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Sports betting guide – bet and wager types explained

Sports betting comes in a wide variety of forms and one of the best things about wagering is the vast number of options you have to choose from on just about every game or event.

For newbies to the scene, this can sometimes be a little daunting as you scroll through the seemingly endless lists of markets, prices and odds – but fear not! We’re here to help you to make sense of the terminology involved and the bet types available to you.

In our detailed guide, you can learn about all popular types of bets including parlays, teasers and props, along with all the key terminology you need to round out your betting knowledge.







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Types of sports bets explained

Money Line Bets

Moneyline bets are the most common and easiest to understand out of all the bet types you’re likely to stumble across and they work like this. If you back a team with a moneyline bet you’re betting on that team to win.

For example, if you thought the Dallas Cowboys would beat the New England Patriots, then you would bet on their moneyline. If the Cowboys won, then so would your bet. Conversely, if the Cowboys lost then so would your moneyline bet.

Point Spread

When betting on the point spread of a game, you are in fact predicting the team’s final margin of victory rather than the result of the fixture itself.

The favorite in any contest is designated by a minus symbol in this market, while the underdog is given a plus symbol and value. For example, if a team is priced in the point spread a-5.5, then they must win by more than 5.5 points for your bet to land.

In the case of the underdog, they would be priced at +5.5 in our example, meaning they must either win the game outright or lose by fewer than 5.5 points at the end. Pretty straightforward, right?

Point Spread bets are sometimes referred to as “handicaps”.

Over/Under (Totals)

The first two bet types we covered (moneyline and point spread) are generally the two most popular markets in sports betting, though the overs/unders or “totals” market runs them close.

In this market, you are betting on the score in a particular game to go over or under a predetermined value.

For example, say you back a game between the Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns to see over 110 points. The final score in the NBA fixture would have to total more than 110 points with the teams’ tallies added together for your bet to land. Similarly, you would need that total to be below 110 points if you backed the unders line.

Parlay Bets

Parlay is simply a term used to describe a bet with multiple parts in it. Each selection of the parlay is often referred to as a “leg” and every “leg” in your parlay needs to be correct for your bet to land.

If you have a five-leg parlay and only three of your bets are correct, then your bet would lose.

For example, backing the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox to win all of their matches would be a three-leg parlay. All three teams would need to win for your bet to land.

Parlays are hugely attractive options for bettors because they allow them to significantly boost their odds. Generally, the more legs you add to a parlay, the higher your potential payout would be. With this bet type, you can bet a low dollar amount and potentially win a massive payout.

Of course, the more games or legs you include, the slimmer your chances of winning become. So be smart when putting your parlays together.

You can mix and match your bet types while building parlays. You can choose moneylines, totals, point spread and props from different fixtures and sports when pulling your parlay together.


A teaser bet is quite similar to a parlay in that it is tied to multiple bets or selections. The difference is that they are exclusively for point spreads and are designed to have the same payout as a single regular bet rather than an ambitiously large payout.

Teasers involve “teasing” the spread of multiple fixtures by a few or several points in the bettor’s favor. For example, let’s take a look at a six-point teaser on two NFL games by backing the Green Bay Packers and the New York Jets:

Original Line:

Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys (+7.5)

New York Jets at New England Patriots (-2.5)

Six-Point Teaser Line:

Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys (+13.5)

New York Jets at New England Patriots (+3.5)

For a parlay to land, the Cowboys must win outright or lose by fewer than 7.5 points, while the Patriots would have to win by more than 2.5 points.

For a six-point teaser, the Cowboys could win or lose by fewer than 13.5 points, and the Patriots could either win or lose by fewer than 3.5 points for the teaser to be a winning bet.

Prop Bets

A proposition bet or “prop” for short, is another bet type that isn’t tied to the final outcome of a sporting fixture. Prop bets can include either player, team or game props.

A player prop is a bet on an individual player’s performance. In the NFL for example, you might bet on the number of passing years a quarterback has or the number of points a player might score in the NBA.

