How To Bet

If you’re not familiar with sports betting, some of the available options might confuse you. There are all sorts of bets you can make on dozens of sports, making the sporting world your proverbial oyster. You have to walk before you can run though, and you don’t want to be overwhelmed by jumping into the deep end while you’re still a newcomer. This guide will break down some of the things to keep in mind when you first start betting on sports.

Types of Bets

Straight Bet

A straight bet is also known as a spread bet. This is the most common type of wager in sports betting. Teams are favored by a certain number of points over an opponent, and these numbers can fluctuate significantly in both football and basketball. In the NFL, you will largely see teams favored by anywhere from one to 14 points, while in the NBA, the spread is typically anywhere from one to 13 points. Since hockey and baseball are lower scoring sports, there is no straight bet or spread bet in NHL or MLB. Instead, there are puck line bets or run line bets. The favorite to win the game is always listed at -1.5 goals or -1.5 runs with these static lines, but the juice can move substantially depending on the teams involved.


When you are betting an over/under or a total, you are betting on the total amount of points, goals, or runs scored in a game. This is one of the most straightforward bets you can make as you simply add both team’s totals to determine whether the over or the under cashed. In the event of a push, your bet is refunded and treated as no wager.


This is the most straightforward bet you can make. With a moneyline bet, you are simply betting on a team to win the game, no ifs, ands, or buts. In collegiate sports, moneyline odds can be substantial as you don’t often see football powerhouses like Alabama, Ohio State, or Oklahoma lose to also-ran opponents, so you might have to wager $200 to win $1 with this type of wager. In professional sports, moneyline odds are more evenly priced, so the odds won’t be as lopsided, but you will still find heavy favorites.


These are very popular bets for casual bettors. A parlay is a wager where you string together multiple bets with the aim of earning a significant return on your original bet. You can put as few as two teams or outcomes together in a parlay or as many as ten teams or outcomes if you are looking to hit it big. Parlays are sort of like playing the lottery in that the right combination can net you a substantial profit, but the more teams you add, the harder it is to win. You must get every bet (AKA leg) right in a parlay in order to win, as even if you go 8-1 with your parlay picks, the parlay would be a loser because of the one loss.


When you bet a teaser, you are placing bets on at least two different outcomes. However, unlike a parlay, the payout doesn’t change. Instead, you receive additional points on each part of the teaser, increasing your chances of winning. For instance, if you are betting an NFL two-team teaser, you typically receive six points for each of your two wagers. That means if you are betting on Pittsburgh +2.5 versus Baltimore and Kansas City -7.5 against Denver, you would be teasing those numbers in your favor. Pittsburgh would move to +8.5 and Kansas City would move to -1.5 for this type of bet. You can usually include as many as four teams in a teaser, and you receive additional points for each team you add. These types of bets are pretty much exclusive to football though, as they are rarely used in basketball and nonexistent in baseball and hockey.


A futures bet is betting on any future outcome. These wagers typically involve betting on a team to win the championship or conference championship, but you can also bet on division winners and season win totals. Player futures are becoming more prevalent too, and you can bet on the MVP of a sport or wager on players to hit certain statistical benchmarks over the course of the season.

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