What Is a Straight Bet in Sports Betting?

Ever wondered what is a straight bet in sports betting? They are the simplest and most common type of wager, and a great way to get started.

In this article, I’ll break down this basic but important concept of straight bets, making it easy for everyone to understand. 

Knowing all about this type of wager, also known as simple wagers or single bets, is essential, not just for placing bets, but for making smart, strategic gambling decisions.

This could be your first step towards turning your guesses into wins. So, let’s get started and dig into what a single wager is in sports betting.

🔑 Key Takeaways

  • Try out this beginner-friendly betting strategy to understand better more complex wagers, like parlay bets.
  • Learn how to make a straight bet properly with the correct amount of research.

The Basics of Straight Betting 

Imagine winning big on your first bet. That’s the thrill of straight betting—it’s easy and clear-cut. With years of experience in sports wagering, I’ve seen many beginners succeed by starting with single wagers. Let’s get into the basics of this wager type.

Defining a Straight Bet 

A straight bet is a basic type of sports wager where you pick the outcome of one game or event.

You can wager in three ways:

  1. By guessing if the favorite team will win by a lot — point spread.
  2. By picking who will win the game — moneyline.
  3. By predicting if the total score will be high or low —over/under.

In a point spread, you choose whether the favorite wins by more than expected or the underdog loses by less or wins. Moneyline is just choosing the winner. Total bets are about guessing if the combined scores will be above or below a set number.

Straight bets are easy to understand, making it perfect for beginners.

Fun Fact: Simple wagers on contests and sporting events have existed for centuries. Ancient civilizations like the Greeks and Romans are known to have gambled on athletic competitions. These early wagers likely resembled straight bets in their basic structure – a wager on a single outcome.

How to Place a Straight Bet 

Placing a single wager is a simple way to start sports betting and now that you have a basic idea of a straight bet meaning, here’s an easy guide to help you begin:

  1. Pick a Game: First, choose which sport and game you want to wager on. It’s best to pick one that you know well.
  2. Learn the Odds: Odds tell you how likely something is to happen and how much you can win:
    • If the odds are low, it means there’s a good chance of winning, but the win won’t be big.
    • High odds mean less chance of winning, but the win could be large.
  3. Choose Your Wager Type: There are three main types of single bets: point spreads, moneylines or totals.
  4. Place Your Bet: Go to a trustworthy betting site, find your game, and choose your bet type. Put in how much money you want to bet, and then confirm your bet.

Experienced bettors suggest sticking to sports you know and always understanding what the odds mean before placing a bet. Many gambling websites in the US offer guides and tips to help beginners understand more, so they can make smart choices.

Types of Straight Bets

Now that you have an idea of the basics, let’s explore the common types of single wagers.

Money Line Bets

Is the moneyline bet a straight bet? Yes, it is because you’re just picking who will win the game. It’s straightforward and ideal for beginners because you just select which team or player you think will win.

The odds given by sportsbooks help you see the likelihood of each team winning and how much you could win. If you’ve also asked, what is a straight bet in football?


Let’s say there’s a matchup between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. The odds for a straight bet might look like this:

  • New England Patriots: -150
  • Kansas City Chiefs: +130
  1. If you wager $100 on the New England Patriots, and they win, you would receive $100 plus an additional $66.67 (rounded) in winnings, for a total payout of $166.67.
  2. If you gamble $100 on the Kansas City Chiefs, and they win, you would receive $130 plus your original $100 bet back, for a total payout of $230.

So, with a straight bet, you’re simply deciding which team you believe will win the game outright, and your payout is based on the odds associated with that team.

So next time someone asks you what a straight bet is, the answer is simple:

The most common example of a straight up bet is the moneyline, where the focus is solely on which team or individual will win, regardless of the margin of victory.

Point Spread Bets 

Point spread betting is another way to wager on games. It’s different from just picking who will win. Instead, it involves thinking about how much a team will win or lose by.


Let’s say the New York Knicks are playing against the Boston Celtics with the following odds:

  • New York Knicks: -5 
  • Boston Celtics: +5
  1. For the Knicks, let’s say you bet $190 on them with a -5 spread. If they win by more than five points, you’d get back $100 in profit, making your total return $290.
  2. For the Celtics at +5 points, let’s say you wager $100 on them. If they pull off a win or lose by less than five points, you’d earn $160 in profit, giving you a total return of $260.

