How To Speak Sports Betting: Moneyline, Run Line, Puck Line

The first year of legal sports betting in New Jersey certainly proved there’s a market for it.

Gamblers bet around $3 billion at NJ sportsbooks in year one. Year two should be even bigger with the market growing to include 10 retail sportsbooks at NJ racetracks and Atlantic City casinos.

Plus, there are 14 NJ sports betting apps and more are getting ready to launch.

Clearly, it’s more than just pro sports bettors pumping cash into the market. Casual sports fans who have never bet before and don’t exactly speak the language of sports betting are doing it in increasing numbers as well.

The language of sports betting

A lot of that is due to the fact NJ sportsbook apps and self-serve sports betting kiosks at retail sportsbooks have removed one of the major barriers to market entry.

If you’ve ever done it or even thought about it, you know visiting a betting window to place a bet can be an intimidating prospect.

For the most part, the NJ online gambling sites and self-serve sports betting kiosks have eliminated the need to do that.

However, one other major barrier to market entry is still around.

The language employed by staff at most betting windows is a big part of why the live wagering process is so intimidating. There’s a particular sports betting jargon used by operators and hardcore sports handicappers that is rather alien to most of us.

Of course, it’s really nothing you should be afraid of. You too can learn to speak the language of sports betting.

It’s really just common sense. Plus, anyone with a desire to learn can pick up the intricacies of sports betting speech in no time.

All most require is a quick refresher on the meaning of some of the most common sports betting terms.

Just memorize the three terms described below and you’ll be speaking the language of sports betting almost immediately.


For most sports, the moneyline is the easiest way you can bet on games.

You simply pick who you think will win. Sportsbooks payout at whatever the moneyline odds were at the time you booked that bet if they do win.

Moneyline odds are posted with either a plus [+] or minus [-] sign in front of a specific number. The plus sign means that team is the underdog. The number is how much each $100 bet on them will pay, plus your original bet back.

The minus sign is for favorites. This number indicates how much you’ll need to bet on them to win $100 plus your bet back.

Moneyline bets are single-game bets of their own. However, the word “moneyline” also describes the type of odds available on the other bet types at NJ sportsbooks.

For example. you may have made a Super Bowl point spread bet at DraftKings Sportsbook this past February. Let’s say you liked the New England Patriots at -2.5.

If you booked the bet, you likely booked it at moneyline odds of somewhere between -110 and -112.

Since New England covered, you got paid $100 for every $110 or $112 you bet.

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Run line

Run lines are a way to bet on baseball games. This is similar to point spreads in football games in that the line must be factored into a game’s final score to determine the betting winner.

The average MLB game is relatively low scoring and run lines are almost always +/-1.5 as a result. Although, several NJ sportsbooks also offer alternative run lines with varying odds.

With a run line of 1.5, you are either betting that the favorite will win by 2 runs or more, or that the underdog will win outright or lose by only one run.

Of course, using run lines alters the odds significantly.

For example, the New York Mets (-210) are favorites over the Philadelphia Phillies (+180) on Friday at FanDuel Sportsbook. However, a 1.5 run line changes things dramatically.

The price on the Phillies is +1.5 (-110) while the price on the Mets is -1.5 (-106).

As you can see, giving away runs through the run line allows you to book a better price on the game’s moneyline favorite. Although, the team must cover the run line for you to get paid that price.

Puck line

Puck lines are a way to bet on hockey games. Sportsbooks offer NHL puck lines that are essentially moneyline bets with a point spread factored in.

The difference in the average NHL games is usually two goals or less. As a result, sportsbooks set the puck line for most games at -1.5 for the favorite and +1.5 for the underdog.

That means favorites need to win by two goals or more, and underdogs need to win outright or lose by just a single goal.

Make the correct prediction with that puck line factored and you’ve got yourself a winner.

You book puck line bets at the odds posted on each team just like the moneyline. However, having to factor in that puck line impacts the odds.

In fact, gamblers often use the puck line to manipulate unfavorable moneyline odds.

You may have to lay money betting the moneyline favorite. However, with the puck line factored in that favorite might become an underdog or a less-costly favorite.

For example, BetStars NJ may have had the Boston Bruins as -165 moneyline favorites to win Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals last month. They may have also had the St. Louis Blues at around +140.

However, with a 1.5 puck line factored in, the Blues became (+1.5) -190 favorites and the Bruins (-1.5) +160 underdogs.

In the end, the Blues won the game 4-1 outright, so it really didn’t matter. But as you can clearly see, giving away goals on the puck line has a major impact on the odds.

About the Author

Martin Derbyshire

In his over 10 years covering the US online poker, legal NJ online gambling, and land-based casino industries, Martin Derbyshire has worn the hats of award-winning journalist and video and film producer. He has logged countless miles reporting on the world of high stakes gambling.