Types of Football Bets
So, you’re ready to get started betting on football? Before we can confidently send you out the door to the sportsbooks, we want to make sure you have all the information you need to succeed. One of the most important things that you need to understand is the different types of bets at your disposal. Regardless of if you’re betting on the NFL or college football, you have a multitude of different types of bets to choose from.
Each of these bets offers something a little different. They pay out differently, require different strategies to beat, and the criteria to win is different. In the sections below, we’re going to walk you through each of the different types of bets, how they work, how they pay out, and what you need to know in order to best the book with them.
Tips for Properly Using the Different Types of Football Bets
Before we get into the different types of football bets available, we want to make sure that you’re approaching them properly. While having many options is great, it is also the downfall of a lot of new football sports bettors. To make sure that you’re getting the most value out of these different bet types, we’ve included a few quick tips that you should be aware of. These tips will ensure that you don’t make any costly mistakes that we, unfortunately, see far too often from novice football bettors.
Complexity Is Not Necessary to Win
The greatest misconception in all of sports betting (not just football betting) is that the more complex of bets you make, the better your chances of winning are. Here’s the spoiler if that’s what you think. All sports bets pay out the same based on their likelihood of occurrence. This means that even the simplest of bets afford you the same opportunity to make money as the more complex ones.
In fact, we would argue that the more complex football bet types actually diminish your chances of success because too many people don’t understand what they are betting, and it can be more challenging to assess the existence of value properly.
There is no need to utilize more complex bet types unless they’re necessary. There are so many professional sports bettors that make a killing with the simplest of football sports bets. Keep this in mind when you’re learning about the different options that are out there. You do not earn some sort of special professional odds for utilizing more complex bets.
It’s Okay to Only Use One Bet Type
As a carryover from the above tip, it’s completely okay if all you do is bet one type of football bet. Many professionals have become masters of one bet type, and that is all they bet. There is nothing wrong with this. Football betting is not like stocks and bonds; you do not have to have a diversified portfolio.
Football betting is all about being able to find, assess, and exploit value opportunities. If you’re only able to do this with one bet type, don’t force yourself to try and expand. When you find an opportunity, you go for it. Don’t let your friends or other bettors convince you that you need to expand your horizons or anything silly like that. Find what makes money and do that.
Predict the Entire Game and Then Decide on the Bet Type to Use
One of the best strategies for deciding which bet types to make is not deciding what types of bets to make. A lot of novice football bettors like to start by choosing a game and a type of bet they’d like to make, and then they begin their research. This is the complete opposite approach to what you should be taking.
Don’t force the type of bet. Start by making your predictions about how the game is going to go, and then see what bet types fit the predictions you came up with. For example, let’s say you decide you want to bet on the Ravens and Browns game. Instead of saying, “I want to make a moneyline bet on this game,” start by predicting how the game is going to go.
Let’s say you begin your research, and you predict that both offenses are going to be electric. You think the Ravens and the Browns are going to run up the score, but you’re not quite sure who is going to win. Well, as you’ll discover when we get into the types of bets, you have the perfect recipe for an overs bet on the total game score. You’re able to take advantage of your prediction without having to pick a game winner.
Had you taken the other approach with the bet type first, though, you might have forced a pick on the Ravens or the Browns and completely missed the higher value sitting with the overs bet. By working your way through the game first, the types of bets that fit will perfectly fall into place without much work at all from you. Additionally, you’ll find that this strategy will also help you to better spot value and not allow yourself to be influenced by initial lines that might be wrong.
Don’t Make a Bet You Don’t Understand
Another mistake that we see novice football bettors make (usually coupled with the complexity issue we addressed earlier) is that they end up making bets they don’t fully understand. If you don’t 100% understand every aspect of a bet, how it pays out, and what is required to win, you should not be making that bet.
You could have the perfect prediction on what is going to happen in a game but still lose your bet because you end up betting on something else by accident. It does not take long to learn the different types of bets. Do yourself a favor and make sure that you completely understand a bet before you dive in. This guide is a perfect place for you to get all of that information and more. We’ll teach you what you need to know to be equipped to handle the most popular football bet types available.
One of the most popular football wagers that you can make is a moneyline bet. While moneyline bets are the simplest form of football bet you can make, they still play a large role in a lot of successful football betting plans. Here’s how they work. Pick which team you think is going to win a game. Place a moneyline bet on that team. If that team wins the game, you win!
