Different Types Of Sports Bets Explained

Sports betting is sweeping across the country as it has started to be legalized and regulated in a way it never has before. It offers a chance for gamblers everywhere to make a little bit of money and add excitement to their games. It also offers a chance for governments everywhere to tax some of that money and use it in other areas of governance. Overall, legalized sports betting is a win-win.

Sports betting has evolved into a very easy process so that anyone and everyone can participate. The rules vary by state but eventually sports gambling should be legalized across the country in all forms.

Before you place your first bet you should make sure that you understand how sports gambling works and all the different types of bets that are available to you as a gambler. Education is key to making sure that you take advantage of everything possible. Considering that sports gambling puts your hard-earned money at risk, why wouldn’t you want to be informed about all your possible options?

Sports gambling works the same as many other types of gambling and involves risking some of your money, also known as the stake, for a potential reward. One thing that may surprise many is the fact that the winner of the game is not the only thing to bet on. It’s only the tip of the iceberg as there are so many different possible bet types.

The 3 main types of sports bets

When it comes to sports betting, three main bet types are most popular with gamblers. Here they are listed out with descriptions:


The moneyline may be the most popular type of bet in all sports gambling. It’s also one of the easiest to understand. It’s simply a wager placed on one of two teams to win the game.

The oddsmakers will apply odds to each side to encourage equal betting for the two options. If you’re in the U.S., these odds will most commonly be displayed in American format. This means that the favored option will have its odds displayed with a minus sign (-). That number will represent how much needs to be wagered to win $100.

The underdog team or the team that the oddsmaker has decided has the lower chance of winning, will have their odds displayed with a plus (+) sign in front of it. This represents the amount of money that will be won from a $100 wager.

For example, if there was an NBA game between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, their odds may be displayed as -150 and +130 respectively.


Because certain games can be quite lopsided, the spread is used as an equalizing method. It forces the favored team to win by a certain amount of points for a bet on them to win. On the other side of things, the underdog team can be within a certain amount of points for a bet on them to win.

Once the spread is applied it allows for the oddsmakers to even the odds to -110 at each side, or at least close to that. As an example of how this may look using our NBA teams above, the Celtics may have a spread of -3 and thus the Lakers would be +3.


The last main bet type is the over/under which doesn’t have to do with choosing a certain team. Instead, the over/under is a bet on if the combined score of the two teams will go over or under the posted line from the oddsmaker.

The over/under is popular in many different sports and always calculated by adding the score of the two teams.

Others bets to place on sports

While those are the main bet types outlined above, here are some other sports bet types that you should be familiar with. These are slightly more advanced but should be a part of a strong betting strategy.

Proposition bets

Proposition bets, or “prop bets”, have gained popularity in recent years and offer different betting opportunities when compared to more traditional bets. These include wagers on smaller events within the game itself.

Prop bet odds will be displayed in the same format as pre-game odds and it’s important to get yourself comfortable with reading these odds before placing a wager.

A good example of a prop bet is individual player statistics. These prop bets are available in most sports and allow gamblers to bet on the performance of different players in the game. Take our Lakers/Celtics game as an example, a prop bet could be LeBron James scoring over or under 27.5 points or Jayson Tatum making over or under 3.5 threes.

Futures bets

Fancy yourself as someone that can see the future? Futures bets may be the bet type for you. These involve gambling on events that are in the distant future, often the winners of major awards and trophies.

Futures bets have certain advantages and disadvantages because of their longer timetable. So many different events can occur during the time after you have placed your bet and these will affect the likelihood that your bet is a winner.

For example, let’s say you make a bet on the Lakers to win the NBA championship before the season begins at odds of +500. Halfway through the season, the Lakers make a big trade to bring in a new star and their odds switch to +300. Because you made your bet earlier, your odds stay the same but now the implied probability that they will win is larger.

This can work against the gambler as well as if a star player gets traded or goes down to injury it can be tough to overcome. For example, if you bet on the Lakers to win the championship and one of their stars gets injured, their odds may jump to +1000.


