Today, it is possible to bet on sports in a variety of ways. The most popular type of bet in the UK is the money line, but bookies offer bets on all sorts of different markets, including point spreads, totals, futures, and various props.
If you’re a beginner and don’t know much about different types of sports betting, you’ve stumbled upon the right page. In this guide, we will cover the most popular types of bets and how they work across various sports, explaining everything in simple terms and guiding you through multiple examples.
Money Line Bet (Match Betting)
Money line is the most basic of all bets and the most popular type of bet among UK punters. With this type of bet, you just need to predict the winner of a game or a match. You may also wager for the match to end in a draw in sports like football, which is why this kind of bet is sometimes also called 3-way.
Here’s an example from Bet365 bookmaker:
In this example, the numbers assigned to each outcome relate to your potential win. If you were to bet £10 on Chelsea with odds of 1.53 (multiplier), you would win £15.3 (£5.3 profit). The same stake on Juventus would result in a win of £65 (6.50 multiplier x £10 wager), while a draw would lead to a win of £40 (4.00 multiplier x £10 wager).
Keep in mind that the money line bet in football only relates to the 90-minute full time score. Knockout-phase matches include overtime and a penalty shootout, but these are covered in separate markets.
Point Spread Bet (Handicap)
The goal of point spreads is also to predict the final outcome, only this time bets must account for the margin of the victory.
Here’s a spread we found for a rugby match between Bristol and Northampton:
If you take Bristol to win against Northampton in a rugby game with a 2-way spread of -7.5, that means that Bristol needs to win by 8 or more points. Betting £10 on Bristol with odds of 1.36 (multiplier) results in a £11.36 payout (£1.36 profit). If they win by fewer points or lose the game, you’ll lose the bet. Alternatively, you can wager on Northampton to cover the spread of +7.5, meaning they’ll need to lose by fewer than 8 points or win the game outright. This is a more risky bet, but that’s exactly why the odds are higher. If you bet the same £10 on Northampton, you’ll receive a £32 payout.
Most spreads will have the half-point mark, but some will be featured as whole numbers, creating three potential outcomes. In a 3-way handicap, you’ll be allowed to bet on a tie (Bristol at -7 wins by exactly 7 points). Since this is very unlikely, the odds are quite high, standing at 23.00. Betting £10 on this bet will come with a payout of £230.
Totals Betting (Over/Under)
Totals are the third most popular sports betting market, after money line and handicap. They are also called over/under because, instead of guessing the game’s outcome, you need to predict whether the total number of points or goals will be higher or lower than suggested by the sportsbook.
In an EPL duel between Arsenal and Newcastle, the over/under was set in the following way:
If three or more goals are scored, the “over” bet wins, regardless of who wins the match or whether it ends in a draw. If you bet on under, you would hope for only two or fewer goals to be scored.
For instance, if Arsenal wins 2–1, that would mean that three goals were scored in total. Therefore, the “over” bet would be the winning one. A £10 wager on this outcome would result in a win of £15.7 (1.57 multiplier x £10 wager).
Double Chance Bet
This is a type of bet most commonly associated with football matches. It’s generally a safe bet, as you’re covering two of the possible three outcomes — home team win or a draw, home team win or away team win, away team win or a draw.
We’ll use the same Chelsea vs Juventus match as an example, only this time, we will focus on double chance odds:
Since the bet covers two of the three possible outcomes, the odds are much lower compared to money line and some other types of bets.
If you aren’t confident that Chelsea will win, you can bet on them to either win or draw. In that case, you would get odds of 1.11 (multiplier) and win only £11.1 on a £10 stake. If you take either team to win, you could potentially collect £12.2 on the same stake. The riskiest choice here is to take the draw or Juventus to win, but it could also result in the highest potential win — £23.7 on a £10 bet.
Parlays Betting (Accumulators)
Parlays or accumulators (acca, for short) are multiple bets that you place on a single bet slip. For a parlay to be successful, all of the individual selections must hit. For instance, if you place a 3-leg parlay and only two legs win, you still lose.
Parlays are very difficult to win on, but what makes them worthwhile is that the odds of all selections stack with each other, creating a potentially huge payout.
Here’s what a typical parlay may look like:
The total odds for this accumulator are 4.72 (1.53 x 1.61 x 1.90), meaning that you stand to win £47.28 on a £10 wager.
