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Breaking Down Sports Betting Types

by November 26, 2018

Buffets can be great. Sometimes, nothing beats the endless smorgasbord of options a buffet has to offer. Getting to chow down until the stomach can no longer find one smidgen of free space has its perks.

Buffets can also be wretched. While that endless smorgasbord of options may look enticing, sometimes, it’s not. The food may have been sitting out for ages and hardened to a crisp. Occasionally, it’s hard to even know what foods to get that will be worth eating. Then, if the right combination of food is actually found and enjoyed? Each and every bite could become beyond obsolete because of the intestinal warfare that may commence.

Buffets have their perks, but they also have their downsides.

The endless number of options that sports betting has to offer is no different. No doubt, it’s a great thing that bettors can enjoy cheering on a more trivial prop bet one day and a standard moneyline bet the next. But for the average bettor, the seemingly overwhelming number of options can make betting unappealing. To be as successful of a bettor as possible, it’s critical to have a full understanding not only of all of the possible betting types but also when to implement them.

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The first form of sports betting that almost everyone encounters is betting on the moneyline. Betting on the moneyline means wagering money on one team to win a single game. The moneyline bet is one of the simplest forms of sports betting around. It doesn’t take as much expertise to try and pick one winner from one game.

The main pro of the moneyline bet is, in fact, its simplicity. This is an easy bet for amateurs, people who do not have enough time to research sports betting, and casual bettors interested in increasing appeal for one team in a game.

Wagering on the moneyline can also be a lucrative way to bet on underdogs. Obviously, the odds for underdogs to actually win a game will always be advantageous, no matter the sport. Betting on the moneyline is the way to go if a bettor feels strongly about an underdog’s chances.

Like it or not, Vegas favorites win more times than not. What does that mean for betting on the moneyline? Many times, betting on the winner of a game will not be very profitable. In fact, favorites can easily be -200, -300, or -400 to win a game. The game must either be projected to be close or the underdog must win to strike it big (at all) on the moneyline. Also, it will be hard to consistently score a good return on investment with moneyline bets.

Overall, a well-balanced bettor will avoid putting too much money on moneyline bets. There’s absolutely a time and place for them, but only under the right circumstances and odds. To find that right time and place, look for the best lines offered from different places, and don’t be afraid to bet early.


Betting against the spread is the most popular form of sports betting. For every game, oddsmakers will create a spread. The spread is a specific number of points, runs, or goals that one team is favored to beat another by. For example, a bettor make look and see a line like this: New Orleans Saints (-3.5) @ Carolina Panthers. This line means that the New Orleans Saints are three and a half point favorites, and the Carolina Panthers are three and a half point underdogs. So, the bettor has two choices with this spread — bet on the New Orleans Saints to win by three and a half or bet on the Carolina Panthers to either win or lose by less than three and a half points.

Somewhat even odds are always offered when betting on the spread. The spread may change, but odds for either team will always remain somewhat steady. Odds for the spread basically always stay between even and -200. So, betting against the spread will always provide bettors with a safe, but still lucrative platform to bet on. Bettors may find a little more luck returning a solid percent on their investments when betting against the spread. Because of its always fairly even odds, it does not take an unreachably large percentage of wins to net a profit.

Just like betting on the moneyline, betting against the spread is also very simple. Again, it is an easy wager that does not mandate research to win.

Unless extremely high dollar amounts are being bet, a bettor will not get rich quick betting against the spread. The consistently even odds on the spread would require a bettor to win at astronomically high numbers to rack up a massive profit in a very short time. Betting against the spread is much more of a consistent betting type than a lottery ticket. This can obviously be a pro but is a con if a bettor is looking for incredibly lucrative odds.

Also, bets placed against the spread are always subject to bad luck. In real life, teams don’t care about the spread of a game, they care about winning. Multiple times, NFL players who could have easily scored have decided to slide and give themselves up at the end of a game in order to ice the game and win. These decisions were incredible real-life choices. The teams then knelt out the game and won. But, for example, instead of winning by 10, the team ended up winning by three. These decisions have literally cost bettors a win against the spread. It doesn’t get much rougher than that. While that might be an extreme example, betting against the spread can definitely come with some bad luck.

Betting against the spread should absolutely be a strategy all levels of bettors employ. A healthy betting portfolio consists of a healthy amount of bets against the spread.