Fun Fact: As sports betting became more widespread, there was a need for standardization. Over the 20th century, standard bet types like point spread, moneyline, and over/under emerged, all falling under the umbrella of straight bets. Regulations were also introduced to ensure fair play and protect bettors.

Straight Betting Strategies

Learn smart ways to bet to increase your chances of winning and make better choices when you’re gambling on sports.

Utilizing a Straight Bet Calculator 

A straight bet calculator is a helpful tool for people who bet. It helps you know how much money you might win before you bet. You type in how much you want to stake along with the odds. Then, it tells you how much you could win. It’s good if you’re looking at different bets or odds.

Experts at Rotowire.com often show how to use these calculators. Using a single wager calculator helps you make better choices and win more often. So, before you bet, try using one to see how much you could win.

Here are a few simple steps to using a straight bet calculator:

  1. Input your bet amount.
  2. Enter the odds for your bet.
  3. Click calculate.
  4. Review potential payout and profit.
  5. Compare options if needed.
  6. Adjust wager amount or odds.
  7. Place your bet confidently.

Tips for Successful Straight Betting 

Here are three top strategies for successful single wagering based on sports betting analysis from reputable publications like Sports Insights and ESPN.

  1. Do Your Research: Before you bet, study the teams, players, recent performances, injuries, and weather. Look at past data and stats to make smart predictions.
  2. Manage Your Money: It’s important to manage your bankroll wisely. Decide how much you can afford to gamble and stick to that amount. Don’t chase losses by betting more than planned. Use a staking plan to wager a consistent percentage of your money each time.
  3. Find the Best Value: Don’t rush to bet with the first odds you see. Compare odds from different sportsbooks to find the best sports betting odds. Even small differences in odds can affect your winnings, in a positive way.

Comparing Straight Bets to Other Betting Types

Learn how single bets are different from other types of wagers to see which one might work best for you. 

Straight Bet vs. Parlay Bet 

Single wagers and parlay bets are two common types of wagers in sports betting, each with its set of risks and rewards. The table below will outline the fundamental differences between the parlay vs. straight bet in single wagering and discuss their risks and rewards. 

AspectStraight BetsParlay Bets
ComplexitySimpler: You only wager on one outcome, making them easier to understand and manage.More Complex: You combine multiple bets into one wager, increasing the difficulty of winning.
RiskLower Risk: Since only one prediction needs to be correct, they have a higher chance of winning than parlays.Higher Risk: All predictions within the parlay must be correct to win, making them riskier.
RewardLower Reward: The potential payout for a single winning bet is typically lower than a winning parlay.Higher Reward:A winning parlay offers a much larger payout compared to a single straight bet, due to the combined odds.
Expert CommentaryStats say parlays are riskier long-term, needing more wins. But, some experts say try them for fun, if chosen wisely and only with a small bet.

Understanding Forecast Bets 

Straight bets and forecast bets seem similar, but there’s a key difference.

  • In a simple bet, you pick the winner (or another single outcome).
  • Often used in horse racing or greyhound racing, forecast bets require you to correctly predict the first and second place finishers, and in the correct order.

It’s like a two-part straight forecast bet, offering a higher potential payout but also significantly more difficulty. 

Racing analysts at Bloodstock Research and Equibase advise that thorough research on horse form and track conditions is crucial for successful forecast bets.

So, while both types of wagers involve predicting outcomes, forecast bets add the extra challenge of getting the order right, making them riskier but potentially more rewarding.

So, Will You Place a Straight Bet Tonight?

You’ve learned about the simplicity and chances of winning with straight bets in sports betting. Why not try it out tonight? Pick a game or race you like and bet on who you think will win. Keep it simple and have fun guessing the outcome.

Want to learn more about gambling in sports or find out the latest odds for upcoming games? Check out our guide on sports betting education.

FAQs in Straight Betting

What Is a Straight Win in Betting?

In a single bet, you’re predicting a single outcome to win. This could be the winner of a game (moneyline), the winning margin (point spread), or the total score (over/under).

How Much Does a Straight Bet Pay?

The payout for a single bet depends on the odds offered by the sportsbook. If you win, your payout is the amount you wagered multiplied by the decimal odds (minus 1 for negative odds).

For example: A $10 wager on -110 odds that wins would return $9.09 (since $10 * (1 – (-110/100)) = $9.09).