Sports betting has never been bigger than it is today. But if this is your first time placing a bet, it can seem a bit daunting – so much to learn, so little time. Don’t panic: Everyone starts from zero. Just by being curious about how to bet on sports, you’re already ahead of the curve. Start by focusing on single-game wagers, using any or all of the three methods outlined below. You can expand your betting repertoire online after getting the basics down pat.


Point Spread

This is the most popular way to bet on sports, and it’s a big reason why football has become the biggest sport (and the biggest TV show) in North America. Remember Super Bowl 51? The New England Patriots were 3-point favorites against the Atlanta Falcons; for a bet on New England to win against the spread (ATS), they needed to beat Atlanta by more than three points, but a Falcons bet would have cashed in even if Atlanta had lost by one or two points. A 3-point loss by the Falcons would have created a push, and all the money wagered would have been returned. The Patriots won 34-28 in overtime, beating the spread.


When you make a moneyline wager, you bet on the outright winner of the event without taking the point spread into consideration. 

Baseball is still the second-most popular sport in North America, and the old-fashioned moneyline is still the classic method for betting on MLB games. In Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, the Chicago Cubs were –125 favorites to beat Cleveland, meaning you’d have to bet $125 to win $100 on the Cubs. Cleveland was +115 to win Game 7, so a $100 bet on the Tribe would have paid out $115. Chicago won the game 8-7 to claim their first World Series since 1908. Note: You don’t have to bet (or win) exactly $100. It’s just an easy way to think about the risk-to-reward ratio.


In addition to betting on who will win the game, you can bet on whether the combined final score will be over or under a certain amount. That amount is called the total. When the Cleveland Cavaliers played the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, the total was 206 points, and the game went under when the Cavaliers won 93-89 to complete their improbable comeback.

You’ll find totals, point spreads and money lines for all these games and more when you play at Bovada Sports; you can learn more by reading our FAQ, Glossary and Help sections, as well as our treasure trove of articles on sports betting. Welcome aboard.