Online Sports Betting FAQs and Basics

With sports betting popularity rising with each passing day, millions of newcomers – perhaps just like you – are looking to join the fun. Fortunately, you’re just in time – there’s never a bad time to learn about sports betting basics.

Everyone at one point in time had the same question you likely have — “How does sports betting work?

In this beginner’s guide to sports betting, we won’t only answer that question, but also cover sports betting terms, strategies, choosing sportsbooks, and more sports gambling basics. Simply choose a sports betting FAQ from the categories below to start learning:

Table of Contents

Sports Betting Terms & Concepts FAQ

Choosing Sportsbooks

Using Sportsbooks

Sports Betting Terms & Concepts FAQ

What’s a Moneyline?

The moneyline is the odds listed for the team to win outright. This doesn’t involve the spread, and the odds reflect the true superiority and inferiority of the teams (plus injuries and other game-specific factors).

Example: For a team with a -10 spread, it wouldn’t be unlikely to see them as -650 favorites. This isn’t an exact estimate for what -10 equates to for the moneyline, but it illustrates how lopsided the odds can be. Learn about Moneylines in greater detail here.

How Do Spreads Work?

The spread in sports betting is a point total assigned to the two teams to make the betting as balanced as possible.

As with any sporting event, some teams are simply better than others.

The spread was designed and created to account for this difference. For each spread bet, there are betting odds associated with them, typically around -110.

Example: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3 -110) vs. Los Angeles Rams. With this example, the Buccaneers are “given” three points, meaning they mustn’t lose by any more than 3 to “push,” or cover, the bet. When the game starts, you can pretend the Buccaneers are already winning 3-0, even when the scoreboard reads 0-0.

If the New York Rangers are favored and you bet on them to cover the spread at -1.5, this means the Rangers must win by 2 or more goals for your bet to prevail. Learn about Spread Betting in greater detail here.

In a head-to-head matchup, that generally means the underdog team will have nearly mirror-image odds (like +600).

How Do Odds Work in Sports Gambling?

When looking at odds, it makes sense to look at each type separately — plus and negative odds. Learn about Odds in greater detail here.

Plus Odds

The easiest way to think of plus odds is to consider the line as the amount of money you’ll win if you were to bet $100. Of course, not every bet you make is for $100, but this gives a general guideline.

Example: If the odds are +200, you’ll win $200 when you bet $100 (and you keep your original $100).

Odds Board

Negative Odds

Conversely, with negative odds, the best way to think of these is to identify the negative line as what you need to wager to win $100.

Example: With odds of -250, you’ll need to wager $250 to win $100 (and keep your original $250).

Example: If you have odds of -120 and wager $50, you’ll only win $41.67, as the implied probability of -120 odds is 54.55%.

How Do Parlays Work?

Parlays allow you to wager on multiple contests on a single ticket. You can win even more money than betting on these events separately. You win more money because, with a parlay, all events on the ticket must win for you to earn anything. It’s an all-or-nothing bet.

Example: You make a 3-leg parlay of the Buccaneers to cover a +3 spread(-110), the Baltimore Ravens at -120 on the moneyline, and the Washington Commanders with a +130 moneyline. All three of these events must result in a victory.

In the example above, the parlay odds would be +703, meaning a $100 bet would earn you $703 in new money. This is far different from separately betting on these events, which would only earn you $304.24 ($90.91 + $83.33 + $130).

What Is a Prop Bet?

Prop bets are bets on micro-events within the more significant event or result. The most common examples of these are game props or single-player props.

Example: Tom Brady’s Total Touchdown Passes at 2.5. Single-player props have odds of going over the prop line or under.

What Is a Futures Bet?

Futures are often overlooked but present plenty of potential value.

As the name indicates, you’ll be wagering about the outcome of a future event. Popular examples of this are the championship-winning team for each sport.

With these bets, there are vast fields of betting options, each having its own odds – sometimes very long ones.

Example: Buffalo Bills to win next season’s Super Bowl (+350)Example: Houston Texans to win next season’s Super Bowl (+25000)

Where the value comes from futures is that, more often than not, the odds are all plus lines, which give better payouts if you win.

The main drawback to futures bets is that you must wait for them to resolve, sometimes months in advance.

What if There’s a Push?

We mentioned a “push” earlier when looking at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3 spread example.

If you bet on that and the Buccaneers lost by precisely 3 points, they’d lose the game in real life, but in sports betting, the game would be tied.

In this situation, you didn’t win or lose; thus, it ends in a draw or a “push.”

You can also run into this with parlays. If you have a 3-leg parlay in which two legs win but the third results in a push, the entire parlay is considered a push.

So what happens when one leg of a parlay pushes or any bet pushes? You receive your original wager back.

Guide to Betting on Sports

Sports Betting Strategy

Is It Better to Bet Favorites or Underdogs?

It’s difficult to give a black-and-white answer here. Every sports betting wager has a different value aligned with that particular wager.

However, generally speaking, when betting on a favorite with odds of -500 or higher, the value is so low that the upside is limited.

What Sports Are the Best to Bet On?

The best sports to bet on are the ones you win the most money on!

In all seriousness, you’ll want to wager on sports you know most. Whenever you have extended knowledge about a sport, you’ll have a far more informed wager than throwing a dart at something random.

The Odds Keep Changing for an Upcoming Game. What Do I Do?

This is common. Until the game officially starts, the odds are subject to change. This happens because of news updates involving players in the game of the weather. It can also happen when the online sportsbook gets far more wagers on one bet than another, and it wants to balance bets out to ensure its own profitability.

