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DunkOrThree > Betting Guide > Straight Betting Guide: How to Place Straight Bets in Sports Wagering

Straight Betting Guide: How to Place Straight Bets in Sports Wagering

Publish Date:20.02.2024
Fact checked by: Emily Carter

If you’re new to online sports betting, a straight bet is a logical place to start. Essentially, it is a blanket term that covers all single selection wagers, including moneylines, spreads, and totals.

Not familiar with some of the terminology that I’ve used above? Not to worry, as I’ve explained straight betting fully and comprehensively in my guide below. By the end of this article, you’ll have a full understanding of straight bets, including how to read the odds, and how to place them.

What are straight bets? An overview

A straight bet is simply a single wager on any match or sports event. The moneyline (win or loss) is the most common type of straight bet, but all single selection wagers fall under the “straight bet” umbrella.

This includes over/under markets and the points spread, as well as more niche bet types, such as handicaps, half-time full-time, and player props.

The most common alternative to a straight bet would be a parlay, which is multiple bets combined into one wager at longer odds. Once you’re done with this guide, you can also find parlay betting explained in full here at DunkorThree.com.

Straight betting explained – The pros and cons

Before I take you through all of the ins and outs of straight betting, here is a quick look at the main pros and cons:

Advantages
  • A straightforward single wager
  • Easy to understand for beginners
  • Covers many single selection bet types
  • Available on all US sportsbooks
Disadvantages
  • Odds can be too short/long for unbalanced games

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Different types of straight bets explained

As I’ve told you already, “straight bet” is an umbrella term that covers all single-game wagers. However, there are three that are more common than all others.

If you go to any sportsbook and select an NBA game, the basic betting line will look like this:

TeamsMoneylineOver/UnderSpread
Boston Celtics-375O 229.5(-8.5) -110
Brooklyn Nets+295U 229.5(+8.5) -110

This shows the three basic types of straight bets, which are:

  1. Moneyline
  2. Spread
  3. Over/under

Let’s take a closer look at each of these, shall we?

Moneyline straight betting explained

The moneyline is your bread-and-butter wager that shows you the odds and probability for each team to win. In the example above, you can see that the Celtics are -375 favorites and the Nets are +295 underdogs. For more detailed information, you can check out my moneyline betting explained guide, which also contains more examples.

What are straight bets on the spread?

The spread evens up the contest by handicapping the favorite and giving an advantage to the underdog. In the example of basketball spread betting I’ve used above, the Celtics have a -8.5 handicap as favorites while the Nets are +8.5 underdogs.

If you were to bet on the Celtics in this case, they would need to win by a margin of nine points or more. Meanwhile the Nets just need to stay within eight points of the Celtics to “beat the spread”, as we say.

Over/under betting explained

The third and final straight bet used in the example above is the over/under, sometimes referred to as a totals bet. With this type of wager, it doesn’t matter who wins or loses the game, as you are betting on the total number of points scored by both teams combined.

Using the example above, if you were to bet the (O 229.5) line, your bet would pay out if both teams scored a combined total of 230 points or more. For the (U 229.5) line, you would need 229 points or less. If that type of wager appeals to you, then you’ll want to check out my basketball predictions for under-over today as well.

What are straight bets odds? How to read them

Here in the US, all sportsbooks display their odds in American format, which you should find pretty easy to read and understand. There are two different types of numbers that you need to be aware of:

  • Minus odds: A team at minus odds will usually be the favorite, and the number shows how much you would need to bet to win a $100 profit. In the moneyline example above, the Celtics are -375 favorites, so you would make $27.00 profit if you wagered $100.
  • Plus odds: The underdog will usually be at plus odds, which shows you how much profit you stand to win with a $100 wager. Again, using the above example, the Nets are +275 underdogs, so a $100 wager would win you a $275 profit ($375 total payout).

Why are the odds for both outcomes on the spread and over/under the same?

The more keen-eyed among you will have noticed that the odds for both outcomes on the spread and over/under is -110. This is because these markets are even contests where every outcome has the same chance of winning.

In reality, this means that both outcomes should be -/+100. However, the sportsbook adds that extra -10 to protect their profits regardless of the outcome. This is known as the “vig”.

Straight betting explained: How to win

In theory, winning a straight bet is easy as you just have to pick a single outcome, and if it happens, you get a payout. Of course, in reality, there is more to it than that, as you have to take the odds, implied probability, and other factors into account.

If we look at the three examples above, you will often find the most value and largest potential payout by betting the underdog on the moneyline. However, this also comes with the most risk and lowest chance of winning.

What are straight bets best for – favorites or underdogs?

At +295 moneyline for the underdogs, $395 total returns for a $100 bet look pretty sweet, but the probability of them winning is only 25.32%. Therefore a moneyline underdog bet is only worth it if you have some good information that makes you think you can beat the bookies – which is rare.

Over/under and spreads are less risky, albeit less rewarding, straight bet options. As I explained before, the odds always start at -110 for these markets, and they rarely move beyond -105/+105. Average points and stats, plus NBA team records against the spread, can all give you a good indication and a better chance at calling the right outcome.

Straight betting explained – Conclusion

Well, there you have it – just about everything you need to know about straight bets and how they work. In summary, straight bets can be literally any single selection wager, from the three basic bets mentioned above to game and player props and beyond. If you’re looking to get started today, you can check out my reviews of the best online sportsbooks in your state right here at Dunkorthree.com.

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Straight betting explained FAQ

❓ What are straight bets?

Straight bets are single selection wagers that rely on just one outcome. The most popular straight bets are moneylines, over/under, and spreads, but props and handicap bets also fall into the straight bet category. 

🤔 What is the difference between a straight bet and a parlay?

A straight bet is a single bet on a single outcome – e.g. Boston Celtics to win at odds of -150. A parlay bet combines multiple bets into a single wager with increased risk, but also longer odds, as you need all outcomes to win for a parlay to pay out. 

🤷‍♀️ What happens if you tie on a straight bet?

If you place a straight moneyline bet on a sport like soccer, and the game ends in a tie, the bet is pushed. This means that you get your stake back, and neither win nor lose.

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