Sports betting offers excitement with every pitch and agony with every turnover. But for a novice gambler, understanding some of the terminology can be a barrier to getting in the game. Really, sports betting is easy, and with a little basic explanation most of the lexicon is easily understood. There are basically four types of bets: sides, totals, futures, and props. We will explain all of these and a bit more.
Side wagers are perhaps the most common sports bet. Side wagers, also called straight wagers, are bets where you pick a team to win. Side wagers have two variables – the pointspread and the moneyline. The pointspread is the number of points either added to the underdog score or subtracted from the favorite to determine whether the bet wins or not. The moneyline describes how much a winning bet pays the victor.
Sports like baseball are played almost exclusively on the moneyline. In other words, the pointspread is assumed to be zero. Many sportsbooks offer a runline, where the pointspread is 1.5 runs, meaning the favorite has to win by two, not a single run. Soccer and hockey are also highly reliant on the moneyline.
Football and basketball use the pointspread to great extent. Unlike baseball, the moneyline is often fixed or only changes a little.
Other than betting on a team to win — or cover the spread, you can bet on the total number of points/runs/scores in a sporting event. The sportsbook sets a totals which is just a number which they feel will generate bets over and under the total. If you bet over, you are betting that the sum of the competitors scores will be higher than the total. Conversely, if you bet under, you are betting fewer points are scored than the total.
Sides and totals are available for most conventional sporting events pitting Team A against Team B. But how does that work for golf tournaments or nascar races? Tennis matches can be bet with sides, but how about predicting a tournament champion? Or betting on the eventual super Bowl champion? Bets with more than 2 competitors are bet by futures. Each option has a moneyline associated with it to determine the payout – the longer the underdog the better the return. If you can correctly pick a longshot — and win — even a small bet can pay off many times over.
Betting futures does have disadvantages. First, betting a future that takes a long time to resolve causes the stake (the amount you wagered) to be unavailable for many months. Also, futures tend to either be longshots that pay out infrequently or favorites that have very little reward tempting you to place a large wager. We all like to have wishful thinking betting on your favorite team or players.