Sports Betting Markets Explained

The wide range of sports betting markets, including all the different types of sports bets available, on online betting sites can be overwhelming for new or inexperienced punters. If you happen to be one of these newbie bettors, then we are here to guide you through these different types of sportsbook wagers you can make. There are a lot of them! Although it’s fair to say that some of these wagers are more complex than others, all of them can be learned with a bit of patience. With that said, it’s still a pretty good idea if you stick with the simple sports bets if you are new to the world of sports betting. Once you get used to the basic betting markets on online sportsbooks, you can start trying more advanced bet markets and types for the chance to win bigger payouts.

1) Win Bets

Win bets are the simplest kinds of wagers you can make for a sports event. The win only market is a very popular sports betting market, as newbies and veteran punters both engage in win betting. All that you need to do is make a single selection of which club, team, or individual player to win the game. If your choice wins, then you win the wager. If your choice loses, then you lose your wager.

2) Over/Under Bets and Total Bets

Another very popular type of sportsbook market betting is the Over/Under bet. Over/under bets, or total bets, are wagers that don’t involve choosing the winner of a game. Instead, you choose whether or not the total number of points in the game will be higher or lower than the over-under odds set by the sportsbook.

For example, let’s say that there is an upcoming cricket match against England and Australia. England bats first, and the bookmaker sets an estimated run total for their first inning at 350. You could choose to wager that England will score more than 350 (over bet), or you can choose to wager that England will score less than 350 (under bet). There are many more cricket betting types available to you. 

3) Outright Bets

Outright Bets are wagers on the outcome of the entire competition, instead of an individual match. This betting market is pretty straightforward and doesn’t really need much explanation. An example would be betting on who will be the winner of the English Premier League, or the winner of the UEFA season. The latest football betting odds are, arguably, the most competitive of all online sportsbook market odds available.

If you want to place an outright bet, you simply have to go to your new online sports betting site and click on the outright market for the UEFA. Once you are on the page, you will be presented all the clubs’ names, and corresponding odds. All you have to do is click which club you think will be the champions, and then confirm your bet.

4) Proposition Bets and Specials

Proposition bets (also called specials) are types of sportsbook betting markets that are usually reserved for very serious punters. There are many different kinds of these special bets, most involve betting on different aspects of a game. Generally speaking, prop bets cover a wide range of wager that don’t have a specific definition. So a proposition bet can be a combination of anything related to the final outcome of the game, such as goals, final scores, top goalscorer and top keeper.

Proposition bets can definitely become crazy. Some prop bets even involve what colour trousers a golfer will wear on the course, or the demeanour of a football player on the field.

To see what combinations you can bet on, check out the proposition betting market of your chosen online bookmaker. You will often be shown a list of items that you can tick to create your personalised wager. For example, if you want to bet on a cricket match between England and India, here is what the list of items might look like:

  • Man of the Match
  • Top England Bowler
  • Top India Bowler
  • Top England Batsman
  • Most Run Outs
  • 1st Innings Lead
  • 1st Wicket Method
  • To Win the Match
  • To Win the Toss
  • Draw No Bet

From this list, you can see the different bet markets you can bet on for a single cricket match. Some of these items require knowledge of the sport and individual players (such as the Top Bowler and Top Batsman), while other items (like Win the Toss) really just require luck!

5) Parlays

In the world of sports markets, a parlay bet is basically a wager that combines two or more bets on the betting markets that are open for a particular match into one. You have to make a few selections, and all of these have to win in order for you to receive a payout. If one bet doesn’t win, then you lose the entire parlay.

A simple example of a parlay is choosing three football teams to win upcoming matches. This is basically putting three win only bets into one wager. You can also put together different over/under bets.

The minimum number of selections for a parlay is two. Depending on what online sportsbook you are using, you can go as high as 15 selections. Parlays need a bit more skill and knowledge than win bets or outright bets. The higher the number of selections, the harder it is to win. But if you do get it right, a parlay market bet could win you lots of money.

