Sportsbook Bet Types
Common Bet Type Definitions and Examples
The moneyline indicates the odds to wager on for the outright winner of a matchup or event. In close matchups between two even sides, the moneyline can be an attractive wager on both sides. In some instances where there is a heavy favourite, the odds will require greater risk and detour action towards the spread. In some cases, there is no moneyline offered on games with no significantly clear favourite.
The only exception to overtime is in three-way bets, which are usually standard for both NHL hockey and soccer betting. A two-way bet is simply on one of the two sides to claim victory. A three-way bet includes the winner, loser and a draw at the end of regulation. On very rare occasions, three-way moneylines will be introduced for big games in other sports.
Moneyline betting is a preference for bettors that desire absolute certainty on a result. They can be parlayed with multiple other bets as well. In some betting arenas, such as futures, the moneyline is the only bet available since you are betting on a single, straight outcome.
An example of a moneyline wager is “Golden State -175 vs. Cleveland +155”. In this instance, Golden State requires a wager of $175 in order to win $100. Since Cleveland is the underdog, you will require $100 to win $155. The winnings scale displays up or down depending on the size of the wager. The plus-minus indicates the underdog (+) or favourite (-).
To adjust for varying strengths of opponents within a matchup, odds-makers attach a spread for betting purposes. The idea is to handicap the stronger side while providing an acceptable allowance of loss for the opponent. The spread is also known as the handicap.
Spread betting is the most popular form of sports betting, both online or in person and is easiest to explain with an example. In an NFL matchup such as “Green Bay -3.5 vs. Oakland”, the Packers are being given a handicap of -3.5 points. They must therefore win by at least four points in order to cover the spread. Likewise, Oakland can either win the game outright in order to beat the spread, or lose by up to three points or fewer. A 20-17 victory for Green Bay would allow Oakland to cover. Alternatively, if Green Bay wins 34-24, then they win the matchup and cover.
Spreads are typically priced at even odds, meaning in the above example, betting on Green Bay at -3.5 or Oakland at +3.5 would require a risk of -110. When laying a wager, remember that the minus-sign indicates how much you would have to win in order to win $100, while the plus-sign represents the amount you would win if you were to bet $100. This scales up and down depending on the amount of risk played by the bettor.
Wagers against the spread can be parlayed with other straight bets such as other spreads, moneylines and totals. Generally, the spread represents the expected difference in score between two teams or opponents.
Tracking team performance against the spread is known as an “ATS” record, where as their real record is known as a straight-up record, or “SU”. This is important to bettors because it shows how well a team generally performs against the odds makers and against their real-life opponents.
The total is simply the total combined points scored by each team at the end of a game. Alternatively, bettors are usually permitted to bet on totals for each half in live betting as well. Totals are applied differently in all sports and are unavailable in some.
A bet on the OVER means that the total combined number of points scored will exceed the established mark, while an UNDER bet means that the amount of points scored will be less than the total points scored. Oddsmakers will also establish team totals, which are points scored by a particular team.
For example, you can bet on the New England Patriots going OVER/UNDER 27.5 points in a game against Atlanta. If the Patriots win 28-3, they would go OVER.
The total in sports such as baseball, hockey, football and basketball applies to the final score. This is also the method used in other team sports such as soccer, rugby, cricket and similar sports such as Aussie rules football.
Total Bets for Individual Sports
In individual sports such as tennis, there are sometimes a “total number of sets played” that players can bet on. You can also usually bet on the amount of sets won by a particular side, depending on the matchup. Usually this is reserved for championship games or matchups involving high-profile players against one another.
Total Bets for Combat Sports
Boxing, combat sports and mixed-martial-arts have a similar total, where you can bet on the number of rounds a fight goes to.
Total Bets Example for Combat Sports
For example, you can bet a fight going OVER/UNDER 5.5 rounds in boxing match.
Totals are available in live betting as well, usually for first and second half. In some instances, you can bet on totals for the first three quarters (or two periods in hockey).
The total can be packaged in parlays and is a fun way of building up a potential pay-out on a single game. For example, some bettors will bet on the spread and the total in the same game in a two-team parlay to bolster the financial reward without raising the risk involved.
Live Betting / In-play Definition
Thanks to the advent of the internet, live betting has become commonplace in the arena of online sports wagering. This involves betting on a live, constantly changing spread that reacts to what’s happening in the game. Once you place your wager, however, your bet locks in the spread.
The bet placement does not stop live betting algorithms from continuing to offer new spreads as a game unfolds. Players can frequently lay multiple bets during a game, given that players are usually supporting one side. Different houses hold different rules for this betting allegiance, so a good habit may be to ask how to conduct your wagers for in-play bets. To that end, houses will occasionally impose high per-game limits on live betting that are generally dependent on your history with them.
Spreads, totals and moneylines are readily available on most games for live betting in the four major sports of football, basketball, baseball and hockey. There are some cases where live betting is not available, and this is usually when a heavy favorite is involved in a regular season game. Live betting is almost always available for all NFL football games, especially prime time matchups on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights.
A futures bet is a speculative play on the outcome of an event occurring in the future. The easiest example is betting on the Super Bowl champion prior to, or during, the regular season.
In recent years, sportsbooks have become increasingly creative in the futures that they offer to encourage more action across a wider span of events.
Odds for the futures market are usually presented as basic moneylines. There are always futures odds for things like league champions, conference champions, division winners, player awards (MVP, Coach of the Year, etc.) for the popular major sporting events.
These odds adjust as the year unfolds and react to the current state of the league.
