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Types of Bets Explained

Joey Shadeck

If you are new to sports betting trying to figure out what bet type to make might be confusing. Even some of the names for various bets can make you scratch your head, which is why we are going to go over the most popular betting types.

Most Popular Betting Types

Moneyline - A moneyline bet is a wager on which team will win the game outright. Instead of considering the spread of the game, both the favorite and the underdog are given odds to win the game.

For example, let’s say the New England Patriots are heavy favorites to beat the Cleveland Browns. The moneyline odds are New England (-300) vs. Cleveland (+270). If you bet $100 on the Patriots to beat the Browns outright you will win $33.33 on your bet for a payout of $133.33. If you bet $100 on the Browns to beat the Patriots outright you will win $270 on your bet for a payout of $370.

Spread - A spread bet is a wager on which team will cover the “spread,” or “point spread.” For example, let’s say the Golden State Warriors are favorites to win by eight-and-a-half points (-8.5) against the Portland Trail Blazers (+8.5). If you bet on Golden State you are betting that they will beat the Trail Blazers by more than eight-and-a-half points. If you bet on Portland you are betting they will win or lose by less than eight-and-a-half points.

With spread bets, the odds offered typically range between -105 and -125 for each team. Oftentimes the odds will be the same. In the example above, we will say both bets are being offered at  -110 odds. If you bet $100 on either team to cover the spread and they do, you will win $90.91, for a total payout of $190.91.

Total (Over/Under) – A total bet is a wager that focuses on how many points are scored, regardless of who wins the game. After a total point score has been set, bettors can wager on whether the actual score of the game will be over or under the set point score.

For example, say the total for a Yankees vs. Red Sox baseball game is six. If you bet on the over and the final score is Yankees - 5 Red Sox - 2, you win. If the Yankees only won 4-2, the combined score would equal the total and the wager would be a push.  

Total bets usually offer odds in the range of -105 and -120.

Parlay – A parlay is a group of spreads/moneyline or total bets combined into one bet to increase the payout odds. In order for the parlay to win, each separate bet has to win.

Most sportsbooks base parlay payouts on true odds, which takes the odds of each game.

Most sportsbooks allow players to parlay between 12-15 teams at once. Here is an example of a standard parlay payout table based on true odds. What this means is exact payouts are shown for wagers at -110 odds, where a bet of $110 wins you $100.

Parlay Size Payouts
2-Team 2.645/1
3-Team 5.958/1
4-Team 12.283/1
5-Team 24.359/1
6-Team 2.645/1
7-Team 91.424/1
8-Team 175.446/1
9-Team 335.852/1
10-Team 642.082/1
11-Team 1226.701/1
12-Team 2342.793/1

For example, if you bet $50 on a three-team parlay where the odds for all wagers are -110, you stand to win $297.9 ($50 x 5.958/1).

Obviously, most odds are not -110, so let me show you how to calculate the same parlay for three bets with varying odds.

Let’s say you bet on Team A to win at -150 odds, Team B to win at +170 odds, and Team C to win at -220 odds. The first thing you need to do is to calculate the payout through the odds multiplier for each game. You can do that as follows.

Wager Multiplier Calculation
Team A (-150) 1.66 You have to bet $150 to win $100. You take the total payout ($150 + $100), and divide it by the amount wagered ($150)
Team B (+170) 2.7 You have to bet $100 to win $170. You take the total payout ($100 + $170), and divide it by the amount wagered ($100).
Team C (-220) 1.45 You have to bet $220 to win $100. You take the total payout ($220 + $100), and divide it by the amount wagered ($220)

In this example, we will be betting $50 on the parlay to show how different odds affect the payouts. Our total payout in this example is $50 x 1.66 x 2.7 x 1.45 = $324.94.

This payout of $324.94 is greater than the one at true odds because the likelihood that we win all three bets is less.

If we bet on a three-game parlay where each game had +150 odds we would receive a payout lower than true odds.

Different sportsbooks have different rules on parlays, but typically if there is a push, the parlay will drop down one team and be calculated from there. This means if a wager in a three-team parlay ends in a push, and the other two win, you will win the parlay at two-team odds.

Other Specialty Betting Types

Teasers/Pleasers - A teaser bet is a reduced-risk parlay where the line is moved in favor of the bettor. Teaser bets allow you to reduce risk by shifting multiple lines in your favor. Like a parlay, teaser bets can only be made on two or more games. Unlike a parlay, teasers are typically only available for football and basketball games.

