Sports Betting Guide: Types Of Straight Bets And How They Work

When it comes to sport wagering or betting, straight bets are the most common type of bets. Also known as “pick a team” or simply side bets, they involve choosing to bet on a contestant, team or the outcome of a game. In general, competitions or games are identified by a team or contestant that is favored over the rest. Normally, the favored team or contestant is referred to as the “favorite” to win the game and is identified with a negative sign (–). The team or contestant that is less likely to be victorious is known as the “underdog”, and is identified by a plus sign (+). The standard straight bet offers a bettor the option of picking the favorite or the underdog in a contest or game while risking -110 odds. This simply means, you risk $110 to win $100 or $11 to win $10. Nevertheless, it does not necessarily have to be those exact figures. There are several types of straight bets and we will cover them on this simple sports betting guide.

Point Spread or Handicap

Also known as “the spread” or “the line”, a point spread is generally used to even out odds between two teams or opponents in a sporting event. The favored team to win is usually handicapped by subtracting goals or points (indicated by a minus sign), and the underdog is given goals or points (indicated by a plus sign). The bookmakers will be the ones to create the spread or the lines. To figure out whether your wager has won or not, you need to calculate the goal or point difference between the actual scores of the two opponents or teams. If you find that your bet covers the spread, you have won. A push or draw is not available in point spreads with lines that include half points.


For instance, the New York Giants may be an 8-point favorite over the Colts, but you cannot simply choose the Giants at even money. You can pick the line of either team; the Giants will be at -8, which mean you are betting on them to win the game by more than 8 points. On the other hand, the colts will be +8, meaning you are betting on them to lose by less than 8 points or win the game for you to win the bet. If the Giants win by exactly 8 points, then it is a push, and you get your money back.


In basic terms, a moneyline is an indicator of odds a given team requires to win a sporting event. The favorites will be identified with lower odds. A positive moneyline indicates how much a bettor can win by risking $100 and a negative moneyline shows how much a bettor needs to risk to win $100. Moneylines do not have a spread to cover. You simply pick who you think will win the event or game, whether it is the underdog or favorite. In other words, you risk more to win less when betting on the favorite, and risk less to win more when betting on the underdogs.

Moneyline is the main wagering option in baseball and hockey but serves as a substitute to the spread when it comes to football and basketball. You will have to determine exactly how much you need to put at stake to win the $100 for instance. Sometimes the stakes are too high and wagering is not a good idea. The trick of getting better odds is wagering on teams that are not favored against the spread. If a team has odds that have too much to lay, then it is probably not a good idea to bet on it.


Total Sports Bet

Simply put, game totals, also known as over/under bet, is a wager on the total outcome of a sporting event, and not one of the sides. A bettor is given the option of betting on the total score to be more or less than a specified number. For instance, let us say you have the Pistons/Spurs game total set at 176pts. Betting on OV means you want the combined scores of Pistons and Spurs to be 177 or more points at the end of the game, and betting on UN means you are wagering on the combined scores of the two teams to be 176 or less when the game ends.

When it comes to game totals, each sport plays by slightly different rules. For example, in soccer, the bookmakers set the betting line as 2.5 goals and the bet is settled at the end of regular playtime. In NBA, the bet considers the extra time. It is also worth mentioning that some bookmakers have slightly different requirements. Hence, before wagering on game totals, you need to make plenty of considerations. Rather than assuming things, make sure you read the rules of a bookmaker keenly. Additionally, instead of jumping at every opportunity, choose sporting events that offer the clearest choice.


Bookmarkers and Straight Bets

As aforementioned, the standard straight bet offers bettors an option of picking the underdog or the favorite in the game and risking -110 odds, which means you risk $110 to win $100. You do not have to stick to those exact figures. You can scale that number up or down as you wish. For instance, you can risk $22 to win $20 if you are a recreational bettor or $222 to win $200 if you have made betting your occupation.

Now, it is important to note that some online bookmakers offer reduced vig betting, which means the cost of betting is reduced by a certain amount depending on the odds the bookmaker is offering. When there is too much action coming on one side, some sportsbooks will weigh the odds heavier on the other side hoping to get some counter action on that side to balance the books. Straight bets are an excellent choice especially if you plan to be in sports betting for a long time. They are low in vigorish and enable you to be a single game.