If the Boston Red Sox start their baseball season hot, and are 21-2 SU to begin the season, the oddsmakers will shrink their odds. There is no direct cause-effect reaction for teams in the futures market, but their odds can be severely altered given major occurrences such as a significant injury.
The rule of thumb with futures wagers is “earlier is better”. Futures odds are normally at their best value the further away from the end of the season you are.
Sportsbooks may offer futures markets outside of sports, such as entertainment props; for the Oscars and major movie roles, popular culture and politics.
Player Props Definition
Player props are a considered a “side bet” in the world of sports betting, but can be a major profit generator for savvy players. You are simply betting on whether or not a player will achieve a certain statistical standard in a give game. “Props” is short for “proposition”.
Player Props Example
A simple example of a player prop is “Tom Brady 230.0 passing yards OVER -110 / UNDER -110”. In this scenario you are betting on the “yes” or “no” possibility of Tom Brady throwing for more or less than 230 total yards. In most cases, the odds-on player props are equal to one another, but in some cases, they are offset which indicates a more likely outcome, versus one that is less likely.
Player props can extend to any number of statistical or measurable elements such as points scored, yards gained, assists, home-runs, rebounds, steals, blocks, saves by goalie and so on. Wagering on player props is particularly popular in baseball, when it comes to starting pitching, football overall and with a superstar performance in basketball games.
Prop bets by nature are usually reserved as straight bets, meaning that they can not be parlayed, but this depends on the game itself and the tolerance by the house.
Game props are a “proposition” bet for a particular occurrence happening or not happening within a matchup. The most well-known game prop of all time is the Super Bowl coin flip coming up heads or tails. Needless to say, game props have evolved substantially in recent years.
Baseball betting is prevalent with game props due to the statistical study of the sport itself. In baseball, you can bet on propositions like “team to score first,” “score in 1st inning” or “will there be extra innings.”
One of the popular game props for baseball is R+H+E, which is the total number of runs, hits and errors in an inning or game.
Each sport and each game within a sport usually have a defined amount of game props attached to it. High profile games between popular teams will encourage the oddsmakers to develop more game props because of the elevated interest in the matchup.
Team props are an extension of game props and propose a potential outcome that you can bet on, happening or not happening.
Game Props Example for Team Props
An example is a season win total in either football, baseball or basketball. This is an exceptionally popular market. An example is San Francisco 9.5 Wins (OVER -110 / UNDER -110). In this instance, you are betting on whether or not San Francisco will win a certain number of games in a season.
Game props function as a straight bet and are normally not allowed in parlays, but every house has tends to have their own rules.
Tips & Tricks
- Making a Win-Place-Show bet pays out if your horse runs first, second and/or third.
- Box exotic wagers so you increase your chances of winning.
- You can “use more horses” than the title of a wager suggests.
- You can also use multiple horses in each leg of a multi-race exotic.
- Save money putting a ticket together and Key a horse in a particular position.
Click the image below for a visual guide to the basic types of horse racing bets:
Sports Betting Information
7 Sports Betting Tips for New Players
As more states pass legislation to add legal sports betting following the Supreme Court decision to strike down the federal ban sports betting, the number of bettors and new players to the sports gambling game will continue to grow.
As such, here are 7 sports betting tips and ideas for new players. We’ll add more details to these tips and suggestions in future betting guides and articles.
1. Why do you want to bet on sports? – Is it for the action and interest on a sporting event? Is it a hobby and recreational activity? Do you want to make some extra money and dedicate more time to become proficient in betting and/or handicapping sports?
2. Determine a comfortable bankroll amount – Like goal setting, you need a pre-determined plan and a bankroll is your starting point to gauge the activity.
3. Learn the betting lines and odds – It’s a fundamental concept to learn and understand the basics of sports betting and the process. Determine the difference between a point spread, odds and money line. The odds are the inverse value of the probability of a certain occurrence, like a golfers odds to win a tournament or a NFL teams odds to win the Super Bowl. A point spread is used in football and basketball to set the line on a game. A money line is used in baseball and hockey, and can also be a type of wager in football and basketball, again reflecting the odds or probability of a team winning or losing. From there, you’ll learn more about the betting market, different types of wagers, why spreads, odds and lines move, and become more proficient.
4. Track your wagers and results – If you’re not disciplined and not willing to accept the inevitable losing wagers, then you’ll have little chance to succeed. Tracking your results allows you to learn, grow and gain confidence in your activity.
5 – Self-control. Sports games, contests and activities create excitement and emotion. You must be able to harness your emotions and maintain control especially when a decision, play or result goes against you and your bet.
6. Research and learn from professionals – Listening to a TV analyst or in many cases a former athlete on TV or radio is not the way to win consistently when betting. They are paid for their knowledge and insight on a game or event, to inform and entertain the viewers or listeners, and drive ratings up to make the network money. Doing some research on your own about teams, players and stats for example will help you become more knowledgeable. Reading, listening and learning from professional sports bettors and handicappers will assist you in becoming more educated and informed to make better decisions.
7. Money Management – The ability to manage your money and not bet more than you can afford to lose is essential. A consistent money management approach is part of a strategy to build your bankroll while reducing risk and not betting too much. Chasing your losses and losing more on a big bet outside of your limits and money management will send you out of bounds and bankrupt. This can lead to other bad habits in a sports betting activity that should be enjoyable and provide pleasure with the opportunity to win some money.
Once you’ve got down the basics of sportsbook betting, check out our Betting on Sports 101 series to discover more ways to find angles and improve your odds.