What Is a Side Bet in Sports Betting?

What is a side bet in sports betting? By the end of this article, you’ll clearly understand what it means and why it matters in betting.

Your awareness of side bets can significantly enhance your sports betting experience, giving you more options and strategies to explore.

Let’s get into the world of side bets and discover how they add an extra layer of excitement to sports betting.

🔑 Key Takeaways

  • Add fun and excitement by using side bets properly. 
  • Learn how to spot the best side bets opportunities.
  • Win outright with the side bet that is more suited to your situation!

Definition of Side Betting 

What’s the definition of a side bet? A side bet is what it sounds like, a little fun to have on the side of the main event.

Take a tennis match, for example. A side bet could pertain to which player hits the most double faults in the first set. Or which player scores the first touchdown in an NFL game. These bets are also referred to as prop bets.

They add extra layers of excitement to the betting experience because they can pay out regardless of which of those two teams wins the game.

Side bets play a role in various betting options such as:

  • Point Spreads: Sometimes, when you bet, you’ll see sides with something called point spreads. These are meant to make things fair. They give the favorite team a disadvantage and give the underdog team an advantage. This helps make betting more even.
  • Moneyline Betting: When you bet on the moneyline, you pick a side, either the favorite or the underdog. Your goal is to guess which side will win. The odds for each side tell you how much you could win.
  • Total Betting: Sides also matter in total betting. Here, you predict if both teams will score more or less than a set total. How well the favorite and underdog play affects this total score.

The Pros and Cons of Side Betting 

Side betting adds fun and variety to sports betting. It lets you bet on different parts of the game, not just who wins. Plus, if you know a lot about a sport, side bets can give you more chances to win.

But there are downsides too. It can be tough to guess exactly what will happen in a game, so you might end up losing money.

Furthermore, focusing too much on side bets might make you miss out on better chances to win with regular bets.

Indeed, it’s important to be careful with side betting. You must be responsible and not bet more than you can afford to lose.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of side bets, in a nutshell:

Side Betting ProsSide Betting Cons
Adds excitement and varietyHarder to predict
Betting on different aspectsMay overlook better opportunities
More opportunities to winRequires responsible betting

How Side Bets Work 

How does a side bet work? This type of bet simply means choosing one team to win over another. In games like football and basketball, a common way to pick sides is through the point spread. This not only predicts the winning team, but also by how much they’ll win or lose.

Another way is the moneyline bet, where you just decide who you think will win, no matter the score. But if you pick the favorite, you might get less money than if you pick the underdog.

In games like baseball and hockey, people mostly use the money line, but there’s also something called the puck line or the run line. It’s like the point spread but with a set line of -1.5. This means the team has to win by at least that much for you to win your bet.

Breaking down side bets helps you bet better:

  • Look at team stats, recent games, and injuries to know who’s strong and who’s weak.
  • Plan how much money to bet on each side based on how likely they are to win.
  • Think about how much risk you want to take and how much you want to win when you pick a side.
  • Pay attention to how other people’s betting can change the odds for each side.

Here are two simple examples:

NBA Betting: Imagine you’re watching a basketball game. You think one player is excellent and will score more than 20 points. So, you make a side bet on this.

It doesn’t matter if their team wins or loses; if that player scores more than 20 points, you win your side bet.

Soccer Betting: Let’s say there’s a soccer game. Besides guessing who wins, you can also guess how many goals will be scored in total by both teams.

If you guess right, you win this side bet, no matter which team scores those goals or wins the match.

Types of Side Bets

These common side bets, in the table below, provide you with a wide range of options to engage with and enjoy sports betting across various sports and events.

Whether it’s predicting specific outcomes or wagering on long-term championship winners, side bets add excitement to your gambling experience.

Popular Side Bets in Sports Betting 

Side Bet TypeExplanationExampleApplicable Sports
Point SpreadsIt’s like giving a head start to the underdog team.Bet if a team will win by more or less than expected.Football (NFL, college), Basketball (NBA, college)
Moneyline BetsJust pick who you think will win, no matter, by how much.Choose if Team A or Team B will win.All sports (Football, Basketball, Baseball, Hockey, Tennis, Boxing, MMA)
Over/Under BetsGuess if the total score of both teams will be more or less than a certain number.Bet if the total points scored will be over or under a set number.All sports (Football, Basketball, Baseball, Hockey, Soccer, Tennis, etc.)
Proposition BetsBet on things like who will score first or how many goals a player will make.Predict if a certain player will score a goal.Football, Basketball, Baseball, Hockey, Soccer, Tennis, MMA, Boxing
Futures BetsBet on who will win a championship or big event way before it happens.Bet on the winner of the Super Bowl before the season starts.Football, Basketball, Baseball, Hockey, Soccer, Tennis, Golf, MMA, Boxing

Unique Side Bets in Major Sporting Events 

Now that you have some insight into what side bets are, let’s delve into some of the most unusual side bets that have occurred during past World Cups and Super Bowls.

