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Types Of Sports Betting Explained

When it comes to sports betting, you can go simple or extravagant. We will cover the basic bets first, and then look at some intricate ways to get action down on your favorite team. By the time you are through reading this page, you will be able to bet on sports like a professional. Then it is up to your teams to do their part. (Note that not all types of sports bets apply to all sports.)

Side Or Spread Betting

Indianapolis Colts (-3) vs Cleveland Browns (+3) is a typical side or spread bet proposal. Whether betting on two individuals or two teams, often times the betting options you have will be expressed in this format. You are placing a wager on what you feel the resulting score of this game will be, and on which team you think will emerge victorious after the final score has been adjusted to that particular spread. In this scenario the Colts have to win by more than 3 points if you bet on them, and the Cleveland Browns can either win outright, or lose by less than 3 points to win your bet.

Betting The Moneyline

Instead of a point spread, you may see a sports contest with money line wagering offered. If the Houston Astros are a -150 favorite over the Cincinnati Reds, you must bet $150 in order to win $100 if you favor the Astros. In the above example, if the Astros are -150, the Reds might be +130. So betting on the Reds in this scenario means a $100 bet would win $130. You will notice the 20 cents difference in the juice, this is where the bookmakers make their money.

Totals Betting, Also Called Betting the Over/Under

Here you are simply betting that a combined score of some type of sporting contest will be over or under the posted total. In National Basketball Association action you may see a total line of 197 points for the upcoming Cleveland Cavaliers contest against the Miami Heat. In this case you do not have to pick a winner. You simply wager on whether more or less than 197 points will be scored in that game, by both teams combined. In football betting over totals make sense with teams like Denver and Philly who move the ball up and down the field and can score in the blink of an eye.

Buying Points

What if you think that the Indianapolis Colts in the above example really are about 3 points better than the Cleveland Browns, but you still want to bet on Indianapolis? You can “buy points” and move the line in one direction or another. In football this generally means moving the line up to 2 points, but many sportsbooks allow you to purchase more points. Usually, for every 1/2 point that you move the spread or line, you pay more “juice” or vigorish typically 10 cents. Most NFL and NBA games use a standard $110 bet to win $100 when you accept their posted point spread. When you buy points, the juice you pay goes up to compensate for you creating a more attractive line.

Parlay Betting

When you group multiple bets into one bet for a larger payout, you are betting a parlay. If you see 5 different games you think are very attractive, whether betting the side, money line or total, you can make a single 5 team parlay bet to take advantage of that. Since all five “legs” of your bets must win for you to be successful, the payout is much larger than if you wagered on each of those 5 games individually. Receiving a generous 10 to 1 payout on a 4 team parlay is not uncommon.

Round Robins

A round robin is simply a group of parlays. For instance, a 3 team round robin would be made up of a single 3 team parlay on games/teams A, B and C. It would also include three 2 team parlays, A and B; B and C; A and C.


Like the parlay above, a teaser bet is a more intricate wager than a simple money line, spread or total bet. And just like a parlay bet, you combine several bets into one. However, you move the line or spread in your favor on every one of your individual legs. Additional points can be added or subtracted to the spread, money line or totals bets you are making, depending on how many teams are in your teaser bet. In some cases you may move the line as many as 21 points. Usually, all portions of your teaser bet must win for you to win. Teasers are a good bet when you think the line is very close and the lines makers have it right.


Think of a pleaser bet as a reverse teaser. But instead of moving the line in your favor, you receive more attractive payout odds by moving the line against your position. You are giving away points instead of receiving them. Why would you want to create a less attractive spread or side? It the San Francisco 49ers are favored by 6 points and you believe they will win by much more than that, you can increase your odds by placing a pleaser wager with them by giving up 12 points instead of the posted 6.

If Bets

An If Bet is a group of usually 2 to 6 straight bets, depending on an “if” proposition. If A, then B. This helps you to limit your risk. Your second bet will only have action if your first bet is successful. If you have a limited bankroll, if bets can help you minimize your potential losses. And unlike a parlay where all of your teams need to win in order to get paid, an if bet pays you winnings on every leg, and rolls the original bet onto the next leg. So if you feel good about 5 teams on Sunday, but don’t have a large bankroll and don’t want to risk everything in a parlay, and if bet might make sense to you.

Reverse Bets

This can get a little complicated. Reverse bets are if bets that work in two directions. In other words, if you place an “if A, then B” bet as a reversal, you are also placing an “if B, then A” wager. This means that reverse bets are double action. Most sportsbooks will allow you to still have action in the event of a tie with a reverse bet.

Prop Bets

You will often see these types of bets during championship sporting events. The Super Bowl is known for offering some pretty crazy and downright enjoyable proposition (prop) bets every year. You may be offered the proposition of betting on how the opening coin flip will end up, or if Peyton will throw 3+ touchdowns on the day. Proposition bets exist in all sports, and have virtually no limit to their scope. In a soccer game, you may see a prop bet that lets you wager on how many goals a particular player will score, who will score first, or how many penalty shots will be taken.

Future Bets

This particular type of bet is exactly what it sounds like. You are making a guess as to a future outcome. Every year, futures wagering is heavy on Super Bowl, World Series and NBA Championship winners. Well before the season starts, you can place a wager that a particular team will win a certain sporting contest “in the future”.

Live Betting, First Half Bets, Second Half Bets

In recent years, “live” betting has surfaced. This allows you to place wagers while play continues, and in real-time. These can include first half bets and second half bets, with your action restricted to either the first half or second half of play. There are also tons of other live and in-play wagers you can make one individual achievements and team efforts.