3 Game Wagers to Try in Sports Betting… And 2 to Avoid

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Brian Christopher at BetMGM

Sports betting can be intimidating for those new to the process. The wall of numbers seen at sportsbooks can seem confusing for those new to making a wager on a game. 

But just like other complicated games like craps, as you get to know what each number means, and how your bets and payouts will be impacted by them, you can get a sense for things and feel more comfortable making those wagers.

Pick a Winner: Moneyline Bet

One of the simplest ways you can make a sports bet is to make a Moneyline bet. In such a bet, you are simply selecting who the winner of the game will be. The payouts are based on the odds a win or a loss will happen, with a bit of extra margin built in, which is how sports books aim to make their money.

Because it’s as simple as selecting a winner or loser, it can be less intimidating. But understanding how the odds works is important, as you’re not just paid even money for a winning bet like you would be on casino games like Blackjack or Roulette for basic bets.

This is because a favorite and an underdog are often established for each game, since the odds of one team beating another are not often considered to be 50/50. So you’ll want to get acclimated to how odds are displayed, and what that means for your bet. To help, you can check out our more detailed tutorial on Moneyline bet odds here.

More Balanced Odds: Spreads

Spreads is also betting on what you believe the outcome will be, but it’s not quite as simple as which team wins. Spreads will often have odds that are much closer to even money payouts for a winning wager. 

To be able to offer this, they will account for a spread in the score that must also be achieved for a bet to be a winner. To win a bet the favorite not only has to win, but win by more than a certain number (which will be listed when making the bet). Conversely, an underdog can either win or lose by less than the spread, meaning they outperformed expectations despite losing.

To learn more about spreads and how to read them, as well as how the payouts work for that bet, check out our guide to spreads.

Adding It Up: Over/Under (Total)

There are other ways to bet on outcomes of a game, and one of the most common, and easiest to understand, is an Over/Under bet. These are often made on the total score of a match, added up from both teams.

Whatever number is established, betting the Over means you think the score will exceed what was established, while betting the Under means you think the score will fall short of that number. If the exact score is accomplished, it’s considered a push, and all bets on the over/under are refunded.

Because the number is established based on expectations, the odds tend to be pretty close to an even money bet. 

To dive further into Over/Under bets, check out our guide.

Avoid This Type: Prop (Proposition) Bets

A Prop, or Proposition, bet, allows for more granular betting options than just betting on a game. Examples could be betting on how many points a basketball player will score, how many home runs will take place in a baseball game, or who will score the first touchdown.

They can also drift into the novelty category, such as:

  • What color of Gatorade is first poured on a winning coach
  • The cumulative total of the jersey numbers of everyone who scores a touchdown in the Super Bowl
  • The length of the national anthem

Some Prop bets require more research and knowledge to make an educated guess as to the way to bet. Some, like the Gatorade, have literally no knowledge required and are just a random bet, hence novelty bets.

But in both cases they drift away from the more simplistic bets of the first three categories, and therefore we don’t recommend going this direction until you’ve gotten more comfortable with the more basic bets, unless you have specific expertise that can benefit from a Prop bet.

There Are Better Options: A Parlay

Gamblers love to gamble, and a Parlay falls right into that category. Unlike the three previous bet types listed above, a Parlay is actually multiple outcomes rolled into a single wager.

Each part of a Parlay, known as a Leg, is an individual outcome. To win your Parlay bet, every Leg has to be successful – get one outcome wrong, and you lose the bet.

The pro of a Parlay is you can make small wagers and have the potential for bigger wins, since there’s multiple outcomes and their odds are each factored in. The con of a Parlay is it’s harder to win, since you don’t get partial credit for being only partially right.

The house also takes a larger margin on Parlay bets, vs. if you made individual bets for each decision, and if you made individual bets you would get paid for the outcomes you selected correctly.

And finally, many Parlay bets feature one or more Prop bets, which can be a bit more random or require more complex understanding or knowledge of the factors to make that bet successful.

As such, a parlay is a more complicated sort of bet, more of a swing for the fences sort of thing, that is not advisable, especially for new sports bettors getting their feet wet, or still learning about how to analyze the options and make wagers accordingly.

But if you’re ready to learn more about Parlays, including the up and coming Same-Game Parlay options, check out our guide on the topic.


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