Most Common Types of Sports Bets

If you are new to sports gambling, knowing the popular sports bets is the fastest way to settle in.

Let’s cover a little Sports Gambling 101 and get you up to speed on the most popular types of bets.

Money Line

Moneyline is the most popular type of sports bet, and it’s simple: you pick who wins or loses the game.

There are no calculations like spread bets (discussed below), but there is something important to know about the odds of moneyline. In games that aren’t considered even matches, you’ll get paid less than your bet when you bet on the favorite and more than your bet when you bet the underdog.

In the example below, Clemson is the favorite. If you bet $10 on Clemson and win, you’ll get just over $3 (profit). If you bet NC State and they win, you’ll get $22 (profit). So huge difference to bet the underdog!


This is rare in some sports and not as rare in others. So if you’re picking a winner of the game, what happens if there’s a tie? Do you lose your money? Nope! Sportsbooks are forgiving in these cases and give you your money back.

Over/Under Bet

The over-under bets allow you to predict whether the competing teams will score more or less than a particular goal number. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses or by how much.

For example, you may bet on a soccer game where the over-under is 4 goals. You either bet the “over” or the “under.” Let’s say you bet the under. You want the total number of goals to be scored (by both teams added together) to be 3 or less. If it’s 4, you get your money back. If it’s 5+, you lose. So let’s say the final score of the game is 2 to 3, you lose (2+ 3 = 5 goals). If the final score is 2 to 0, you win (2 + 0 = 2 goals).

If you bet that the teams will score less than 4 goals, it means you are betting Under, while you will be betting Over if you bet that the teams will score more than 4 goals.

Over/under bets traditionally are the total amount by points scored in the game, but there are a couple of other options:

  • You can bet on only one team to score over/under a certain number of points.
  • You can bet over/under by quarter, half or other periods of time

These special over/under will specifically list that they are not for the whole game or both teams.

One other note: over/unders are listed by total points, not number of score. This is the same thing in sports like soccer where one goal equals one point, but in a sport like football, it will be the score not number of touchdowns. Here’s an example of football over/under from our Clemson game:

Spread Bet

The spread bet is similar to moneyline, but with a twist. Just like in moneyline bets, you pick a winner or loser. The difference is how the favorite and underdogs are handled. In spread bets, you can bet on either team and it will pay the same (or at least close to the same) but the catch is you have to win by the spread.

Favorites have negative numbers. This means that your team has to win if this amount is taken away from their score.

Underdogs have positive numbers. This means that they win as long as they would have won if you add this number to their score. In our Clemson and NC State game, the spread is 6.5 points with Clemson as the favorite. That means if you get $10 on Clemson, you need them to win by at least 7 points and you’ll win your $10 back (minus the juice). If you bet $10 on NC State to win, you’ll win your $10 back (again… minus the juice or sportsbooks “take”) if NC State wins or doesn’t lose by more than 6 points.

Against the Spread Bet

Sometimes people will use the term “against the spread bet.” It’s still a spread bet, but it means you picked the underdog. In our example above, the against the spread bet would be NC State +6.5 points.

Other “advanced” bets worth mentioning

Okay, these aren’t super advanced. But let’s call these non-standard bets I think you should be aware of.

These are bets you can do early on, but I’d suggest starting with the bets above. Once you’re comfortable with those, you can include these types of bets:

Parlay Bets

Parlay is a type of bet comprising more than one pick and could range from a combination of 2+ unique bet picks. Parlay bets have much higher odds than single bets. However, it is a high-risk bet as all picks must have successful outcomes before you win.

I have an article on parlay bets discussing strategy and whether they are worth it vs single bets.

Prop Bets

Prop bets are any random bet related to a sports game. They can be directly related to the game like individual stats for the game–eg. Lebron James will score over 28 points. Or they can be much more random like the color of the Gatorade poured on the coach will be orange.

I’ve got a page that explains more about prop bets, including some of the more random winners through history. It’s not uncommon for prop bets to only have on option–for example, you can bet on Lebron James to score over 28 points but not under 28 points.

How to make money now that you know the types of bets

You’ve got the Gambling 101: types of sports bets down now.

Time to start figuring out how to best use these bets to win money. That’s what the journey of this websites all about, and I’ve made the easiest place to start my Sports Gambling Strategy Guide. Go there to learn all the tips I’m using to try to beat the sportsbooks.