Sports Betting Guide: How Odds Work, Types of Bets, & Terminology

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When you first get into sports betting, all of the types of wagers and other terminology can be overwhelming. This guide walks through just that. You can learn about how the different bets work, common lingo used, and how odds work.

Before we dive in, you should know that a spread or line is the number of points a team is favored to win or lose by. We will mention these terms throughout the guide so it will help to have an idea of what they mean. See the Straight bets bullet below to get a better idea of how these work.

How Odds Work

Odds are typically presented as plus a number (+200) or minus a number (-200). These numbers reflect how much you would win if you placed a $100 bet. 

So, if you placed a $100 bet at +200 odds, you would profit $200 if you win (collecting $300 in total including the original amount wagered). If you placed a $100 bet at -200 odds, you would profit $50 (collecting $150 total including the original amount wagered). 

An easy way to think of odds is simply to divide the plus or minus amount by 100. Instead of having +200 odds, for example, you would know the odds are 2 to 1 (2/1). As another example, if you were given +1000 odds, that would also mean 10/1 odds, or you winning $10 for every $1 you bet.

More unlikely bets will have plus odds (ex: +150) while more likely bets will have minus odds (ex: -150). 

Types of Wagers

Straight bets. This is the most common type of bet. You pick a team plus the spread in either direction. For example, if you bet the Eagles -7.5 points (the spread or line), they have to win by at least 8 points for you to win your bet. If you bet the Eagles +7.5, they must win or lose by 7 or less for you to win. If you bet on the Eagles -7 and they win by 7, then the bet would push and you would just get the amount of money you bet back.

Total bets. This is the second-most common type of bet. Often referred to as the Over/Under, you are guessing if the final score will be higher or lower than the total points number. If you bet the Eagles/Cowboys to go over 44.5, for example, then the combined score of both teams must be at least 45 for you to win. If you choose the under, the final score must be 44 or less for you to win.

Moneyline bets. Often abbreviated ML, with this type of bet you simply choose who will win the game. So if you choose the Eagles ML, they only have to win for you to win your bet. You will get worse odds if you choose the favorite to win as compared to the underdog.

Parlays. If you want to bet on multiple games in a single wager, you’ll have to put in a parlay. To win, all of the individual bets within the wager must be successful. If a single game loses, the entire parlay loses. In exchange for betting on all of the games together, you get better odds as compared to if you bet all of the games individually. Learn more about the parlay cards offered throughout Delaware here.

Teasers. These wagers take the normal spreads or total point lines and shift the lines between 5 to 7 points in your favor in exchange for worse odds. So, if the Eagles line is normally at -7.5, the teaser line may be Eagles -0.5—meaning they only have to win by a single point as opposed to 8 points for you to win.

Reverse teasers. These wagers are just like teasers expect in the opposite direction. So instead of the spread or total moving 5 to 7 points in your favor, they move against your favor.

Head-to-head bets. With a head-to-head bet, you simply choose who will do better between two different players. These bets are common in sports where there are many competing players—such as golf or racing—but are sometimes available in team sports as well. For example, you may be able to choose which of two basketball players will score more points or which quarterback will throw more touchdowns.

Futures. A future bet is just what it sounds like; a bet placed on the outcome of a game in the distant future as opposed to the upcoming week or weeks. An example would be betting on who will win the Super Bowl during the NFL regular season or even before the season starts.

Prop bets. Prop bets are more obscure bets usually involving a single part of a game. Examples include the total rushing or passing yards or a player, how many field goals will be kicked, how many strikeouts a pitcher will throw, or how many times the Super Bowl broadcast will show Roger Goodell. 

Common Terminology

Action. You have “action” on a game when you have placed a bet on it. You may say, for example, “I have action on the Eagles game tomorrow.”

Against the spread (ATS). Another name for a straight bet when you choose a team with the spread (ex: Eagles -7.5). You may also see team’s records presented ATS. For example, if the Eagles covered 5 of their 7 games, their ATS record would be 5-2. 

