Sports Betting 101: Types of Bets


Nov 14 2022 06:07PM

If you are just getting into sports betting, some of the terminology, strategy, or even rules may seem intimidating at first. Learning about the different kinds of bets is the key first step into understanding all the jargon. So, without further ado, here is a short guide to the different kinds of bets within sports betting.


A moneyline bet is a wager on a specific team or person to win the match/game. Unlike spread betting, the margin of victory does not matter here. As discussed above, in “American Odds”, each team/competitor is assigned lines based on their chance of winning. Positive numbers for underdogs, negative for favorites. I will use an example of a College Football matchup between Clemson and Virginia Tech:

Clemson -250

Virginia Tech +200

Based on these odds, wagering on a Clemson win would pot you $100 for every $250 you bet. Conversely, a wager on Virginia Tech would pay out double whatever you bet.


For many people, betting the spread is their go to method when it comes to wagering on games. A point spread is simply the projected margin of victory between two teams. A minus sign (-) means that the team is the favorite. A plus sign (+) means that the team is the underdog.

For instance, let’s say the Packers are playing the Chargers on Monday Night Football. If the Packers are favored by 6.5 points, the line on your sportsbook will look something like this:

Green Bay -6.5

Los Angeles +6.5

Now, this means that if you bet on the Packers, you need them to win by 7 or more points in order for you to win your bet. Conversely, if you bet on the Chargers, you need them to lose by less than 7 points in order to win your bet. This is known as “covering the spread”.

One of the reasons why betting the spread is so popular in America is that, generally speaking, you have even odds no matter which side you bet. This means your risk/reward ratio is the same amount of money no matter which side you bet.


Over/Unders (also known as “totals”) are numbers representing the projected combination of points between both sides in a competition. Betting the “over” means you are wagering that the combined score will be higher than the number, and betting the “under” means you are wagering on the combined score being lower than the number. I will use the example of an NHL matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers. The line may look something like this:

New York Rangers Over 5.5

Philadelphia Flyers Under 5.5

Who wins the matchup and what the margin of victory is has no effect on the over/under. All that matters is the total amount of points (or in this case goals) scored by both teams. So, let’s say you bet the over in this game. The following scores would all be wins for you:

Rangers 4

Flyers 2

Flyers 5

Rangers 1

Rangers 4

Flyers 3



These scores would all result in a loss for over bettors:

Flyers 2

Rangers 1


Rangers 5

Flyers 0


Flyers 3

Rangers 2



Prop Bets

A prop bet, or proposition bet, is a category of bets that do not have to do with the outcome of the game. These bets can range anywhere from player performances, specific events occurring, or even, in larger games, the length of the national anthem. The most common form of prop bets are generally related to player performances. Here are just a few examples of prop bets:

Stefon Diggs Over 79.5 receiving yards (-110)

Jalen Hurts to score the first touchdown (+550)

Claude Giroux Over 2.5 shots on goal (-136)

Paul George Over 26.5 points (-108)

Prop bets are a fun way to have action on a game you can’t quite predict the outcome of and are often parlayed together to create increased odds.


Parlaying is a slightly more complicated method of betting, but is actually pretty straightforward. A parlay wager is a bet that multiple teams will win/cover the spread. Not some, but all. The potential win amount is raised for each “leg” of a parlay you add. For instance, let’s say that there are two matchups on an NFL Sunday that catch your eye. For the sake of simplicity, I will use the following examples:

Detroit Lions         +5.5 -110

Baltimore Ravens -5.5 -110


New England Patriots  -5 -110

New York Jets          +5 -100

Okay, so if I believe that both the Lions and Patriots will cover these spreads, I can turn that into a parlay bet, as opposed to betting them both separately. After placing a parlay bet, the only way to win is for all of your selected wagers to win. So, let’s say I placed my parlay on the Lions and Patriots. The Patriots cover, the Lions do not. That is a loss. The Lions cover; the Patriots do not. Loss. Both fail to cover. Loss. Both cover. Win. The win amount is calculated on a sliding scale depending on the number of legs in a parlay and the odds for each one. Generally speaking, a two team parlay with even odds will produce a 2.65x win total to a straight bet.

Future Bets

Future bets are exactly what they sound like, bets on a future event occurring. Future bets mostly revolve around season results or a specific tournament. For example, common future bets include which team will win the Super Bowl or who will win this year’s Masters. However, these bets can be very precise such as who will win the AFC East or which team will win a certain group at the World Cup. Future bets tend to have very high odds as there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding them but being right can result in a big pay day.

As you can see, there are a wide array of options for bettors these days. These are some of the basic options out there, but there are countless other more complicated betting styles and lingo. My advice would be to always be informed where your money is going and what your possible outcomes are.