Are your bets ready? Start with a moneyline bet on the Colts (they’ll win, but they haven’t covered the spread all year). Parlay the Niners and the Chiefs (they should both dominate). The point spread on the Broncos is too high, so tease them with the Saints to bring it down. It’s a tough call between the Bucs and the Bills, but both offenses are hot, so put some money on the over.
Did any of that make sense to you?
If not, don’t worry. If you want to learn how to read sports betting lines, keep reading. There are many types of sports bets, and understanding each one can help you refine your betting strategy. This guide will go over some of the most popular types of online sports betting so that you can start crafting a strategy for success.
Understanding the Odds
So, how does sports betting work? Before delving into the many kinds of bets you can make, you first need to understand the odds. The odds signal how much money you can win by placing a bet. It’s rarely as simple as betting $100 to win $100. When you look at odds for a sporting event, they are likely to be written one of three ways:
Fractional odds are perhaps the easiest odds to understand. You may see them depicted in one of three ways:
- With a slash as in “6/1.”
- With a dash as in “6 - 1.”
- Written out as in “six to one.”
Regardless of how they’re written out, the first number is the multiplier you will use to determine your winnings. So, in the example above, if you were to bet $100, you have potential winnings of $600. If your bet wins, you will be paid back $700 (your initial $100 stake plus your $600 in winnings).
While this is pretty straightforward when the second number is 1 (which it will often be), it can become a bit more confusing when that number varies, such as in 5/2 odds. In this case, your $100 bet should be divided by 2 before being multiplied by 5, making your potential winnings $250.
Moneyline odds are represented by “+” and “-” symbols before a number. This number represents the payout you could receive with the “+” placed before an underdog and the “-” placed before the favorite. This is easiest to understand by looking at an example:
- Patriots: -170
- Jets: +240
In this example, the Patriots are favored to win. If you placed a $100 bet on the Jets and they win, you would get a payout of $340 (your initial $100 back plus $240 in winnings). Conversely, you would have to bet $170 on the Patriots to win $100 (making your payout $270).
Decimal odds aren’t as common in America as moneyline or fractional odds, but you still may run across them. In the case of decimal odds, the multiplier for your payout is simply listed as a decimal next to whoever you’re betting on. For example, if you were to bet on a tennis match between Nadal and Djokovic, you may see:
- Nadal 2.5
- Djokovic 1.8
This would signal that the oddsmakers think Djokovic is slightly more likely to win. If you were to place a $100 bet on Nadal, your payout would be $250 ($100 x 2.5; meaning a profit of $150). If you were to bet $100 on Djokovic, your payout would be $180 ($100 x 1.8).
Types of Bets
Once you understand how to read betting odds, the next step is understanding the types of bets available to you.
Each kind of sports bet has nuances, and each is ideal in a specific situation. The more you understand the specifics, the better your chance to maximize your winnings.
Since you now grasp the basics of moneyline odds, understanding a moneyline bet should be rather straightforward. You’re simply betting on which team you think will win. It doesn’t matter what the final score is—you are predicting the winner of the game and, if you’re correct, your payout will be determined by the odds.
So at this point you are probably wondering how does a point spread work? Point spreads are becoming so mainstream that you may hear announcers like Al Michaels allude to “covering the spread” during national broadcasts. But what does it mean?
A point spread is another way oddsmakers handicap sports. It is the equivalent of giving the underdog a “headstart” by spotting them points to even the odds. For instance, you might see something like this:
- Packers: -4.5
- Browns: +4.5
The above numbers suggest that the Packers are favored and the spread is 4.5 points. If the Packers win by 5 or more points, they cover the spread, and you win your bet. If you bet on the Browns, they can either win the game or lose by less than 5 points, and you will win your spread bet.
There are a few nuances here:
- The odds for spread bets will be listed as Moneyline odds. However, since the spread is determined as a way to even those odds, it is common for both teams to have the same -110 odds.
- Maybe you’re wondering why the typical odds are -110 and not -100. After all, the spread evens the odds, right? This is because of the vig, which is a percentage bookies take from each bet to ensure their profit. The vig is often factored into the odds which is why -110 is likely to be used.
Sometimes, your best bet won’t involve a winner at all. Another way to bet on sports is through over/unders. Oddsmakers will predict the total number of points scored. You then bet on whether you think the total points will go over or under that number. This is a good option if you aren’t sure who will win, but you have a sense that the game will be either high or low-scoring. An example of an over/under is:
- Packers vs. Browns: Total points 52.
- Over +160
- Under -120
The number you’re working off of is 52 total points. The moneyline odds underneath show that the oddsmakers think it’s more likely that fewer points will be scored.
Let’s say you feel very confident about the outcome of a few different games being played. Is there a way to bundle them together to win more money? Yes—that’s a parlay.
In parlays, you choose multiple winners and tie them into one bet. If they all win, you stand to win a lot of money. However, if any of them lose, your entire bet is a loss.
There are several potential variations on a parlay bet:
- Teasers – In a teaser, you combine bets to move the odds. So, let’s say you think the Bucs will win this week, but the spread is -7.5, and you aren’t sure they’ll cover. By teasing the Bucs with another team, you can effectively lower the spread, giving you a better chance of covering. But as with a parlay bet, if any part of a teaser loses, the whole bet loses.
- If Bets – An if bet bunches multiple teams together but goes individually through each bet in order. Say you pick the Bucs and the Packers. If the Bucs lose, your bet loses and ends there. If the Bucs win, an if bet will take your initial stake on the Bucs and move it to the Packers. If the Packers lose, you still win your Bucs bet, but lose your initial stake since it was moved to your Packers bet.
- Reverse Bets – A reverse bet is similar to an if bet but with a larger initial stake so you can cover any order. It’s normally done with three or more bets. In the last example, a reverse would require a $200 initial stake, but you’d be betting on any order (Bucs or Packers could win, and you win part of the bet). This gives you a better chance to win part of the bet, but also a better chance to lose part of it.
Rather than betting on the outcome of a game, a prop bet lets you bet on individual events. For instance, you could bet that Tom Brady will throw for over 300 yards or that a safety will be scored during a game.
Different books will offer different prop bets. Different events will also offer different props. For example, the Super Bowl often offers the most props. You can even bet on the color of the celebratory Gatorade with some books.
These bets refer to bets made early in a tournament (or season). If you think the Colts will win the Super Bowl, you can bet that at any point before or during the season. The benefit of this type of bet is that you can often get very favorable odds since it’s hard to make accurate predictions that far in advance. Betting odds will update throughout the course of the tournament or season.
Sports Betting with Tipico
Between the different ways to bet on sports and the difficulty of understanding the odds, it can be tricky to create a successful strategy—but the challenge is part of the fun.
No matter what type of sports betting best suits your sensibilities, you can find it at Tipico. We offer futures, multi-sport parlays, live betting, and more. And as a welcome offer, new customers can place a risk-free bet of up to $750 when they join our sportsbook Colorado, sportsbook Ohio, or sportsbook New Jersey. Now that you know the types of sports bets, it’s time to get in on the action with Tipico.