Calculating Potential Parlay Payouts

There are two ways of calculating your potential payout with a parlay. The first method involves multiplying the different types of sports odds of all the selections you chose. The result will be the odds for the entire parlay.

Let’s say that you have chosen four football teams to win – Liverpool (1.53), Arsenal (1.45), Leicester (1.67) and Manchester City (2.45). To calculate the overall odds for the parlay, all you have to do is multiply these four numbers together, which gives you a total of 9.077. Based on these odds, if you wager £50, you can expect to receive a total of £453.85 if you win (for a £403.85 profit).

The second method involves a structure that bookmakers use where the odds are fixed based on the number of selections you make. This method is typically used if you combined total bets or handicap bets for your parlay. The exact payout structure varies from one online sportsbook to another, but the fixed odds generally look like this:

Number of SelectionsPayout Odds (Fractional)Payout Odds (Decimal)

6) Handicap Betting

Handicap Betting (also called Straights Bets or Point Spread Bets in different parts of the globe) involves choosing a team or player which you think will win, but it also involves adjustments set by the sportsbook. This means that you have to make a choice between backing one team to win by at least the size of the spread, or backing the other team to win or lose by no more than the size of the spread. Now, this might sound confusing, but it’s much easier to understand with an example.

Below is a table that shows a hypothetical handicap betting market for an upcoming match between Arsenal and Aston Villa. The numbers with the +/- signs show the number of goals that will be added or deducted to the final score. The numbers inside the parenthesis are the odds.

ArsenalTieAston Villa
-3.0 (6/1)+3.0 (5/1)+3.0 (1/4)
-2.0 (13/5)+2.0 (10/3)+2.0 (4/6)
+1.0 (1/10)-1.0 (7/1)-1.0 (12/1)
+2.0 (1/50)-2.0 (18/1)-2.0 (22/1)

In this online football match betting example, the “size of the spread” is determined by the number of goals. So you can choose either Arsenal or Aston Villa to win, based on the number of goals given by the sportsbook.

So if you are confident that Arsenal is going to win by more than a few goals, then you could place a wager on Arsenal at -3.0. This means that three goals will be deducted from Arsenal’s final score, so you need Arsenal to win by four or more goals. The odds for this bet are (6/1). So if you wager £10, you will win £60. If Arsenal loses or wins by less than four goals, then your wager would lose. If the match ends in a draw, your wager will also lose.

If you like that Aston Villa is going to challenge the Gunners with a close game, then you can place a wager on Aston Villa at +2.0. This means that two goals will be added to Aston Villa’s final tally. Your wager will win if Aston Villa wins the match or loses by a single goal. If the match ends in a draw, your wager also wins. The odds for this bet is (4/6), so if you wager £10, you will win £6.67.

Another example of handicap betting in football is involves the final scores of the entire competition. Take a look at this example of an English Premier League handicap market.

Club – Adjustment – OddsClub – Adjustment – OddsClub – Adjustment – Odds
Crystal Palace +45 (12/1)Hull +40 (16/1)Newcastle +34 (16/1)
Manchester City +2 (16/1)QPR +44 (16/1)Swansea +38 (16/1)
Arsenal +7 (16/1)Aston Villa +42 (18/1)Sunderland +40 (16/1)
Tottenham +17 (16/1)Chelsea [Scratch] (16/1)Leicester +42 (16/1)
Stoke +34 (16/1)Manchester United +6 (16/1)Burnley +49 (16/1)
Southhampton +36 (16/1)Liverpool +10 (16/1)West Brom +42 (18/1)
West Ham +39 (16/1)Everton +21 (16/1)

Just like the other example, the numbers with the + signs are the number of points to be added to the final tally of scores at the end of the Premier League. The numbers inside the parenthesis are the odds. Let’s say that you choose Tottenham +17 (16/1). This means that if you add 17 points to the Spurs’ final tally and they jump to the top of the league, then you will win your wager.

