Overview of Bet Types
What Can Be Bet On?
The most popular sports to bet on are NFL and college football along with NBA and NCAA basketball. There are multiple betting opportunities within those sports, beginning with the basic wager on a game's outcome (also called betting the side). Point spreads are used in both football and basketball in an attempt to even the attractiveness of each team in a match-up. (See our article detailing how and why point spreads are made)
But you could also simply bet on the money line, or straight-up winner of the game.
Oddsmakers use the money line so that more money must be risked on the favorite or expected winner and less money on the underdog to balance the action on both sides. While money line gambling is an attractive option for football and basketball bettors who only care about picking a winner, it is the primary option for those bettors who enjoy wagering on MLB baseball and individual sports like boxing, tennis, golf and racing events such as NASCAR. (More details on playing the Money Line)
Points (or Runs) Scored
Another bet across all major team sports including football, basketball, baseball, and hockey involves wagering on the amount of scoring in a game, called an Over/Under total. For example, the Over/Under total on Super Bowl XXXIX was 48, which means a bettor could wager whether there would be more or less than 48 points scored by both teams combined in the game.
The final score of Super Bowl XXXIX was 24-21; the scoring of both teams added up to 45, which means the game went Under. So Under bettors won, and Over bettors lost.
Sports gambling doesn't end there. Betting sides and totals are the most common wagers available everywhere, but many sportsbooks also offer future bets on big upcoming events like who will win next year's Super Bowl and what movie will win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
The main advantage of futures is that you can get appealing odds by betting far in advance. For example, with NFL futures you often can get much higher odds on a team by betting before the season even starts. A NFL future bet on a team to win the Super Bowl might be 20/1 in the preseason; but by midseason, their odds might decrease to 10/1 if they turn out to be legitimate championship contenders.
Proposition Bets (or Prop Bets)
Proposition bets, also known as prop bets, focus upon the more exotic aspects of a game and are generally reserved for events that are widely televised. Prop bets are extremely popular when it comes to wagering on the Super Bowl in Las Vegas . The Imperial Palace Casino's sportsbook is well-known for the enormous number of prop bets offered. For example, you can bet on:
- What team will win the coin toss
- What player will score the game's first touchdown
- What will be the exact margin of victory
Types of Bets
Involves one individual wager, whether it be on your team to cover the point spread, to win the game straight-up on the money line, or to go over/under the total.
A parlay is a single bet that links together two or more individual wagers and is dependent on all of those wagers winning together. The benefit of the parlay bet is much better odds than placing each individual bet separately since the difficulty of hitting it is much higher.
Standard payoffs on a two-team parlay are 13/5; while a three-teamer pays 6/1; and a four-teamer 10/1.
Parlay cards are also fairly common in sportsbooks and popular with bettors, as they are released early in the week with set odds that do not change in return for a slightly lower payoff.
Adventurous bettors who enjoy betting parlays sometimes put together a series of parlays called a Round Robin. A three-team Round Robin consists of one three-team parlay and three two-team parlays. For example, Joe likes teams A,B,C - with a Round Robin he has a three-teamer with ABC, and two-teamers with AB, AC, and BC.
Similar to a parlay, a teaser bet is a single bet that links together two or more individual wagers, but is different in that the point spread is adjusted to your advantage on each individual wager. In exchange for the points, you get less of a return on your bet compared to a parlay. For example, a 6-point teaser would move the line on a 7-point favorite from -7 to -1, meaning the team would have to cover 6 less points. Each of the individual wagers must win or the bet is a loss.
These are the main types of sports bets available today. But as sports betting continues to grow, sportsbooks will continue to develop new and creative ways to bet. We'll continue to track these changes to the sports gambling landscape, so check back often and we'll tell you all about it!
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