Types of Sports Bets | Analyzing the Different Sports Bet Types

Last Updated: Sep 15, 2023

One of the things that makes sports betting great is that there are many ways to bet on a game. You don’t have to just bet on which team will win the game, you can bet on the margin of victory, the total number of points scored, as well as many different types of bets.

Below, I go through a brief overview on what each type of bet is.

Types of Sports Bets

Money Line Bets

Of all the bet types, the simplest and most common is a moneyline bet. When betting on a team’s moneyline, you are betting on that team to win.

For example, if you like the New York Yankees to win, you would bet on their moneyline. If the Yankees win, your bet wins. If the Yankees lose, your bet loses.

Point Spread

Another common type of bet is a point spread bet. When betting on a spread, you are betting on a team’s margin of victory rather than the final result.

A favorite is designated by a minus symbol, while a plus symbol defines an underdog. For example, if a team is priced at -7.5, they must win by more than 7.5 points.

In this case, the opposing team would be priced at +7.5, meaning they must either win the game outright or lose by fewer than 7.5 points.

Over/Under (Totals)

Outside of moneyline and spread bets, the most popular sports bet is point total. These bets are frequently referred to as an over/under bet because you are betting on a total to go over or under.

For a total bet, you are betting on the combined number points scored between both teams. For example, in a football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, the point total is set at 45.5 points.

If the final score is Eagles 21, Giants 17, only 38 combined points were scored. Therefore, the under is the winning bet.

Parlay Bets

A parlay bet is a bet on multiple bets winning. For a parlay to win, every “leg” or bet in the parlay needs to win for your bet to cash. If you have a four-leg parlay and only three of those bets win, then you have a losing parlay ticket.

What makes a parlay an attractive option for many bettors is that it is a way to bet a low dollar amount and win a large dollar amount, as your profits get multiplied after each win. For example, if you bet $10 on a five-leg parlay that includes:

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers Moneyline (-215)
  2. Boston Red Sox Moneyline (-155)
  3. Milwaukee Bucks +4.5 (-110)
  4. Bryce Harper (PHI) to hit a home run (+650)
  5. Max Scherzer (WAS) to have over 8.5 strikeouts (-105)

You would win $663.80 if all five of those bets win.


A teaser bet is similar to a parlay in the sense that it is tied to multiple bets. The difference is that it is only for point spreads and is designed to have the same payout as a single regular bet rather than an ambitiously large payout.

For a teaser, it involves “teasing” the spread of multiple games by a few or several points in the bettor’s favor. For example, let us say that you wanted to do a six-point teaser on two NFL games by backing the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots:

Original Line:

  • San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions (+7.5)
  • Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-2.5)

Six-Point Teaser Line:

  • San Francisco Giants at Detroit Lions (+13.5)
  • Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (+3.5)

For a parlay, the Lions must win outright or lose by fewer than 7.5 points, while the Patriots would have to win by more than 2.5 points.

For a six-point teaser, the Lions could win or lose by fewer than 13.5 points, and the Patriots could either win or lose by fewer than 3.5 points for the teaser to be a winning bet.

Prop Bets

A proposition or a prop bet is a bet that is not directly tied to the final score or result of the game. The most common type of prop bets are player props and game props.

A player prop is a bet on a player’s performance, such as how many passing yards a quarterback has in football or if a basketball player has a double-double.

A game prop is a bet on something to happen in a game, such as the first team to score 20 points or which team will score first.

Middle Bets

Middle bets or middling is a form of arbitrage betting where you place point spread wagers on both sides of the game at different lines to ensure that either one of the bets wins or both bets win.

For example, let’s say that at one sportsbook, the Carolina Panthers are 3.5-point favorites against the Tennessee Titans and you bet one unit on the Panthers.

At another sportsbook, the Titans are 4.5-point underdogs against the Panthers, so you bet one unit on the Titans.

With middling the Panthers/Titans game, you either win +1.82 units if the Panthers win by exactly four points, or you lose only 0.09 units if they do not. Here are your three potential outcomes:

Bets Score Profit
Panthers -3.5, Titans +4.5 Panthers 28, Titans 24 +1.82
Panthers -3.5, Titans +4.5 Panthers 30, Titans 17 -0.09
Panthers -3.5, Titans +4.5 Panthers 14, Titans 21 -0.09

Futures Bets

A futures bet is a wager on the future outcome of a sporting event. This can include winning an MVP award, winning a league championship, or the total number of wins a team has.

Futures can also be player props, such as how many points a player averages per game or how many yards a quarterback will throw for in a season.

Live Betting

A live bet is a bet that is placed after a game has started. What makes live betting fun is that the odds are changing based on what is happening in the game.

In addition to being able to live bet on more traditional wagers such as moneylines, spreads, and totals, you can also live bet on more specific wagers such as the result of the next possession.

Points Betting

Points betting is a more volatile form of spread betting that is available on the PointsBet app. Unlike a point spread where you win the same amount regardless of how much your team covers the spread by, with points betting, you win or lose more depending on how much a team surpassed or missed the spread.

