There is nothing worse for a gambler than to pick the winning side of a game but lose the bet. Conversely, a gambler who correctly chooses a significant upset by an underdog can be unfulfilled betting the standard pointspread. Many gamblers say, “I just wish I could bet the games straight up without a pointspread to worry about.” Fortunately, there is a viable solution for this scenario. The money line is an alternative that continues to grow in popularity. You simply pick the winning side with the money line by laying odds on the favorite or taking odds on the dog.
How the College Football Money Lines Work
On October 17, 2020, the Georgia Bulldogs met the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Crimson Tide was a 6-point home favorite with the pointspread. For gamblers that believed the Tide would win a close game and didn’t want to sweat out the 6-point spread, they could bet on Alabama to win the game straight up by betting $215 to win $100. Conversely, those who believed that the Bulldogs were going to pull off the upset win could “go for the kill” and take Georgia by betting $100 two in $185.
Alabama ended up winning 41-24, thus winning both the money line bet and the pointspread wager too. But there is another case to examine where the money line saved the day for gamblers.
Losing to the Spread but Beating the Money Line
A great example of how the money line can save your bacon comes from the November 27, 2020, Big Ten matchup between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa was a 12-point home favorite against the struggling Cornhuskers. Iowa had a strong defense, but their plodding offense made covering a 12-point spread problematic. Nebraska was not playing well on offense but had an improving defense that many believed could keep them within that 12-point number.
For Iowa backers that figured the Hawkeyes couldn’t lose straight up but may not cover the spread, the money line was the perfect solution. These Hawkeye backers would bet $315 to win $100 on Iowa to win straight up. The Nebraska fans that were smelling an upset could bet $100 on the Big Red to win $230.
Iowa won a hard-fought 26-20 win over Nebraska. The Cornhuskers covered the 12-point spread despite losing the game straight up. However, Iowa won the money line bet because that is based purely on the straight up winner of a game. Iowa money line bettors were smiling while Hawkeyes fans that laid the points were furious. Meanwhile, Nebraska backers that took the points knew they made the smart move. But Big Red bettors that got greedy with the money line were sick to their stomachs.
The Iowa vs. Nebraska game is a classic example of the pros and cons of a money line bet in college football.
Rule of Thumb
Many gamblers that prefer moderate to small favorites will play the money line instead. That is because they believe that the favorite will win the game, but they don’t want to deal with the anguish of a pointspread loss on a straight up win, like our Iowa example.
The challenge is when larger favorites are considered for the money line. Double-digit chalk can bring prohibitive money line prices that are in the hundreds of dollars. In those cases, you had better be confident to plunk down $500 or more to win $100.
The advantage of the money line is that there are no pointspreads to worry about on your wager. Offsetting that, a money line loss on a heavy favorite can set your bankroll back for quite a while.
The Ultimate Question
There is one question that you must always ask yourself in regards to the money line. Ask, “Is it worth it?” That means determining whether a big money lay for a $100 win is worth the risk. Conversely, can you tolerate a potential pointspread loss on a big favorite that you know will win but may not cover?
Gambling emulates life because it comes down to choices. The money line is a great alternative when used correctly.