Sports Bets Guide: US Online Sportsbook Betting Explained

Sports bettors love to bet on sports results and other pop culture events. Sportsbooks try to offer every bet that their visitors might consider, but that requires a lot of betting options. When looking at a sportsbook’s tote board, it’s likely to confuse newcomers. Sports betting terms are quirky enough that they’re bound to both confuse and amuse some gamblers.

Today, we provide a glossary of the most common bets and betting terms. We describe each bet type while touching on the types of betting odds that people might encounter. If you have a bet you’d like to make but don’t know how to make it, read our guide to betting and learn what you want.

Common Bets at US Online Sportsbooks

Sportsbooks feature a dizzying array of betting options. Since these might confuse new bettors, here is a list of the types of bets you’ll find in an online sportsbook. Each one deals with one of the types of odds that you’ll see in the list below.

  • Prop Bets: Also called proposition bets, these are bets that are not tied to the final score or outcome of a game. It might be an event in a game or the actions of a participant. Prop bets don’t always involve sports. It might involve awards ceremonies, tv events, or politics.
  • Parlay Bets: Linking several bets in order to receive a higher payout. To win a payout on a parlay bet, you must win every leg of the parlay bet. Both of the next options are types of parlay bets.
  • Teasers: Moving the line in the favor of the bettor. The drawback is the player’s payout will be smaller.
  • Pleasers: Moving the line in favor of the sportsbook. The advantage is the player’s payout is much higher than normal. Pleaser bets involve two to six teams, so it is similar to a parlay in some ways.
  • Middle Bets: This is a betting strategy more than a bet type. Middling is when a bettor wagers on both teams in the bet. This happens when the betting line has moved enough to allow the bettor to make a middle bet and win both.
  • Double Chance Bets: Used in Association football (soccer), this is betting on two of three possible events. The bettor can choose to bet on one of three options: a home win/draw, an away win/draw, and a home win/away win. It’s the safest bet but at the cost of a lower payout.

Live Betting at US Online Sportsbooks

Each of the bets above is an option in the in-game live betting section of a sportsbook. Bettors might mix up the two terms, so it pays to define live betting and micro-betting, as well.

  • Live Bets: Also known as in-game betting, these are bets made during the course of a game. It’s a newer way to bet tied to the internet and mobile betting. As game conditions change, odds on point spreads, moneyline bets, and over/under bets change in real-time.
  • Micro-Bets: A form of a live bet. It’s an in-game prop bet on players and situations more than the game itself. For instance, the player who scores the next touchdown, the next basket, or the next goal. It can involve many stats, though.

Types of Betting Odds

If you ask a gambler what type of bet they’re making, they might tell you the type of odds system they use. The main two types of odds are point spreads and moneyline bets, but other odds receive a lot of attention. Here is an overview of the types of odds you’ll see.

  • Point Spread: Odds that add points to an underdog’s total and take points away from a favorite’s total. It’s designed to make give favorites and underdogs a 50/50 chance of winning the bet. A 7-point favorite would be written -7, while a 7-point underdog would be written +7.
  • Moneyline Bet: Picking the winner. In this case, the payouts are smaller for winning favorites and higher for winning underdogs. The favorite would be written -110, meaning you’d bet $110 to win $100. The underdog might be written as +120, meaning you’d bet $100 to receive $120.
  • Over/Under Bet: Also called a Totals Bet, the wager is about the final combined total score of both teams. If the two teams combine to score more than the Over/Under, the Over proposition wins. If their combined score doesn’t match the Over/Under, then the Under proposition loses.
  • Futures Bets: Odds on a team winning their league or association. These are seasonal bets. Wagering begins before the season starts, though futures betting continues throughout the season. If you want to bet on your team winning the Super Bowl, find the futures odds.

Sports Bets FAQ

What are the different types of betting odds?

If you’re not talking about the point spreads and moneyline odds above, then you’re probably talking about fractional odds, decimal odds, and American odds. Fractional odds are the British odds that you’ll see in racebook betting, expressed as 5/1. Decimal odds or European odds are given as a fraction, such as 5.00. American odds are also called moneyline odds, and they are rendered as plus (+) or minus (-).

What is a betting odds calculator?

It’s a tool that online sports betting sites offer that translate fractional odds to decimal odds to American odds and so on. If you want to see a statistical breakdown of a bet according to all three types of odds, use a betting odds calculator tool.

What do the plus and minus mean in sportsbook bets?

It means “underdog” and “favorite” in betting odds. The minus symbol means that side of the bet is the favorite, while the plus symbol means it’s an underdog. In point spread betting, the number following these symbols shows what is added or taken away from the final score to make the bet a roughly 50/50 proposition. If you see Chiefs -7 and Raiders +7, then you would take 7 points away from the Chiefs’ score or add 7 points to the Raiders’ score to see who won.

What do +200 odds mean?

These are moneyline odds that represent an underdog in a bet. Such numbers are based on a theoretical $100 bet. If you bet on +200 odds, then you would wager $100 in order to win $200. If the underdog won, you would receive a $200 payout plus your original $100 bet back.

What do -180 odds mean?

Once again, these are moneyline odds. This is the opposite of the +200 bet or in this case a wager on the favorite. It means you would need to bet $180 in order to win $100. If you wagered $100, then you would receive a $55.60 payout if the favorite won.

What is the secret behind betting odds?

The secret behind betting odds might be different for an oddsmaker for a sportsbook, but that’s inside knowledge. If you’re a casual bettor or even a handicapper, the best tip you can learn is to shop for odds. Different online bookmakers offer different odds. Consider using an aggregator site to learn which sportsbooks are offering the best odds on any game or event.

If you don’t want to use an aggregator site, then the best option is to use a few of the top US online sportsbooks long enough to see which give better odds. In our sportsbook reviews, we discuss which sites offer the best odds. Often, this varies from one sport to the next or from one type of bet to the next. The upshot: don’t use lesser odds when making a bet. Otherwise, you’re throwing away money.

Do odds really matter in sports betting?

Absolutely. If one sportsbook has the Kansas City Chiefs at +600 to win the Super Bowl and another one has them at +700 to win the Super Bowl, you absolutely want to be betting at the +700 option. You’ll tie up a lot of your bankroll if you place on the Chiefs this summer, so you want as big of a payout as possible if they win Super Bowl 58.

Who controls betting odds?

Oddsmakers at the biggest sportsbooks in the world. Sportsbooks employ oddsmakers to set the odds on the latest games and betting propositions. These experts use advanced statistical analysis to set the odds, but they also use their knowledge of the betting public’s tendencies.

Once the odds are set and the betting begins, the betting public also affects the odds. If they bet heavily on one side of the odds, then sportsbooks move the odds to encourage bettors to make wagers on the other side of the bet. Still, it’s the oddsmakers who make this decision, so they control the odds.