Team props work in a similar fashion, though you would be betting on the total number of passes or points an entire team might score or for example, how many tackles they make collectively in a soccer game.

A game prop meanwhile is the prop market that looks at the events in a particular game. For example, you might want to bet on the first team to score 15 points in the NBA or the race to 5 corners in a soccer fixture.

Futures Bets

Simply put, a futures bet is a wager on the future outright outcome of a sporting even or competition.

If you are a soccer fan example, this would include placing a bet on Manchester City to win the Premier League or an NFL fan might back a certain player to win the season’s MVP award.

Futures come with a huge variety of options depending the sport you choose to bet on. They are generally long-term bets too, so it’s worth remembering that if don’t fancy waiting around too long for an outcome.

Live Betting

Live betting is as straightforward as it sounds.

A live bet is a bet that is placed after a fixture has started. Live betting has increased in popularity massively over the last few years and it’s easy to see why.

Once the game starts, odds start to fluctuate based on what’s happening in the game. When the action is underway, you can live bet using the other bet types we’ve discussed already, which can add to the excitement and energy of the event.

Glossary of sports betting terms

Action – A sports wager of any kind; a bet.

Added Game – A game not part of the typical menu of wagering offerings, often posted as an accommodation to patrons.

Book – A establishment that accepts bets on the outcome of sporting events.

Buy (Points) – A player pays an additional price (lays more money) to receive a half-point or more in his favor on a pointspread game.

Cash Out – A player can take their open straight bet or parlay bet and cash it out before the event has ended; currently only available in NJ, WV, and CO.

Chalk – The favorite.

Cover – Winning by more than the pointspread.

Dime – A $1,000 sports wager.

Favorite – The team considered most likely to win an event.

First-half bet – A bet placed on the score in the first half of the game only.

Future – Odds that are posted well in advance on the winner of major events, including the Pro Football Championship, the Pro Basketball Championship and the Pro Baseball Championship.

Half-time bet – A bet placed on scoring in the second half of a game only.

Handle – The total amount of bets taken.

Hold – The percentage the house wins.

Juice – The bookmaker’s commission, most commonly the 11 to 10 bettors lay on straight pointspread wagers; also known as “vigorish.”

Laying the points/price – Betting the favorite by giving up points.

Limit – The maximum amount accepted by the house before the odds and/or pointspread are changed.

Line – The current odds or pointspread on a particular event.

Listed pitchers – A baseball bet placed only if both of the pitchers scheduled to start a game actually start. If they don’t, the bet is deemed “No Action” and refunded.

Longshot – A team perceived to be unlikely to win.

Money line – Odds expressed in terms of money. With money odds, whenever there is a minus (-) the player lays that amount to win $100; where there is a plus (+) the player wins that amount for every $100 wagered.

Nickel – A $500 sports wager.

No action – A wager in which no money is lost or won and the original bet amount is refunded.

Off the board – A game in which no bets are being accepted.

Opening line– The earliest line posted for a particular sporting event.

Over – A sports bet in which the player wagers that the combined point total of two teams will be more than a specified total.

Point Spread – The margin of points in which the favored team must win by to “cover the spread.”

Price – The odds or point spread.

Push – When the contest ends with no winner or loser for wagering purposes; a tie for wagering purposes.

Round Robin – A series of parlays.

Run line – In baseball, a spread used instead of the money line.

Sides – The two teams playing; the underdog and the favorite.

Sportsbook – A physical location that accepts sports bets.

Straight bet – An individual wager on a game or event that will be determined by a pointspread or money line

Straight-up – Winning the game without any regard to the pointspread; a money-line bet.

Take the points – Betting the underdog and receiving its advantage in the pointspread.

Take the price – Betting the underdog and accepting money odds.

Tie – A wager in which no money is lost or won because the teams’ scores were equal to the number of points in the given pointspread.

Total – The combined amount of runs, points or goals scored by both teams during the game, including overtime.

Under – The player bets that the total points scored by two teams will be less than a certain figure.

Underdog – The team perceived to be most likely to lose. Also known as the “dog.”