Parlays are every gambler’s dream. They involve adding multiple selections to one ticket. For your ticket to cash, every selection must win but if they all do then there is a large return. Exactly how parlay odds are set will depend on your bookmaker but they can offer some of the largest returns of any bet type.

If just one selection of your parlay loses then your ticket is a bust. Parlays are popular amongst gamblers due to their high potential rewards but many experts stay away due to the large risk.


Teasers are another bet similar to parlays which have multiple wagers combined into one. The difference between teasers and parlays is the fact that on a teaser bet you’re given altered point spread or over/under bets.

Teasers come in different sizes which give more or fewer points on the spread and over/under. Just like a parlay, all portions (also known as “legs”) of the teaser need to win for the bet to cash.

Round robins

Round robin bets are another type of multi-event bets where multiple wagers are combined into one. In essence, a round-robin in multiple parlays combined into one ticket. Each of these parlays is separate and when you make your round-robin bet you will choose how many legs each one will have.

Round robins can therefore have many different numbers of combinations of parlays within them. These can be good if you want to try to go for some of the larger returns while limiting your downside.

What is live betting on sports?

Live betting is a different, exciting way to get in on the sports gambling action and one that is gaining popularity quickly. It involves wagering on any event while it’s taking place. Most bets that are available pre-game will be available once again for live betting, depending on your oddsmaker.

The bookmaker will adjust the odds in real-time to reflect the ever-changing reality of the event as it unfolds. The odds change at lightning speed and a savvy gambler can find the right times to get in and exploit weak odds.

Just as it always is, odds reflect the bookmaker attempting to encourage equal betting and limiting their liability to potential losses. Live betting is best done from an electronic device, such as a phone, as the speed of the internet makes for a very easy experience.

For those that cannot bet on their phones, such as the residents of the state of New York, live betting can be done in person but it’s not as easy of an experience. This is because of the speed at which sports games occur and how quickly the bookmakers are changing the odds.

Live betting is all about pouncing on a juicy set of odds at the perfect time and if you need to line up and wait to place your bet as you do at many physical locations, chances are you’re going to miss the odds that you desire. One way to get around this is to try to live bet during TV timeouts or breaks in a game, such as at halftime.

Still, in-person wagering is not as easy as electronic wagering for live betting. Once mobile betting is legalized in the state of New York, expect to see a large uptick in the number of people trying their hand at live betting.

Beginner’s guide to sports betting

If you’re a beginner to sports gambling, here are a few tips to help you out:

1. Be careful with parlays

Every gambler will tell you the story of the big parlay they hit and how they enjoyed their winnings but they’ll be more reluctant to tell you about the massive number of lost parlays. There is a reason why this bet type offers such high potential returns and that is because the odds of winning one is typically low.

This doesn’t mean they can’t be a smart idea, just that they should not be your only bet type.

2. Learn bankroll management

Bankroll management is key to winning money while sports betting and has to do with your money and how you size your bets. Taking some time to read up on the basics of bankroll management will go a long way towards making sure that you turn a profit. Without smart bankroll management, many gamblers will see their money shrink quickly and their gambling adventure end early.

3. Bet with your head, not your heart

Everyone has their favorite sports teams but it’s important to be able to discern between what your heart is telling you and what your head is telling you. Removing biases from your decision-making process is crucial to being a profitable sports gambler.

Sometimes betting on your favorite team is the correct decision, but it’s important to be able to know when that is and when your judgment is being clouded by your bias.

4. Keep track of your bets

Keeping track of your bets is a great habit to start so that you can be the most profitable gambler possible. By doing this you can get a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses and see which bet types you perform best in. Also, you can split your bets by sport and see if there is a specific betting market in which you have a stronger edge. This habit will make you a stronger gambler and give you a better idea of where your money is going.

What sports can you legally bet on in New York?

In the current regulated New York market, you can bet on a wide variety of sports. This includes most major professional and amateur sports but there are a few exceptions to the rule.

No college team from New York or college events based in New York can be gambled upon from inside the state, as is similar in many other states across the country. This is due to the belief that these athletes are at a higher risk of game-fixing and other dishonest actions.

Other than that exception, you’ll be able to find all sorts of different sports from golf to basketball to tennis.