So, you’re thinking of placing a sports wager? Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll break down the basics of this popular form of gambling. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran looking to brush up on your knowledge or a complete newbie wanting to dip your toes in the water, this article will provide you with the essential information you need to understand odds, lines, and bets. So, let’s get started and take the first step towards becoming a savvy sports bettor.


What are the odds?

Odds are a fundamental concept in sports betting. They represent the likelihood of a particular outcome happening in a sporting event. Whether you’re betting on basketball, football, or any other sport, understanding odds is crucial.

Types of odds

There are three common types of odds: American, decimal, and fractional.

American odds are also known as moneyline odds. They are expressed as a positive or negative number, such as +150 or -200. Positive numbers indicate the potential profit you can make on a $100 bet, while negative numbers represent the amount you need to bet to win $100.

Decimal odds are prevalent in Europe and other parts of the world. They are written in decimal form, such as 1.75 or 2.50. These odds already include the original stake, unlike American odds.

Fractional odds, commonly used in the UK, are expressed as fractions like 3/1 or 5/2. The first number represents the potential profit, while the second number indicates the amount you need to bet.

Converting odds

Converting between different types of odds can be helpful when comparing odds across different sportsbooks. Several online converters make this process quick and simple. Just enter the odds in their original format, and the converter will display the corresponding values in the desired format.


What are lines?

Lines, also known as spreads or point spreads, are used to level the playing field between two teams in a sporting event. They are created by oddsmakers and are meant to attract equal betting action on both teams.

Types of lines

There are two types of lines: favorites and underdogs. The favorite is the team or player expected to win the game, while the underdog is the one expected to lose.

The spread is represented by a number, such as -3.5 or +7.5. The team with the minus sign (-) is the favorite and needs to win by more than the spread to cover it. The team with the plus sign (+) is the underdog and can either win the game outright or lose by less than the spread to cover it.

Understanding line movement

Line movement refers to changes in the spread as the game approaches. It can occur due to various factors, such as injuries to key players, changes in weather conditions, or the betting action on one side becoming lopsided. Following line movement can provide valuable insights into how the betting public and professional handicappers perceive a game’s outcome.


What are bets?

Bets are the wagers you place on the outcome of a sporting event. They come in various forms and involve predicting the result of a single game or multiple games.

Types of bets

There is a wide array of bet types available, catering to different preferences and risk appetites. Some common types of bets include:

  • Moneyline bets: These involve picking the winner of a game, with no point spread involved.
  • Point spread bets: These require you to predict if a team will win by a certain margin (cover the spread) or not.
  • Totals (over/under) bets: These involve predicting whether the total combined score of both teams will be over or under a specific number set by the sportsbook.
  • Parlay bets: These combine multiple bets into one, with bigger potential payouts but a higher risk.
  • Teaser bets: These allow you to adjust the point spread or totals in your favor but at the cost of lower potential winnings.
  • Futures bets: These involve betting on long-term outcomes, such as the winner of a league, championship, or tournament.
  • Proposition (prop) bets: These offer a variety of unique betting opportunities, such as predicting which player will score the first goal or how many strikeouts a pitcher will have.

Here are some bet-type examples:

Bet TypeDescriptionExample BetSporting EventAmerican OddsDecimal OddsFractional OddsFavorite/Underdog
Moneyline BetA bet on which team or individual will win a game, with no point spread.Betting on the New England Patriots to win the game.Football (NFL)-150 (Bet $150 to win $100)1.672/3 (Bet £3 to win £2)Favorite
Point Spread BetA bet on whether a team will win by a certain margin or cover the spread.Betting on the Los Angeles Lakers to cover a -5 point spread.Basketball (NBA)-110 (Bet $110 to win $100)1.9110/11 (Bet £11 to win £10)Favorite
Totals (Over/Under) BetA bet on whether the combined score of both teams will be over or under a specific number.Betting on the total score to be over 45.5 points in a football game.Football (NFL)-105 (Bet $105 to win $100)1.9520/21 (Bet £21 to win £20)N/A
Parlay BetA single bet that combines multiple bets, with higher potential payouts but higher risk.Betting on the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays to both win their games.Baseball (MLB)+350 (Bet $100 to win $350)4.507/2 (Bet £2 to win £7)Combination of favorites and/or underdogs
Teaser BetA bet that allows adjusting the point spread or totals in your favor, with lower potential winnings.Adjusting the point spread for the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers in a football game.Football (NFL)+180 (Bet $100 to win $180)2.809/5 (Bet £5 to win £9)Combination of favorites and/or underdogs
Futures BetA bet on long-term outcomes, such as the winner of a league or tournament.Betting on the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl at the start of the season.Football (NFL)+800 (Bet $100 to win $800)9.008/1 (Bet £1 to win £8)Underdog (based on current standings)
Proposition (Prop) BetA bet on specific events or occurrences within a game, such as player performances.Betting on Player X to score the first touchdown in a football game.Football (NFL)+500 (Bet $100 to win $500)6.005/1 (Bet £1 to win £5)N/A
Bet-type examples

Explanation of Odds Formats:

Common betting terms

When placing bets, you may come across some common betting terms:

  • Stake: The amount of money you are risking on a bet.
  • Juice: Also known as vigorish or vig, it refers to the commission or fee the sportsbook charges on a bet.
  • Push: When a bet ends in a tie, and the original stake is returned.
  • Cover: When a team or player meets or exceeds the required outcome to win a bet.

