Sports Betting Basics

For first-timers, sports betting can be an overwhelming experience. Lots of numbers, odds, point spreads, and numerous betting options. How do you know if you are making the best possible bet? Below, get the sports betting basics you need to start off right.

The Different Types of Bets

One of the first things to learn about sports betting basics is the different types of bets a person can place. Some of the most common types are listed below.

Type Number of outcomes Total bets placed Different types of bets
Simple bet 1 1 1
Double bet 2 1 1 combined bet
Forecast 2+ 1 one single wager predicting the race outcome
Treble bet 3 1 1 combined bet
Trixie bet 3 4 3 doubles and a treble
Patent 3 7 3 singles, 3 doubles, and a treble
Accumulator 4 1 1 combined bet
Fourfold 4 1 1 combined bet
Yankee bet 4 11 6 doubles, 4 trebles, fourfold accumulator
Lucky 15 4 15 4 singles, 6 doubles, 4 trebles, and a four-fold accumulator
Canadian 5 26 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 four-fold’s and a five-fold accumulator
Lucky 31 5 31 5 singles, 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 four-folds, and a five-fold accumulator
Heinz 6 57 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 four-folds, 6 five-folds, and 1 six-fold accumulator

Simple, Double, & Treble Bets

Naturally, these bets are the core of sports betting basics. A simple bet is a straight forward normal bet where one team is favored over the other to win. This is illustrated with the use of minus and plus signs. Favorites are indicated by a minus sign (-) and the underdog by a plus sign (+) followed by the spread/bet amount.

Sports Betting Basics

Sometimes, there is no spread on a game if bookmakers have deemed the chances to be even.

A double bet, on the other hand, is when players bet on two winners from two different events. Both bets need to win for the bettor to gain a return. Likewise, a treble bet is a bet on three selections. This means you need to win three events to gain a return.

Yankee Bets

A Yankee bet is a bit more complicated than normal straight forward bets. Yankees are full cover bets consisting of multiple bets. With a Yankee bet, there are actually 11 bets on 4 different sections. The bet consists of 6 doubles, 4 trebles, and a fourfold accumulator.

The Yankee is rumored to be named after an American soldier that placed a small bet in the UK. Due to the multiple roll-over mechanics at work, the soldier is said to have won hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Heinz Bets

A Heinz is even more complicated. It consists of 57 bets: 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 four-folds, 6 five-folds, and 1 six-fold accumulator.

Heinz Bet

The bet is named after Heinz Ketchup’s 57 varieties. Each selection picked on these two different types of bets have the same effect on returns.

Trixie Bets

Likewise, a Trixie bet belongs to the same betting category as Yankees and Heinz bets. At this point, we’re starting to move a bit past sports betting basics.

The Trixie bet is made up of 3 doubles and a treble. Here, the main advantage is that even if one selection fails to win, you can still make a return. This is because any two winning choices are enough to generate a return with Trixie bets.


A wager on three selections consisting of 7 separate bets: 3 singles, 3 doubles, and a treble. It is equivalent to a Trixie plus 3 singles.

However, one winning selection gains a return with a patent bet.

Lucky 15

lucky 15

A lucky bet is one of the largest selection bets. It consists of 15 bets: 4 singles, 6 doubles, 4 trebles, and a four-fold accumulator.

It is called lucky because it is often the target of bookmaker bonuses and the 15 comes from the number of bets. Each of the 4 selections has the same effect on returns.


This type of bet combines four or more selections into a single wager that gains a return only when all parts win.

The advantage of an accumulator is that winnings are much higher because of the increased risk.

Lucky 31

Similar to the Lucky 15 this bet consists of 31 bets of 5 singles, 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 four-folds, and a five-fold accumulator.

All winners, one loser and one winner are the scenarios which most bookmakers apply a bonus to which is why it is called “lucky.”


This is a wager on 5 selections consisting of 26 bets: 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 fourfolds, and a five-fold accumulator.

The Canadian, also known as a Super Yankee, is a bet where all bets have equal weight in determining the return from the wager.


A fourfold is sometimes known as a fourfold accumulator. This consists of one combined bet on four selections in different events. All four selections must be successful to have a return.


Forecasts are a type of wager that requires bettors to place bets on a single event in the correct finishing order of the event. This normally applies to horse and greyhound racing.

For example, if you bet on a horse race, you predict the forecast for the race, X horse will come first, Y horse will come second, Z horse will come third. Only after all 3 horses place in the same order you predicted will you gain a return.

