Types Of Sports Bets Guide

types of sports bets guide
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Types Of Sports Bets

Sports betting is a complex hobby with a lot of depth. Most of that depth stems from the fact that there are vast options when it comes to the type of bet you want to place.

No matter what type of bettor you are, it helps to have a firm grasp of the bet types available to you. The more you know, the more informed you can be as you make your day-to-day betting decisions.

Main Sports Bet Types

Here, we’ll outline all the main betting types you’ll find at legal sportsbooks. You won’t need to remember all the details of each one, but again, it helps to have a general understanding as you’re sifting through lines to find your ideal bet.

Moneyline

Moneyline bets are the simplest you can find. Bet on a team to win. Boom, that’s it.

Moneylines are among the first bets listed when you click on a specific game in a sportsbook, usually accompanied by point spreads and totals (more on those below).

Because matches can be relatively uneven, moneyline bets vary in the odds they give. A mismatched game may see the underdog with long odds (and a huge potential payout) while the favorite has short odds (expected to win, but with a low attached payout).

Overall, moneylines are simple to understand at a baseline level. You’re betting on that team to win straight up.

Point Spread

Point spreads are fun for savvy bettors because they even the playing field. In point spread betting, the underdog team is given extra “phantom” points. For example, you might see bets listed that look like so:

  • Chicago Bears +14 (-110)
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers -14 (-110)

In this case, the Bears are expected to lose by 14 points or so. Oddsmakers give the Bears 14 “extra” points to add to their total. In order for that bet to pay out, the Bears must either win or lose by fewer than 14 points. A final score of Bears 21-Buccaneers 27 would mean the Bears covered the spread. With the additional 14 points allotted by the point spread, they would’ve beat the Bucs.

Conversely, the Buccaneers would have to beat the Bears by more than 14 points to cover the spread. A final score of Buccaneers 31-Bears 10 would see the Bucs cover the spread and win the bet.

Totals or Over/Under

Not sure which team will win but feeling good about an offense-heavy shootout? Try betting on totals.

When you bet on totals, you’re wagering on the total combined score of both teams, and whether it’ll be over or under a certain threshold set by a sportsbook. Thus the name “over/under.” You might see something like this on an NBA game:

Dallas Mavericks Vs. Golden State Warriors

  • Over 214.5 (-110)
  • Under 214.5 (-110)

If you bet the over, you’re guessing the teams will combine for more than 214.5 points. If the final score was Mavericks 114-Warriors 102, the over would hit (total final score being 216).

If you bet the under, you’re hoping for the teams to combine for fewer points than the set line. A final score of Mavericks 99-Warriors 100 would see the under hit, because the combined total is 199.

It doesn’t matter who wins or loses. The only thing that matters in a totals bet is the final combined score.

Parlays

Parlays combine multiple wagers into a single bet, usually increasing the odds and making for a higher possible payout. The catch? Every single leg of a parlay needs to hit in order for it to win. If you build a parlay comprising five bets and four of them hit while the remaining one loses the entire parlay is a bust. Here’s a brief example. Let’s combine four individual bets and see how the odds change:

  • Dallas Mavericks +5.5 (-110)
  • Miami Heat Moneyline (-172)
  • Toronto Blue Jays Moneyline (-270)
  • Baltimore Orioles +1.5 (+128)

Combined into a parlay, these bets become a single wager with odds of +843. A $10 wager would pay out $84.33 if all of those bets hit.

Teasers

In a teaser bet, you can change the lines of two bets by a set amount. For example, let’s say I wanted to bet on the following lines:

  • Golden State Warriors -5.5
  • Miami Heat -4

But I think each team could benefit from a boost, as I expect both games to be close. I could “tease” this parlay by +5 points, adding 5 points to each point spread, so they now become:

  • Golden State Warriors -0.5
  • Miami Heat +1

The spreads have changed by 5 points each, and the odds of this two-leg teaser parlay are now +100.

Teasers are common among invested bettors who carefully track team performance over time.