Understanding these terms will help you navigate the world of sports betting more comfortably.


How moneyline betting works

Moneyline betting involves picking the winner of a game, regardless of the margin of victory. The odds for moneyline bets are based on the perceived strength of the teams and the balance between favorites and underdogs.


Calculating potential winnings

To calculate the potential winnings on a moneyline bet, you need to understand the odds format used.

In American odds, positive numbers indicate the potential profit on a $100 bet. For example, if the odds are +150, a $100 bet would yield a $150 profit. Negative numbers represent the amount you need to bet to win $100. For odds of -200, you would need to bet $200 to win $100.

In decimal odds, the potential winnings are already included in the odds. For example, odds of 2.50 mean that a $100 bet would yield a total return of $250 ($150 in profit plus the original $100 stake).

In fractional odds, the potential profit is represented by the first number in the fraction. For example, 3/1 odds mean that a $100 bet would yield a $300 profit (plus the original $100 stake).

Understanding favorites and underdogs

In moneyline betting, favorites are indicated by negative odds, while underdogs are given positive odds. Negative odds suggest a higher perceived probability of winning, while positive odds indicate a lower probability.

For example, if a team has a moneyline of -200, they are the favorite, and a $200 bet would yield a $100 profit. On the other hand, if a team has a moneyline of +150, they are the underdog, and a $100 bet would yield a $150 profit.

Understanding the dynamics between favorites and underdogs can help you make informed betting decisions and identify potential value opportunities.

Here are some examples:

Sporting EventExample BetAmerican OddsDecimal OddsFractional OddsFavorite/Underdog
Football (NFL)Betting on the New England Patriots to win the game.-150 (Bet $150 to win $100)1.672/3 (Bet £3 to win £2)Favorite
Basketball (NBA)Betting on the Los Angeles Lakers to cover a -5 spread.-110 (Bet $110 to win $100)1.9110/11 (Bet £11 to win £10)Favorite
Soccer (Premier League)Betting on Manchester United to win the match.+200 (Bet $100 to win $200)3.002/1 (Bet £1 to win £2)Underdog
Baseball (MLB)Betting on the New York Yankees to win the game.+120 (Bet $100 to win $120)2.206/5 (Bet £5 to win £6)Underdog
Tennis (Wimbledon)Betting on Novak Djokovic to win the match.-250 (Bet $250 to win $100)1.402/5 (Bet £5 to win £2)Favorite
Horse RacingBetting on a horse named “Speedster” to win the race.+400 (Bet $100 to win $400)5.004/1 (Bet £1 to win £4)Underdog
Hockey (NHL)Betting on the Toronto Maple Leafs to win the game.-130 (Bet $130 to win $100)1.7710/13 (Bet £13 to win £10)Favorite
Golf (PGA Tour)Betting on Tiger Woods to finish in the top 5.+600 (Bet $100 to win $600)7.006/1 (Bet £1 to win £6)Underdog
BoxingBetting on Fighter A to win the match.-200 (Bet $200 to win $100)1.501/2 (Bet £2 to win £1)Favorite
MMA (UFC)Betting on Fighter B to win the fight.+150 (Bet $100 to win $150)2.503/2 (Bet £2 to win £3)Underdog
Sports betting examples

Point Spread

How point spread betting works

Point spread betting is a popular form of betting where the favorite has to win by a certain margin (cover the spread) to be considered a winning bet. The underdog, on the other hand, can either win the game outright or lose by less than the spread to cover it.

Calculating against the spread

To calculate against the spread, you need to consider both the spread and the final score of the game.

For the favorite to cover the spread, they must win by more than the indicated spread. For example, if the spread is -3.5, the favorite must win by at least 4 points. Conversely, if you bet on the underdog, they can lose by up to the spread amount (or win outright) for your bet to be successful.

Covering the spread

Covering the spread refers to a team winning by a margin greater than the spread or an underdog losing by a margin less than the spread. If the favorite wins by exactly the spread amount, the result is a push, and your original stake is returned.

Covering the spread is a critical concept in point spread betting, as it determines whether your bet is successful or not. It’s essential to consider factors such as team strengths, recent form, and match-ups when assessing the likelihood of a team covering the spread.

Totals (Over/Under)

How totals betting works

Totals betting, also known as over/under betting, involves predicting whether the total combined score of both teams in a game will be over or under a specific number set by the sportsbook.

Predicting the combined score

To make an informed decision when betting on totals, you’ll need to consider factors such as team offensive and defensive capabilities, recent scoring trends, player injuries, and weather conditions. These factors can significantly impact a team’s ability to score or prevent scoring.

By analyzing these factors, you can gauge whether the total score is likely to be higher or lower than the set number. If you expect a high-scoring game, you can bet on the over, while if you anticipate a low-scoring affair, you can bet on the under.

