Types of betting

Understanding the different types of sports bets available to you is absolutely key in unlocking the most value from your wagers. It is essential that you understand each option you have at your disposal because each type of bet will be suited to different scenarios. Sports betting is so much more than betting on the winner or loser of a match.

Types of betting

Moneyline betting explained

This is the most common type of sports bet in the USA right now. And if you are a beginner, it is probably the only type of sports bet you can imagine placing. A moneyline bet is in short backing a team or player to win a match.

A moneyline bet will always be offered by a sportsbook in this format:

  • Favorite -(odds)
  • Underdog +(odds)

The favorite will be assigned the minus symbol and the underdog will be assigned the plus symbol. If the sportsbook finds it too tough to call, they may assign a minus to both teams.

The crucial part of a moneyline bet for you are the odds, also known as the vigs or the juice. This number shows you how much you will get in return for your money. The number given to the favorites (with a minus) will show you how much you need to wager to get $100 in winnings. The number given to the underdog (with a plus) will indicate how much you will get in winnings with a $100 wager.

So, let’s make this easier with an example from the NHL. In this example, let’s say the New England Patriots are playing the Buffalo Bills. The Patriots are the favorites for the game so the odds could look like this:

  • New England Patriots -110
  • Buffalo Bills +400

If you backed the New England Patriots your winnings = ($10 / 110) x 100. This means that you would get $9.09 in winnings. Not an amazing return, but that is what happens when you back strong favorites. This would be a good opportunity to look at a point spread which we will come to later.

If you backed the Buffalo Bills with a $10 wager your winnings = ($10 x 400) /100. So you would get $40 in winnings.

The easiest way to think about plus moneyline bets is to think about it as a $100 wager, although we don’t recommend you always stake that much! In the example above a $100 wager at odds of +400 would get you $400 in winnings.

Frequently asked questions about different types of bets

What are the different forms of sports bets?

The most common forms of sports bets in the US are moneyline, point spreads, parlays, teasers and over/unders. You can find out more about these on this page.

What is a prop bet?

A prop bet stands for a proposition bet. This type of bet usually predicts an occurrence or a non-occurrence from happening. So it could be that a certain team hits a home run. It can stretch to anything, so you can lay a prop bet on there being a streaker in a game for example.

What is the most common type of sports bet in the US?

The moneyline bet, where you back the favorite or underdog to win a match is the most popular form of sports betting in the US in 2019.

What is a multiple bet?

This type of bet simply combines single bets into one. A common example of a multiple bet is a parlay, which adds a selected number of single bets into one. The sportsbook will then offer adjusted odds for this single that are in line with the increased risk.

What is the best type of sports bet?

There is no best type of bet in general but rather the best type of sports bet for a particular event. So, for example, let’s say you can’t decide who will win the Wimbledon Final between Federer and Nadal as you believe it will go right to the wire. Then the best type of sports bet would not be a moneyline, but perhaps an over/under number of games or sets bet.

Pointsspread betting explained

In the example we used above, you can see that sometimes backing a strong favorite doesn’t bring you that much value. If a team is expected to win, then your sportsbook is not going to offer you high odds, as they would lose money. To counteract this, sportsbooks have introduced something called spread betting, which gives both teams a points handicap.

The points spread reduces the differences between the favourites and the underdogs by giving the underdogs a head start. Points Spread betting is particularly popular in the NBA, but for continuity’s sake let us continue with the same example from the NFL.

New England Patriots are playing the Buffalo Bills and, as before, the Patriots are strong favorites. This is indicated, just like with the moneyline bet, with a minus symbol before the Patriots odds. However, this time around the same odds will be offered for both teams but there will be an additional points handicap introduced.

  • New England Patriots -8 (+120)
  • Buffalo Bills +8 (-100)

This means that the game effectively starts with the New England Patriots trailing by 8 points. With a 8 point handicap suddenly there is more risk attached to backing the Patriots, so the sportsbook has lengthened the odds. In fact, so much so, that now New England Patriots have the better value odds

Now a $10 wager would get you:

  • $12 in winnings for backing the New England Patriots
  • $10 in winnings for backing the Buffalo Bills

The nature of this type of sports bet, has ones advantage over the moneyline bet in that it eradicates the option of a draw. In a moneyline bet, you will lose if both teams draw, but with a points spread the adjusted points spread means that this is considered a ‘push’ and you will get your original wager returned. So, if you were to back the New England Celtics with $10 at a -8 points spread, you could expect the following three outcomes:

  1. The Patriots win by more than 8 points. You win $12.
  2. The Patriots win by 8 points. Your $10 wager is returned.
  3. The Patriots win by less than 8 points, the game ends in a draw, or The Buffalo Bills win. You lose your $10 wager.

