US Betting Types for Dummies

Jumping into the world of sports betting, I was completely in the dark about the lingo. Moneyball? Strip tease? What exactly is a spread? You’ve won a parlay?

Are you speaking Aussie slang?

And what’s with the negative and positive hundreds? How the heck do I know how much I get back for placing a buck?

Well guess what, I lost a lot of money to work out what all these silly terms mean, just so I can pretend to know what I’m talking about.

So I’m gonna explain all the betting types for dummies (like me).

After reading this page, you will be able to say:

I was gonna place a huge spread on a teaser, mixed in with sum overs and unders, but got a parlay instead at the betting window. And dammit, I lost on one of the legs… could have won big if not for the stupid moneyline!

Let’s get down into it! Like a pig rolling in mud.


Moneyline is the straight up who is gonna win between two teams bet. Is it us or them! You choose. Odds will vary between the favorite and the underdog I.e. you win more money if the underdog wins, conversely the favorite has a higher chance of winning but lower return.

The moneyline is the simplest of bets to understand.

If you can’t understand what a moneyline bet is, then read no further, DON’T place any bets, and wipe out from your mind any thoughts on sports betting.


  • How strong is the home advantage
  • Are there injuries on either team
  • Are players being rested or load managed
  • How consistent is each team
  • What part of the season is it, is it the start or heading towards the play offs

Points Spread

Points spread is a moneyline bet but a points head start is given to the underdog or a handicap to the favorite. Essentially this bet evens out the playing field between the two teams. So if you think your team is gonna smash the other team by a huge margin then bet with the points spread. You will be able to maximize your winnings. Conversely, if you believe your team can win if they had a head start (but can’t without it), then go with the point spread. Although the winnings are diminished, you at least win the bet.

The points spread is a bet in which you need to choose the winning team with an adjusted points differential.

If you don’t understand what a points spread bet is, stick to the moneyline bet. If you don’t understand either of them, then please stop reading, and stick to watching.


  • What are the past winning and losing margins
  • Do the teams drive hard to win and win by a lot, or do they cruise and aim for a small margin win
  • What is the team morale

Overs and Unders

Overs and Unders is also referred as Totals. It is betting on the total aggregate score of two teams competing against each other, whether it would be over or under a line set by the bookies. If you think the Totals will be over the line then choose Overs. If you think under the line, then choose Unders.

Overs and Unders is NOT a bet on choosing a winning team, but rather how the two teams perform in aggregate.


  • Is weather an influence on scoring and if so what is the forecast weather
  • Are the team’s offensive or defensive driven
  • Do the two teams have a history of high scoring or low scoring aggregates
  • Are key offensive or defensive players injured


No, it’s not just about a bet into the future. Because all bets are basically on something that hasn’t occurred yet. It’s a bet on many games that are needed to determine the outcome. Like who will be the Superbowl winner, who will win the NBA championship, who will win MVP and so on. Futures takes a few games to be played out to end up with an outcome.

With futures, the odds will usually move around as teams that were originally favorites bomb out and underdogs rise through claim surprise victories.

A futures bet requires several games to be played out for a result to eventuate.


The combination of several individual bets rolled up into one big bet. If you win all the individual bets it’s like winning the lottery. Just like picking the right numbers in lotto, if you pick the right outcomes in a parlay you will win big. But in a parlay you’ve got to have all of the individual bets picked right. You cannot have only four out of five, as an example.

A parlay is also called a multi-bet. Each individual bet is referred to as a leg. For you to win a parlay, all legs must get over the line (win).


All of the considerations for moneyline, points spread, overs and unders and anything else that can influence the legs.


It must have been accidental for whoever coined the phrase “teasers” and he must have been one popular social influencer for the term to take hold. Any bet could be a teaser, but no….teasers are parlays with reduced winnings to allow for a higher probability of winning.

Teasers are therefore teasing you to make a parlay that you think has a better chance of success. The sexy form of a parlay? 😉


If you thought propositions are as nerve racking as proposing to your loved one (or in my case ex), then fear not. Props (as the kewl people call’em) are bets that are not directly related to the winning outcome of the contest.

But they do rely on statistics of the game. Take for instance NFL QB passing attempts and passing yards. Or in a game of basketball, number of free throw attempts.

These statistics are irrelevant of whether the team wins or loses, but whether the player (in most cases) is under or over a threshold.

Props could be like:

  • Total rushing yards: Over 24.5, -135
  • Total pass attempts: Over 35.5, -112
  • Total passing yards first quarter: Over 74.5 – 112
  • Total passing yards in the 1st half Over 149.5 -112
  • Total passing yards in the 1st half Under 149.5 -112

American and decimal odds

Everything is awesome except for American odds. Whoever invented American odds must have went to maths tutoring one too many times, or was a chess champion. I will try my best to explain.

First up, you need to know that odds can be displayed as a positive or negative. This is very important, because the signage will dictate how to work out the % return. “Wtf” I hear you say.

That’s right me man… Odds with a negative usually means a return of less than 100% of your buck wagered, whilst a positive is more than 100% of your buck wagered.

I ain’t gonna explain further, and take the easy way out and show American odds converted to decimals in a friggin table.

Negative American OddsDecimal
Positive American OddsDecimal

Use the table to work out the decimal odds. Decimal odds are easy peazy to understand. The higher the number the bigger the return. The lower the number the lower the return. American odds, however, do my head in.


Gamble responsibly and don’t go hard with sports betting at first. Practice makes perfect, so go around throwing betting terminology to your friends first. Talk up your credentials, even though you may have no idea what your talking about. Then go away and bet the smallest of bets on a mega parlay.

Who knows, you might be the richest dummie ever!


What is a moneyline bet?

A moneyline bet is picking the winner of two teams. If you pick the correct winning team, you win the bet.

What is a points spread bet?

A points spread bet is the same as moneyline, except the favorite is given a handicap and the underdog is given a head start.

What is a +7.5 points spread?

The underdog team is given a head start of 7.5 points. Even if the team loses, but by less than 8 points, the bet wins.

What is a -7.5 points spread?

The favorite team is given a handicap of 7.5 points. The team must win by more than 8 points, for a winning bet.

Can you explain the odds of -300?

-300 odds means that if you wager $300, you will win $100 on top of the $300 wagered.

Can you explain the odds of +300?

+300 odds means that if you wager $100, you will win $300 on top of the $100 wagered.

What is a positive moneyline bet?

A positive moneyline bet refers to odds that are denoted for the underdog. It also displays how much the bettor would get back for betting $100.

What is a negative moneyline bet?

A negative moneyline bet refers to odds that are denoted for the favorite. It also displays how much the bettor would need to outlay to win $100.

Why do point spreads have half points?

Point spread margins usually are at half point intervals. Sportsbooks deliberately include a half point, so that there will be a winner or loser of the bet, rather than a tie (or push).