4 Mar

Comprehending Types of Sports Bets

Types of Sports Wagers: The Myriad Ways to Place a Bet at Sportsbooks

Types of Sports Wagers: The Myriad Ways to Place a Bet on SportsbooksDid you know there are almost as many ways to place a wager on sports as there are different types of sports to bet on? Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but if you’re knew to the betting market, it’s probably a lot more than you expected. In the following text, you’ll learn everything you need to know about all the different types of sports bets, including everything from straight moneyline bets and spreads, to round robins and teasers.

The Many Types of Sports Book Wagers

If you’re looking for an explanation on something specific, click on one of the bet types listed below to jump straight to its detailed description. Otherwise, scroll down to view each of the different types of bets.

Straight Bets

A straight bet, also known as a “Moneyline”, is a bet on one athlete or team to beat the other. If you place a moneyline wager, and the athlete/team you choose wins, you win your bet. Plain and simple! If it ends in a tie, it’s a push, and your bet is returned.

Spread Betting

The “Spread” is the difference in points scored by each team; (i.e. subtract the losing team’s score from the winning team’s score.). In a football game, the spread might be 7 points. This means the winning team is expected to win by 7. If the game ends 14-7, the spread was correct.

When betting the spread, you can either take the favorite to “cover the spread”, giving the other team the amount of spread points advertised, or take the underdog, receiving the number of points on the spread (known as betting “against the spread”, or ATS for short). So, if the spread on a football game is 7, and you pick the favorite, you must give the other team 7 points. If the game ends favorite 14-7, it’s a push, because the other team received 7 points, resulting in a 14-14 tie. To win this bet, the favorite must win by 8+ points.

Certain sports have special names for their spread bets. They include:

Puck Lines in Hockey

Puck Lines are spread bets for hockey games. With a Puck Line of 1.5, the favorite needs to win by 2+ to win a bet on that team. See Hockey Betting for more info.

Run Lines in Baseball

In baseball spreads are referred to as the Run Line. Again, if the favorite is projected to win by 1.5, they must win by 2 or more to win a Run Line bet on that team. See Baseball Betting for more info.

Over/Under Totals

Totals betting refers to wagers on the total projected score for a game. In basketball, the score might be projected to end 95-88. If so, the total projected score would be 183. In most cases, the oddsmakers add a half-point to prevent ties, so the over/under would be 183.5. Betting the Under is a bet that the total score will be 183 or below. Likewise, betting the Over is a wager that the total score will be 184 or above. Note that overtime won’t count towards totals. the combined score at the end of regulation is all that matters.

Goal Lines in Soccer

In soccer games, totals are referred to as Goal Lines. If the Goal Line is 2.5, you can wager that the total combined score of both teams will be “Over” 2.5 (i.e. 3 or more), or Under 2.5 (i.e. 2 or less). See Soccer Betting for more info.

Live In-Play Betting

Did you ever wish you had placed a bet on a game that’s already underway? Now you can, with live betting (a.k.a. in-play betting). The types of bets you can place will depend on the type of sport, how far along the game is, and what’s been happening up to that point. The odds for these bets will change quickly, if not dramatically, as the action unfolds. These are quick bets, settled as soon as their outcome is known.

The biggest problem with live betting, especially for online and mobile bettors, is lag. If you’re not getting a fast connection, the odds can change faster than you can submit a bet, resulting in frequent cancelations. If your mobile network isn’t able to get the job done, try switching to your home WiFi connection, or log in from a wired desktop.

Handicap Bets

Handicaps are special bets that allow you to add or take away points on a spread or total. The more points you add, the more the bookmaker will shift the odds out of your favor.

Maybe you aren’t sure the Dolphins will beat the Bills by the projected 3.5 points. The standard moneyline odds might be Dolphins -3.5 @ -105, Bills +3.5 @ -105. By posting a handicap bet, you can give the Dolphins an extra point in exchange for lesser odds. The handicapped wager on the Dolphins might look like this; Dolphins -2.5 @ -120. Lower risk, in exchange for a lower reward.

