Explaining common betting markets

Sportsbooks offer a wide variety of betting markets across different sports. As a beginner, the sheer range of wager types and terms for each can seem confusing initially. In this guide, I will explain the most common betting markets simply using examples and scenarios so you can understand the core concepts clearly.

1X2 Betting

One of the most straightforward wager types is 1X2 betting, which is common in football and other sports. Here, “1” refers to the home or favorite team, “X” is a draw or tie, and “2” is the away or underdog team. Your aim is to correctly predict the outright match result.

For example, a Premier League game between Liverpool (1) and West Ham (2) has the following 1X2 odds:

  • Liverpool (1) – 1.60 Draw (X) – 4.00
  • West Ham (2) – 5.50

If you bet $100 on Liverpool to win, you would receive $160 back total if they win (including your $100 initial bet). Bet $100 on a draw to get $400 back, or bet $100 on West Ham to get $550 back if they produce an upset victory.

Over/Under Betting

Also known as totals betting, here you bet whether the combined total of points, goals, runs etc scored by both teams will go over or under a benchmark set by the sportsbook.

For example, a sportsbook sets the total goals line for Manchester City vs Chelsea at 2.5. You can bet:

  • Over 2.5 goals at 1.85 odds Under 2.5 goals at 1.95 odds
  • If you bet $100 on over 2.5 and there are 3 or more goals, you get back $185. If you bet $100 on under 2.5 and there are 2 or fewer goals, you get back $195.

Handicap Betting

The handicap aims to level the playing field in lopsided matchups. A handicap is applied against the favored team to bring them closer to the underdog.

For example, if Barcelona plays Girona, the handicap may be:

  • Barcelona -1.5 goals Girona +1.5 goals
  • Barcelona must now win by 2 or more goals for your bet on them to win. If you bet on Girona +1.5, you win if Girona loses by just 1 goal or draws/wins. Handicaps make matches more competitive.

Correct Score

Correct score requires you to predict the exact final score. Odds are higher because the result must match perfectly.

In a World Cup match between France and Australia, correct score odds may be:

  • 2-1 France – 7.0 1-0 France – 8.0 2-0 France – 9.5
  • If you bet on 2-1 France and that’s the final score, you win big at 7.0 odds. But small score deviations result in losses.

There are many more markets like player props, futures, and in-play betting.

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