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Common Types of Bets

There is no limit to the number of sports offered by sportsbooks around the world along with the extensive variety of creative betting options.  Even within this never ending assortment of wagering opportunities there are several bet types that you’ll see over and over again in one form or another.  In this article, we’ll give you the basics of the most common bet types.  Once you have a working knowledge of this information you’ll be in a much better position to bet on any sport available on the betting board.  You’ll find more in-depth explanation of the bet types below elsewhere on the site.


‘Straight bets’ are simply bets on a single wagering proposition.  This can be the outright result of a game, an Over/Under total or a pointspread bet.  This type of wager is distinctly different from multi game wagers or ‘exotic wagers’ such as parlays and teasers.  You’ll find plenty of coverage of parlays, teasers and more elsewhere at SportsInsider.com but the best place to start is the straight bet.  The most common bet types that full under the ‘straight bet’ category are outlined below:


Moneyline bets are the most fundamental type of sports bet.  The player wagers on a specific outcome in a sporting event and if it occurs he cashes a winning ticket.  The odds against that outcome are expressed in a moneyline format.  Although you’ll find sports betting all over the world the moneyline format of expressing odds is seldom used outside of the United States.  The rest of the world uses several other odds formats with the most common being fractional or decimal odds.  It’s important to know that no matter which format is used in a bet it’s essentially the same.  Here are some examples of moneylines along with equivalent fractional and decimal prices:

-300  =  1.33  = 1/3
+350 =  4.5  =  7/2
+100 = 2.0  = 1/1
-110 =  1.91 =  10/11

We’ll provide a more in-depth explanation of fractional and decimal odds elsewhere on the website.  The important thing to understand at this point is that moneylines are the format you’ll most commonly find at sportsbooks that serve a North American clientele.  What is referred to as a ‘moneyline’ bet is often called a ‘win’ bet when expressed in decimal or fractional format.

You’ll find moneyline bets used in every sport on the betting board.  One price in a matchup represents the favorite and the other price represents the underdog.  Here’s an example:

TEAM 1:  -150
TEAM 2: +130

In this example, Team 1 is the favorite with a price of minus 150.  This means that to back Team 1 a bettor must lay -150 to win 100, or $150 to win $100.  If Team 1 wins, he’ll receive a total of $250 which represents his $150 initial stake and $100 winnings.  To bet the underdog Team 2 a better will lay 100 and receive +130 in return should his wager be successful.  If Team 2 wins, the bettor will get back $230 representing the $100 initial stake and $130 in winnings.

Sometimes both teams will be shown as a ‘minus price’ such as this:

TEAM 3:  -110
TEAM 4:  -110

This simply means that a bettor will lay -110 to win 100 on Team 3 or Team 4.  If the correct team wins, the bettor will receive his $110 stake in return along with $100 in winnings for a total of $210.


Pointspread betting is more popular in the United States than elsewhere in the world due to the massive amount of wagering action on football.  That being said, they’re also found in other sports including soccer which is the most popular betting sport in Europe.  Most of the time, what is known as a pointspread in the United States will be called a ‘handicap’ in Europe though you’re slowly starting to see international sportsbooks pick up on the ‘pointspread’ term.

A pointspread is used by a bookmaker to give a superior team (the favorite) a ‘handicap’ in the form of a specific number of points.  The team perceived as subordinate (the underdog) is given an advantage of the same number of points.  The favorite must win the game by a margin greater than the pointspread.  The underdog bettor will cash a ticket if his team wins the game outright or loses by a margin less than the pointspread.  If the game lands exactly on the pointspread it is a tie or a ‘push’ and all bets are refunded.

Here’s an example of a pointspread wager:


Typically, a pointspread wager is made at 10/11 meaning that a player must lay $110 for every $100 he wants to win.  In this example, Football Team 1 is the favorite and for a bet on them to cash they must win the game by 8 points or more.  Football Team 2 is the underdog and a bet on that side will cash if they win outright or lose by 6 points or fewer.  If Team 1 wins by 7 points the game is a ‘push’ or tie.

You’ll also see pointspreads that use a half point which eliminates the possibility of a push:


In this example, Football Team 3 must win the game by 4 or more to cash tickets for favorite bettors.  Football Team 4 must win the game outright or lose by 3 points or fewer.  The half point in the pointspread means that a tie or ‘push’ is not possible.

You’ll sometimes see a pointspread and a moneyline used together:

FOOTBALL TEAM 5:  -3 +130
FOOTBALL TEAM 6:  +3 -150

The outcome is determined in the same way as any other pointspread but a bettor must lay the designated moneyline price on each side.

Understanding how pointspreads are made and moved is extremely important for successful sports betting.  You’ll find more advanced discussion of pointspreads both generally and as used in specific sports elsewhere on this site.


Totals bets are sometimes called ‘Over/Under’ bets though you should get in the habit of calling them ‘totals’.  A totals bet requires the bettor to predict whether a component of a game will go ‘Over’ or ‘Under’ a total set by the bookmaker.  The most common metric is the combined final score of both teams.  As with a pointspread bet, you’ll sometimes see a moneyline attached.

Let’s consider a hypothetical game between ‘Basketball Team 1’ and ‘Basketball Team 2’.  The total on this game might look like this:

OVER 210.5  -110
UNDER 210.5 -110

As with a typical pointspread bet, the bettor is laying 10/11 or $110 to win $100.  If he bets on the ‘Over’ the combined final score must equal 211 or higher.  If he bets on the ‘Under’, the combined final score must equal 210 or lower.  Although this example uses a half point which eliminates the possibility of a ‘push’ a total can land right on the number just like a pointspread.

Here’s an example of a total with a moneyline:

OVER 199.5  +110
UNDER 199.5 -130

The bookmaker will use this combination when one side or the other is the more likely outcome yet he doesn’t want to move the total itself.  To bet the ‘Under’ a player must lay -130, to bet the ‘Over’ he’ll get back +110 for a $100 bet.

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