Sports Betting 101: Intro To Bet Types
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Our goal with this series is to talk about some basic betting principles and also explore how these concepts can be used to your advantage in the DFS context. As we produce more content, we will delve into some advanced concepts and expand upon some of the introductory articles in this betting series.
This article is an introduction to several basic types of bets and a brief example of each. For a lot of people this may be common knowledge, but for plenty of others, these are unfamiliar terms. In a future follow-up, I’ll discuss some more exotic types of bets such as teasers, if wins, round robins and others, but for now we will stick to the most common bet types.
Straight bet – This is the most common bet type and it is just a straight up single bet on a game. A point spread is determined by the oddsmakers with one team being favored by a certain number of points. Let’s take a look at an example line below to give a clear indication of what a straight bet would be:
Boston Celtics -6.5 (-110), moneyline -320
at Cleveland Cavaliers +6.5 (-110), moneyline +260
The Celtics are favored by 6.5 points in this example. This means that if you bet the Cavaliers, you are getting 6.5 points, so if the Cavaliers win the game, or lose by fewer than 7 points, you will win the bet because of your 6.5-point cushion. On the other side, when you are laying 6.5 points as the favorite, you would need the Celtics to win by seven or more to win the bet.
Final Score – Celtics 102, Cavaliers 98. Cavaliers would cover even though the Celtics won the game because the +6.5 spread is enough to cover a 4-point defeat.
Moneyline (“ML”) – The moneyline is a bet where there is no spread; you are just picking the winner of the game. In the example above, the Cavaliers ML is +260, which means that for every $100 wagered, you win $260 if the Cavaliers win the game outright. They receive the plus side of the moneyline since they are the underdog and picking them rewards you with nice odds since they are projected to likely lose the game. On the flip side, if you bet the Celtics ML at -320, you have to bet $320 to win $100. They are the favorites so if you decide to bet the moneyline instead of the point spread, you are forced to bet additional money to win $100.
In the example above, the Celtics ML would be the winner as they won the game outright. The spread is irrelevant for a moneyline wager.
Over/Under – This is a straight bet wagering on how many total combined points will be scored in a game by both teams. For example, an NBA game may have an over/under of 210 points, which means that the oddsmakers are projecting a combined points total of 210 between the two teams. If you think the teams are going to score more than 210 points total, you bet the over, and conversely, if you think it’s going to be a defensive struggle, you can bet the under hoping that the total points scored equals 209 points or less.
Parlay – A parlay is a bet where you combine multiple bets into one bet and you get increased odds because you only win your parlay wager if all of your bets win. If you do a three-team parlay, you select three different teams from three different games and if you win all three of the bets you hit your parlay for longshot odds (6-1 so $100 to win $600). Going 0/3, 1/3, or 2/3 is all the same and you lose the parlay bet. It’s all or nothing which makes them tough to hit and is more of a home run type bet than a regular straight bet since there’s a chance for a big payoff.
Understanding the Vig (Juice) – One of the most important concepts when getting into betting is understanding breakeven points based on the moneyline spread you are betting. The starting point for this analysis is understanding the juice that comes with any bet. Simply, this is a tax you pay for the privilege of placing a wager. For a standard bet, the juice is usually -110 (or 10% vig), which means you have to pay $110 to win $100. The extra 10% you are paying goes to the house. It’s important to understand how much juice you are required to pay because there are times when the house will increase the juice on a standard bet. This is done based on numerous factors, which we will delve into in subsequent articles.