How Does Sports Betting Work?

Sports have been a part of our world for thousands of years. The first sport that used a ball is thought to be the Mayan Ballgame of Pitz, which dates back to 2500 BCE. Since then, a lot has changed, and the sporting landscape has evolved into hundreds of different games with varying objectives and rules. It doesn’t matter what country you go to; you’re going to find a passionate local fanbase of whatever the sport of choice is in that particular part of the world.

And while playing and watching sports is enjoyable for a lot of people, there’s something that can make the action a little more exciting – sports betting. Putting a little money on your favorite team while you watch the game can take the excitement to a new level. But for some, betting on sports is a bit of a foreign concept. So, we’re here to help you understand just how does sports betting work? Keep reading for a primer on the industry.

How Does Sports Betting Work: A Guide

In a nutshell, sports betting is when two or more parties place a wager on something that will or will not happen. In general, a customer will bet against “the House” which for this purpose would be the sports betting company. There are usually odds, or a handicap involved, which will get into soon. In terms of sports, the bet will usually be on a particular team or in some cases, you can bet on the performance of a player.

What Kind of Sports Can You Bet On?

The sports betting world has grown immensely over the years. Depending on which online site you visit, you can bet on anything from Major League Baseball to Tier 3 Kazakhstan ping pong. There really are no limits. If a sport is being played, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to bet on it.

How Do the Odds Work?

After much analysis and consideration, the House will come up with odds that they will offer to the customer. There are three main types of odds in sports betting: fractional, which is the British version, decimal, the European way, and plus/minus, which is the American way.

Example of fractional odds: You might come across a team that you want to bet on with the odds 3/1. In this situation, you would win three dollars for every one dollar that you wager.

Example of decimal odds: The typical odds for a team with decimal odds might be 1.8. This means that if you bet one dollar, you would win eighty cents, plus your wager back.

Example of plus/minus: With American odds, you might see +200. Here, if you bet one dollar you would win your wager back, plus an additional two dollars. If the odds were -200, you would have to bet two dollars to make one dollar (plus your wager back).

What Types of Bets Are There?

There are countless bets available at most sportsbooks. Here we’ll look at some of the most common.


A moneyline bet is when you simply pick a winner on the outcome of the game. This usually includes extra time, unless otherwise specified. You will be provided odds (either fractional, decimal, or plus/minus) and will choose the team that you think will win.

Point Spread

A point spread bet is when the House has determined a handicap on the game. For instance, a really good basketball team that is playing a terrible team might be favored by -14.5 points. This is a way of evening the playing field for sports bettors.

You will now have to determine whether or not you think the favorite will “cover the spread.” This means that if you bet on them, they will have to win by 15 points for your bet to be successful. However, if you bet on the underdog, they can lose by 14 points, and you will still win your bet.


A “total” bet is when you wager on whether or not the total score of a game will be over or under a number that is determined by the house. For example, the odds might be 9.5 for a baseball game.

If you bet over, the two teams will have to combine for at least ten runs for you to win your bet. If you bet under, the teams will have to be held to nine or fewer combined runs for you to win.

Futures Bet

A futures bet is when you wager on something that takes place down the line, such as who will win the World Series. These odds are usually available all year long and will change accordingly. You can also place futures on things like who will win Rookie of the Year or MVP.

Prop Bet

A lot of sites offer proposition or prop bets. This is kind of like a game within a game. You will usually be able to place wagers on how a particular team or individual player will perform during a game. For instance, you might be able to bet on whether or not a basketball player will score more or fewer than 25.5 points in a game.

Live or in Play Bet

In play betting, or live betting is when the sportsbook allows you to place bets while the game is underway. The odds will be changing frequently along with the score of the game. This can be a fun way to ride the momentum of certain teams.

Get In on the Action Today

Hopefully, you will now never have to wonder how does sports betting work again. Whether you’re a seasoned sports fan or just a rookie, putting a little something on a game can open up a whole new world of fun and excitement. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out the rest of our posts on everything from business to food to travel and more.