Prop Bets

Prop bets—short for proposition bets—are wagers that don’t necessarily deal with the outcome of a match. Instead, they often include individual player performance stats or team performance not affecting the final result.

For example, in basketball, player props are common, such as the following examples:

  • Luka Doncic to score 40+ points (+340)
  • Jayson Tatum over 6.5 rebounds (-104)
  • Mike Moustakas to hit a home run (+410)

Prop bets run the gamut, spanning various different outcomes. You can find all sorts of different props available for various sports.

Futures

Futures bets are wagers on something to happen in the (you guessed it) future. The most common example is betting on a team to win the league championship. For example, there are already wagers available on teams to win the 2022-23 Super Bowl.

Futures odds change frequently as seasons progress, so it can often make sense to place them early and lock in an advantageous line.

Live Betting

Live betting is sometimes called “in-play” or “in-game” betting. It simply means you’re betting on a game while it’s already in progress. Lines change fast, making live betting a favorite among dedicated sports fans who frequently watch games live.

PointsBetting

PointsBetting is unique to PointsBet sportsbook and is best for high rollers. In PointsBetting, you win or lose a multiple of your wager depending on the degree of your win or loss.

For example, if you place a $10 PopintsBetting bet on the Warriors to cover a spread of -5 and they won by 9 points, you’d win $40, or 4x your bet because they covered by 4 extra points. Conversely, if they failed to cover by 4 points, you’d lose $40. It’s a high-risk, high-reward betting format, and we encourage you to check out our dedicated PointsBetting guide if you’re curious to learn more.

Same Game Parlays

Same game parlays are exactly what they sound like: parlays that combine wagers on the same game. Various sportsbooks offer these, though there are limits on what sorts of bets you can use to build them.

What Bets To Place On Each Type Of Sport

Different sports require different betting strategies. Some sports favor bets like moneylines or point spreads while others are best for props. Of course, you can place whatever type of bet you choose on any sport, so long as it’s offered.

Consider the tips below a beginner’s guide. Use the suggestions to tailor your betting strategy, but remember you can always follow your own instincts.

NFL Wagers Explained

Football is a dynamic and engaging sport. It’s honestly a great fit for most betting types. Generally it’s advisable to avoid moneylines when betting on the NFL, because teams can be woefully outmatched by superior opponents. Point spreads become a good option instead.

Totals are hard to call in NFL games because defense is such a strong thread in the fabric of the sport.

NFL games are great for props and teasers, too. Teasers are great if you can move a line from -10 to -6, for example, because that brings the threshold to within a single touchdown. Smart bettors will take advantage of this.

If a player is having an all-star season, sprinkle some money on props—running yards, receiving yards, touchdown scorer, etc. Lots of fun to be had in NFL betting with various wager types.

For more insight into betting on the NFL check out our full NFL betting guide.

College Football Bets

See above. College football bears many similarities to NFL betting. However, remember that there are so many teams in the NCAA, and college football is unpredictable. This may make for the occasional moneyline underdog opportunity, though we recommend making these bets with caution.

Watch out for player props, too. A team that struggles offensively can still manage to hold the opponent to few points and stifle a star player’s running/receiving game.

Point spreads are solid options for college football games, but stick to the teams you know and do your research.

NBA Wagers Explained

How about…all of the above. NBA games are prime betting opportunities for almost any bet type. Player props are particularly fun in basketball betting, and you can combine them into some great same game parlays. Try combining one player’s points with another’s rebounds or assists. Maybe sprinkle some cash on steals or blocks if you think the stakes are high.

As far as more “normal” bets go, the NBA is a solid fit for totals bets and point spreads or teasers, too. Moneylines are fine if the match is expected to be close.

College Basketball Betting

Once again, see above. Keep in mind that college basketball features heavier defense than the NBA, so exercise caution when betting on totals.

Point spreads, player props, and moneylines are typically good options here.

MLB Wagers Explained

Moneyline, moneyline, moneyline! Did you get that? Moneylines are great options for baseball betting. Baseball is a slow, strategic sport. It makes for low-scoring games that remain close even if one team is physically superior. The odds are almost always close-ish to even, making moneylines well-paying if you can make good picks.

