Win, lose, tie. Sometimes it really is just that simple. Once in a while, you get to just pick who’s going to win and who’s going to lose. Every now and then, you’ll throw in a tie to shake it up. Easy, peasy; you can move on to the next article now.
Okay, obviously it’s not that simple – nothing ever is – but honestly, moneyline betting is one of the most straightforward possible ways of placing a bet. It doesn’t care about point spreads or what the margins will be; it’s all about who wins, who loses, and sometimes, if neither of those things happens and everyone’s a winner. Let’s take a closer look at moneyline sports betting.
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Moneyline bets are the most straightforward, simple way to place bets on sports with two competing teams or individuals. They rely solely on who wins and loses, or on whether there’s a tie, and you, as the better, can just pick your favourite and place your bet.
There are two types of moneyline betting: two way and three way.
Two-way moneyline betting means that the bookmakers are offering odds on wins and losses only. The odds themselves will still be calculated using the complex (mythical and magical) convolutions of bookmakers (see our article How bookmakers calculate odds to find out more about this ancient and mysterious art), and will be applied to each team. The odds can be indicated in various ways (see our How to read sports odds guide) but will always show the favourite to win, the probability of a win, and what the payout for a win would be.
If the game ends in a tie, sadly, nobody wins.
Three-way moneyline betting clears up that whole tied game problem by offering odds on wins, losses and ties. By using your savvy sports bettor skills, you can select which team will win, or that they will end in a draw. The bookmakers will have calculated the odds on all outcomes, indicating the favourite to win, the probability of said win, the likelihood of a draw, and the potential payouts for all.
Because sports tournaments often have to allow for overtime or penalties during their semi-finals and finals, etc, even for games that can theoretically end in a draw during the early or round-robin stages, three-way betting usually only applies to standard game time. For instance, during a football cup final match, you could place a three-way bet on a draw as well as a two-way bet on a winner, and still win both bets. If the regular game time ends on a draw, you would win the three-way bet, and because it requires a penalty shoot-out, you could win the two-way bet if you pick the eventual winner.
Two-way moneyline betting is exclusively for a win-lose bet, with no option of betting on a tie, while three-way moneyline betting allows for win, lose and tie. Often, bookmakers and sports betting operators will offer both two-way and three-way betting on the same game. But why? Can’t you just place two bets on three-way, one for a draw and one for a win?
Remember we mentioned that, in two-way betting, if the game ends in a tie, nobody wins. That could come across as pretty unfair, especially if it’s a game where draws happen often. In that case, why even offer two-way betting at all? Why not just make all moneyline bets three-way?
It’s all about odds. Bookmakers will calculate different odds for the different types of moneyline betting, and it’s down to maths. If you narrow it down to only wins and losses in a game where draws happen, the odds change significantly. The chances of either team scoring a win at all, as opposed to a draw, are compounded into each team’s individual chances of victory over the opponent. That means, if either team does win, the potential payout could be quite high, even though the chances of it happening are lower.
On the other hand, with three-way moneyline betting, the odds could be more in favour of a draw, with the odds for either team being victorious being lower. That results in lower payouts for a win on either side, and higher (well, existing at all) payout for a draw.
Sports betting is not a game for the uninvolved. We may have said this is the most straightforward type of bet you’re going to find in sports betting, but that doesn’t mean you needn’t put some thought into it. If you were content picking your wins by random selection, you wouldn’t be trying to learn more. That’s honestly the most important tip we can give you: always be learning; understand the sport you’re betting on, learn how to calculate probability for yourself, and place your bets with information as your guide.
There are two ways to tackle sports betting. You could just throw yourself at it blindly and pick your bets because you like the team’s t-shirt. Or, you can get to know the ins and outs of this crazy and exciting world through our Sports Betting 101 series, right here. It’s full of helpful information for the uninitiated and the experienced alike.