Betting on over or under

When betting on totals, you are not concerned with which team wins or loses the game. Your only focus is on the combined score of both teams.

If the total score surpasses the predetermined number, a bet on the over would be successful. Conversely, if the total score falls below the set number, a bet on the under would be considered a winning bet.

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the teams involved, as well as other relevant factors, can give you an edge when making totals bets.

people playing basketball inside court


What are parlays?

Parlays, also known as accumulators or multipliers, are bets that combine two or more individual bets into a single wager. The appeal of parlays lies in the potential for significant payouts from relatively small stakes.

Advantages and disadvantages

One advantage of parlays is the potential for higher payouts. If you successfully predict the outcomes of multiple games or events, the winnings from each individual bet are combined, resulting in a larger payoff.

However, parlays also come with increased risk. Since all bets within a parlay must be correct to win, a single incorrect prediction means the entire parlay is a loss. This makes parlays more challenging to win, requiring a higher level of accuracy and luck.

Understanding parlay odds

Parlay odds are calculated by multiplying the odds of each individual bet in the parlay. For example, if one bet has odds of +150 and another bet has odds of -200, the parlay odds would be +300.

The potential payout for a parlay is determined by the total odds and the amount of the original stake. Parlay odds can vary significantly depending on the number of bets included, with larger parlays offering higher potential payouts but lower chances of winning.

It’s important to carefully consider the risk versus reward when deciding to place a parlay bet. While the allure of a big payout is enticing, it’s crucial to weigh the odds and probability of success.


How teasers work

Teasers are a type of bet that allows you to adjust the point spread or totals in your favor, increasing your chances of winning. They are similar to parlays but give you more control over the outcome.

Adjusting point spreads

In a teaser bet, you can add or subtract points from the spread to improve your chances of winning. For example, if the original spread is -7.5, you can adjust it to -6.5 in a teaser bet, making it easier for the favored team to cover the spread.

The number of points you can adjust the spread or totals depends on the sportsbook and the specific teaser bet. Each adjustment you make comes with different odds and potential payouts.

Calculating teaser payouts

Teaser payouts are calculated based on the number of teams and the number of points adjusted. The more teams and points you add, the higher the potential payout, but the greater the difficulty of winning.

To calculate the potential payout, simply multiply the odds of each individual bet in the teaser. The total potential winnings will be determined by the original stake and the resulting odds.

Teasers can be an attractive option for bettors who want more control over their bets and are willing to sacrifice potential winnings for increased chances of success.


What are futures bets?

Futures bets are wagers on long-term outcomes, such as the winner of a league, championship, or tournament. These bets can be placed before the event starts, sometimes months or even years in advance.

Betting on long-term outcomes

Futures bets offer the opportunity to speculate on future outcomes and potentially secure favorable odds before the event begins. For example, you can bet on a team to win the Super Bowl before the NFL season begins, or on a player to win the MVP award at the start of the NBA season.

However, placing futures bets comes with inherent risks. The outcomes are uncertain, and there are numerous variables that can impact the outcome over the course of a season or tournament. It’s essential to carefully evaluate team or player performance, injuries, coaching changes, and other relevant factors before placing a futures bet.

High-risk, high-reward

Futures bets often come with higher odds and potentially larger payouts compared to regular game bets. This is due to the longer duration of the bet and the higher level of uncertainty. If you successfully predict a long-shot outcome, the potential reward can be significant.

However, the high-risk nature of futures bets means that they are more challenging to win. It’s crucial to consider the odds, the competitiveness of the field, and any other factors that may affect the outcome when deciding to place a futures bet.

Proposition (Prop) Bets

Introduction to prop bets

Proposition bets, or prop bets for short, are wagers on specific events or outcomes within a game that do not directly relate to the final score or outcome. Prop bets offer a wide variety of unique and fun betting opportunities beyond traditional game result predictions.

Variety of prop betting options

Prop bets can cover a range of different aspects of a game or event. You can bet on individual player performance, such as who will score the first goal or how many yards a quarterback will throw for. You can also bet on specific events during the game, such as whether a penalty will be called in the next play or the outcome of the coin toss.

Sportsbooks offer an extensive selection of prop bets, especially for high-profile events like the Super Bowl or the World Cup. From the mundane to the outrageous, prop bets provide an extra layer of excitement and engagement for bettors.

Fun and unique betting opportunities

Prop bets can add an extra element of excitement to watching a game or event. Whether it’s predicting the length of the national anthem or the color of the coach’s tie, prop bets offer a lighthearted and entertaining way to engage with sports betting.

While the outcomes of prop bets are often based on chance or unforeseen events, they can still be a fun and enjoyable way to participate in sports betting. Just remember to approach prop bets with a sense of humor and consider them as a form of entertainment rather than a serious investment strategy.

Understanding and mastering the concepts of odds, lines, and bets is crucial for anyone looking to get into sports betting. By familiarizing yourself with the various types of bets and the factors that influence odds and lines, you can make more informed decisions and increase your chances of success. Remember to gamble responsibly and only bet what you can afford to lose. Good luck!

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Jimmy The Geek
Author: Jimmy The Geek