Guide to Sports Bets in 2024

Before taking the plunge into the world of sports betting, it's important that you're familiar with all aspects of betting. With this in mind, our expert team have devised a comprehensive guide that will allow you to familiarize yourself with all the different types of bets you can make, as well as an explanation of how to read various odds formats.

On this page you will:

  • Find out what kinds of bets you can make.
  • Learn how to read odds in different formats.
  • Cement your understanding with easy examples.

Bet Types Explained

Futures: A future bet is one placed on an outcome where the result will not be known until the (relatively) distant future. An example of a futures bet would be to place a bet on an NFL team to win the Superbowl before the start of the season.

Novelty Bets: Novelty bets are usually one-off bets which refer to the non-sporting world. This could be the result of an election, the winner of a reality TV show, or any other event which might be of interest to the public. Most major sports betting sites will offer a Novelty Bet section within their portfolio of sporting bets.

Over/Under Bets: Rather than simply betting on the outcome of a sporting event, it is also possible to make bets based on the number of points scored. Over/Under bets allow bettors to place bets based on whether teams will score more or less than a number selected by the sports betting company.

Parlay: A parlay bet is often referred to as a combo or accumulator bet, and is one of the most popular bet types available for sports betting in Canada. This type of bet links two or more independent bets together to form one bet at longer odds. In order to win a parlay bet, the bettor must correctly predict the result of every one of their bets. Often the maximum number of bets in a parlay is capped at 11 or 12, but this varies from sportsbook to sportsbook. The advantage of placing parlay bets? The return is much higher! Naturally, the risk is also increased as just one negative result will ruin the entire bet.

Place: If you want to bet that your team or competitor will simply 'place' in an event you can make an each-way bet. This is common in horseracing and pays out a fraction of the full odds if your chosen competitor doesn't win, but instead 'places' in the top 2, 3, 4, etc. (dependent on the sportsbook). For example, many horse races will pay a quarter of the odds if a horse finishes in 2nd, 3rd or 4th position.

Point Spread: The point spread (sometimes known as the 'handicap') is the forecast of how many points a favoured team is expected to beat a lesser team by. This allows sports betting sites to offer enhanced odds for an underdog team to win a particular contest.

Proposition bets: Proposition bets, also known as prop bets, are side bets which do not relate to the outcome of the event in question. An example of a prop bet may be to place a bet on the next team to receive a yellow card during a soccer match. Prop bets are increasingly popular due to the availability of live in-play bets via smartphones.

Straight bet: A straight bet is the simplest form of bet you can make. This bet will pay out only if you correctly predict the outcome of the event. For example a straight bet on a horse to win a specific race will only be paid out if this occurs.

Betting Odds Explained

Decimal Odds: As the name suggests, these are odds which use decimal points. They're simple to read - essentially a higher value means that the outcome is less likely to happen, but the reward will be greater. To work out exactly how much your bet could be worth, you simply multiply the odds by your stake.

For example, if you placed a $20 bet on Manchester United beating Manchester City, and you received odds of 2.5, you could potentially win $50. This is the exact amount you'd win, including the return of your stake. Decimal Odds usually begin at 1.01 as a minimum, meaning that $1 is paid in winnings per $100 bet.

Fractional Odds: This was the traditional format in which odds were displayed, and is still popular in the UK and Ireland. The probability of an outcome occurring is displayed in fractions - the first number being the amount you could win, and the second number being the amount you'd need to stake in order to win that. So odds of 3/1 would return $3 for a successful $1 bet, plus you'd also get your original stake back.

Moneyline Odds: This odds display shows a positive or negative number to represent the possibility of an outcome taking place. If the odds have a plus in front of them, it's showing you how much you'd win for every $100 wagered, while a minus sign shows you how much you'd need to bet in order to win $100. For example, a -500 moneyline means that you would win $100 if you successfully bet $500.