Types of Bets & Wagers

The range of different bets that you can place on sports can seem a little confusing to new or inexperienced bettors, but it’s actually pretty easy to get your head around them all. Although it’s fair to say some wagers are a bit more complex than others, none of them are really that difficult to understand. With that being said, sticking to the simple bets is probably a good idea if you are new to sports betting – at least until you have a bit of confidence in what you are doing.

However, if you want to have the best chance of making money out of sports betting then you really do want to learn about the other more advanced wagers too. Very often the real value is to be found in these so it’s well worth knowing how they work. On this page we have provided easy to understand explanations for all the main types of bets, and we suggest you take the time to read through them.

You should be aware that some wagers are referred to differently in different parts of the world. In some cases the same terminology can have different meanings depending on where you live, and some bets don’t necessarily work exactly the same way across all sports. We’ve made things as clear as possible for you, but if you are ever unsure about a specific wager you should get a full explanation before staking any money. At most sports betting sites if you just get in touch with customer support they will help you out.

Win Bet or Moneyline Bet

Gambling doesn’t come much more straightforward than the win bet. This is one of the most popular wagers that can be placed and is really easy to understand. It’s used in virtually every sport you can bet on and is quite simply a wager on who you think is going to win a match, game or other event. This type of wager is known as the moneyline bet in the United States, to differentiate it from the straight bet (which we explain later).

The odds you get for such a wager will depend on the approximate chances of your selection winning. The more likely it is, the shorter the odds will be.

Examples:

  • Roger Federer is playing Andy Murray in a tennis match. You believe Murray is going to win, so you would place a win bet on Murray. If Murray does win, you get a return at the relevant odds. If he loses, so do you.
  • In soccer, Chelsea is about to face Liverpool and you predict that Liverpool will win. You expect Liverpool to win the game so you would place a win bet on Liverpool.
  • The Chicago Bulls are due to play the Detroit Pistons in a basketball game. You want to put your money on the Bulls winning, so you would place a win bet on them.
  • You believe Tiger Woods is going to win the upcoming US Open, so you would place a win bet on Woods.

It’s also worth noting that in some sports, where a tie is possible, there is what’s known as a Win-Draw-Win market. You can put your money on either team to win, or you can also back the draw.

Straight Bets & The Point Spread

The straight bet is probably the most commonly placed on American football, and is also popular for other sports. It’s very similar to the win bet, in that you are still choosing which team you think will win, but there is a significant difference – a point spread is created to effectively make the two teams equal favorites. This means you either back the favorite to win by at least the size of the spread, or you back the underdog to win or lose by no more than the size of the spread.

In some parts of the world – such as the UK for example – the term handicap betting is used. The principle is exactly the same, it’s basically just another way of referring to wagers placed where there are hypothetical adjustments to the results for betting purposes.

Example:

  • The Denver Broncos are about to play the Baltimore Ravens. The Broncos are favorites and the point spread is set at 8. If you placed a straight bet on the Broncos you would need them to win by more than 8 points to get a return. If you placed one on the Ravens, providing they either won or lost by less than 8 points you would get a return. If the Broncos won by exactly 8 points, it would be a push and you would get your stake back.

Typically, the odds for straight bets are the same regardless of which team you decide to back. They are generally a little bit shorter than evens – something like 10/11 (1.91 in decimal format, -110 in moneyline format)

Totals Betting or Over/Under Betting

These are really straightforward wagers that have become increasingly popular in recent years. At most sports betting sites you will find these available on a wide range of sports. The idea is the site will set an estimated total of runs, points, or goals expected to be scored in a match, and you have to decide whether you think the actual amount will be higher or lower.

Example:

  • England is playing Australia at cricket, in a test match. England bats first, and their estimated run total for their first inning is set by a bookmaker at 350. You could choose to back them scoring more than 350 (betting on the over) or less than 350 (betting on the under)

Other markets for this type of wager include the total number of goals scored in a soccer match, the number of points scored by a team in a basketball game, and the total number of points scored in an American football match.

Specials or Proposition Bets

Wagers that fall into this category are generally considered a bit of fun, but there are a number of examples that are popular with serious bettors. Broadly speaking, they’re wagers on things that do not necessarily affect the final outcome of a sporting event – although there are some exceptions. Popular examples include betting on which team or player scores first in a match, or the time at which the first goal or point will be scored.

At many sports betting sites you will find whole sections dedicated specifically to these types of wagers. There are quite literally thousands of different specials or proposition bets (often known simply as props) available and they are well worth checking out.

Outrights or Futures

Outrights and futures are terms generally used for wagers on the winner of a specific tournament, league or competition that are placed before the relevant events start. If you backed a team to win the Super Bowl before the start of the regular season, for example, this would be considered a futures bet. So would a wager on the winner of a golf tournament, placed before it started.

Accumulators or Parlays

These types of bets are hard to get right, but they can return very decent winnings when you do. Basically, they involve making more than one selection as part of a single wager. So if you wanted to try and predict the winners of five football matches, for example, you would make all your picks as part of an accumulator or parlay. If you got them all right, the odds of all your selections would be multiplied and you would win a nice chunk of money. The downside is that you would lose the wager if you got just one selection wrong.