Baseball also has a ton of live betting potential because it moves slowly. If you take advantage of in-game line changes, you can maximize your profit potential.

NHL Wagers Explained

Moneylines and props are usually best here, for similar reasons that we listed for MLB bets. Hockey has a lot of action, but scoring is few and far between, making moneyline bets solid wagers.

Props can be fun as well, as can live bets. If you’re betting totals, consider the under as often as you consider the over due to hockey’s low-scoring potential.

Golf Wagers Explained

You won’t find moneylines, point spreads, or totals on golf.

The most common wagers are short-term futures, e.g. who will win a tournament or betting on a specific golfer to place in the top 5, 10, or 20.

If you can find a sportsbook with solid live betting options for golf, that’s a solid option as well. It can sometimes be 5+ minutes between a player’s most recent shot and the next, giving you time to consider your bet.

There are also head-to-head bets available at many tournaments, allowing you to wager on one golfer within a pairing to beat his paired opponent.

Tennis Wagers Explained

The tennis equivalent of a moneyline is a bet on a single player or pair to win. You’ll find plenty of those at any given tournament.

Tennis also presents solid options for live betting because the matches can take some time.

Soccer Wagers Explained

If you’re a live betting fan, you can’t do much better than soccer. It’s a low scoring but fast-paced game, so there’s always a new line or bet available. Find a sportsbook that loads quickly and updates lines often when you’re betting on soccer.

Avoid bets on moneyline in soccer because they always have a third option: a tie. That decreases your chances of winning a moneyline bet significantly.

MMA/UFC Wagers Explained

MMA and UFC are ideal candidates for prop betting. You can bet on the result of the fight and how it’ll end (knockout, submission, etc.).

It’s best to follow experts or dedicated MMA fans to find the best bets on these sports.

Boxing Wagers Explained

It’s most common to find moneyline-equivalent bets on boxing matches, though the odds are disparate because there’s so much performance data to back up one boxer to win.

If that’s not your style, you can enjoy method of victory props, betting by round, or a close-to-even bet on whether the bout will go the distance.

Easiest Bets To Place

If you were to focus on one or a few bet types, there are some that are much easier to place than others. Namely: moneyline, point spread, and totals. They’re easy because they’re always the first bets listed for a match on any given sportsbook. They don’t come with too much baggage, offering simple bets that are easier to understand than complex teasers, props, or parlays.

Moneylines are the easiest overall, but they don’t always provide the best value, especially if one team is outmatched. You’re most likely to find moneyline value in baseball or hockey, where scoring is generally low.

There's plenty of value in totals and point spreads, too.

If you want high-risk, high-reward bets, consider trying parlays, but don’t go overboard. They’re easy to palace, and it’s nice to see your potential win skyrocket as you add new bets into the mix. But remember, the more you add, the less likely you are to win.

Why Different Bets Are Important

Variety is the spice of life. It’s also crucial in sports betting. Different bet types provide different values to you as a sports bettor, so diversity is key.

Think about moneyline bets. You may want to bet on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win against the Chicago Bears, but the Bears are awful and expected by almost everyone to lose. You’ll get next-to-nothing in return if you bet on the Bucs to win straight-up. Instead, you could consider betting on the Buccaneers' point spread or place some money on Tom Brady props.

Mixing things up and placing various bets can be rewarding in the long term.

How To Choose The Right Bet Type

First and foremost, give things a try! You can discover the bet types that best fit your preferences and betting instincts by placing various wagers and seeing what clicks most.

If you need help, check out our various picks pages to determine which bets you might like to place.

Can I Place All Bets On All Sportsbooks?

Most bookmakers offer many, many bet types. You’ll find moneylines, point spreads, totals, parlays, props, futures, teasers, and live betting on almost every sportsbook.

Same game parlays are somewhat less common, though most sportsbooks offer them.

The only rare bet type is PointsBetting, which is only available at PointsBet.

It’s best to have accounts at multiple sportsbooks so you can shop around and find the best odds on your preferred bet or bets.

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