It really is that simple. If you’ve ever made a friendly wager with your friends on a football game, you were probably making a moneyline bet, and you didn’t even realize it. Moneyline bet is just a fancy way of saying you’re picking the game winner. It does not matter by how many points the team wins by, if it’s all touchdowns or field goals, or how pretty or ugly the W is. If the team gets the checkmark in the win column, and you placed a moneyline bet on them, you win.
The only part of a moneyline bet that can sometimes confuse people is how much you win for a correct selection. The sportsbook can’t pay out the same amount of money on both sides of a football game, or else people would only bet the favorites and never bet the underdogs.
To fix this, the sportsbook pays out more money to a correct underdog pick and less money to a correct favorites pick. The bigger the underdog, the more you will get in profit for a correct pick. The bigger the favorite, the less you will get in profit for a correct pick.
If you’re interested in finding out more about moneyline bets, the link below will take you to our moneyline football betting guide where we’ll go into way more detail about moneyline bets, how they pay out, and what you need to know in order to win.
Point Spread Bets
When you hear people talk about “the line” on a football game, they are usually referring to the point spread. A point spread bet in football is a wager where the sportsbook predicts how well they think each team is going to do in an upcoming game. They dictate this prediction by how many points they think a team is either going to win by or lose by. When you make a football point spread bet, you are wagering on which team is going to outperform the sportsbook’s prediction.
Here’s an example that will make this seem much clearer. Let’s say that the Ravens and the Browns are playing in an upcoming Monday Night Football game. Let’s say that the sportsbook thinks the Ravens are going to win, and therefore, the Browns are going to lose. The sportsbook takes their prediction a little further, though, and predicts that the Ravens are going to win by 5 or 6 points.
This now becomes what is known as the spread or the line. The sportsbook says they think the Ravens are going win by 5½ points and the Browns are going to lose by 5½ points. Remember, whatever number of points a team wins by will be the number of points the other team loses by. We will address why lines are often set as half points in a few moments.
So, officially this would look like this at the sportsbook:
- Ravens -5½
- Browns +5½
When you see the minus sign, it indicates that the team is the favorite. When you see the plus sign, it indicates that the team is the underdog. The number that follows indicates by how many points they are a favorite or an underdog.
So, what does this mean if you bet on the Ravens? Well, what the point spread does is effectively levels the playing field. If all goes according to plan, the Ravens will win by 5 or 6 points, and the Browns will lose by 5 or 6 points. If you remember, we are betting on which team outperforms their expectations. So, a bet on the Ravens at -5½ is a bet that the Ravens will win by MORE than 5½ points. Basically, it’s a bet that they will do better than the sportsbook’s prediction.
If the Ravens win the game by more than 5½ points, you will win your Raven’s point spread bet. If they lose the game or win the game by fewer than 5½ points, you will lose your Raven’s point spread bet.
On the other side of the game, a bet on the Browns is a bet that they will not lose the game by 5½ or more points. All the Browns have to do is outperform their expectations, which means they don’t have to win the game for you to win your bet. As long as they don’t lose by more than 5½ points, you’ll win your bet.
Let’s look at a few final scores to see which side of the point spread bet the winner would be.
- Ravens 10
- Browns 3
The Ravens won this game by 7 points, and the Browns lost by 7 points. This means the Ravens outperformed their expectations of only winning by 5½ points. The Browns underperformed their expectations of only losing by 5½ points. The winner of this bet would be the Ravens.
- Ravens 13
- Browns 16
The Browns won this game, which greatly exceeds their expectations. This is a win for the Browns point spread and a loss for Ravens bettors.
- Ravens 10
- Browns 7
In this game, the Ravens won, but they only won by 3 points. They were expected to win the game by 5½ points, which means they underperformed their expectations. The Browns were supposed to lose by 5½ points but only lost by 3 points, which was an outperformance of their expectations. This would be a win for Browns bettors even though the Browns lost the game.
Why the half points if there are no half points in the NFL or college football? The reason that you will often see half points with NFL and college football point spreads is because the sportsbook would like to avoid ties. If the point spread is 7 points, and the team that is supposed to win wins by 7 points, all the bets are a push. Everyone would get their money back, and the sportsbook wouldn’t be able to make any profit on that game. You will see whole number point spreads, but the sportsbook prefers to use half points when they can.
The payouts for point spread bets are usually the exact same regardless of which team you bet on. Typically, it is always going to be at (-110), which means for a $10 bet, you should expect to get back a little over $9 in profit for a correct selection. There are some situations where the payouts will vary, but for the most part, you should expect to see (-110) on both sides of the bet or very close to that.
