The way moneyline odds are expressed depends on whether the odds quoted are above or below evens, or a 1:1 payout. If the odds are above evens, they’re quoted as a positive number, indicating how much you’d win on a successful £100 bet. If the odds are below evens, they’re quoted as a negative number, indicating how much money you’d need to bet to win £100.
Often moneyline odds are quoted alongside the points spreads used for spread betting.
In a horse race, moneyline odds for the favourite are quoted as +500. This means that if you bet £100 on the favourite and your bet wins, you’ll earn £500 on the selection.
Moneyline odds are simple enough to understand if you plan on placing a £100 bet. However, computing returns can be much trickier if the odds aren’t rounded to 100 or you want to bet a different amount. For instance, if the moneyline odds on the favourite are +325 and you want to bet £5, the calculation is trickier.
To compute your payout for a £5 stake, you first divide $100 by £5. This gives you a result of 20. You then divide the quoted odds by 20. +325 divided by 20 gives +16.25. This means that for your £5 stake, you stand to win a payout of £16.25.
Next consider moneyline odds below evens – that is, bets that pay out less than the amount you stake in profits. Say the moneyline odds for the favourite in a horse race are quoted as -200. This means you’d need to wager £200 to earn a profit of £100. That’s fine, but it doesn’t tell you what you probably want to know, which is how much money you’ll win for your stake.
To calculate how much you’ll win for a stake of $5, you need to divide the odds by 40. In this example, $200 divided by 40 gives £5. You then divide the potential winnings, in this case of £100, by 40. This gives £2.50. So a bet of £5 at moneyline odds of -200 will earn you a return of £2.50 if the bet wins.
If the calculations seem tricky, don’t panic! In practice, it’s unnecessary to compute your returns manually. Instead you can rely on the betting slip you use when placing a bet to tell you what you stand to win.
Pros and cons of moneyline odds
Unlike fractional odds or decimal odds, moneyline odds don’t provide a quick, intuitive way to compute a return from a given stake. Instead they indicate the return from a set stake of £100, or the amount you need to bet to earn a return of £100. This can make it difficult to compare odds across a market or across multiple bookmakers.
It’s not advisable to use moneyline odds unless you’re familiar with them. However, understanding how this odds format works can be useful if you bet on American sports or follow the US media, in which these odds are likely to be quoted.