Sometimes you will also see the word [Scratch] on the betting market. In our example above, this means that Chelsea will have no points added to their final tally.

7) Multiple Bets and Accumulators

Multiple bets and accumulators are types of wagers than involve making more than one selection in a single wager. The terms “multi bets” and “accumulators” are often used interchangeably in the sports betting world. These kinds of wagers are relatively easier than proposition bets, because they typically involve several win bets across different sporting events. So all you have to do is make selections on who you think will win several events, and wrap it up together in a neat multi bet package.

The advantage of making a multiple bet is that you can win a lot of money with relatively small stakes. This is because the odds multiply when you add more selections. The downside of multi bets is that they aren’t exactly easy to win. Think about it – winning a single win bet is sometimes hard enough, imagine having several of these individual bets having to win as a group. This is why new punters don’t usually venture into making multi bets. Those who risk making these types of bets are veteran punters – those who have advanced knowledge about the sport, the players, and the teams they are betting on.

8) Permutation Betting

Permutation betting is similar to multiple betting in the sense that it involves placing wagers on multiple selections. The main difference between the two, however, is that you don’t need all of your selections to win in permutation betting to win money.

As mentioned above, multiple bets only return a payout if each selection in your wager is correct. In permutation betting, your selections are distributed in various combinations, meaning you still can get a payout even if some of your selections are not correct.

To help explain further, imagine that you want to bet on four teams to win separate sporting events. Let’s say you want to bet on Barcelona, Benfica, Dynamo Kyiv, and Bayern Munich to win separate UEFA matches at the best sports betting website. Instead of requiring all four clubs to win, your permutation bet will be distributed into smaller bets – doubles and trebles.

In this example, your permutation bet will be divided into three categories that have different possibilities:

  • Doubles – Barcelona & Benfica, Benfica & Dynamo Kyiv, Dynamo Kyiv & Bayern Munich, Barcelona & Dynamo Kyiv, Benfica & Bayern Munich, Barcelona & Bayern Munich
  • Trebles – Barcelona + Benfica + Dynamo Kyiv, Benfica + Dynamo Kyiv + Bayern Munich, Barcelona + Benfica + Bayern Munich
  • Fourfold Bet – Barcelona, Benfica, Dynamo Kyiv, and Bayern Munich

Looking at the possibilities above, even if just two of your clubs win, you will still win some double bets. If only three of your clubs win, then you still win some double bets, and one treble bet. If all your clubs win, then you win all of the categories in your permutation bet.

There are different permutation betting options. Here is a breakdown of the various bet types and total number of wagers included:

Bet TypeSelectionsBreakdown of BetsNo. of Bets
Patent33 singles, 3 doubles, 1 treble7
Trixie33 doubles, 1 treble4
Lucky 1544 singles, 6 doubles, 4 trebles, 1 fourfold15
Yankee6 doubles, 4 trebles, 1 fourfold11
Lucky 3155 singles, 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 fourfolds, 1 fivefold31
Canadian/Super Yankee510 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 fourfolds, 1 fivefold26
Lucky 6366 singles, 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 fourfolds, 6 fivefolds, 1 sixfold63
Heinz615 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 fourfolds, 6 fivefolds, 1 sixfold57
Super Heinz721 doubles, 35 trebles, 35 fourfolds, 21 fivefolds, 7 sixfolds, 1 sevenfold120
Goliath828 doubles, 56 trebles, 70 fourfolds, 56 fivefolds, 28 sixfolds, 8 sevenfolds, 1 eightfold247

Armed with your new knowledge of the best markets in sports, you can now choose your online bookmaker and start wagering! If you want to know which of the betting sites offer the most generous betting bonus codes, then read our reliable online sportsbook reviews here on You can use the free money you receive to bet on more complicated wagers without any risk. Our reviews also include helpful information such as payment options, wagering requirements and ongoing promotions so that you get the most of your sports betting experience. You can also read our guide to non-UK based betting and casino sites here.