NFL moneylines getting more popular with the bettors
Thanks at least in part to growing parity in the NFL, betting the moneyline is becoming an increasingly attractive option to the point spread -- especially when selecting underdogs.
Through the first four weeks of action this season, underdogs have covered at a rate of about 60 percent, but of those dogs, 70 percent won the game outright, meaning that, to date, the points have been a factor in just a handful of games in which an underdog has covered.
This trend is reflected in this week's lines as 12-of-14 games on the board have a favorite of 3.5 points or less and the only double digit favorite is Indy which has been installed as a 14 point favorite at San Francisco.
Rob Gillespie, President of BoDog, said moneyline wagering on NFL games has increased from 10 percent of spread handle in 2003 to more than 14 percent last year at Bodog. "Part of the reason for the increase is that there is so much more parity in the NFL," Gillespie said. "We only offer moneylines for spreads up to 14 and games with spreads of 3-7 get the bulk of moneyline action, so more games in that range and fewer games with spreads too high to post a moneyline result in more moneyline action."
Lower spreads translate to lower moneylines but you have to at least consider whether it makes more sense to get +140 or +150 for $100 rather than pay -110 for that same $100 especially if you determine as I have that the risk is not much greater.
The Chargers big win against New England Sunday is an excellent example of this. In rolling to a win the Bolts did not need the 5.5 points the Patriots were laying. A straight $100 wager on this game would have resulted in a $190 payout, but if the game were played on the moneyline, the pay out would have been $280 for that same $100.
If a team is good enough to not lose by more than one score -- in the Chargers case 6 points - it makes sense to also conclude the team is certainly good enough to win the game and it can be rather frustrating coming up with a winner like San Diego and collecting a $90 profit when $180 was possible with the same outlay.
One strategy to avoid this is playing an underdog both ways. Take the points for $50 and the moneyline for $50. If the team covers with the points but loses, you break even. If the team wins outright your profit is about $135.
Gillespie said squares and pros are both playing the moneyline with more frequency, but for different reasons. "Recreational and professional bettors play moneylines pretty equally, but generally speaking, the pros prefer the value they can find in favorites while recreational bettors like going after the bigger payoffs of taking the dog on the moneyline."
Playing the moneyline with a favorite is a bit more tricky because of the money you have to lay. Take the Colts this week. Sure, there's not much chance they will lose the game, which is why you will have to lay $100 to win $10 if you can even find a site offering a moneyline on the game.
A 10 percent return is pretty good considering the likelihood of the Colts winning is rather great, but putting up $100 to win $10 doesn't make much sense and most people aren't willing to lay the $5,000 it would take to achieve a $500 profit.
It does, howeve,r make sense to consider a moneyline wager in cases where the difference might be laying -130 rather than say -110 and a 3-point victory becomes a win rather than a push, or in cases where you are laying less than 3 points. Even though most NFL games are not decided by 1 or 2 points, it is worth considering the -115 or -120 it would cost on the moneyline rather than the -110 laying the points. Consider it "insurance" in the unlikely event the game is decided by an extra point or some other combination that results in a 1-point victory for your team.
The effect of the moneyline can really be seen when playing a parlay. A three-team parlay using point spreads and the traditional 10 percent juice will pay about 7-1. If you are getting +150 in one of the games the odds increase to 9-1; +150 in two of the games 12-1; and getting all three at +150 gets you better than 15-1.
A three-team parlay using solid favorites will result in a bigger return as well. If you have three 7 point favorites, each at -260 on the moneyline, a three team moneyline parlay would get you roughly 3-1 and your odds of cashing are certainly better than having to have each team win by more than a touchdown.