Betting – Sports Betting Guide
There are several different types of bets that can be made in sports. The most popular types of bets are straight bets and money line bets. With that said, for entertainment purposes parlay and teaser bets are the most fun.
For professional bettors or those looking to make some extra money, you need to be more selective about how you bet. Just like casino table games, there are smart bets and sucker bets. For example, parlay bets are often considered a sucker bet. It’s all about finding the best value.
We also strongly recommend our tips on money management when it comes to sports betting.
Before you can make smart betting decisions, you need to understand each type of bet.
Straight bets, also called side bets, are wagers that pick the winning team of a sporting event. In football or basketball, straight bets use a point spread. In sports without a point spread, straight bets are used with a money line.
In football, a straight bet generally implies a bet using the point spread. For example, if a sportsbook is offering the New York Giants at -6.5, this means that the Giants have to give 6.5 points to their opponent. If the Giants win their game by 7 or more points, they’ve covered the spread and anyone betting on them win. If they win by 6 points or less, or lose outright, then anyone who bet on them would lose.
For straight bets, since a point spread is used to even out the odds, most sportsbooks offer -110 odds on either team you pick. This means that for every $110 you bet, you can win $100 more in profit. So, if you bet $110, you’ll get $210 back ($110 bet + $100 profit).
In sports where point spreads aren’t used, a money line bet can also be called a straight bet. In baseball, since very few points are scored and it’s difficult to predict a winner, point spreads can’t be used. Instead, bettors pick the winner and typically get a wider range of odds. The same can be said about tennis, soccer, and other sports that do not use a point spread.
So, the term straight bet could be used in this case. Scroll down for more information about money line bets.
Money Line Betting
Money line betting is essentially the same as a straight bet, but without the use of a point spread. Certain sports like baseball, tennis, cricket, auto racing and others do not use a point spread, so the types of bets for these sports are called money lines.
Money line bets offer a wider range of odds because the games aren’t evened out using a point spread. For example, if Andy Pettitte is pitching at home for the Yankees against a rookie on the Orioles, obviously the Yankees will be favored. So, the money line might read -190 for the Yankees, and +180 for the Orioles.
Money lines are based around the $100 figure. A negative money line (-) represents the favorite and the underdog is represented with a positive (+) money line. In the game above, the Yankees and their -190 money line would require a bet of $190 to win $100 in profit.
The Orioles and their +180 money line would require a bet of $100 to win $180.
For more information about money lines, check out our Money Line Betting page.
Over/under bets are most often used in football and basketball and are very simple to understand. Before a game, a sportsbook will predict how many points the two teams in a game will score. Your job is to decide if they’re right or not. It doesn’t matter who wins the game, or how many point either team scores. All that matters is the total amount of points scored.
For example, if a sportsbook predicts that the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings will score 48 points in total, you can bet the over (more than 48 points), or the under (less than 48 points).
Over/under bets generally have odds set at -110, meaning that a bet of $110 would return $100 in profit.
Parlay betting is popular in a number of sports, but especially football and horse racing. A parlay bet is 2 or more single bets combined onto one ticket. For a parlay to win, every team on the parlay must win for the bet to win. If you have a 4 team parlay and go 3-1, you lose.
The benefit to a parlay is that the bettor gets increased odds without much risk. For example, a winning 5 team parlay pays will pay 20/1 odds, for a $1000 profit on a $50 bet.
The negative to a parlay is that they do not represent ‘true odds’, meaning that as you add more teams to a parlay, the less ‘correct’ your odds are in comparison to making multiple, single bets.
To win parlay bets more often, keep them down to 2-3 teams per ticket. While your odds will be less, you;ll win a lot more often than you will win 5, 6, or 7 team parlays.
Parlay bets are great for those looking to add some excitement to a Sunday full of football games, or for going after a huge win at the track.
For more information and tips about parlays, check out our Parlay Bets page.
A teaser bet is the same as a parlay bet, except that points can be added to a spread. For example, if you have a 4 team NFL teaser, you can ‘buy points’ and move the spread of the games by 6, 6.5 or 7 points. With every 1/2 point you buy, the lower your odds.
The obvious benefit to a teaser bet is that with the point spread moved in your favor, it’s more likely that your teams will cover the spread – and thus more likely you’ll win your bet. Almost every live & online sportsbook offers teaser bets.
Futures betting can be a lot of fun, but they have their drawbacks as well. With futures bets, you’re trying to predict the winner of an event or season that has yet to begin. For example, before the NFL season starts, you can generally get odds in the range of +700 up to +20,000 on the Super Bowl winner. Small bets can turn into huge profits.
Futures bets can be placed on hundreds of different events. For example, Sportsbook.com is offering NFL futures bets for the 2010-2011 season which include AFC & NFC Champions, regular season wins for each team, NFL MVP, offensive & defensive rookies of the year, and plenty more.
The drawback to futures betting include the fact that your money will be tied up for a long time. Your money will be sitting at the sportsbook all season long before you can collect (if you’re lucky enough to win). If you’re on a limited bankroll, futures bets aren’t a good option.
Most online sportsbooks offer futures bets for hundreds of futures bets per year, covering almost every sport.
Prop bets (short for proposition bets, also called exotics) are bets placed on very specific, often strange aspects of a game. In baseball, many online sportsbooks will offer prop bets on how many hits, runs, and rbi’s a player will accumulate in a single game. They may also offer a prop on how many strikeouts a pitcher will score.
* Our favorite online sportsbook for prop bets is the Bodog Sportsbook. They have a wide selection of daily prop bets on almost every sport they offer, plus political and entertainment prop bets as well.
In football, there are prop bets on how many rushing yards a runningback will record, or how many touchdowns a quarterback will throw. In tennis, you may be able to place bets on who will win the first set, or if a match will go two or three sets. The list is endless.
Prop bets can be some of the most fun bets to make. Since most online sportsbooks come up with their own, unique prop bets, this is a good reason to have accounts at several of them. The more accounts you have, the more prop bet options you’ll have.
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