Pool Betting

Conversely, pool betting is a different method of betting whereby the amount won is based on the number of people who take part in the bet.

Also known as office betting or sports lottery, it consists of every person paying a fixed price into a pool (pot) and then making a selection on the outcome on a certain sporting event.

The pool is then evenly divided among the participants who choose the correct winner. While this is mostly an informal type of betting, most online operators do offer odds for pool betting.

A good example is an office team betting on March Madness. Each person puts it, say, $10. Whoever correctly predicts the outcomes of the most games wins. In our office, we also had the 2nd place winner get their stake returned.

Understanding Sports Betting Odds

Surprisingly, it’s fairly simple to understand betting odds, even if it seems complicated at first.

American sportsbooks use a unique form of betting odds named Moneyline or American odds. In contrast, in Europe, they use decimal odds (1.60) and in Great Britain and Ireland, fractional odds (4/5). Check out our odds converter or Betting Odds calculator.

What Are Moneyline Odds?

American or Moneyline odds are based upon a $100 stake. These odds illustrate the outcome by using a plus or a minus sign, for example, +100 or -120.

These pluses and minuses also indicate which team is the favorite to win and which team is the underdog. The favorites to win have minus signs and the underdogs have pluses. This way bettors have to wager more money if they want to win a return by betting on the favorites.

For example, if the Pats are playing the Rams like in Super Bowl LIII, New England could have -150 odds. This means you need to bet $150 to win $100 (on top of your returned stake). If the Rams are at +170, you only need to bet $100 to win $170 plus your stake, if they win.

Rewarding Higher Risk

As mentioned before, if you bet on the favorites you have to wager more money. This is because betting odds favor and higher risk.

Therefore, the odds for the underdogs might look very profitable. However, there is a high risk you will not win a return and, therefore, lose your bet.

On the other hand, the odds for the favorites might be very small and not bring in a high return. Of course, you have a better chance of winning, even if it’s small potatoes.

How to Calculate Your Expected Return

Calculating your winnings is easier then it sounds. Furthermore, by calculating your winnings before you place your bet you can find a value bet. To calculate your winnings you do not need a mathematical equation, you just need to remember the following.

Positive odds: The odds indicate the net gain we can achieve if we bet 100 units (e.g. dollars).

For example, imagine that the odds are +150. If you bet $100 and win the bet, the amount that you would get would be $150.

Negative odds: If the odds are negative this indicates the amount a bettor must risk to make $100.

So, if the odds are -200, you earn $100 for every $200 wagered.

Want to learn more about betting odds? Read our article on Moneyline betting!

Betting on Specific Sports

Along with the different types of wagers available to bettors, there are also differences between betting on different sports. Every sportsbook has its own set of rules, although there are general rules that all sportsbooks must follow.


Naturally, winners and losers are based on the final score, provided the game has gone at least 55 minutes. If a game is suspended after 55 minutes and not resumed the same day, then regardless of whether the game is completed at a later date, the score when the game is halted will determine the betting results.


For baseball, only the statistics provided by the official score provider or the official league website are used to settle wagers.

Horse & Greyhound Racing

One of the betting differences between horse racing and greyhounds compared to other sports are the specific bets only associated with racing. As mention above, a forecast bet generally only applies to racing. With these, you must select the horses or dogs to win up to the first three positions.

Reverse and combination forecast bets also only apply to these sports.

Cycling & Swimming

For all sporting events similar to swimming and cycling, bets are based on the result published immediately after the race. No results overturned later via protests, doping tests, or other means are taken into account.



One of the main differences between betting on soccer and other sports is that if a match does not start as scheduled, and does not start the same day (local time of the match site), then wagers on the match will have no action and be refunded.


In rugby, like the majority of other sports, the winners and losers are determined by the final score.

However, in the event of a tie, moneyline wagers on either team are only rewarded half of the quoted price.

Tennis & Badminton

In the event of a match starting but not completed, all bets on the outcome are void.

Sports Betting Basics: The More You Know

Ultimately, this quick overview gets you started with the sports betting basics you need to try your first bet. However, there is much more to learn to become a true betting pro. In the meantime, test out your new knowledge by betting with a reputable online sportsbook. The best sportsbooks offer great welcome deals, like a bonus-back bet or signup bonus.

The PointsBet Second Chance Bet, for example, gets you a welcome bonus ” Get up to $500 in Bonus Bets + $125 in Bonus Bets to use during Power Hour!” And if you sign up using the Betrivers Affiliate Code, you can start off with a deposit match of up to $250. This way, you can try betting without making a big investment.

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