This showcases the lighter side of betting beyond traditional sportsbook wagers like spread bets and handicaps.

  • Super Bowl Coin Toss: People bet on whether the coin would land on heads or tails at the start of the Super Bowl. To date, there are 58 documented coin toss results, each affecting the payout of these popular bets.
  • World Cup Golden Boot Winner: People bet on which player would score the most goals in the World Cup, often backing underdogs to outperform expectations. It’s like cheering for your favorite goalscorer.
  • Super Bowl National Anthem Length: People bet on how long the national anthem would be sung at the Super Bowl, adding excitement to the pre-game show and affecting the payout odds.
  • World Cup Red Card Predictions: Some bet on which player would get the first red card in the World Cup, introducing a different type of handicap betting into the football arena.
  • Super Bowl Halftime Show: People bet on aspects like which songs would be sung during the halftime show or if there would be any surprises, making the halftime more engaging.

NFL Betting Example — Peyton Manning’s “Omaha” Side Bet:

  • Context: Peyton Manning, the renowned NFL quarterback, often used the audible “Omaha” at the line of scrimmage.
  • The Side Bet: Teammates would place friendly wagers on whether Manning would actually call the play after saying “Omaha,” highlighting fun interactions within the team.

NBA Betting Example — Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game” Side Bet:

  • The Situation: In the 1997 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan played through illness and led the Chicago Bulls to victory against the Utah Jazz, known famously as the “Flu Game.”
  • The Side Bet: Jordan and Scottie Pippen reportedly wagered on who would score more points in the game, with Jordan scoring more despite his condition, demonstrating the competitive spirit typical of athletes.

→ These examples not only show how side bets can vary from the usual sportsbook offerings but also add layers of engagement and entertainment, enriching the sports viewing experience.

Whether it’s NFL betting, wagering on the duration of the national anthem, or predicting World Cup outcomes, the world of side bets is as diverse as it is fascinating.

How to Make a Side Bet 

We’ve included the following step-by-step guide to show you how to make a side bet.

Step 1: Choose a Side Bet Sports Betting Platform

First, pick a place to make your bet. This could be an online sportsbook or a physical location where you can place your wager.

Step 2: Understand the Odds

Next, look at the odds for the side bet you want to make. Sports betting odds tell you how much you could win based on how much you bet.

Step 3: Select Your Side

Decide which team or outcome you want to bet on. Remember, side bets offer various options beyond just picking the winner.

Step 4: Place Your Bet

After choosing your side, it’s time to place your wager. Follow the instructions on the sportsbook’s website or ask a staff member if you’re at a physical location.

Step 5: Confirm Your Bet

Double-check all the details of your bet before confirming it. Make sure you’re betting the amount you want that respects your bankroll management, and on the right side.

Step 6: Sit Back and Wait

After placing your bet, all that’s left to do is wait for the game to finish and see if your side bet pays off.

Strategies for Side Betting 

In this section, we’ll explore five essential strategies to help you make better side bets. Whether you’re new to betting or a seasoned player, these straightforward pointers will enhance your comprehension and increase your chances of success.

  1. Get to Know the Teams: Before you bet, peek at the teams playing. Check out how they’ve been doing lately, who they’ve played before, and if any key players are out. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses helps you make better bets.
  2. Think About the Risk: Every bet has its level of risk. Think about how likely your pick is to happen compared to what you could win. Don’t go all in if it’s too risky, unless you’re really sure.
  3. Control Your Money: It’s super important to manage your cash wisely. Decide how much you’re willing to bet and stick to it, even if you’re winning. Don’t go overboard trying to make up for losses.
  4. Mix Up Your Bets: Spread your cash-out over different sports or events instead of putting it all on one game. That way, if one bet doesn’t go your way, you won’t lose everything. It’s a safer way to play.
  5. Stay in the Loop: Keep up with what’s happening in the sports world. Read expert opinions, look over the latest trends, and watch for any changes that could affect your bets. Being in the know helps you make smarter moves.

Remember, side betting might seem easy, but it’s not always a sure thing. Don’t assume the better team will always win, and sometimes betting on the favorite isn’t your best move.

For additional resources on sports betting side bets, refer to the American Gaming Association website!

So, Will You Place Side Bets Tonight? 

Considering trying side bets tonight? With these tips and best side bet practices, you’re set to make better decisions and up your chances of winning. 

Knowing your teams and managing risks can really pay off. Why not give it a shot in your daily betting routine? 

Are you interested in taking your sports betting game to the next level? Then explore our complete guide on sports betting education.