Sports betting 101: Most common terms and wagers

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Below are some of the most common types of wagers in sports betting:

Money line:

The simples of bets. Pick a winner. A bettor picks a team/side to win straight up. The favorite will have a minus (-) next to it, while the underdog will have a plus (+). All money lines are based on a $100 bet. Now, you don’t have to wager $100, but it’s a simple calculation/number that helps a bettor understand how much they can win. If the money line on a team is -150, any bettor who bets on that team would have to wager $150 to win $100. If a team is +150, the payout of a $100 bet would be $250 -- $150 for the winning bet, plus the original $100 that was placed.

Point spread:

Perhaps the most common bet. A bettor places a wager on a team/side to win based on the margin of victory included in the point spread set by the oddsmakers. The more dominant a team is perceived to be over another one, the higher the point spread for that team to win by. The closer the two teams/sides are, the closer the point spread will be.

For example, Team 1 is playing Team 2. If Team 1 is for all intents and purposes the better team, its odds of winning will be higher, which means Team 1 is not only picked to win the game, but must “cover” the point spread to win any bet placed on it against the spread. In this scenario, Team 1 is a -14.5 favorite to beat Team 2. Just like in the money line bet, the team with the minus (-) next to it is the favorite/the team expected to win. The number represents the margin of victory. If you bet Team 1 to win against the spread, it will have to beat Team 2 by 14.5 points or more (and since there are no half points in sports, that basically means Team 1 needs to win by 15 points). If you bet on Team 2, to win that bet, Team 2 can lose the game by 14 points or less, and you’d win the bet. You would also win the bet on Team 2 if they won the game outright.

Let’s say the point spread is 14 points, and the margin of victory lands exactly on the spread, it’s a push or a tie, and no one wins the bet.

Point spread bets also have the money line odds attached, which, again, indicates the payout of a winning bet. So if you bet Team 1 at -14.5, -110, you would need to bet $110 just to win $100.

Totals (over/under bet):

This is the total combined score in a game or contest. The bet is if you think the two sides will combine for more than the total or less than the total set by the oddsmakers. It’s also called the over/under. You would place a bet on whether you think both teams would combine to score “over” the total or “under” the total.

For example, if the total is set for 50 points in a football game, to win the “over” bet, the two teams must combine to score 51 or more points. To win the “under” bet, they must combine to score 49 points or less. If the combine score is exactly 50, then it’s a push and no one wins the bet and you would get your money back. But most over/under totals are set with a half of point, insuring there’s no push. For example, if the total is set at 50.5, you would need the teams to combine to score 51 or more to win the “over” and 50 or less to win the “under.”


This is where you combine two or more bets into a single wager. In order to win, all bets must hit or come in. If one of them doesn’t, you lose the entire bet. This is a chance to increase the winnings with more bets as the odds increase, as does the payout.


Short for “proposition bet,” this can be a wager on pretty much anything. How many points will a player score to how many tackles a linebacker will have to how many 3-pointers the point guard will attempt, a prop bet is whatever someone can imagine to bet on. It can even be as out-of-the-box to how long the National Anthem will be prior to the Super Bowl or how quickly it takes for a head basketball coach to remove his blazer during a game.


These are longer-term bets, focusing on future events, games and/or awards. Things like which team will win the World Series or the Stanley Cup before the season starts or even before the actual event takes place. You can also place bets on individual, like who will win the MVP of the league.

Depending on the odds and how much you wager, these bets can have hefty payouts. But there are some risks, since you’re betting on outcomes that haven’t happened yet. Say a star player gets injured or a team falls into a slump, once you bet you’re locked into those odds and that outcome.

-- FrontPageBets Staff

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