Teaser bets are a specific form of parlays. They involve betting on multiple spreads, but with the lines adjusted to benefit the bettor. Let’s say that the spread on the Boston Celtics is -5.5. If you want to play it more safely, you can bet on the Celtics with a spread of only -2.5. The catch is that you must put at least another teaser on your betting slip and need both of them to hit to win.
Here’s a teaser example from an NFL game:
As you can see, you can move the line in any given direction to give yourself lower or higher odds. The original spread on the Detroit Lions was +3.5 and came with odds of 1.86. However, if you move the line all the way up to +14, you’ll get odds of 1.21.
Placing a £10 wager on these odds would result in a potential win of £12.1. If you want to take a riskier bet — say, Chicago Bears covering the spread of 13.5 — you’ll be given the odds of 3.80 and a £10 wager would now potentially bring you a £38 win.
Proposition Bets (Props)
Props account for all miscellaneous bets that are not necessarily connected to the outcome of a game. They can be divided into game props and player props.
With game props, you can bet on things like the correct score, which team will score first, the time of the first goal, whether the game will go into overtime, the total number of yellow and red cards, and more. On the other hand, player props allow you to wager on the performance of individual players, such as whether Cristiano Rolando will score a goal, who’s going to be the Man of the Match in a cricket match, whether a snooker player will record a century, and others.
Here’s what some player props may look like for a football match:
In these proposition bets, you’ll be guessing the goalscorers in a Chelsea vs Juventus match. More specifically, you can predict whether a given player scores the first goal, the last goal, or any goal.
If you bet £10 on Kai Havertz to score a goal at any given time in the match, you could win £24. A higher reward is implied if you try to be more specific. The same bet on Havertz to score the first goal of the match comes with the odds of 5.50, resulting in a £55 win.
Futures (Outright Bets)
Futures are long-term bets through which you can guess the outcome of an entire competition or a season. For instance, you can bet for Milan to win the Serie A, and you can take this bet before or during the season. You can also guess who wins the next Wimbledon, The Masters, Cricket World Cup, Snooker World Championships, and other major sporting competitions.
With player futures, you can bet on which player wins an individual reward at the end of the year, like the Most Valuable Player in the NBA, for example.
If you think you can correctly predict who wins the next EPL title, you can bet on any of the participating teams. Here’s an example:
Midway through the 2021/22 EPL season, Manchester City seems to be the biggest favourite, with the William Hill bookie giving them odds of 1.80. If you’re confident that they’ll win and put down £100, you’ll receive an £80 profit. Their city rivals (Manchester United) have fallen behind a bit, which is why their current odds are 126.00. But, if you think they’ll turn things around and win the title, you can put a small bet of £10 and get a £1260 payout.
Live betting refers to all bets that are made after a given event has started. What makes this form of betting attractive are the constantly changing odds that shift one way or the other depending on what goes on in the game.
The live betting markets account for all markets that you can find pre-match, like money line, over/under, and double chance. However, they also feature a few exciting props, such as whether a goal will occur in the next ten minutes or who will win the next game in a tennis match.
The example below shows live odds for match betting in a cricket match between Sri Lanka and the West Indies:
After the first innings, Sri Lanka stands as the favourite to win against the West Indies, which is why their odds are set at 1.91. However, there’s also a high chance that the match will end in a draw. If you were to take the West Indies at this particular moment of the match, you’ll get odds of 26.00. For just £10, this bet would create a potential win of £260. If you play it more safely and take Sri Lanka or draw, a £10 wager could win you £19.1 or £20, respectively.
Popular Bet Types for Different Sports
The same types of wagers can be seen across many different sports, although each sport also has a set of bets that are specific to it. Here are some of the most common bets amongst popular UK sports.
Bet Types in Football
Soccer is specific because it’s a sport where ties frequently occur, which is why it features a 3-way money line. Since there are three possible outcomes for any soccer match, double chance is also a popular betting market.
Because it’s a low-scoring sport, you won’t see much attention given to over/under or handicap, but that consequently gives way to correct score betting. Some of soccer’s most commonly wagered on props include corner and card totals, as well as individual goalscorers.
Here are some corner props for the Manchester United vs Villareal match:
As you can see, there are plenty of options here. A £10 wager on Villareal to have more than 4.5 corners implies a £17.2 win. The same odds and payout can be found on Villareal getting to three corners before Manchester United. You may think that there won’t be too many corners and that neither team will reach a total of three. Predicting this unlikely scenario could win you £260 on just a £10 stake.
