Types of Sports Bets Explained

When you visit legal Ontario online sportsbooks, you’ll find a wide selection of sports to consider. By extension, there are also a whole host of ways to bet on each of them. Sports bettors certainly aren’t lacking choices these days.

While that’s a good thing, it can also lead to some confusion for those new to the game. Even veteran gamblers can find themselves questioning the optimal approach. Relax—we’ve got you covered.

In our complete guide to bet types at legal Ontario sportsbooks, we’ll cover all the ins and outs. Consider this a quick cheat sheet, and we’ll even point you to where you can find more detailed info on all of the top types of sports bets.

How to bet the moneyline

The moneyline bet comes down to a simple choice: which side will win the game. For those new to sports betting, it’s a great starting point due to its simplicity. Experienced bettors also focus on this wager type while looking for value on the odds board.

For American odds, favourites are indicated with negative odds, while the numbers are positive for underdogs. When you view the moneyline odds in decimal form, the lower of the two values is for the favoured side.

 American OddsDecimal Odds
Montreal Canadiens+1252.25
Toronto Maple Leafs-1451.69

The moneyline is one of the three main pregame wagers for the team sports at sportsbooks, right alongside the spread and totals. If you win the bet, payouts are based on the odds at the time of bet placement. Read more about betting the moneyline here.

How to bet the spread

Point spread betting is most commonly associated with basketball and football, but you’ll find it’s also used elsewhere. The spread refers to a point differential set by oddsmakers that must be accounted for in your wagering decision.

You can select the favourite minus the points or take the underdog plus the spread. To win the bet, the side you choose has to cover. Favourites must win by an amount greater than the spread, while underdogs must keep it closer than the number or win outright.

Montreal Alouettes @ Toronto ArgonautsAmerican OddsDecimal Odds
Alouettes +3.5-1101.91
Argonauts -3.5-1101.91

Unlike for the moneyline, spread betting odds generally start in a fixed range of -110/1.91 and adjust from there in response to market action. Check out our detailed guide for more information on betting on the spread.

How to bet the over/under

The last of the three big pregame wagers revolves around totals. Also known as an over/under, this bet type is all about how many cumulative points will be scored in a game. Oddsmakers will set a benchmark number for bettors to decide on.

The wager has two components: the total itself and the actual odds for the two possible choices. As with the spread, totals odds tend to be in a tight range but can fluctuate in response to betting volume and other developments.

Portland Trail Blazers @ Toronto RaptorsAmerican OddsDecimal Odds
Over 214.5-1101.91
Under 214.5-1101.91

The set totals numbers will naturally vary by sport. The numbers will be in single digits for low-scoring sports like NHL and MLB, but much higher for the NFL or NBA. Additional details on how this wager works can be found on our how to bet over/unders page.

How to bet on parlays

Parlays are bets in which you tie together multiple outcomes on the same betting slip. If you’re right on all of your choices, you win. However, just a single wrong choice makes your bet is a loser. Parlays fall into the category of high-risk, high-reward as a result.

You can place parlays on a wide range of bet types and sports. A minimum of two outcomes is required, and operators will cap the limits on returns and the number of selections you can include on a single slip. Examples of parlays you can place include:

  • Three NHL moneyline picks
  • Four CFL spread bets
  • Five NBA totals

Parlays are very popular options with bettors due to the potential for excellent returns. That said, the chances of winning decrease with each choice you add to the slip. Additional information can be found on the ins and outs of parlay betting here.

How to bet on props

Props are additional wagering opportunities on games and events. They can generally be found by clicking through on the main contest listing at online sportsbooks. For the more popular sports, there can be dozens of different options available.

A prop can be based on the individual performance of a player or team or on the event as a whole. There are props with two choices to make as well as those with a range of selections to consider. Here are some examples of the types of prop bets you’ll come across.

  • How many total points for Auston Matthews—Over/Under 1.5?
  • Which side will have more rushing yards—Argonauts or Redblacks?
  • Will overtime be needed—Yes/No?

