A moneyline bet is the foundation for all sports bets. In this wager type, you’re simply picking which team will win the game or which player will win the match.
This is why betting the moneyline is often referred to as betting straight up. A common example of what this bet type will look like is:
New England Patriots (-500)
Miami Dolphins (+350)
For these wagers and any wagers in the American format, a minus sign signals which team is the favorite to win and the plus sign signifies which team is the underdog. The numbers themselves signify the payout ratio for the amount you bet.
So in this example, if you believe that the Patriots will win the game you’d have to put down $500 in order to win $100. If the Patriots win, the sportsbook will give you back your initial $500 you put down, plus an additional $100.
Let’s say you have an inkling that the Dolphins are going to pull off the upset. Then you would only have to put down $100 in order to win $350. Same as before, the sportsbook will give you back your initial $100 plus $350 on top of it.
$100 isn’t the minimum bet, online sportsbooks will accept bets as low as a dollar and sometimes less. It’s merely an easier way to see the payout ratio.
The reason that the sportsbook offers such different payouts for each team is that the sportsbook is trying to balance the wagers coming in for both sides. The key to knowing how to read betting odds is understanding that each of the odds is usually a representation of a possible payout ratio.
After the game is done, the sportsbook will pay the winners with the losers’ money and then take a small cut off the top for providing the service. This concept is the same for any betting line they offer.