Bet Types in Golf
Golf is also a specific sport for betting, as it doesn’t feature most of the markets that you’ll find in other competitions. The most straightforward golf bet is to guess who will win a given tournament. If that’s too difficult, you can make place bets and predict whether a player will finish in the top 5, 10, or 20.
There are loads of exciting bets in golf. For instance, you can bet on matchups and guess which of the two players will place better or who will lead after a specific post.
Of course, the most popular golf prop is whether there will be a hole-in-one. If the tournament is international, you can bet on the best-placed player from a given country or continent.
Bet Types in Tennis
Tennis is very interesting when it comes to betting due to its scoring system. A tennis match is played in a best-of-three or best-of-five format, with each set containing up to 13 games and each game consisting of several points.
Therefore, there are two types of handicap and over/under bets, one each for games and sets. Because tennis is a very dynamic sport, it is ideal for live betting. For instance, you can bet on who wins the next point and get a result in moments.
Common tennis props include the correct score in sets, first set score, win from behind, over/under on breaks, over/under on aces, and others.
Here are a few interesting props from a typical tennis match:
Here, you can choose to bet on whether a player will break serve in the first set, whether they’ll win from behind or win in straight sets, and more. Daniel Masur is a heavy favourite here, so him breaking his opponent’s serve is very likely, and will result in a small 70 pence profit on a £10 wager. If you believe that Andaloro will have a strong start and break in the very first game, you can get great odds of 9.00. In that case, a £10 wager would result in a £90 win.
Bet Types in Boxing and MMA/UFC
Boxing, mixed martial arts, and other combat sports are some of the simplest for betting. Naturally, the most popular bet here is the money line, although some fights may end in a draw, and in most cases, this is considered a push bet.
Another popular boxing and MMA bet is the number of rounds. You can guess the exact number of rounds or bet on the over/under. A bet specific to combat sports is the method of victory. In MMA, different methods of victory include a knockout, technical knockout, submission, decision, or forfeit. In boxing, you can also bet on unanimous points decisions, split points decisions, or technical decisions.
You may also encounter some combat sports props, like whether a specific fighter will record a knockout in the first round or within the first minute of the fight.
Bet Types in Horse Racing
Horse racing is historically connected with betting, and, over the years, people have come up with all sorts of bets that you can take across a single or several subsequent races. The simplest of these bets is the win bet, where you’re simply guessing the winner of a race.
You can also take a place bet (horse finishes first or second) or a show bet (first, second, or third).
From there, you’ll find a wide range of exotic bets that can further be divided into horizontal and vertical wagers. Horizontal wagers include daily double, pick 3, and pick 4, challenging you to guess the winners of two, three, or four consecutive races.
The most popular vertical wagers include exacta, trifecta, and superfecta, where the goal is to guess the exact order of the top two, three, and four finishers.
Bet Types in Other Sports
While US major sports leagues like the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL aren’t as popular in the UK, they are very interesting for betting purposes.
NFL is one of the rare sports in which point spreads are wagered on nearly as often as the money line. Other NFL wagers include totals and a series of game and player props. One of the most exciting props is which team will score the first touchdown.
NBA games feature all of the typical betting markets. However, because many points are scored in each game, you’ll find that player props are very popular here. For instance, you can bet over/under on how many points, rebounds, or assists a particular player will have. NBA games are also great for live betting, as you can wager on individual quarters and find fast-paced bets like “race to X points”.
In the MLB, money line and runline (the equivalent of a point spread), as well as over/under are the most popular markets. If the game is too long for you, you can make these types of bets on just the first five innings. NHL betting mainly revolves around the money line, puck line, and over/under. However, there’s also something called a 60-minute line, a money line that only considers the score after three periods, meaning that you can bet on a tie.
There is no single best type of bet or best sport for betting, as this depends solely on your knowledge of a given sport, as well as your betting preferences.
If you like to keep things simple, you should stick to money lines and handicaps. If you feel that you’re good at predicting the number of points or goals instead of the outcome, over/under betting would be the best fit for you. Do you have a hunch about how a specific player will perform? Try finding them in the player props markets. And, of course, if you have a large appetite and want to win big, don’t shy away from creating a longshot parlay.
Figuring out what type of bet is best for you is not simple, so you should feel free to experiment and try different approaches to discover which type suits you the most.