Sports betting has many more options than simply predicting which team, athlete or horse will win a particular contest. In fact, an important football, basketball or soccer game might have 100s of unique betting markets. Moreover, those betting lines can often be combined. In short, there are lots of options for sports betting. Below we have created a handy guide to the different types of sports bets:
The easiest bet to understand in all of sports, the moneyline is a bet on who will win a particular event. The odds offered on a moneyline bet will be reflective of the chances of each participant. So, for example, if the Boston Red Sox were playing the New York Yankees in an MLB game, we might see a moneyline of 2.17 (+117) for the Red Sox and 1.79 (-127) for the Yankees. In this hypothetical scenario, the Yankees are favorites, and a $10 bet would return $17.90 if the Bronx Bombers won the game.
Sometimes called the run line in baseball or handicap in soccer, the spread is a bet where one team (the underdog) will start with a theoretical advantage and another team will start with a theoretical disadvantage (the favorite). So, to win the bet if you back the favorite, it would need to win by more than the spread. And, if you back the underdog, it would need to win or at least not lose by more than the spread. In practice, it works like this: An NBA game could see the Lakers take on the Clippers. If the Lakers are favored, they might start the game -5.5 in the spread and the Clippers start +5.5. Essentially, the Clippers get a 5.5-point head start. If the final score was Lakers 127-123 Clippers, then a bet on the Lakers to cover the spread would lose, because winning by four points is not enough to beat the 5.5-point spread. A bet on the Clippers +5.5 would win this particular bet.
One of the most popular sports bets involves wagering on whether certain elements of the game will exceed a specific number. These are often called totals, overs or over/under wagers. This covers a broad range of bets across different sports. For example, you might be able to wager on whether there will be over 40.5 points in an NFL game, or over 2.5 goals in a soccer game. The use of the half-point increments, as with spread betting, is there to ensure that there are no draws in the final betting outcome.
A parlay bet, sometimes called an accumulator, is a bet that combines more than two different selections. Each leg is treated separately, with the odds multiplied for each winning stage. For instance, if you placed a parlay wager on the Milwaukee Brewers to win the World Series (6.00), the Dallas Cowboys to win the Super Bowl (7.00) and the Montreal Canadiens (10.00) to win the Stanley Cup, the combined odds would return $4,200 for a $10 wager. Please note that all legs in a parlay bet must be successful for the wager to pay out.
Props, or proposition bets, betting basically refers to a wager on any event that does not directly involve predicting the winner of that event. Totals are common examples of props betting, because the wager does not necessarily indicate who will win the game. Other examples of props betting could be wagering that a player scores a home run in a baseball game, that a soccer player will score a hat trick or that a football player will rush for a specific number of yards. Props are the most common type of bet, and there can be dozens, if not 100s, of props bets offered on a high-profile sports game.
Teaser Bets have become increasingly popular among US sports bettors. Effectively, a teaser is a type of parlay bet that involves the spread. If the bettor is combining two or more teams on the spread into a parlay bet, they will get the chance to adjust the spread, i.e. give their selections more of a points cushion, to make a winning bet more likely. The trade off for adjusting the spread is that lower odds will be offered on the teaser bet than the original parlay bet. Please note that not all sportsbooks offer teaser betting, and those that do tend to restrict it to football and basketball.
All bets are essentially futures bets, but it has become a catch-all phrase for betting on outright events with a relative long-term outlook. For example, if you wanted to bet on the winner of the Super Bowl during the summer months, i.e. in the offseason, you would look for the NFL futures section on your online sportsbook.
Head to Head
Head to head bets will involve selecting two players or teams from a multi-participant and putting them in theoretical head to head competition. A good example would be golf, where a typical tournament could have 100+ competitors. A head to head bet could involve, for instance, Phil Mickelson vs Tiger Woods, with the bet paying out if you correctly predict which of that pair finishes in a better position at the end of the tournament.
In-Play Betting/Live Betting
In-play betting basically involves placing bets while a sports event is taking place. Betting in-play covers most of the bet types mentioned above, with the only difference being that the event is happening live. Online bookmakers now have the technology to provide real time odds updates, and even provide commentary and stats for the game.
As you can see, there are lots of different ways to bet on sports. Bettors will have different tastes, of course, with some preferring to apply statistical research to totals betting, others liking to back their favorite team on the moneyline and some reaching for the stars with a multi-leg, big odds parlay bet. Now that you know the different types of bets, be sure to check out our sportsbook reviews to see which of America’s top betting sites suits your betting style.