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How to Decide Which Types of Sports Bets to Place

by March 2, 2020
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Much like the stock market is for investors, there are many different options sports bettors have when it comes to putting down their hard-earned money in play on a given sport. While the standard point spread bet remains the most common and recognizable, options like futures make for a longer “sweat” or simply time the bet’s result is in question. To make another stock market analogy, sports bettors often will often keep a diverse portfolio of bets that includes everything from daily point spread and over/under bets, money line bets, prop bets, and season-long future bets. Today, let’s take a look at some of the most common types of sports bets and identify which might be best for you.

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Against the Spread

Easily the most common and heavily used type of sports bet is against the (point) spread bets. Betting against the spread, of course, is making a bet on one side of a preset point spread in a given game or match. If you are on the Clippers -6.5 against the Suns, for example, the Clippers must win the game by at a minimum of 7 points for your bet to cash. The point spread is the way in which two unevenly matched teams, whether that be from a talent or perception standpoint, can be put on to a level playing field. A drawback of betting the point spread is that the closer you get to the game starts, the more the point spread has been “bet into”, which means it’s at the most difficult to beat place both from the standpoint of what the sportsbook made the number, as well as the professionals subsequently, moving it.


The second most common type of sports bet is the over/under. When a given game is finished, the combined score for both teams is the “total”. When betting the over/under, you are simply betting whether that “total” will fall below or above the number set by the sportsbook. The danger in betting this number is, of course, the final minutes of a game that are meaningless to some, but not so meaningless to others. A classic example of this is the benchwarmers getting in a game once the score is decided; yet playing hard and driving up the score, going over the total.


One of my favorite types of bets that there is certainly a strategy for is betting futures. When betting a future, you are most often betting early in a season on the result of a season-long outcome such as who will win the Super Bowl. If your odds are long (big) enough, ample hedging opportunity exists for you to ensure that you turn a profit, regardless of if your team actually wins it all or not. If at the start of the 2019 NFL season, for example, you had bet on the San Francisco 49ers to win Super Bowl LIV at say 20 to 1 odds for $100, you entered the NFC Championship game just two games short of collecting $2,000. By betting on their opponents in both the NFC Championship and then the Super Bowl at say 20% ($400) and then 40% $800 of your original bet, you were then guaranteeing a minimum profit of $300. While some bettors have a higher tolerance for risk (and different motives for betting) than others by letting the bet ride to completion, a future bet is a good way to leave those options open over the course of a season in a given sport.

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 TJ Perun is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from TJ, check out his archive and follow him @JohnnyCovers.

Betting 101, Betting Tips