Types of bets

Now that we understand odds and how they work, we proceed to the various types of bets offered by sports books. The three main types of bets offered on most sporting events are the three listed below. Money Line, Spread, Total.

Money line: A money line wager is the easiest type of bet. It is simply a wager placed on one team to beat another. Also referred to as “straight up”. This is as simple as it sounds. If “team A” is playing “team B”, you choose one to win the match. 

types of bets : moneyline example

Spread (Handicap): When two teams of varying strengths play a match, attempting to make both teams as even as possible, sports books offer a ‘point spread or handicap’. This type of bet was designed to make a wager on either side more appealing. The point spread is a number applied to both participants in a match. One team will have points taken (-), and one team will have points added (+) to their final scoreboard score.


A favorite will always have to cover the spread in order for a wager on the favorite to win. Covering the spread means the favorite will have x amount of points subtracted from their total score and with these points subtracted must have a higher score than the opponents scoreboard score.

Look at the example below: If you wager on HOU -10.5, then HOU total scoreboard score must be at least 11 points higher than SAC scoreboard score. If it is not at least 11 points higher, your wager will lose. Remember, -10.5 is removing ten-and-a-half-points from HOU Rockets final scoreboard score. Therefore, if the final scoreboard score was HOU 98 SAC 88, then HOU’s score for spread purposes is only 87.5, which loses to the SAC scoreboard score of 88 (by .5 points. Yes, losing by half a point (.5) will lose the wager. The main purpose of the .5 instead of a whole number is to prevent ties.

sports betting spread explained

Now, if you place a wager on the underdog (in this case SAC Kings) they get the same amount of points added to their score . If a wager is made on the underdog (SAC), the bettor has those points (+10.5 in example), added to their final scoreboard score, and with these points, SAC must lose to HOU by no more than 10 points for a winning wager.

SAC can win the game, or lose by 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, or 10, and the wager on +10.5 will still win. (10 still wins because SAC would beat HOU’s scoreboard score by 0.5. Yes, half a point will win.)

Example : HOU 98 SAC 88 . SAC’S total spread score is 98.5. This is a winning wager, as it beats HOU’S scoreboard score of 98.


Total: Over Or Under

Yes, it is as simple as it sounds : you place a wager OVER or UNDER a specific total. Please see the example below. You are not wagering on any team to win. You are simply placing a wager OVER or UNDER the total listed. For our example, the total is OVER OR UNDER 7.5


sports betting total points over under

Of course the total points in a match cannot end with a .5 . The .5 is added by the sports books to prevent ties . Think of a .5 as a line between two numbers. Your wagering either above or below that line. Therefore, in our example, if the total combined points are 1,2,3,4,5,6 or 7 a wager on the UNDER will win. If the total were anything higher than an “8″ (ex: 8,9,10,11 etc) , a wager on the OVER would win. Also note that some lines may be set at an even number, in which case a tie usually results a “push” (neither over or under, so a refund is usually issued on both OVER or UNDER bets.).

 The example above is just one of many “totals” bets available to eager bettors. Some sports books also offer the following totals wagers:

Team Totals – Over or under the total of a single teams points for a given duration of a match (example : period, quarter, 5-Innings, Game etc).

Period Totals- In Ice Hockey, over or under the total points scored in a given period. This may be for one teams points, or both teams combined points.

 You can check out some ways to bet football totals here: How to Bet on Football