If you’re interested in learning more about point spread bets, we’ve got you covered. The link below will take you to our dedicated football point spreads betting page where we will further dissect the point spread bet, talk more in-depth about the occasional varying payout, as well as some additional information you’ll want and need to be a successful point spread bettor.
Spread Bets Strategy
Totals bets in football are quite popular and are a great way for you to bet on the flow of the game without having to choose a game winner. Totals bets, sometimes known as over/unders, are wagers where you bet on the cumulative total of points or of an occurrence during a football game. The most popular totals bet that you’ll see is based on the game score. The less-popular options you will see are bets on the total number of a particular statistic for a team or an individual player.
Let’s look at a few examples. As we said, the most popular totals bet you can make on a football game is the score total. The sportsbook will predict how many total points they think will be scored by both teams combined. You will then have the option of betting on whether there will be more or fewer points scored. If you’re correct, you win!
Now, it does not matter which of the two teams scores the points. It only matters the cumulative total from both teams. If one team scores all the points and it’s more than the totals number, the over bet wins. If both teams score the points evenly and it’s over the totals number, the over bet will still win.
Additionally, you can bet on a lot of other totals bets in football. Typically, these will be either team statistics or individual player statistics. Here are a couple of examples:
Rob Gronkowski Over/Under 4½ Receptions
If Gronk has more than 4½ catches in the whole game, the over will win. If he has fewer, the under will win.
Chicago Bears Over/Under 2½ Sacks
If the Bears as an entire team have more than 2½ sacks in the game, the over will win. If they have fewer than 2½, the under will win.
Remember, some of the totals (over/under) bets that you can make will be dependent on an individual player, while some will be dependent on an entire team’s stats, and some will be dependent on both teams’ combined stats. Make sure you understand what you are betting before you do.
Again, you will most likely see a lot of half point and half number values here because of the fact that the sportsbook is not going to want to see any ties if at all possible.
If you’d like to learn more about totals bets, we’ve got just what you need. The link below will take you to our dedicated totals bets page where we’ll break the bet down in greater detail, go over some of the nuances you’ll want to know, and begin discussing how you can crush the book on football totals.
A futures bet in football, as you might expect, is a bet about something that is going to happen in the future. Now, for those of you smart-alecks out there who are saying that every sports bet is a bet on something that is going to happen in the future, yes, you are correct. What we mean, though, are bets that are not going to be determined by one game. These are bets that are going to take the entire season or a group of games in order to decide.
In the NFL, this is most commonly a bet on which teams will make the playoffs, which teams will win the AFC and NFC Championships, and which team will win the Super Bowl. In college football, the most common futures bets are which teams will make the playoffs, who will win individual conferences, and who will be the end-of-season champion. Typically, these bets are made at the beginning of the season, but a lot of sportsbooks will give you the ability to continue making them as the season goes on.
In those instances, the odds will adjust based on the likelihood of a team achieving that goal or not. For example, if the Browns are extremely unlikely to win the Super Bowl, you might be able to bet on them to do so at +3500, meaning you would get $350 in profit on a $10 bet if they won. But let’s say the Browns come out and start the season extremely hot and win their first four games and look incredible. You can still bet on a Brown’s futures bet to win the Super Bowl, but you aren’t going to get odds of +3500. You might get odds of something like +1200 where you would get $120 in profit on a $10 bet if they were to go on and be crowned champs.
Futures bets are a great way to make money betting on football. You must keep in mind, though, that even if you do win, you’re not going to see your money until the end of the season. So, if you’re planning on betting futures with a significant portion of your bankroll, you may want to reconsider unless you’re okay with that. That money will be locked up for the entire season.
If you’d like to explore football futures bets further, the link below will take you to our dedicated betting page where we break things down further. We’ll spell out the important details you need to know in order to get started with futures bets and start winning.
Football prop bets, sometimes referred to more formally as proposition bets, are wagers on whether or not something, in particular, will happen during a game. Will there be a safety in the game? Will there be an interception? Will a particular team score on the first possession? Will the coin toss be heads or tails?
These are all examples of prop bets you might see on an NFL or college football game. Depending on where you choose to bet, you may have a lot of options for prop bets, or you may not have any. Also, the higher the profile of the game, the more likely you are to see more prop bets. For example, any bowl game, a playoff game, the BCS Championship, or the Super Bowl are all going to have a lot more prop betting options than a regular-season game.
Prop bets can be literally anything the sportsbook decides to come up with. Some of the football prop bets you see will require skill and can be part of a winning strategy. For example, betting if there will be an interception in the game or if there will be a safety does require some expertise, and you can find value here.