Alternate lines. Lines that are different than the normal line set. For example, if the Eagles are -7.5, any other line you take (-5, -1, +5, etc.) would be considered alternate lines. If you choose a line that moves the line against your favor (ex. -5.5 in the given example) you will receive better odds, and vice-versa if you move the odds in your favor.

Backdoor cover. When a team covers the spread at the very end of the game—usually when one team is already winning by many points. For example, if the Eagles are -15 and are up by 21 points late in the 4th quarter and the Cowboys score a touchdown with a minute left to go down by 14, that would be a backdoor cover.

Book. A place or person who accepts bets.

Buying points. This is similar to an alternate line, but specifically refers to when you move the line in your favor in exchange for worse odds (hence buying points).

Cover. If a team covers the spread in a straight bet. For example, if the Eagles are -7.5 and win by 10, you could say they covered the spread.

Closing line. The final line (or spread) when a game begins. Lines typically come out a week or two before a game starts and may shift many times up until the game begins. Whatever the line is at at kickoff, first pitch, tip off, etc. is the closing line.

Handicapper. Someone who predicts the result of a game. Handicappers often set their own lines for games in order to look for advantages in what the books are offering.

Hook. The extra 0.5 points added to a line. For example, if the Eagles are -7.5, you may say they are favored by 7 and the hook.

Juice. Also called the vig/vigorish, this is what the book “charges” in order to take your bet. The standard juice is 10%. The juice is reflected in the odds. So instead of you getting +200 odds (or 2 to 1) on a game, you would only get +180 odds (1.8 to 1).

Key numbers. Numbers in sports that are important for betting because they reflect common margins of victory. For example, 3 and 7 are key numbers in football.

Live betting. Bets that are placed while the game is going on.

Off the board. When a bet is no longer offered.

Opening line. The line or spread for a game when it first comes out. Experienced betters will often look for advantages in opening lines as these will typically move between the time the opening line comes out and when the game starts.

Over/Under. The two sides you can choose when betting a Total. An Over means you think the total points scored will be higher than the Total and vice-versa for the Under.

Pick ’em. When there line if below 1 points in either direction, meaning you only have to choose who will win the game. For example, if the Eagles are -0.5 or +0.5, the game would be considered a pick ’em.

Push. When a game finishes exactly on the line you bet. For example, if the Eagles are -7 and win by exact 7, the bet would be a push.

Reverse line movement. When the majority of the bets placed are on a single side (the favorite, underdog, Over, or Under), but the line is moving in the opposite direction. As an example, if 80% of the bets are on the Eagles -7.5, but the line moves to the Eagles -6.5, this would be considered reverse line movement. This typically indicates that “sharp” money (see below) is on the opposite side of what the majority of betters thing.

Sharp. A professional or experienced better. Sharp betters typically place larger bets that may influence line movement more than “average Joes” betting smaller amounts.

Square. An inexperienced better. The opposite of a sharp.

Straight up. Taking a side without the spread. Also known as a moneyline bet.

Unit. The standard amount a better usually places, regardless of how much it is. People will often use units as a way to explain how confident they are in a bet. For example, if you place 2 units on a bet and 0.5 units on another game, it usually means you are much more confident in the first bet.

Vig/vigorish. Also called the juice, this is what the book charges to take bets. The standard vig is 10%. The vig is reflected in the odds. So instead of you getting +200 odds (or 2 to 1) on a game, you would only get +180 odds (1.8 to 1).

Where You Can Place Bets in Delaware

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Kenneth Ransom

    How does the minus vs minus works on reverse teaser

    1. Delaware Sports Bets

      Hi Kenneth,

      Reverse teasers don’t work like normal 1/2 point parlays where there is always a winner and a loser. Instead, there may be no winners in some scenarios.

      Since both teams have the line move against their favor (by either having to lose by less or win/win by more), there isn’t guaranteed to be a winner since the lines on each side aren’t even.

      For example, the Eagles line opened at around -3 this week against the Giants (Eagles -3, Giants +3). In the reverse teaser, you would have the Eagles -10 and Giants -4. If the Eagles win but by less than 10, neither side would win.

      The difficulty in betting reverse teasers is why the payouts are so much better than standard parlays, teasers, and super teasers.

      I hope this helps but let me know if you have any other questions!

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