Conversely, if you take points away, you increase the amount of money you stand to win. Maybe you are certain the Bears will destroy the Browns by more than the 7.5 point projection. You could take the Bears at -7.5 and -110 odds, or you could give the Browns an extra 3 points, taking the Bears at -10.5, in exchange for an odds increase to +125. Higher risk, higher reward.

Parlay Combination Bets

A parlay (a.k.a. accumulator) is a combination bet in which the bettor selects anywhere from 2 to 12 outcomes, placing a single wager on the accuracy of those picks. Parlays can be made on money lines, totals and/or spreads, but some combinations are not allowed. For example, you can pick a team to win, or you can pick a team to cover its spread, but you can’t pick the same team to win and cover the spread. You can also pick from all different types of sports, leagues and events on the same parlay ticket.

To win a parlay, all picks have to be correct. Due to the increasing difficulty, the odds and potential payout grows exponentially larger with the number of picks. The range of picks can vary from one sportsbook to the next, with some limiting parlays to 2-6 picks, and others allowing as many as 12 or 15 picks per bet slip.

If one of the picks on your parlay ends in a tie, or is cancelled, the common rule is to remove that pick from the parlay. If you made a 4-leg parlay, and one game ended in a tie, it would be removed and your parlay would be reduced to a 3-leg. Be sure to read the fine print at your favorite sportsbook to see what rules apply, as some have been known to cancel the entire bet.


Teasers are a special type of parlay that allows the bettor to adjust the spread. The bettor is given points to play with, depending on the number of picks they want to make, and the sports they’re betting on. Football bets get more points, since most scoring plays are worth 3 to 7 points, whereas basketball games usually get 4 to 7.5 points. The trade-off for all those free points is, of course, a deep reduction in payouts. Less risk means less profitability, but a greater chance of winning.

For more information:

Round Robin Wagers

A Round Robin is a combination of parlay bets designed to protect the bettor’s interests. Maybe you want to make a 3-pick parlay, but know your odds of winning a 2-pick are much higher. Instead, you place a Round Robin, placing a total of three bets on three 2-pick parlays.

For instance, you want to pick:

  • Team A over Team B
  • Team C over Team D
  • Team E over Team F

As we just learned above, a 3-pick parlay would be a single bet on Teams 1, 3 and 5. If one loses, the bet is lost. A Round Robin would be a 2-pick parlay on Teams 1 and 3, another on Teams 1 and 5, and a third on Teams 3 and 5. This way, so long as two of your picks win, you’ll win two of the parlays, ensuring a profit – albeit it a smaller one.

Future Betting

Futures generally (but not always) refer to a future outcome within a series or league. For example, before the start of the NFL regular season, you can place a future bet on which team you think will win the Super Bowl. Or, you could pick a team to make it to the playoffs, or to win their division or conference. These types of futures are only available before the start of the season.

Other popular futures are bets on individual athletes to achieve some great feat. You can bet on things like who will win the Rookie of the Year, League MVP, or Championship MVP. Or you might bet whether a quarterback will exceed 3,000 passing yards in a season.

Future bets can also refer to an event that won’t take place anytime soon; the general rule of thumb being 2-weeks or more out. If a reality TV show, like The Bachelor, is taking place, you might make a Future bet that one of the contestants will last at least two more weeks before getting booted off the show.


Prop bets are extremely popular among some crowds, mostly because they aren’t standard wagers on winners or scores. Prop bets can be made on just about anything else, though. Which team will score first in a baseball game; will the first score in a football game be a field goal; will the QB score a rushing touchdown. These are all perfect examples of proposition bets. You’ll find most live betting options are props, based on what’s going on at that moment in a game.

Buy Outs

A buy out isn’t really a bet, but rather the option to close out a bet before the outcome is decided. Maybe you bet on Manchester United to win, and they’re currently doing so, but Liverpool is proving a harder opponent than expected. If the sportsbook offers Buy Outs, you can take a partial payout to end the bet now, rather than waiting for the end of the game. Or, maybe your baseball team is getting crushed. If you take the buy out before the 7th inning, you can forfeit, and still get 33% of your bet back. These are just examples, but you get the idea.

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