For player props, there’s a lot of correlation with fantasy sports. Bettors who have experience in that realm can use props as a natural transition point to sports betting. Our complete guide to betting on props has some additional insight.

How to bet on futures

Making predictions about how a season will play out is a popular discussion among fans. The futures market lets you get some skin in the game while prognosticating. Futures are long-term wagers that revolve around a season-long outcome or the result of a major event.

For futures on team sports, odds will come out in the offseason and remain active throughout the regular season. There are also futures for the winners of other top events that can come out a year before it actually takes place. Top futures markets include:

When you place a futures bet, it won’t be settled until the outcome is known, so keep that in mind. Futures are a great way to gain some additional rooting interest. They also serve as a solid way to research what may be to come in the sports you like. Read more on futures betting here.

How to bet the run line

The run line bet is the MLB’s version of a point spread. It works similarly in that the side you choose has to cover the run line for your bet to be a winner. The most significant difference is in the number that’s listed by oddsmakers.

For the spread, the number can range from a half-point all the way into the double digits. The main run line is always set at 1.5. Additionally, there can be more variance found on the odds board for this type of wager.

Oakland Athletics @ Toronto Blue JaysAmerican OddsDecimal Odds
Athletics +1.5-1301.77
Blue Jays -1.5+1102.10

Many sportsbooks will also offer alternative run lines, such as 2.5 with the odds adjusted accordingly. If you pick the side that covers the number, then your bet is a winner. For additional information, check out our detailed guide to run line betting.

How to bet the puck line

The puck line is used for NHL and other ice hockey game lines. It’s basically a spread but set at a specific number like the run line. The standard puck line is 1.5, but you’ll also find some additional options in the “more wagers” section, such as 2.0 goals.

Just like in any other spread bet, the side you select has to cover the line. If the Leafs are favoured by 1.5 goals, they have to win by two or more to cover. When the Sens are 1.5 dogs on the puck line, they cover by keeping the margin to a goal or by winning the game.

Ottawa Senators @ Toronto Maple LeafsAmerican OddsDecimal Odds
Senators +1.5-1251.80
Maple Leafs -1.5+1052.05

There’s also more variance to be found in puck line betting due to the fixed nature of the number. Unless expressly stated otherwise in the bet terms, bet settlement will include any overtime or shootout periods. You can read more about puck line betting here.

Which bet type is for you?

The legal sportsbooks in Ontario have a whole host of options for bettors to choose from, including all of the various ways to bet on the action. For those new to the game, it’s not uncommon to feel as if the sheer number of choices is downright overwhelming.

However, it’s important to remember that there’s absolutely no need to try and master everything right out of the gate. When starting out, pick out a bet type or two that you find intriguing and learn all that you can.

For example, you could decide that moneyline and props are great starting points for you. After you’ve made some headway, you can add some additional options into the mix, such as spreads or totals.

Before too long, you’ll have a really good sense of what works best for you and your betting strategy. Remember you can always improve as you move forward, but it’s not quite as simple to go backward and change how you started out.

What sports can you legally bet on in Ontario?  

If you have a specific sport you’re interested in, there’s a good chance that you’ll find it available at the top Ontario sportsbooks. Sportsbooks will generally provide markets for all legal competitions that attract at least a decent amount of interest.

The biggest attention-grabbers are the top North American team sports. Each attracts a good deal of betting volume, but some are naturally more popular than others. When it’s time for the postseason, interest in all of them tends to go through the roof.

Next up on the list are the major individual sports. All of them have a big following on a year-round basis, but they’ll draw the most betting attention when it’s time for the major events that attract even casual fans.

Last but not least, there’s a wide range of sports considered to be niche. These are competitions that may not attract as much attention on a national scale, but there are plenty of bettors who follow them closely.

  • Australian Rules Football
  • Badminton
  • Cricket
  • Cycling
  • Darts
  • Handball
  • International sports
  • Lacrosse
  • MMA
  • Motorsports
  • Pool
  • Rugby
  • Sailing
  • Snooker
  • Swimming
  • Table tennis
  • Volleyball

In short, there’s no shortage of options to consider.