Betting on Team Sports vs. Individual Sports

With the sports betting menu extending to Arizona, you’ll find a variety of wagering options at online sportsbooks. First-time bettors may still have plenty of questions. What are the best bets to try out? Is there an obvious entry point for beginners? Is it smart to go right for the big NFL, NBA, and NHL games? Or is there better value in individual sports like golf, tennis, MMA, table tennis?

To help answer some of those questions, we’ll walk you through some different bets and discuss the pros and cons of betting on team sports and individual sports.

Betting on team sports

Most of the bets at sportsbooks are usually on team sports, so many new bettors will find themselves defaulting there. The most popular team sports and accompanying leagues in North America are football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and hockey. Before you place a wager on any team sport, you’ll first want to know the types of bets you can place:

Moneyline bets

Moneyline bets are one of the more common wagers you’ll come across. When you bet on a team to win the game, you’re placing a moneyline bet.

Take this example: The Phoenix Suns are playing the Los Angeles Lakers. The Suns have odds of +150 to win the game, while the Lakers are the favorites with odds of -120. Placing a $100 bet on the Suns would win you $150 for a total return of $250 if they win the game, while a bettor who fancies the Lakers and places a $100 wager on them will would stand to win $83.33 and have $183.33 in total.

Point spread bets

Point spread betting aims to equalize the two teams playing. Unlike moneyline bets, where one team will have greater odds than the other, point spreads bring in handicaps to balance the two teams, which is why they both will usually have odds right around -110.

As for the handicap, the favored team will lose points from its total, represented by a minus symbol in the spread. The underdog, meanwhile, will receive additional points, hence the plus sign in the spread. The sportsbook will take these handicaps into account at the end of the game to decide whether your bet wins or loses. For example, consider an NFL game with the following spreads:

  • Los Angeles Rams +2.5 (-110)
  • Arizona Cardinals -2.5 (-110)

The Rams are the underdogs in this game. This means that they walk into the game with a +2.5 point advantage. So anyone who bets on them with this spread will need the Rams to avoid losing by three points or more for their bet to win. So even if the Rams ended up losing by two points, they would still manage to cover the spread.

On the other hand, the Cardinals are the favorites. Using the above spread, they would need to win the game by three points or more for any associated spread bet on them to win. So a score like 45-42 in favor of the Cardinals would be enough to cover the spread. However, if the Cardinals were to win the game with a score of 44-42, that would not be enough to win the bet because they failed to overcome the handicap of 2.5.

Totals (over/under) betting

If you don’t feel like picking the winner or loser of a game, you can opt for totals betting. With this option, you simply predict whether the total number of points in the game will be over or under a line that the sportsbook sets. Since the total score is the only thing that matters, you don’t have to worry about who wins or loses the game.

Say the sportsbook set an over/under line of 220.5 in a basketball game. If you bet on the over, you’d need combined scores totaling 221 points or more for your bet to win. So scores like 111-110, 120-105, and 130-107 would work out for you.

If you instead chose the under, the combined score would need to be less than the line that the sportsbook set. In this case, any total score of 220 points or fewer would win you your bet.

Prop betting

Bettors also have the option of betting on a variety of in-game occurrences, which is popularly known as prop betting. Prop bets focus on things that are different from the overall result of the game. Prop bets can be team-focused, player-focused or game-focused. An example of a team prop bet is betting that team A will take the first timeout. On the other hand, an example of a player prop bet is Tom Brady to score more than two touchdowns, and a game prop could be wagering on whether the game will go to overtime.

Futures bets

Futures bets focus on long-term outcomes. You’re generally able to start placing such bets before the season starts on things like who will make the playoffs, who will win the Stanley Cup or who will win the Super Bowl.

Live betting

This is betting on a game as it is taking place. So, instead of placing a bet before the game starts, you can wait and see how the game progresses. Then, as you watch what’s happening during the game, you can place a bet. One potential advantage of live betting is that you have an understanding of how the game is going and can use that to place a calculated bet.

Alternate lines

Alternate lines are common in point spreads and game totals. If you don’t like the line the sportsbook has set, you can choose to go for another line, but that will usually come at the cost of worse odds.

For example, say the Suns are 4.5-point favorites at odds of -110. You’re sure that they’ll win the game, but your main worry is whether they’ll cover the spread. You can go for an alternate line, like -1.5, but the odds for that bet may be around -250 instead of -110. So the tradeoff for added security, in this case, will be diminished odds.

Betting on individual sports

Individual sports can be a good avenue for bettors because some find it easier to analyze individual athletes compared to teams. Some of the most common solo sports you’ll find for wagering are golf, MMA, cycling, tennis, and boxing. Here are some of the most popular bets for wagering on such sports:

To win bets

Place a bet on a player to win a tournament or a match (tennis or boxing).

Props

Props in individual sports still focus on specific outcomes. These props can be tournament props or match-based in a sport like tennis. Examples of such props include the following:

  • Will Tiger Woods have the best score in round four of the Masters?
  • Rafael Nadal to win the match in straight sets
  • Naomi Osaka to win the second set

Futures bets

Futures bets are quite common in individual sports. The most obvious is betting on a player to win an upcoming tournament, but other futures are available, as well. Here is some of what you’ll find:

  • Dustin Johnson to win PGA player of the year
  • Serena Williams to win WTA player of the year
  • Tom Dumoulin to win the Tour de France

Head-to-head betting

In head-to-head bets, sportsbooks pit two players against each other, and you wager which of the two will emerge with the better record. For your bet to win, the player you bet on doesn’t need to win the tournament, just to have a better record than the head-to-head opponent. This type of bet is very common in golf and cycling.

