t the case with Moneyline, where the odds are typically heavily slanted in favor of one team or another. With spreads, you can make bets that will have solid payouts, whether you are riding with the dog or the favorite.
  • Better Payouts for Betting Favorites: When betting the Moneyline, the payout from betting on the favorite is marginal, making it not worth bettors' time in a lot of cases. But with spread betting, you can still wager on the favorite and receive high payouts; the favorite just needs to exceed the score differential. This is an excellent way to still engage with bets on the favored team.
  • Increased Margin for Error: Unlike with Moneyline betting, when betting on an underdog means they need to pull off the upset; when you bet on an underdog on the spread, they just need to keep it close. If you bet on a +9.5 underdog, that team only needs to survive the game and lose by nine or fewer points.

Moneyline vs Spread Betting FAQs

Not everyone is clear on point spread vs. Moneyline, and it is natural bettors will have some questions. We are here to help with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about spread vs. Moneyline betting.

This is entirely dependent on the situation. If you want to be less risk-averse and bet on an underdog, betting an underdog on the spread is safer. If you want to be riskier but have a greater reward, betting an underdog on Moneyline will have a greater payout. If you want to be riskier but have a higher payout, bet a favorite on the spread. If you want to be less risky but have a lower payout, bet a favorite on the Moneyline.

The difference between the spread and Moneyline is that a Moneyline bet is a bet on the direct outcome of a game, meaning bettors are wagering on which team will win. With point spreads, bettors are wagering on the score differential of a game rather than which team will end up victorious. 

This depends on the odds. For American odds, the line will show you how much a bet of $100 would make you in profit if there is a + in front. This means +200 shows you that a $100 bet earns you $200 in profit. With American odds, - shows bettors how much they’d need to bet to make $100 profit, so -200 means a $200 bet earns bettors $100 profit.

If you saw on Betway or Bet99 a +2.5 spread, that means the team is the underdog by 2.5 points, runs, or goals. If you are betting this line, that means that teams must either win the game outright or finish within 2 points/run/goals of the opponent they are facing.

Conclusion

Declaring a victor in the showdown between Moneyline vs. spread betting is impossible. That is because both markets are hugely important parts of the average bettor’s gambling experience. They are both exciting sports betting markets that have unique advantages and disadvantages, and when you utilize them will depend on the situation. There is no winner, but if you learn more about both these markets, and utilize them correctly, your gambling account can be the ultimate victor.