In this situation, you’ll have to decide if you wish to bet on the new betting odds or move on.

Are Live Bets Worth It?

Absolutely! Live bets present a new opportunity to win more money. In fact, seeing the flow of a game and how the teams are operating is another variable you can consider when placing a bet.

The odds on live bets change rapidly, however, as they reflect what’s actively happening in the game — think fast! Learn about Live Betting in greater detail here.

NBA Raptors and Jazz Players Fighting for a Rebound

What Types of Futures Bets Do You Recommend?

Regarding futures bets, the best wager to make is on that upcoming season’s champion.

When you bet on the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, or Stanley Cup Finals before the season, each team has “plus odds” and presents a value that won’t be there closer to the end of the season. Why? Picking the Mets during the offseason to win the World Series is much riskier than picking the Mets to win it all when they’re already in the playoffs.

Additionally, betting on player prop futures, such as leaders in passing touchdowns, receiving yards, home runs, or even the MVP of the league, offers big value.

Another tip for futures betting is to be malleable and willing to bet on something more than once, even if it involves betting on something different from the original wager. Spreading out your money can also result in long-term profit.

Parlays: How Many Legs Should I Add?

Parlays can become exceptionally hard to hit the more legs you add. When you’re building the parlay, seeing the high potential payout on a $5 wager may seem nice, but actually winning is another story.

From personal experience, parlays with no more than 4-5 legs are the way to go. Only go higher if you feel extremely confident about something.

Choosing Sportsbooks


What’s the Best Online Sportsbook?

For us, ranking the best online sportsbooks represents a close race, but right now #1 is BetOnline. At BetOnline, you’ll have an excellent deposit-match welcome bonus and many ways to wager, and it’s one of the fastest sportsbooks to offer odds on moors betting online daily.

However, we understand our favorite or the one we rank as the best may not be for you. We encourage you to check out the rest of our list to see which one fits your priorities best!

Online sports betting was made legal after the Professional, and Amateur Sports Protection Act was overturned in May 2018. However, it’s up to the states individually whether to institute legal sports betting practices or not.

While some states don’t allow casinos to operate within their borders, residents of those states are 100% OK to play at BetOnline and other casinos operated out-of-state. With a sportsbook like BetOnline, you can play it in any state except Washington, which is exceptionally strict about online gambling.

Are Online Sportsbooks Safe?

Generally speaking, yes. As with anything, there are bad actors, but as long as you play at one of our recommended safe online sportsbooks or one that’s licensed and regulated in your state, you’ll be safe.

How Do Sportsbooks Determine Odds and Lines?

Betting odds and lines are determined by algorithms the online sportsbook uses. From here, the sportsbook can alter the odds in real time, using algorithms to adjust for betting action leading up to an event. Each betting site has a slightly different algorithm.

Inside a Casino Sportsbook

Do Different Betting Sites Have Different Odds?

Absolutely! Most sportsbooks will be fairly close to one another, but finding some slightly different lines or spreads won’t be uncommon. Line shopping can help you secure the best odds – and the best payday.

Using Sportsbooks

How Do I Deposit Funds?

You’ll first need to create a new account to deposit funds at an online sportsbook. Upon creating a new account, the general location of the link to the banking page is in the upper right-hand corner of the sportsbook.

Here, you’ll see an “Add Funds” button or something equivalent.

What Banking Methods Are Available?

At online sportsbooks, there are three common types of banking methods available.


At our top online sportsbooks, you can use several cryptocurrency options to fund your account, such as the following:

  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • DogeCoin
  • Shiba Inu
  • And More


An e-wallet is a third-party service that you can use to link your bank account or use your e-wallet account balance.

See if your casino’s banking options include the following.

  • PayPal
  • Neteller
  • Skrill

Traditional Methods

Suppose you’re not someone who uses e-wallets or cryptocurrency – no worries! There’s still another group of methods available.

  • Debit cards
  • Credit cards
  • Wire transfer
  • ACH transfer

How Long Do Withdrawals Take?

Withdrawal lengths vary from online sportsbook to online sportsbook, but you can expect to receive your winnings within 5-6 business days.

What If I’m Having Trouble Getting My Money From the Sportsbook?

If you make sports betting wagers at our top recommended online sportsbooks, we can almost 100% assure you that you won’t have an issue.

However, if you opt to play at an online sportsbook not on our recommended list, you can look at our blacklisted casino list.

Can I Use a Phone or Tablet to Bet?

Yes, you can wager at online sportsbooks with your phone or tablet so long as you have internet access to the mobile site or app.

Live Soccer Game on TV, Hand Holding Phone Placing Sports Bet

Is It Possible to Make Good Money Betting on Sports?

Of course! Your ability to make money all depends on your betting choices. However, it’s also essential to keep in mind that you can lose plenty of money if you don’t follow best practices.

Here’s a good way to think of sports betting — only wager what you are comfortable with potentially losing.

Is There Free Betting Available Online?

There are some interesting ways to get involved with sports betting for free. An example is FendOff Sports, a sweepstakes online sportsbook. Here, you can make wagers with virtual currency that you can get just from playing, or if you choose to, buy additional virtual currency with real money.

More on the Top US Online Sportsbooks

While we’ve thoroughly explored the surface-level concepts and strategy in this sports betting guide, we’ve got plenty of resources that focus more on individual aspects of using sportsbooks.

Be sure to check our sports betting hub page for more information.

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