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What's a Moneyline Bet & How to Do It

Moneyline Betting: What Is It & How to Bet | Tipico
Moneyline Betting: What Is It & How to Bet | Tipico
Alex Valdes
Published: 2023-03-31

In our 'Better Bettor' series, Tipico Sportsbook explains betting terminology and concepts in the sports betting world.

New to the exciting world of baseball betting?

Test your baseball knowledge with the most fundamental wager: the moneyline bet. Before you move on to more advanced betting concepts — spreads, totals, props, and the likes — you need to master the basics.

But what does the moneyline mean, exactly? This MLB betting primer has you covered.


The moneyline is the ideal introductory gambling choice. Two baseball teams come to play, and only one will win. You bet on who you think will win. If the team you choose comes out on top, you also walk away the winner.

MLB moneyline betting: For Colorado | IowaNew Jersey | Ohio

How does money line work, though? Well, how much the bet pays out depends on the odds and the favorite.

Moneyline Betting Glossary of Terms
Before we move on, let’s review some basic terms associated with moneyline betting:

The Favorite -- In the unpredictable world of baseball, anything is possible. However, the favorite is the team that bookies and most bettors believe has the best shot at victory.

The Underdog -- Moneyline is a binary bet. Either bet on team A or team B. In this case, your other option is to bet on “the dog,”—the underdog, that is. This is the team predicted to lose. If they defy the odds and upset, people who took that wager will receive a larger payout. In exchange for taking on additional risk, you can bet less to win more.

Pick ‘Em -- What happens when two equally skilled teams come face-to-face? That scenario of an even playing field is known as a “pick’em.” 

There’s neither a favorite, nor a dog. The run spread is set at or close to zero, meaning that the bettors must simply decide which team they think will come out on top. Because the money is evenly split between the two sides, the payout will be closer to 1:1 — if you win, what you wager is what you’ll receive.

Pick’ems can be difficult to decide, seeing as they don’t have odds or run spreads to guide your decision-making. Instead, you must use your own analysis to predict the winner.

The Odds -- In MLB betting, the odds represent the probability of an event within the game or an outcome occurring. These influence potential payouts on a winning bet. Naturally, the less likely the odds, the bigger the payout.

MLB moneyline betting: For Colorado | IowaNew Jersey | Ohio

In American gambling, the moneyline odds are either displayed as a positive (+) or negative (- number), with $100 acting as the basic unit bet.

How would this look on a betting slip?

The favorite is assigned a negative number like (-150). In that case, the negative number indicates the amount you would need to wager on the moneyline to win a cool $100.

The dog is assigned a positive number like (+250). This figure reveals that if you bet $100, you could walk away with an impressive $250 in winnings. Essentially, you're looking at a 2.5x bet multiplier for embracing this riskier, yet potentially more rewarding, option.

To place a moneyline wager, you simply choose the team you think will win and decide on the bet amount. If your team wins, your bet will hit, and the payout will be determined according to the odds.


Odds are calculated using a number of analytics and ranking factors. And odds can change leading all the way up to the game, depending on changes to these factors. That said, once you have placed a bet, the odds and lines are locked regardless of any shifts.

For bettors, you need to consider how these potential variables will impact the outcome of the matchup:

Team performance – Baseball is a game of streaks. The recent and overall performance of teams will factor into this ranking decision. Naturally, a team on a hot streak will likely be favored over a team that’s in a losing slump.

Pitching matchups – No other player has as significant an impact in shaping the outcome of the game as the pitchers. And, bullpens rotate regularly to ensure pitchers can rest their arms. As a result, team A with a stronger starting pitcher may be favored over a team B with a weaker pitcher, even if team B has a better regular season record.

Head-to-head records – Due to the way they’re constructed, certain rosters will match up better with certain teams. Or there may be a rivalry that impacts outcomes. In such cases, the historical performance between the two teams, particularly within the ongoing season, can play a significant role in shaping the odds.

Home field advantage – Playing at home or away can have a major impact on a team’s performance. For instance, in 2022, the Dodgers had an impressive home-winning percentage of 70% and an away-winning percentage of 64%. While they were still a top team, in either case, there was a notable 6% difference depending on where they played. That’s because playing at home will provide advantages like a friendly crowd backing them and familiarity with the stadium.

Player injuries and absences – Baseball can be a grind. There are 162 games in the regular season and 26 players on the starting roster. Injuries can and will occur. Players may need to rest and recover, which can impact the game’s dynamic, especially if it affects the pitching or the top of the batting order. Should the star player be sidelined, a team’s chances of winning may plummet.

Weather conditions – The game conditions won’t always be 75 and sunny. Extreme temperatures, wind, rain, and humidity can all affect player performance, ball flights, batting, pitching, and more. Naturally, inclement weather can add an element of unpredictability to the matchup.


Now that we’ve covered the basics, how would you actually go about betting the moneyline?

Let’s say the Cleveland Guardians are set to play at home against the San Diego Padres. Both teams are relatively healthy and will have their starting pitchers—Shane Bieber and Yu Darvish—in. Weather conditions should be fairly mild and both teams have been playing middle-of-the-road ball.

MLB moneyline betting: For Colorado | IowaNew Jersey | Ohio

The Guardians are the slight favorite. And, as a fan of the team, you think they’ll win. Here, a bet slip might look like:

In this example, the Guardians are favored to win, with odds of -120. At these odds, a $100 wager on the favorite would result in $83.33 in winnings, plus the initial $100 wager. On the flip side, a $100 wager on the underdog Padres would result in $150 in winnings, plus the initial $100 wager back.


What Happens If the Game Ends in a Tie?

In professional baseball, games don’t end in ties. Instead, the game goes to extra innings. As a result, the moneyline bet will always have a winner.

That said, depending on the bookmaker, going to extra innings could potentially impact props, run lines, and totals. For instance, if the total runs scored in a game was set to 9.5 and the game goes to extra innings with a score of 4-4, the over may be considered a loss if the bookkeeper doesn’t include extra innings. Typically, the bookie will make this clear.

Do You Need to Bet on the Entire Game?
Many books will have a “4.5-inning rule.” That means, for the bets to have action, the game must go at least 5 full innings.

But you don’t necessarily need to bet on a whole 9-inning game.  An increasingly popular bet is the 5-inning bet, which is the MLB’s take on the first-half bet. As the name implies, you only bet on the first 5-innings.

Why do that? Because the game script tends to be more predictable when the starting pitcher is in. And seeing as pitchers typically only play an average of 5 innings, it reduces many of the late-game variables, such as pitching rotations and manager substitutions.

Are There Specific Strategies for Moneyline Betting?
How you play the moneyline is completely up to you. Some bettors prefer to only bet underdogs when the situation is right. Others opt for pick ’em games.

Before you ever make a wager, you should research both teams, compare odds at various sportsbooks to find the best value, and use a bankroll management strategy to improve your chances.


Now that you know the basics, you’re all set to play the moneylines. Once the regular season arrives, you’ll have dozens of moneyline matchups to choose from each day.

Are you ready to pick the heads-up winner?

If so, Tipico is the ultimate sportsbook for MLB fans. Whether you want to place a 5-inning or full-game moneyline wager, we are the baseball betting hub.

We currently offer online sportsbooks in Iowa, Ohio, Colorado, and New Jersey. Check out our promotions to win big today, at Tipico. Check out our promotions to win big today, at Tipico.

Moneyline Betting: What Is It & How to Bet | Tipico


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