Explaining Different Types of Sports Bets

Rear view of fans watching a game in a sports bar on TV screens

Online sports betting provides amazing opportunities to wager on the most popular sporting events. Even veterans of sports betting will find some useful information in our guide about the different types of sports bets. Brushing up on the different styles of betting will ensure that you set achievable betting objectives, bet with your head instead of your heart, and understand your risk tolerance as a bettor.

What are the most common types of bets?

If you’re new to sports betting, you’re most likely to hear about bets such as ‘’moneyline’’ and ‘’over/under’ bets’. These are the most commonly placed bets and are also the easiest to try when you’re just getting started. Let’s break these simple betting styles down a bit, and go into some more detail, so you can get your bets down for all the exciting matchups up ahead. 

Moneyline bets

Man sitting on the floor watching a live-streamed sports event on a tablet.

A moneyline bet is the simplest bet of all, and is also referred to as the “win bet”. Simply select who you believe will win the game or match, and your bet has been placed. So, think about an NFL matchup between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots – you can place a moneyline bet on who you think will win based either on your research, knowledge of the game, or just because they’re your favorite team. If the team you placed your bet on wins, then you win – it’s that easy! Other types of bets might be affected by factors such as the score or points difference between the teams, but while you are still learning about online sports betting, it is best to keep it simple.

Over/under bets

In the US, sports bettors refer to the over/under bet as the “total bet”. The over/under bet allows sports bettors to bet on a matchup without picking a favored side. Instead, they’re betting on the total points scored in a specific sporting event. Once the sportsbook casino puts up their predictions, sports bettors can decide if they believe that the total number of points scored in the matchup will be over or under the number set by the sportsbook casino.

For example, in a matchup between the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, the sportsbook may set a totals line bet at 190 points. This means that sports bettors must decide if they think the teams will have a combined score of more or less than 190. If the bettor picked correctly, they will win the totals or over/under bet.

Point spread

The point spread is quite a popular bet in the United States. In Europe, this type of wager is typically referred to as a handicap bet. With the point spread, the sportsbook will determine which team they think is the favorite to win the game. After making their selections, the oddsmakers will decide what the margin of victory is most likely to be. The sports bettors will then make bets based on whether the pick or margin predicted by the sportsbook is over or understated.

For example, in an upcoming NBA matchup between the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat, a sportsbook casino may post a point spread of 5 points in favor of the Bulls – this means that the sportsbook expects the Bulls to win by 5 points. If sports bettors choose to place a point spread bet on this game, they’d choose whether the sportsbook prediction is high or low.

Futures bets

Man wearing red jacket holding smartphone celebrating online win

Futures bets, or outright bets, allow sports bettors to pick the winner of the overall tournament, competition, or league. This means that, in most cases, the bet is placed way in advance of the actual sports event taking place, hence the name “futures’’. Sports bettors will need to do thorough research on teams and players before placing a futures bet. 

These are some of the toughest bets to pick correctly, although the payouts are definitely enticing. Sports bettors should keep in mind that because futures bets have attractive payouts, it also means that they are quite risky.

Prop bets

For those looking for variety and something more fun, compared to the standard sports bets, consider placing a proposition bet. Sports betting can get quite bizarre with prop bets as you can wager on just about anything. Some examples of prop bets include predicting the time of the first goal in a soccer match, or the first team to score a touchdown in an NFL match. These examples barely scratch the surface of the types of prop bets that can be placed on different sports. Prop bets are great for sports bettors who are into the more obscure happenings or occurrences of a game that will not necessarily affect the end result.

Here are a few examples of some more interesting prop bets:

  • Will a baseball team score in the first inning or not?
  • Will there be a hole-in-one in a golf tournament?
  • Who will win the opening coin toss?

Parlay bets

If you’re feeling extra courageous, and like you’re getting the hang of sports betting, the parlay bet is the wager for you. It is probably best for beginners to avoid these at first, as they can be quite complicated and risky compared to some of the other types of bets. The reason it is so complicated is because a parlay bet involves selecting a string of picks which are all counted as one bet. 

For example, sports bettors can place a parlay bet on three different NFL teams. The parlay ticket could include a point spread, moneyline, and totals bet. The odds for each game remain the same though, as if you were making another kind of individual bet. In order for the parlay bet to pay out, all three picks for all matchups must win. In the event that one pick is incorrect, the entire bet is lost. Parlays are considered very risky, which is why it’s best to have some experience before trying them out. The added risk, however, does mean you’ll be collecting grand payouts if you win!

Popular odds in football

Rear view of a group of friends sitting on the couch watching soccer on a large TV screen at home

The most popular type of bet made in the NFL is the point spread. By setting the point spread, sportsbooks will try to even things out in a game when the two teams facing each other are mismatched. For example, the Houston Texans (10-2) vs Miami Dolphins (3-9) matchup would see many sports bettors betting on the Houston Texans to win. To prevent one-sided betting, these spread bets can level the playing field for bettors. 

When you’re placing your bets online, you’ll see a + and – symbol given to the teams:

Miami Dolphins +14 (-110)

Houston Texans -14 (-110)

The above numbers show that the Houston Texans are a 14-point favorite, meaning they will need to win by a margin of 15 points to cover the spread for Texans bettors. For those who bet on the underdog, the Dolphins must lose by 13 or less for the bet to win. The numbers in the brackets indicate that the bettors must risk $110 in order to win $100. 

Popular odds in golf

Golf is a great sport to bet on as the season is seemingly endless, with so many tournaments and opportunities to place bets. The futures bet is a popular golf wager, and the sportsbook will set their own odds for each player to win. This means that bettors get to choose from the field of players, with individual odds set for each player to win the tournament outright. In a field of 70 players, choosing the winner can seem impossible and like the odds are stacked heavily against you. However, the payout can be huge if you know your golf and make the right pick.

Place your bets at Borgata Online

Borgata Online has the best and latest odds for a wide market of sports betting markets. Sign up with us today and gain access to live betting on all major sports, including baseball, football, basketball, golf, and ice hockey.