Money Line Favorites and Line Shopping

NFL Football Handicapping Tips: Money Line Favorites and Line Shopping

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper,

The Danger of Betting Favorites on the Money Line

Some NFL players try to scoop up easy money by betting favored teams on the money line. They try to isolate certain games where they feel a favored team is a shoo-in to win the game straight up, without any point-spread considerations. Say New England lost two straight games and are now at home–9-point favorites against the Dolphins. A player who is inclined to bet this way might think there is no way the Patriots are not going to lose this game.

So they place a giant-sized money line bet. They bet $5000 to win $1000, figuring it’s an easy grand. And this might work for a while. You isolate some bets that seem like “locks” and pick up some quick cash. The Colts are at home, favored to beat the Jaguars by 8. You bet them on the money line, feeling they’ll win the game in almost certain fashion. And you know what–they probably will.

First of all, this is gutless betting. To wager this way exclusively shows that you might not have the heart for gambling. Losing bothers you too much and you’re trying to take the safe route to ensure a bigger percentage of wins. While it is good to be selective and patient and not bet a whole bunch of games, you need to take risks in this business. Trying to isolate “sure things” in the NFL is a potentially costly endeavor.

Point blank–you’re pretty much two consecutive losses from the extinction list. If by week 4, you lost twice betting -500 and -600 favorites, you’re toast. You would almost have to go undefeated for the remainder of the season just to recoup your losses. Betting on big favorites on the money line forces you to maintain an incredible winning percentage. A loss is not just a normal loss, it’s a knockout punch.


This is not chess, where the world champ beats a top-100 type of player 10 out of 10 times. NFL football’s entire lore is caught up in the upset dynamic of the sport. It’s not that cataclysmic of an event. A lot crazier things happen in this world than the Jags beating the Chargers or the Bills beating the Patriots. Thinking you can buck this reality is akin to walking on a minefield. It just doesn’t work. Sometimes, it does. It might even be the good play on occasion. But making this your go-to move is not wise.

Line Shopping

When betting online, this is a cinch. A click or two of the mouse allows you to see the range of spreads and odds and you can find the best value on your bet. But what about when you’re in Vegas betting on the NFL? How do you manage to ensure that you are getting the best value on your bets? A lot of guys just go to the book at the hotel they’re staying and more or less accept whatever the numbers might be without second thought.

It’s understandable. You’re in Vegas. You have a belly full of buffet food. You’re a little tired from the night before. Who wants to get up at 7 trying to save half-a-point? It seems like the right thing to do, but you try dragging yourself out of bed so you can hit casinos on the strip trying to see if you can get -4 instead of -4.5.

But there are times where it might help. Let’s say you’re on the Strip about to make a good-sized wager on a game. You liked the Cardinals at -3, but the host book is offering it at 3.5. What to do? First of all, casinos on the strip are almost the size of small towns. Walking around from book-to-book is just not doable on the Strip.


One idea is to head downtown. Walking into a casino in downtown isn’t the trek that it is on the strip. It’s more like walking into a Walgreens in terms of size. You can potentially scout lines at a nice handful of books in a matter of just a few minutes. If you’re alone, not with a family or friends, and feel like popping into a bunch of different casinos on the Strip, that’s one thing. But who wants to be in Vegas with a guy who is walking 17 miles so that maybe he can get the Jets at +3 instead of +2.5?