What is Sports Betting?

“Sports betting” is a general term that describes the act of placing a bet on the outcome of an upcoming sports match. For as long as there have been competitions, spectators (and sometimes even the participants themselves) have bet on the outcome of those competitions. The goal is always to correctly predict the outcome and win money for doing so.

Types of Sports Bets

Sports betting can include simple wagers such as “which team will win the next game” and an endless variety of other bets such as “who will score the most points.” If you take a look at any online sportsbook, you’ll see that the types of sports bets out there are limited only by the human imagination.

Straight Up Bets – These are the basic bets on the outcome of the match. Any time you place a wager on which team you think will win the next game, you are placing a straight up bet.

Totals – These are bets in which the sportsbook sets a total combined score for both teams and you try to guess whether the final combined score will be more than or less than that total. Many sportsbooks use half points to eliminate the possibility of the game ending on that exact points total.

Futures Bets – Futures are bets that look a little farther into the future. For example, you can place a bet on which team will win the Super Bowl even though the season has just begun. The more unlikely a team is to win, the higher the potential payouts for that team.

Proposition Bets – These bets cover just about everything else. A prop bet can be based on anything from which player will score the most points to whether or not the person singing the National Anthem will make a mistake.

Moneylines and Point Spreads

Sportsbooks use moneylines and point spreads to generate an equal amount of action on both sides of all bets, which reduces their risk. Whenever two teams face off in a match, there is almost always a favorite and an underdog. Sportsbooks use these two techniques to prevent everyone from betting on the favorite team every time.

Sportsbooks need to minimize their risk and if they have an equal number of bets on both sides of every game, they can just use the losers to pay off the winners. Whenever there is an unequal amount of action, the sportsbook risks having to pay off the winners with its own funds.


Moneyline bets specify how much money a player must wager for each dollar in potential winnings. Sportsbooks set the moneylines so that bettors must wager more money on the favorites and less money on the underdogs. For example:

Team A: -300

Team B: +250

Any bettor wishing to place a wager on Team A must wager $3.00 for every $1.00 in potential winnings. A $300 bet on Team A would result in a $100 payout if Team A wins the match. Anyone wagering on Team B only has to wager $1.00 for every $2.50 in potential winnings. A $100 bet on Team B would result in a $250 payout if Team B wins the match.

Point Spreads

Point spreads are the other technique sportsbooks use to entice players to wager on both sides of any upcoming match. Instead of targeting payouts, though, point spreads specify that the winner must win by X number of points for it to be considered a win.

Here is an example point spread:

Team A: -10.5

Team B: +10.5

In this game, Team A is the favorite so they must win by 11 points or more. Team B only has to stay within 10 points for it to be considered a win. Bookmakers often use half points to prevent the final score from ending up exactly on the spread.

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