How to Bet on Different Types of Sports

There are many different types of sports available for betting. Each has unique type of wagers available. This article explains how to bet.

There are dozens of different sports available for betting. Sportsbooks often place major and minor sports on the board. Each sport has a unique way of betting. 

Our “How to Bet on Sports” section has all the information you need to help you get started. The first section covers the major sports on the board. The second explains the type of bets you can place on these sports. 


Football is the most popular sport for betting. Its TV ratings for both college and NFL games are among the highest of any programming. Gambling is part of that reason.

There are several ways to wager on football. Straight bets on point spreads, moneylines, or totals are the most common. These types of wagers may also be parlayed. Football betting also includes teasers, which work like parlays and are used to move point spreads and totals in the player’s favor. Pleasers do the opposite, moving points away from the player. These pay out like lottery tickets as the odds are massive when moving lines like that. Props, futures, and live betting are other common football bets. 


Basketball is another popular sport for betting. It offers the same types of wagers as football, except for pleasers. NCAA and NBA games are on the board. March Madness and the NBA Finals are the most wagered-on basketball events.


Baseball becomes popular in the summer when there are few other sports available. Most baseball odds are on moneylines and totals. Run lines are like baseball point spreads. Baseball games can be parlayed. Some sportsbooks offer dime lines on baseball moneylines, meaning the house edge is half that of other sports. 

You will know a dime line by even games being -105 on both sides. Larger favorites usually have just $10 between them and the underdog. Other sports are -110 on both sides of an even game with $20 spreads. 

Pitching is a major factor when placing a bet on baseball. It is imperative to consider these matchups. Some sportsbooks require the bettor to choose listed pitchers or action, meaning the wager plays regardless of who pitches. Other sportsbooks are action by default. It is important to read the house rules to determine which is used by your favorite sportsbooks. 


Hockey works a lot like baseball. Goaltenders matter in hockey in almost the same way pitching does in baseball. Hockey has puck lines that work like run lines. Other types of bets include totals, props on who scores, and if a game goes to overtime. Hockey moneylines often cover an entire game. Some sportsbooks have the option of betting only on regulation, which can lead to pushes for lower variance. 


Whether it’s the Masters, the U.S. Open, or the PGA Championship, golf gets action from bettors. Smaller events are also on the board. Types of golf bets include futures for winning events, head-to-head matches, over/unders on the number of strokes a golfer or group gets, and if a player qualifies for the next round. 

Horse Racing

Horse racing is the oldest form of sports betting in the U.S. Most states permit live racing and mobile betting. Types of horse racing wagers include win, place, show, daily double, superfecta, pick 6, and exacta. 

Mixed martial arts and boxing

Mixed martial arts like UFC and boxing have similar betting structures. Wagers are available on head-to-head fights and the total number of rounds. Prop bets include how a fight ends, like in a knockout, TKO, decision, or throwing in the towel. Other types of props are whether the fight will go the distance, who wins a round, the number of punches thrown, and if a fighter gets knocked down.

Bets that are not correlated, like a fighter and total, may be parlayed. Events occurring in separate fights may also be parlayed. 


Tennis is another sport that works by betting on individual players instead of a team. Available bets include picking a player or doubles in a match, the margin of victory, totals, and futures for major events. 

Other sports available for betting

Many minor sports are also available for betting. This includes auto racing, cycling, darts, table tennis, rugby, cricket, Aussie Rules Football, martial arts, soccer, lacrosse, snooker, and volleyball. Some of these sports are popular in Europe, where many US sportsbook operators originate. This makes it simple for those companies to offer odds on what may seem to some bettors are obscure sports. 

Types of sports bets

There are several types of sports bets available for the games above. Here are some examples.

  • Point spreads: These are the most common types of bets in football and basketball. It gives a handicap to the favored side and adds points to the underdog to create an even matchup.
  • Moneylines: These predict an outright winner. The favored side lays money, while the underdog side wins more than is bet. 
  • Totals: Sometimes called over/unders, totals predict a scoring outcome. The bettor decides whether they think it will be over or under the total. 
  • Parlays: These are tickets with two or more outcomes. If any part of a parlay loses, the entire ticket is worthless. 
  • Teasers: Football and basketball have these bets that work like parlays. Points are added to the payer’s favor, increasing the chances of winning. However, the payouts are lower than parlays for this reason.
  • Pleasers: This type of sports bet is only available in football. It is the opposite of a teaser moving points to the bettor’s disadvantage. 
  • Props: These are special bets on certain outcomes usually associated with a certain outcome occurring related to stats. 
  • Futures: This bet predicts the winner of a tournament, division, conference, or championship.
  • Live betting: This type of wagering involves getting action on an event already in progress. It may be point spreads, moneylines, totals, or props that involve microbetting.