Top finish bet

This is betting on a player to finish above a certain threshold in a tournament, e.g. top five, top three, top 10, etc. For example, betting on Justin Thomas to finish in the top five at the US Open.

Top nationality bet

Since a lot of tournaments have participants from all over the world, sometimes sportsbooks will group these participants by their nationality. Bettors then wager which player will emerge as that nation’s top participant. For example, let’s say that you bet on Dustin Johnson to be the top American player in the Masters. If he ranks highest among all the participating Americans, then you win your bet.

Another bet along these lines allows you to wager on the nationality of the eventual winner of a tournament. For instance, you could bet on a US player to win the French Open. You don’t need to pick a specific winner; as long as it’s a US player winning the tourney, you win your bet.

Live props

You can also place prop bets on ongoing matches/tournaments. These can be things like player X to win the next round, player Y to win the next set, and so on.

Pros and cons of betting on team sports

Some of the pros of betting on team sports include the following:

  • You don’t rely on one specific player to win your bet
  • Teams can make substitutions, swapping ineffective players for well-rested players
  • You can place team props as well as player props
  • There is a wider variety of bets that you can place
  • Bets on team sports are more common and easier to find

On the other hand, betting on team sports also has its downsides. A couple of these include the following:

  • Certain teams rely on individual star players, which is akin to betting on solo sports. Without these star players, such teams may not perform as well.
  • It can be harder to analyze team sports than individual sports because of the many variables with team sports.
  • Team sports are at times more unpredictable than solo sports.

Pros and cons of betting on individual sports

Some of the pros of betting on individual sports include the following:

  • Easier analysis because you know who is playing who and the tactics involved
  • Individual players control their fate, as opposed to team sports where the outcome lies in the hands of many
  • You can find great value in individual sports

Despite the above, there are also some downsides to betting on individual sports:

  • Your result entirely depends on one individual. If that person has a bad day, no substitution can help.
  • A participant can get injured during the match/tournament. Since there are no replacements, the injured player may have to forfeit. Some sportsbooks do not issue refunds in such situations, so you end up losing your wager.
  • It may be harder to find bets on some individual sports.

Live betting: Team vs. individual sports

Live betting on team sports and individual sports will mostly be the same. Look for how the players are playing, whether it’s a team or individual sport. Try to analyze anything that you think has been greatly influential to the game’s current score.

One key difference to keep in mind is that tactical changes have a greater effect on team sports than they do on individual sports. Such tactical changes when one team brings some fresh players into the game.

In contrast, individual sports do not have the luxury of tactical overhauls. Sure, players can alter their playing styles to try to counter opponents, but that may be a smaller change compared to what happens in team sports.

Best sportsbook apps for live bets

A variety of sportsbooks will offer live betting. Here are some of the top options in Arizona:

  • DraftKings: DraftKings is one of the best sportsbooks around. It has a fast app, which is crucial for live betting. In addition to this, the DraftKings Sportsbook has all the top team and individual sports for bettors to choose from. So you miss none of the action when you opt for this sportsbook.
  • FanDuel: FanDuel Sportsbook is another great alternative. You get access to a range of features that include live betting, distinct props, a great interface and solid odds.
  • BetMGM: MGM is a celebrated name in the hospitality and entertainment industry, and this sportsbook measures up to that lineage. The BetMGM Sportsbook boasts a more-than-capable app, fast live betting, and distinct promos (some promos even extend to MGM’s physical resorts).

How to open a betting account in Arizona

If you wish to bet on sports in Arizona, just follow the steps below:

  • Go to the website of the sportsbook that you wish to join. Alternatively, you can download the app.
  • A visible “Join Now” or “Register” button should be situated somewhere near the top of the homepage. Tap on that once you see it.
  • You’ll need to enter your email and choose a password.
  • The sportsbook may ask you for the following details: Full name, date of birth, Social Security number, identification documents, home address, and phone number. Fill in whatever it requires.
  • Pick a security question or questions and provide answers for additional account security.
  • If you have a bonus code, there should be a space where you can enter it.
  • Go through all the details, agree to the terms and sign up.
  • Deposit into your new betting account and start wagering.

Top team sports to bet on

Here are the main options you’ll find for wagering on team sports at Arizona sportsbooks:

  • NFL: The NFL has a rich history and passionate fans. These two factors mix well to create the ultimate betting sport.
  • NBA: The NBA is known for its high intensity and unpredictability. This should keep NBA bettors on the edge of their seats.
  • NHL: The top tier of hockey boasts some great betting options, and NHL bettors can find a lot of interest.
  • MLB: The national pastime has proven to be a solid betting avenue as well, and it is generally in the top three sports by betting volume.
  • MLS: Soccer has grown in popularity in the US. As such, there are a growing number of MLS betting options.

Top individual sports to bet on

The following are some of the most interesting individual sports to bet on:

  • Golf: Just like the golfers themselves, picking winners in golf betting requires an additional level of skill, which is why it’s always great when golf bets win.
  • MMA: MMA has seen huge growth thanks to the UFC. It is such a fast-paced sport, so UFC bets can be won and lost in seconds.
  • Cycling: Cycling is a challenging sport with many variables, which can add to the fun of betting.
  • Tennis: One great thing about tennis is that ATP and WTA tournaments run all year round, so in tennis betting there is almost always something to wager on.
  • Boxing: Boxing is a high-stakes sport, and it can be exciting to watch PPV events when you’ve placed some money on the fights.