Bet Types Explained

As a modern day Sports Bettor, there are many bet types available to you. For the uninitiated, the names of the different bets and the numbers might be a confusing and a bit daunting....especially if you're placing your hard earned money on the line. Below we explain the most popular bet types, and how to understand what placing a bet on them means.

What is a Moneyline bet?

When betting on a Moneyline for a team, the team you bet on simply needs to win the game outright for your bet to win. Moneyline bets have odds attached to both of the teams, that reflect the likelihood of that outcome happening (minus the bookmakers margin, or Vig). As both teams have odds reflective of their likelihood to win, it is a balanced look at the market.

What is a Total bet?

Total is a bet on the overall score of the event, and whether the total is going to be ‘Over’ or ‘Under’ that score. The line that is given for a score to be over or under is determined by the bookmaker. The line or handicap that is set in the scoring mechanism for the sport in question, for example its runs in Baseball, and goals in Ice Hockey. When you bet on total, it doesn’t matter who wins, you’re just betting on whether you think the total score of the two teams is going to be higher or lower than the Sportsbook’s estimated total. Things you might want to keep an eye out for when betting totals are

  • The weather – Do you think there is going to be some unexpected rain that is going to cause the total score of a Football match to be lower
  • Injuries – Is there an injury to a key player in a Basketball match that is going to cause the total scores to be lower than anticipated.

What is a Spread bet (also known as an Asian Handicap or Line bet)?

Spread betting is one of, if not the most popular bet type in the US. For a Spread bet, the favoured team is set a ‘Handicap’ by the sportsbook that they need to win by for the bet to pay out. The underdog or outsider is then given an equal ‘head start’ that they can lost by for the bet to page out.

For a wager on the favourite to win, the favoured team (the team with a minus) must win the game by more points than the handicap. The spread or handicap might be set by the bookmaker at 3.5 goals in an Ice Hockey match between the Oilers and Bruins, with the Oilers as favourites in this instance. This would be expressed in a Spread bet as -3.5 for the Bruins, and +3.5 Oilers. The odds for each team would be set at around event money minus the sportsbooks margin (likely between $1.80 and $1.95 in decimal format, or -110 to -130 in American format). Sportbooks often offer a variety of alternate spreads, where you can gain increased or decreased odds by the giving the underdog a larger or smaller head start.

What is a First Half or Second half bet?

A first half or second half bet is generally on Spread or Total bet types. The bet is based on the results only within the half you bet on. For example, if you have a bet on the ‘First Half – Spread’ at +5 in an NFL match, your selection will need to either be winning by half time, or be behind by 5 or less.

What is a futures bet?

Futures bets are bets placed on events further than a day or two out from taking place. Futures bets are generally Moneyline bets on big events like Superbowl, National Championship or the World Series. A bettor might for example place a bet on a team winning the AFC Championship before the season has even started. The odds can be very juicy on futures bets, but that’s because the larger number of variables that come into play when betting on events further away like the number of teams, injuries, suspensions and form fluctuations.

What is a Parlay bet?

A parlay bet is one where multiple bets are combined into a single bet. All of the outcomes in a parlay bet need to win for it to be paid out as a winning bet. Odds for Parlay bets are usually much higher than straight out bets due to a multiplying or compounding effect. For every outcome that is added to a Parlay bet, it multiplies the odds on the bet. This is not a trick in the system, the multiplying effect is reflective of the probability of the bet winning. While Parlay bets are often the bets you hear about when people with lottery size payouts, they are also very hard to win when you have so many outcomes needing to happen in the one bet.

What is a teaser bet?

A teaser bet is a parlay bet, but with a spread betting element. It adds an increased positive handicap to each of the bets you’ve place. A teaser requires a minimum of two teams in the bet, and increases the likelihood that the bet will win, however decreases the payout. For example, if you place a teaser bet on the following:

1st Bet of Parlay: $100 on the Chicago Bulls + 2.5 vs New York Knicks

2nd Bet of Parlay: Total bet on the Under 49.5 - New York Jets vs New England Patriots

A teaser bet would increase the margin on the bets to the following:

1st Bet of Parlay: $100 on the Chicago Bulls + 8.5 vs New York Knicks

2nd Bet of Parlay: Total bet on the Under 55.5 - New York Jets vs New England Patriots

This would increase the likelihood of the bet winning, but decrease the payout.

What is a Prop bet?

A prop (or proposition) bet in sports betting is one on a specific statistical result normally taking place during within an event. A prop bet could be any of the following:

- Player X scores 4 touchdowns during Y game

- Player X scores the first touch down

- Team X will win the coin toss

- Team X will be the first team to score a 3 pointer in the 4th quarter

With the advent of online sportsbooks and their large-scale operations, these bets are becoming increasingly popular, more specific and sometimes very obscure.