Understanding When to Bet Spread Betting vs. Money Lines

Posted by Joe Solari on April 5, 2016 in

The debate about whether the money line is a smarter play than the point spread is a topic that has drawn varied opinions from the online sports betting public and continues to cause ripples among pundits and bettors alike. Learn how to bet on point spread vs. money line betting and the advantages that come with both options.

When to Bet Spread Betting vs Money Lines

Money Line Betting in Focus

In layman’s terms, money line betting simply entails choosing a team or player that you feel is likely to end the game on the winning side. Money lines usually come with odds that have the favorites with a negative (-) sign in front of the lines and the underdogs represented by a positive sign (+), as is depicted below.

  • Boston Celtics -110
  • Milwaukee Bucks +110

Understanding When to Bet on Money Line

In the above example, the inference is that you have to bet $110 on Boston to win $100 (if the Celtics win the game) and bet $100 on Milwaukee to win $110 (if the Bucks win the game). In soccer, there is usually a slight variation on the odds, typically known as 1X2. The soccer lines usually have three options to choose from: home win (1), away win (2) and draw (X).

Since all you need to be concerned with in money lines is the winning side, it is best to avoid picking a team whose winning chances don’t look good. The best time to bet on a money line for maximum profits is, of course, when you have underdogs who look strong enough to win the game because the return on investment is higher than when betting on a favorite or even putting your money on a point spread. Typically, strong home underdogs make the best picks for money lines, especially in team sports that have a lot of parity and strong home advantages such as college basketball, the NFL and the NBA.

Understanding When to Bet on Point Spread

Generally, point spread betting is what odds makers use to define how much better one team is considered to be over its opponent. If a bettor or handicapper is talking about trying to get the best of the number or points, they are most likely referring to the spread. If, for example, the New England Patriots are expected to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a touchdown, the point spread will represent that advantage by favoring the Patriots by 7 points—represented as -7 in point spread for New England or +7 for Tampa Bay.

In games like soccer and hockey where goals come at a premium, a half point on the spread will most likely make a huge difference between a winning and losing bet. In the NFL, for example, a half point is generally valued around 5-10 cents. In soccer, the value can go as high as being worth 100. If you are good at handicapping such low-scoring games, spread betting can be very profitable for you.

The other time that offers a best option for point spread betting is when the price for money line betting looks too steep or risky for you. For example, rather than bet -400 on a heavy favorite, you can alternatively wager on -3.5 on the spread, laying only -110 in the process.

Money Lines vs. Point Spread Betting

Both money line and spread betting can be used separately or complementing each other, depending on the situation at hand. Once you understand the value that comes with betting on the two options in the various sporting events, you will be in a better position to understand and decide which betting strategy to use at any given time.