Betting on the over/under can be a fun way to bet on a game. Not only does it offer a different way to bet, but it also offers a unique way to root for (or against) both teams in one single game. The over/under bet means betting on the total points, runs, or goals scored in a game to be above or below a certain amount.

The over/under bet also offers very even odds. The number of points, runs, or goals is controlled by oddsmakers and is constantly changing. A steady, but still lucrative platform is created from this, too.

As mentioned, the over/under bet can be a fun spin to sports betting. Almost every other type of sports betting involves rooting specifically for one team or player and against the others. In an over/under bet, the bettor is constantly rooting for both teams to score, or neither team to score. A change up like this can be a very enticing way for some people to watch and root for sports and bets.

Lately, with all of the scoring throughout sports, oddsmakers have had a hard time keeping up. The average return on investment from over/under bets has been very rewarding. If scoring trends continue, but oddsmakers don’t figure out the proper balance to lines, the over/under bet could continue to be a great investment for bettors.

A bet on an over/under line does involve some luck. For bettors looking to rely only on their own skills to win, the over/under bet might not be best. Elements like fouls at the end of a game can have a large impact on the total number of points scored. Unfortunately, unlike the moneyline and spread bets, the over/under has no real effect on a team winning or losing. This makes it subject to so much change and luck.

While often overlooked, lately, the over/under bet has been a successful one for sports bettors. If these trends continue, the over/under bet should also continue to be a vital part of a successful sports bettor’s portfolio.


Futures bets can be some of the most lucrative bets in the whole betting world. A futures bet is a bet that is made for sometime in the future. Complicated, right? Most futures bets are related to winning a sport’s championship, but a futures bet can be made on almost anything that will occur at a future date.

Futures bets are more lucrative than any of the other types of bets talked about in this article. Futures bets actually do have the potential to get bettors “rich” quickly.

Also, futures bets will provide the bettor with a team to root for over a long period of time. Essentially, futures bets offer a great deal of “bang for your buck.”

Most futures bets lose. Sure, they suffice as a nice lottery ticket for bettors, but most lottery tickets also lose. Like any bet, the return on investment can be okay, but…

Futures bets are also tricky. First, futures bets should absolutely be an important part of a diverse betting portfolio. But, they shouldn’t be relied upon. Compare futures bets to a roulette table. It would not be smart to bet on one number of the 36 on the board unless the bettor bets that same bet at least 36 times. After 36 times, odds say that the bettor should have won at least once, and will win a large sum. However, if it took 36 tries to win, there is no profit. The same goes for futures bets. Futures bets should not be one and done for good. The odds that one bet will hit are slim. But, if the bettor stays consistent, futures bets can be lucrative, just like other types.

Prop Bets

Prop bets offer a different style than every other type of bet. These types of bets are any bets made regarding the occurrence or non-occurrence during a game of an event not directly affecting the game’s final outcome. One of the most famous examples of a prop bet was how many times Peyton Manning would say the word, “Omaha,” during his last Super Bowl.

Prop bets offer a unique chance for competent bettors to capitalize on stupid bettors. It can be very enticing to bet a small amount of money to strike it big if there’s a safety in the Super Bowl. However, it’s probably not going to happen. Most bettors won’t bet $100 to win 5 or 10 bucks on saying no to the safety, though. Most people will try to strike it rich with a small bet. So, if a smart bettor waits until right before the big game, the odds could become actually fairly lucrative for the “no safety” bet. Yes, these types of bets are high risk/low reward. But, if that’s something that isn’t a problem for a bettor, prop bets can be taken advantage of.

Prop bets are fun. They offer sports bettors a totally different take on betting than any other type. Often times, sports betting becomes too serious for bettors. Big money bets create stress. Prop betting can be a great way to alleviate some of that stress.

Prop bets can also get sports bettors thinking in some different ways. Sometimes, they even just require a great imagination and a fun spirit.

The prop bets themselves are mostly luck. For prop bets to have a good return on their investments, a bettor must be on top of his or her game.

Prop bets do not have to be any part of a diverse sports betting portfolio. As mentioned, they can offer quality opportunities for small returns if a bettor puts in the research. Regardless, prop bets can bring even more pure joy and excitement to a sports bettor than any other type! So, as always, have fun!

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Alex Altmix is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Alex, check out his archive.

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