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Sports fans love the ins and outs of their favorite pastime. When they are not watching a live game, they are pouring over the stats and rumors surrounding their team and looking ahead to their upcoming matchups. For some avid fans, sports betting is an exciting hobby they like to partake in as well. For anyone looking to get started in this hobby, here are the most popular betting types that you need to know.


For new sports bettors, moneyline wagers are the easiest to understand. With moneyline bets, you are selecting which team you believe will win a contest overall. Everything in professional sports comes down to the stats. Trying to predict how different offenses and defenses match up together or what the total score will be can be extremely difficult. Moneyline wagers are simple and straightforward and are the clear way to identify which team is the favorite to win and which is the underdog.

Over-Under /Totals

Over-under wagers, also known as totals, are another common and simple type of bet. Here, you are trying to determine if the total amount of points scored in a game will exceed a certain amount or stay under. These types of bets are popular in basketball where games can be very high-scoring events. 

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Parlay wagers are interesting, but they are certainly more complicated than your average wagers. With parlays, you can combine numerous individual bets on to one ticket that has the potential for an enormous payout. 

While betting on a favorite team to win may have a low payout, like -300, if you combine multiple bets of this type together your potential payout will be much larger. To calculate your odds and potential payout on a parlay ticket, you should use a parlay calculator such as the one provided by OddsChecker. The catch here is that all of your wagers on the same ticket must be successful to have a successful parlay wager.

Point Spreads / Handicaps

When it comes to sports like American football or basketball, the point spread is likely the most popular and widespread of all the different wager types. Unfortunately they are not the most straightforward betting type for new users. 

In every matchup there is a favorite team to win and an underdog. Instead of wagering on one team to beat the other, you are wagering on whether the underdog will keep the game within a certain amount of points, or win outright. If you bet on the underdog, the team is awarded a certain amount of points after the match. On the opposite side, a bet on the favorite to win means they have a handicap, essentially taking the same amount of points away from their score at the end. 

This predetermined amount of points that is added or subtracted from your team’s final amount of points is called “the spread.” If your selected team now has the most points in a matchup after adding or subtracting the spread from their total, your wager is successful. 

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A quick example will illustrate how these work:

  • [Team] [Spread] [Odds] [Moneyline Odds]
  • New York Giants +7.5 -110 +180
  • Dallas Cowboys -7.5 -110 -200

In the above example, the Dallas Cowboys are the favorite team to win over the New York Giants. We can easily tell this from the moneyline odds that are normally shown alongside the spread details. Because the Cowboys are the favorite to win, they have a negative spread (-7.5). If you place a wager on the Cowboys to win, they will need to beat the Giants by more than 7.5 points to win. The next odds (-110) is how much you stand to win if your wager is successful. 

After the game is completed, the Cowboys have won and the final score is 21-14. When we subtract the 7.5 points from the Cowboys total, the final score is then 13.5-14 and the Giants have beat the spread. In this scenario, your wager on the Cowboys is unsuccessful. 

If you instead bet on the Giants to win, you would add points to the original final score of 21-14 and end up with 21-21.5. In this scenario your bet would be a winner. 

Goal Line/Run Line/Puck Line

As mentioned, spread bets are primarily used in American football and basketball because these sports are normally high scoring. However, sports like football, baseball, and hockey can oftentimes end up being low scoring events. That’s why betting types like goal line, run line, and puck line were invented. 

These are all different names for the same things, spread bets. However, there are a few differences in the way they work. For instance, in MLB run line wagers normally always have the same spread, -1.5 and +1.5. In these instances, the favorite to win needs to win by at least 2 runs. If the underdog team keeps the game within 1 run, or wins outright, then any run line bets on the favorite team to win are unsuccessful wagers. The half points in all spread bets ensure that there is always a winner because sports like football, baseball, and basketball do not award half points.

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Brackets are another popular type of wager but especially for big tournaments and playoff championship series. When a tournament is beginning, you will see the bracket of where every team is and their first matchup. Once a team wins this matchup, they go on to play another team further along in the bracket, until eventually we have the two best teams of a tournament facing off for the championship.

These bracket wagers are very popular in football and basketball, especially college basketball during the “March Madness” tournament. To participate in a bracket wager, you must fill out an entire bracket with the teams you feel will win every section. Once the tournament is complete, you will be awarded points for every correctly predicted part of the bracket. After a certain amount of points, you may be awarded prizes or be the winner of your league. 


A futures bet is exactly what it sounds like, you are betting on the outcome of an event in the future. This could be the winner of a major tournament or the team that wins the league this season. All futures bets are essentially moneyline wagers, but they normally carry much better odds because you generally bet on them at the beginning of a season. In between the start and end of a season anything can happen. That makes these futures wagers difficult to predict, but potentially very profitable.