7 Common Bets in the Sports Betting World
If you are in the mood to wager some money, Vegas is going to help you do that. You can bet on just about any circumstance in any match-up. That being said, some types of bets are more common than others in the sports betting world. If you are looking to cover your bases, understanding the seven most common types of bets will get you far in a sportsbook.
A straight bet is by far the most common bet. You typically place a straight bet on spreads or totals. As a recap, remember that with a spread you are betting on whether the favored team (or underdog) will exceed expectations.
It might be easy for the public to know that Team Blue is a better team than Team Red. What you’re betting on as a bettor is: will they be winning the game by more points than expected?
And that’s where things get tougher and tougher. Oddsmakers try to set a spread that is going to put a sufficient penalty on the favorite team (on Team Blue in this case) that forces bettors to ask themselves not just if a team is better than another team, but if the favorite to win is that much better than the other team.
For every game out there, oddsmakers set a spread and they set a point total. The way that you would see this written is from the perspective of the favorite: Team Blue -10 = 37. It would read as, “Team Blue is a ten point favorite and the total of the game will be 37.”
With a straight bet, bettors can say if they think Team Blue will win by more than ten points OR they can place an over/under bet. Do they think the total points scored will be over or under 37 points? Betting the total is one of the easiest bets out there (and great for amateur bettors!) because it’s incredibly straightforward.
Remember that oddsmakers know the public prefers to root for high scoring games and love to bet the over! Thus, the point total that oddsmakers set is always going to be slightly higher than what they actually think will happen in the matchup.
A straight bet is not tied to or dependent on anything else—it’s one aspect of the match-up that you’re placing a bet on.
Not all sports easily lend themselves to a spread. Hockey is one such example. Many hockey games end up at scores such as 1-0, 2-1, and 3-1. There is not a very easy way to place a spread on a hockey game. It can be done—and it is done, at times—but the vast majority of bets related to hockey are about who is going to win the game. In this instance, a bettor is going to place a moneyline bet.
A moneyline bet is where a bettor disregards the spread and the point totals and they only pick who is going to win. This assumes that there is no betting score, as with a straight bet on the spread. The real matchup score is going to be the score you use.
For a moneyline bet, bettors need to consider the vig (or the odds) set by the sportsbook.
If oddsmakers always offered a -110 vig for matchups, they would lose money over time because bettors would keep picking the more favorable team or opponent. Thus, oddsmakers put a fee or penalty on the bet in order to even the scale. Oddsmakers even the betting scales by setting odds.
If the odds are set at -300, we would read that bet as “in order to win $100, you have to bet $300.”
The more a team favored a team is, the more money a bettor will have to risk to bet on that team. This is how oddsmakers allows bettors to place bets on the favorite in a sporting event. They apply a steeper vig. If the favorite ever does lose, the bettor is going to pay a heavy fee or penalty.
Baseball and tennis bets are also more likely to be a moneyline bet than a straight bet. Spreads are not typically offered in these sports. Instead, it’s a question of who is going to win the match-up?
We like to joke that a parlay is your quintessential sucker’s bet! They are so much fun when you win (it’s a high!), but they are heartbreakers most of the time. A parlay is when you bet on the outcome of at least two matchups (up to ten matchups) and you tie those results together.
Let’s say you’re betting on New England Patriots -7 and Tennessee Titans -3. You only win the wager if you win both of these sports bets. If either sports bet loses, you lose your entire bet. However, if you win then you walk away with a lot more winnings than most other wagers.
Parlay Example: 2 team 13:5
In this example you are selecting two different bets and the odds are 13:5. If you select a two matchup parlay, for every $5 that you bet, you win $13.
With two bets, here are your possible outcomes in this parlay example versus a straight bet (with standard -110 odds): you can lose both bets, you can win one and lose one, or you can win both bets.
|0 - 2||1 - 1||2 - 0|
|Parlay||- $100||- $100||$260|
|Straight Bet||- $220||- $10||$220|
For a parlay $100 bet, if both your bets lose you lose $100. If you split, one of your bets wins and one of them loses, you lose $100. And this is what really hurts about parlay—you won one of the bets, but there’s no reward because you tied two bets together. If you win both of you bets, however, you win $260!
If you compare that to a straight bet (with standard -110 odds), where you just bet each of the two matchup individually: if you lost both bets you lose $220, because you bet $110 on each matchup. If you split, you won $100 on your winning bet and you lost $110 on your losing bet. So you are down $10 overall. You lose the vig. If you win both straight bets, you walk away with $200.
