A straight bet is a wager on a single outcome. They are most commonly categorized by three types of wagers – spread, moneyline and total. All of the exotic plays build on these concepts.
For the purpose of explanation, we will be using an NFL Football game as our example:


The spread is the most popular vehicle in betting. It involves a handicap, which is meant to account for the forecasted difference in skill of either side. Another way to think of it is how many points one team is favored against another.  

For example, the Patriots are listed as three-point favorites. This means that they are expected to win the game by at least three points. In order to cover the spread, the Patriots will need to win by at least 4 points in order to win a spread bet. By contrast, the Eagles can lose by up to 2 points, or win the game outright, and still win a spread bet.


The moneyline bet is the most straightforward wager of all – you simply select who you think is going to win the game. Moneylines function using a “-“ symbol to indicate a favorite, and thus require you to wager that amount to win $100. By contrast, the “+” symbol represents your potential winnings if you were to bet $100. 

In the above example the Patriots are -150 favorites, which means that you have to wager $150 to win $100. The Eagles are +150, which means that you have to wager $100 to win $150. 

The moneyline can be perceived by many to be a more decisive bet depending on the odds. Some players want to take the guesswork out of winning by a certain amount, and prefer the certainty provided by a straight-up winner. 


The total (often referred to as an “over/under”) is a number established by the oddsmakers forecasting how many total points will be scored in a given matchup. The total in the above example is 48.5 points, and you bet on the OVER or UNDER. If the end score combines for less than the amount prescribed, it is the UNDER, and if it is more than what the oddsmakers have established then you’ve hit the OVER. 

Totals can be made available on full games, halves, quarters and also on either team.

There are total bets for various markets but the important part is that they all function the same way. It is merely a mark of UNDER or OVER to wager on. You will revisit this concept in futures markets.