Each sportsbook tends to have a different teaser payout model. The amount of points you can tease also varies but typically ranges between six and seven points for football and four and seven points for basketball.

Contrary to teasers, pleasers are an increased risk parlay where the line is moved against the bettor.

If-Bets - An if-bet is a sequence of bets that depend on the outcome of the subsequent bets. If-bets can be utilized if you don’t have a lot of bank roll and want the opportunity to bet on multiple games you otherwise might not be able to afford.

For example, if you have $110 in your account and want to bet on two NFL games, you might place an if-bet. Let’s say you bet $110 on the Raiders -3 at -110 odds to beat the Bears. If this “leg” of your if-bet wins, you will profit $100. Let’s say for your second leg you bet the $110 on the Patriots -10 at -110 odds to beat the Cowboys. If the Patriots win you will profit another $100, for a total profit of $200.

If your first leg wins but your second leg loses, you will only lose $10. If your first leg loses, you will lose $110.

Again, if-bets serve no practical use except giving bettors the opportunity to wager on multiple games with a smaller bank roll than they would prefer.

Round Robins - A round robin is a way to bet multiple parlays at once. Essentially, the bettor picks between three to eight teams and selects multiple parlays of two to six teams. For example, a round robin might consist of betting on three two-team parlays on a given Sunday during the NFL season. With round robins, bettors can still win money, even if one of their parlays loses. Round robins are not often used by most bettors.

Futures - A future bet is one where the bettor places a wager on an event that takes place in days, weeks, or months. The most common future bets are placed on what team will win the finals before the season starts. For example, the odds for the New England Patriots to win the SuperBowl for the 2019 season are currently +650, or 6.5 to 1. If you bet $100 before the season starts and the Patriots win, you will receive $750 (your $100 wagered plus the $650 payout). If you wait until the two SuperBowl teams are decided, their odds will likely be between +/- 150.

Therefore, futures should be placed when you think you know the outcome of a future event before the teams or players are even decided, since the payouts are much larger than traditional bets.

Other popular futures include over/under total team wins, MVP odds, division/conference winner, and player averages over a season. 

Prop Bets - A prop bet is a bet that focuses on something other than the outcome of the game. The most common type of prop bet is how an individual player performs. Examples of prop bets would be: How many points will Steph Curry score? Which team will score first in a match? How many strikeouts will a pitcher throw in a game? Usually, prop bets have increased juice since they are harder to calculate odds for. Prop bets are a lot of fun and allow bettors to wager on individual players and elements that make games far more interesting to watch.

In conclusion, moneyline, spread, and total bets are the industry standard across all sports. To see which sportsbooks take other specialty bets, use our Compare Tool Check out our Guides Page to see where sports betting stands in your state!


For’s annual best online sportsbooks review, we collected more than 36,000 data points over five months from 20 sportsbooks that serve 11 states where full-scale mobile betting is legalized. Hundreds of hours were spent testing and scoring each sportsbook (mobile and online/desktop) in seven core categories: sports and bets offered, odds, live betting, mobile betting, education, ease of use, and bonuses and promotions. The results determined each sportsbook’s overall rating.

Data from more than 1,700 bets (including moneyline, spread and total bets) was used to generate each sportsbook’s comparative odds ranking. Leagues and bet types collected include NCAA football moneyline bets, NCAA basketball moneyline bets, NFL moneyline, spread and total bets, NBA spread, moneyline and total bets, NHL moneyline, puckline and total bets, and soccer 3-way result (moneyline) bets. When collecting odds, we made sure to collect the same games at the same time for each sportsbook, ensuring data accuracy.

About’s chief sportsbook researcher, Joey Shadeck: I’ve been a hobby sports bettor for more than six years, placing hundreds of bets on my favorite sports (football, basketball, MMA) and teams (Packers, Spartans, and whoever is playing the Lions). Beyond sports betting, I’m known for saying “Wanna bet on it?” in almost any situation and that is how I found out I can eat 42 chicken nuggets in less than 20 minutes.

As of February 2021, 22 different states have legalized sports betting to some capacity. Of those 22 states, the following 11 have legalized full-scale mobile betting: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada (must register in-person), New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia.

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Joey Shadeck

About the author: Joey Shadeck is the lead writer for and content strategist for Reink Media Group. He has closely tracked sports betting in the United States for the last two years, compiling hundreds of data points across dozens of sportsbooks. He has 6 years of online betting experience with hundreds of bets placed during that time.

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