What Is a Straight Bet?

Straight Bets

If you’re aiming to be a sharp bettor, straight bets are an excellent place to start.

Mastering a basic betting type, like straight bets, can help you maintain a steady flow of profit in your betting action. But how do you maximize straight bets for your benefit?

We examine the types of straight bets available in moneylines, point spreads, game totals, run line, puck line, and pick ‘em bets (PKs). We’ll give you tips that can help your straight betting strategy.

Keep reading to explore the various sports that you can bet on with a straight bet and learn how to use straight bets to your advantage.

What Is a Straight Bet?

A straight bet is one of the simplest and most straightforward bets. It’s also known as a side bet because you pick a side to bet on in advance.

You can make a straight bet on the NCAA, the NBA, NFL, college football or basketball, and even horse racing.

A common type of a straight bet is a point spread bet. Point spreads consider the number of points scored by each team, and you can bet on either of the three outcomes: you win, lose, or push (tie).

Take this basketball matchup between the Toronto Raptors and the Los Angeles Clippers as an example.


Point Spread

Moneyline Odds

Toronto Raptors



LA Clippers



In this example, if you use a straight bet, you have to choose a team you think will win the game.

The minus sign on the LA Clippers means that they’re the point favorite or the favored team to win. Meanwhile, the Raptors with a plus sign are the underdog, the team less likely to win the game.

The point spread odds of 11.5 indicate that if you place your stake on the LA Clippers (favorite), they have to win the game by more than 11 points to cover the spread and for you to win a profit.

Meanwhile, if you place your bet on the Toronto Raptors (underdog), they have to straight-up win the game or lose by less than 12 points to cover the spread.

A push only happens when a team scores exactly what the sportsbook assigned in the spread.

To gauge your profit on a straight bet, look at the moneyline odds attached to the spread. The -110 assigned to each team represents the bet amount needed to win your profits. To win $100, you have to bet $110.

Your stake includes the bookmaker’s vigorish (vig) or their commission on each sport bet you place. The total payout when you win a straight bet depends on the oddsmaker’s set betting odds.

Another type of straight bet you can do is an over/under bet or betting on the game total. Similar to the point spread, game totals base your winnings on the score of the teams.

In a totals bet, you bet on the teams’ combined score and guess whether it will go over or under the numbers set by the oddsmaker.

Let’s say you put your stake on an upcoming NBA matchup between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks.


Totals Odds

Miami Heat

O 195 (-110)

New York Knicks

U 195 (-115)

The sportsbook implies that the combined scores of both teams will total 195 points when the game ends.

When you see this on the betting line, it’s up to you to choose if you think the teams’ combined final scores will go over or under the number set by the bookie.

If you bet “over,” the game’s final score should result in a score higher than 195 for you to win the bet. However, if you bet “under,” the score of both teams should add up to a number lower than 195 to win your profits.

Buying Half Points

When you “buy” a half point, this means that you decide to risk paying double on the vig to gain a half-point advantage on each side of the bet or in the totals.

As an illustration, let’s look at the game between the Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks.


Point Spread


Atlanta Hawks

+9.5 (-110)

O 48.5

Phoenix Suns

-9.5 (-110)

U 48.5

The Phoenix Suns are the 9.5-point favorite with a total of 48.5 points. If you feel that 9.5 is a little more than you’re comfortable betting on, you may decide to buy a half-point.

Instead of having the Suns at -9.5 while staking $110 to win a hundred dollars, you can have the Suns at -9 while risking $120 (doubled the 10% vig) to win $100 by buying a half-point.

Straight Betting on the Moneyline

For sporting events and betting types that don’t have a point spread or don’t depend on the scores, most bookmakers use another type of straight bet called moneyline bets. It is also called pick ‘em (PK) in football betting.

Placing a moneyline bet is simply choosing the outright winner of the game regardless of the final points of each team. This type of betting is also called run line in baseball events, like the MLB (Major League Baseball), and puck line in hockey games, like the NHL (National Hockey League).

For instance, imagine placing a moneyline bet on a boxing matchup between Saul Alvarez and Floyd Mayweather.

Saul Alvarez


Floyd Mayweather


If you bet on Floyd Mayweather (the favorite), you have to stake at least $500 to win $100. On the other hand, when you bet on Saul Alvarez (the underdog), you need to bet $100 to win a profit of $300.

Besides making a single straight bet on a sporting event, you can also create multiple straight bets on different games or different betting types.

You should not confuse multiple straight bets with other multiple bets. Betting on multiple straight bets is simply wagering two or more straight bets.

For example, you may want to stake on the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl and the New York Knicks in the NBA playoffs.

You may bet on each of these teams but treat them as single-game straight bets rather than a parlay bet, where you combine two or more bets into one. Combining your bets on two different games is called teasers.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Straight Bet

One of the advantages of straight wagers is their simplicity.

Straight bets are recommended for novice bettors who are not yet familiar with the twist and turns of sports betting. Straight betting is an excellent starting point to learn and master the basics first before delving into the more complicated types of bets. You can win growing profits once you have mastered straight bets.

Straight bets may be boring to some, but they can give you a reasonable shot at winning. Your profits can accumulate in the long run.