Parlay Betting Explained

Parlay betting has increased rapidly in popularity since online sports betting was legalised in the US. This is in part due to the many promotions pushed out by sportsbooks across the country. Parlay betting can offer huge returns, which is of course, attractive to betting customers everywhere but it also requires a lot of risk.

So what is a parlay? A parlay is a smorgåsbord of bets rolled into one nice juicy high risk, high returns sport bet. With a parlay you add single bets together, the sportsbook then adjusts the odds accordingly. Since one lost bet will mean you lose all the other bets, the increased risk means that the odds offered by the sportsbook should be higher than placing a series of single bets.

At we err on the side of caution, but we can see the fun in this type of bet. These are some of the advantages:

  • Higher odds
  • You can add bets from different leagues
  • You can add bets across different sports

However, like with anything in sports betting, it is how far you take something which defines whether it is a good idea or not. The key is the amount of bets that you add to a parlay.

For example, backing two favorites in two single bets might not offer very attractive odds, so putting them into a parlay might be a good idea, as it will add value to relatively safe bets. Whereas adding nine different bets across different leagues is veering toward a lottery than skilled betting.

Let’s break this down into an example where we compare three single bets vs a parlay.

Single bets vs a parlay

You want to place the following three sports bets with your sportbook:

  • (NFL) The Dallas Cowboys to win +100
  • (NFL) The Oakland Raiders to win -120
  • (NBA) Philadelphia 76ers to win -115

If you place a $50 wager on each of these bets you would be looking at the following winnings:

  • (NFL) The Dallas Cowboys to win $50
  • (NFL) The Oakland Raiders to win $41.67
  • (NBA) Philadelphia 76ers to win $43.48
  • The Total of which is $135.15

Now. let’s look at what your sportsbook might offer if you rolled this into a parlay bet:

(NFL) The Dallas Cowboys to win, (NFL) The Oakland Raiders to win, (NBA) Philadelphia 76ers to win +200

The Total of this parlay with the same $50 wager would be 100 in winnings. So, you have made around $65 more in profit.

In this example, you can see that you can earn considerably more from a parlay than single bets. But the price you are paying is the increased risk. If two out of your three single bets came through, you could still make money. However, in this scenario, with a parlay, you will lose your whole bet.

Teaser Bets explained

This form of betting is as sexy as it sounds. It is effectively a parlay bet and a points spread bet rolled into one. With a teaser bet, your sportsbook will offer you one points spread for more than one spread bet.

Let’s say you wanted to bet on the three same matches as above:

  • (NFL) The Dallas Cowboys -6
  • (NFL) The Oakland Raiders +6
  • (NBA) Philadelphia 76ers +4

A points spread has been offered for each of these matches. Your sportsbook is offering you a teaser of +2. This means that if you accept the teaser you will get the following points spread.

  • (NFL) The Dallas Cowboys -4
  • (NFL) The Oakland Raiders +8
  • (NBA) Philadelphia 76ers +6

Of course, the sportsbook will adjust the odds according to the shift in the handicap. This can get a little complicated, especially when you have a lot of bets in a teaser, so we recommend you take your time here.

Teaser bets are not offered by every sportsbook in the US at the moment, but just over 50% have some form of teaser betting available. It is also important to remember that not all points spreads will be allowed by your sportsbook to be included in a teaser.

Over/under bets explained

This type of betting requires you to throw some of your natural sporting instincts out of the window. Firstly, this type of bet does not care who wins or loses necessarily but rather how many points, goals, runs etc are scored. Secondly, sportsbooks will often add decimals to the points.

Your sportsbook will set a predetermined number of points. You will then be offered odds either side of this number. The positive will indicate more points scored than the predetermined amount and the minus will indicate less than.

Example of over/under sports bet

The Eagles are playing the Giants and your sportsbook is offering the following odds

  • Over 50.5 at -100
  • Under 50.5 at -120

This means that the bookies expect less than 50 points to be scored. If you were to put $50 on over 50.5 points you could be looking at $50 in winnings.

(end of fact box)

In the example above you can see that the sportsbook has added a 0.5 to the predetermined number of goals. Of course, there won’t be 50.5 points scored in a game so this simply eradicates the chance of it being a draw.

Over/under bets can be useful when you don’t necessarily know who will win but your research indicates that there will be a lot of or very few goals. Imagine two teams are riddled with defensive injuries but are evenly matched in their league. This could be a good time to place an over bet.

Share post