On the other hand, there are a lot of prop bets that are straight gambling. The best example is betting on the coin toss. No matter what your level of predicting skill is, you won’t be able to get an edge on how the coin is going to fall. For this reason, be careful when betting football props. Make sure that if profit is important to you that you avoid the “fun” prop bets that require no skill.
If you’re interested in learning more about prop bets, check out the dedicated guide we have linked below. We’ll walk you through every aspect of beating football prop bets that you need to know.
Prop Bets Strategy
A parlay in football is a popular bet type that you might be interested in including in your winning strategy. Simply put, a parlay is just a collection of individual bets all rolled into one. In order to win your parlay bet, you have to win each individual bet on your ticket. If you lose one of the individual bets, you lose the entire bet.
First, parlay bets can be any number of individual bets. Even just two bets combined together counts as a parlay. Obviously, the more bets that you combine, the more challenging it will be to win your bet. The more bets that you have on your parlay, the higher your payout will be! Additionally, if you take underdog bets on your parlay, you will be paid out better for those as well.
Parlays are nice because you can bet a small amount of money and potentially see a very healthy return. Obviously, it is tough to hit a parlay, but it certainly can be done. One thing you will want to pay attention to is what happens with your parlay if one of your bets is a tie. For example, if one of the bets on your parlay is the Ravens (-7), and they end up winning by 7, what happens?
For most parlays, a tie just takes that bet off of your parlay. If you had a three-team parlay (three bets), it would now be a two-team parlay and would pay out as such if you won the other two bets. Sometimes you can get paid out slightly worse odds on your parlay, but ties will count as wins. In other situations, you can get paid out better on your parlay, but ties will count as losses. Just make sure that when you make a parlay bet you pay attention to how the betting site or sportsbook counts them.
Football teasers are a slightly more complex type of wager that you may or may not be interested in getting involved with. A teaser is much like a parlay except that all of the betting lines are shifted in your favor by either 6, 6½, or 7 points. As you might expect, you are not going to be paid out as well as you would with a normal parlay, but it is going to be easier for you to win your bet.
For example, let’s say that you want to do a 3-team 7-point teaser on the NFL. The 3 games that you select are the following:
- Browns +3
- Cowboys -4½
- Bears +2½
Now, if you did a normal parlay, those would be the spreads that you would have to win by to win your bets. But since this is a 7-point teaser, all of the lines are shifted 7 points in your favor. The lines you would have to beat for the game are now the following:
- Browns +10
- Cowboys +2½
- Bears +9½
Basically, you add 7 points in your favor to each line, and that is what you need each team to win by in order to win your teaser bet.
As we stated with parlays, you will want to pay a lot of attention to how ties are treated. Most sportsbooks online will give you the option of deciding how you want them treated. If you take them as losses, your payout odds will go up. If you treat them as pushes, it will just bump your teaser down by one team. If you treat them as wins, your overall payout odds will go down.
Good news! If you understand football teasers, you are going to have no problems understanding pleasers in about 10 seconds. A pleaser is basically the exact same as a teaser bet, except that instead of the points moving in your favor, they move against you. As is the case with teasers, you can have a 6, 6½, or 7-point pleaser with as many teams as you’d like (the minimum is two).
So, let’s say you want to do a 6-point teaser on the same 3 games we looked at in the example above. Here are the initial lines put out by the sportsbook again.
- Browns +3
- Cowboys -4½
- Bears +2½
Since this is a 6-point pleaser, we need to adjust each line by 6 points NOT in our favor. So, the new lines are as follows:
- Browns -3
- Cowboys -10½
- Bears -3½
These are now the lines that we need to cover in order to win our pleaser bet. You might be asking yourself, why on Earth you would ever want to do this? Well, if you see several games that you think the line is way off on, you can get a big payday.
Pleaser bets pay out way better than teasers and even normal parlays. A 7-point pleaser for 2 teams where ties count as pushes will pay somewhere around +730. That means a $10 bet will get you $73 in profit if you win both games by the adjusted point spreads.
Remember, as was the case with the parlays and the teasers, make sure you take the time to see how ties are calculated. Most online sportsbooks are going to give you the option of how you want them treated.
By now, you should have a strong understanding of the most popular types of football bets that you’ll run into. Remember, you don’t have to use all of these bet types, and you can be wildly profitable with just one. The idea with the different options is to give you versatility and flexibility when it comes to cashing in on your predictions.
If you’re looking for a next step, head on over to our advanced football betting strategy section to start learning how to maximize your picks with these different types of bets.