As you can see, if you win both bets in a parlay you are compensated for that risk more than if you win both bets in straight bets. Parlays are ways to risk a toothpick to win a haystack.
Like parlays, teasers are also sucker bets, but there’s a bit more fun to be had with a teaser.
In addition to picking the matchups included in the teaser, bettors have a bit more control over the bet. It’s called a “teaser” bet because you’re “teasing the line.” You move the line one way or the other.
Teasers come in many forms, but a typical teaser bet looks something like: a two team, six point teaser.
The way a teaser bet works is, like a parlay, it involves two teams and you have to win both in order to win this wager. However, you get to add points to the spread to help out your bets. A two team, six point teaser allows you take whatever spread you’re interested in and shift the line six points into your favor.
For example, let’s say a football game between the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots has the line at Dallas +7. That Dallas +7 feels like a decent line to you, but it isn’t a line you’re completely confident in. You can then make Dallas part of your two team teaser.
So you can move the line to Dallas +13 (New England -13). Or, you can move the line to Dallas +1 (New England -1). And you place a bet on the new line you created in the teaser. You can then use another six points to manipulate the line of a second bet. Therefore, you can move the line six points either way in each of the two matchups within your teaser bet.
The starting spread within a teaser bet is the same spread that would exist in a straight bet. That’s where the real value in a teaser bet lies: the ability to manipulate the existing spread. It gives the bettor a bit more control in their gamble.
A two team, six point teaser generally pays -110. Similar to a straight bet. As a refresher, a two team parlay odds are often at +260. In a teaser, though, you sacrifice the extra winnings for the benefit of being able to move the spread six points..
Remember, in a teaser bet you now you have to win all of your bets. If any of your bets lose, you lose your teaser.
There are all kinds of variances on a two team teaser. It doesn’t have to be six points. You can do three team, ten point teasers. That’s a huge point teaser, but you then have to win three bets! The more teams you include in the teaser, the better your odds get. If you do a five team, six point teaser you can get great odds on that bet.
This type of bet feels bizarre to many bettors. It’s exactly the opposite of a teaser.
If you feel incredibly confident in the games that you are betting on, then you can take two matchups and move the spread against yourself. So, Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots has the line at Dallas +7 (New England -7) you can bet New England -13. Here you’re saying that New England is not only going to win, but that they’ll do so by more than 13 points! You are certain they will win by two or more touchdowns.
And to pour fuel on the pleaser fire, you’re going to apply this line penalty to two or more matchups and tie their fates together.
Thus, you have to win both matchups where you sacrificed points on both spreads. As you might expect from such a difficult-to-win bet, pleaser bets start off at crazy good odds. A two team, six point pleaser might start paying at +1,000.
The time to use a pleaser (if there ever is a time) is when you’ve got a team like the New England Patriots where it isn’t uncommon for them to blow out their opponents. If you can identify two matchups where you don’t think the spread will be a factor in the final result, you might find a pleaser bet is an appropriate bet
Prop “Proposition” Bet
A proposition bet is a defined outcome bet such as yes or no, up or down, over or under, heads or tails, etc. We sometimes say a proposition bet is a yes or no bet; in the sense that the event either happened or it didn’t.
For example, the 2018 Super Bowl had a proposition bet for whether or not the national anthem would last over or under two minutes in total length. Pink was signing the national anthem and she had never been on record singing the national anthem and, thus, there was plentiful speculation about how long her rendition would last. Everyone sings the national anthem at a different length.
Four of the five national anthems before Super Bowl LII exceeded the two-minute mark. However, on game day Pink finished the anthem at 1 minute and 53 seconds. Everyone who bet “under” won their bets!
Also during Super Bowl LII: there was a proposition bet for what color the Gatorade would be that was poured on the winning coach at the end of the game. Orange, yellow, purple, and clear were all top contenders. Yellow was poured on Coach Pederson—everyone who bet yellow was a happy camper that day.
We also see bettors place bets on whether the coin toss for certain sporting events will be heads or tails. You can place a prop bet on just about anything!
It’s a defined outcome bet. There can be more than two choices. It’s yes or no in the sense that it either happened or it didn’t. There can be multiple did not happen options; such as the Gatorade was not orange, purple, or clear.
A proposition bet pulls bettors out of the overall event (focused on totals or spreads), and allows a bettor to bet on one particular item.
Sometimes similar to a prop bet, futures bets are distinct because bettors are betting on events that are quite some distance into the future. Such as betting on the winner of hockey’s Stanley Cup three months before the hockey season even begins.
Futures bets pay favorable odds. You can expect odds that are at least 5:1 or 10:1 on a futures bet.