The way pricing works for points betting is that the number of units that you win or lose by is equivalent to how many points the outcome is from the spread.

For example, if you bet $10 on the Miami Dolphins to win by more than 2.5 points against the New Orleans Saints and the Dolphins won by ten points, you would make $75 since you get $10 for every point and the spread was off by 7.5 units. Similarly, if the Dolphins lose by 20 points, you will lose $225.

That is why it is essential to set stop loss limits when making a points betting wager.

You can learn more about how to put these bet types into practice by reading our how to bet guide.

Where You Can Make These Bets

Differences in Bet Types Per Sport

Each sport has different types of wagers or variations of popular wager types. Below, I describe the characteristics of each sport and how it applies to sports betting.

NFL Wagers Explained

In the United States, the NFL is the betting league of choice. The most frequent bets are point spreads, as games tend to be close. The second-most common bet types are point total and moneyline bets.

While spreads, moneylines, and totals are the most popular NFL bets, player props also have a high level of popularity due to fantasy football.

Read our comprehensive guide to learn more about how to bet on the NFL.

College Football

Like professional football, the most common college football bets are point spreads, though totals and moneyline bets are also popular.

The major difference between bets for college football and the NFL is that player props are less common for college football due to different state regulations.

NBA Wagers Explained

Next to football, basketball is the second-most popular betting sport in the states. For the NBA, the most common bets are spread bets, as the outcome of these wagers is frequently decided in the last few possessions of the game.

Additionally, moneyline and point total bets are also closely decided and, as a result, are popular bet types as well.

Player props are less frequent in the NBA as player performance differs greatly on a game-by-game level.

College Basketball

Like the NBA, the most popular college basketball bets are spread bets. College basketball spreads are arguably even more favored than NBA spreads, as there are more lopsided matches in college which make moneyline bets less attractive. Point total bets can be interesting, as different teams play at different tempos.

Like college football, player props are not very sought-after in college basketball due to the regulatory nature of college sports.

MLB Wagers Explained

Moneyline bets are by far the most popular bet type for baseball, as games are often closely decided. Run total bets are popular as well.

Baseball also has spread betting, but the spread is referred to as a “run-line.” Run lines are usually set at only 1.5 or 2.5 runs due to the low-scoring nature of baseball.

For MLB, player props can be attractive as each team fields a starting lineup of nine batters and a starting pitcher.

NHL Wagers Explained

Even though hockey is played on ice and baseball on grass, betting-wise, they are remarkably similar. Both are moneyline sports, though hockey spreads are called the “puck line.” Betting on total goals is also popular in the NHL.

Golf Wagers Explained

If you like the idea of betting on player props, you should like betting on golf. The most popular golf bet is betting on which golfer will win a tournament.

Head-to-head bets, where you bet on two different golfers against each other, are popular as well.

Tennis Wagers Explained

Tennis, like golf, is all about the individual players. Unsurprisingly, moneyline bets are the most popular in tennis.

Other common tennis bets are bets on which player wins a particular set and futures bets on who will win a major tournament.

Soccer Wagers Explained

Betting-wise, soccer is like hockey because it is a low-scoring sport. The big difference is that ties occur more frequently.

The most popular soccer bet is a three-way moneyline bet where you can bet on either side, winning as well as the possibility of a tie.

Additionally, two-way moneylines, spreads, and total goals are frequent wager types.

MMA/UFC Wagers Explained

For Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) leagues like UFC, moneyline bets are the most popular choice. Next to these, betting on the total number of rounds is also a standard wager.

Additionally, fighting props like betting on the method of victory or if there will be a knockout are popular MMA wager types. These props can include things like a method of victory or whether or not there will be a knockout.

Boxing Wagers Explained

Boxing, like MMA, is a combat sport where moneylines are the most popular bets. Betting on the winning method and the number of rounds a match lasts is also common.

One significant difference between the two is match length. Because boxing matches tend to last longer, there are more bets to be made on which round the fight will end or if a decision, rather than a knockout, determines the result.

Choose the Best Bet Types For You

Now that you are familiar with the different bet types and how they apply to each sport, the best thing you can do is figure out what works best for you.

If you are better at predicting player performance than team performance, you should figure out what sports are best for player props.

If you are like most bettors and are interested in team performance, you should figure out whether moneyline or spread bets are the best strategy for your sport of choice.

If you are better at figuring out the pace of a game, you are better off betting on totals than on moneylines and spreads.

Sportsbooks must set odds on everything as a way of attracting the most business. Your biggest advantage as a bettor is focusing on only a few areas and finding where the betting public and sportsbooks make mistakes.


Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis is a Betting Analyst at The Game Day residing in Hoboken, NJ. Previously a Bronx resident, Kevin got his start betting on sports at his local Bronx barbershop. When sports betting was legalized across the river in Jersey, Kevin was there on the ground floor making regular trips to the Hoboken PATH station or for soup dumplings in Fort Lee. Previously, Kevin has written for The Action Network, and Vegas Insider.

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