Sports Betting Terms & Glossary

Action – a wager or bet of any kind

Added Game – a game that is not part of the regular Las Vegas rotation. Oftentimes this will be a rescheduled game or the second game of a doubleheader in baseball

Against the Spread (ATS) – refers to taking or laying points (aka the spread) as opposed to taking a game “straight up” (aka on the moneyline)

All-in: a bet in which no refunds are given even in the case of scratching or withdrawal of the selection or any other circumstances which might usually warrant a refund

All Up: a bet that consists of 2 or more selections. The stake and winnings of the 1st bet are placed on the next bet and so forth and all bets must win for the wager to be successful

Alternate Lines – different (or alternate) point spreads that pay different odds for the same game. These provide bettors more options to wager on certain games that lower the vig or increase the outcome of success

American Odds – a type of display of odds shown as (+) or (–) a number. Negative numbers are used for bets of less than even money and show how much you would have to bet to win $100. Positive numbers are used for bets at greater than even money and show how much you will win if you bet $100. Outside of the US, the same odds might be presented with a decimal point or by a fraction. Example: Dallas Cowboys +400 American odds would be displayed as 5.0 or 4/1 anywhere else

Anchor: a strong key bet included in most combinations within multiple bets (similar to “banker”)

Ante-post: futures betting for the result of an event that is still a long way off and where the final field may not be known

Arbitrage – a strategy designed to take advantage of pricing discrepancies in the betting markets. It involves placing two (or more) wagers on a single sports event, so that all possible outcomes are covered. The goal is to have these wagers return an overall profit irrespective of the result of the event.

Asian Handicap – a way of betting, mostly in soccer, originating in Indonesia that reduces the possible number of outcomes from three (in traditional 1X2 wagering) to two by eliminating the draw outcome. This simplification delivers two betting options that each have a near 50% chance of success by increasing in increments of half or quarter-goals

Backdoor Cover – a popular term for a team that covers a point spread late in a game. The team with the late cover may or may not affect the actual result of the game, just the wager

Bad beat – losing a bet you should have won due to unlikely, and particularly unlucky, circumstances. It is especially used when the betting result is decided late in the game to change the side that covers the spread. Also used in poker, such as when a player way ahead in the expected win percentage loses on the river (last card)

Banker – a heavy favorite likely to win; also a banker is a European wager similar to a round robin bet in the US. Different teams are placed in a “system bet” to make different “accumulator” (parlay) bets

Bankroll – a sum of money allocated for betting

Beard – a person who places a wager for another person who wishes to remain unknown to the bookmaker, sportsbook or public

Betting Exchange – a betting platform that eliminates the need for a bookmaker, allowing bettors to bet directly against each other

Betting Unit – a betting unit is the amount of a typical wager. Bettors may have different sized bankrolls and a unit is a way to share or track how much was bet without giving away a specific dollar amount. For example, a high roller (aka a “whale”) might have a unit size of $10,000 per wager while a low roller has a unit size of $20 wager per wager

Bettor – a person making a bet or wager

Bonus – pertaining to incentives offered by sportsbooks to induce a new customer to wager with them. Or to induce existing customers for more or higher deposits or to reward frequent play. A signup bonus is the most popular way to incentivize bettors to initiate use of a certain sportsbook

Bookie – slang for a ‘bookmaker’ or persons working inside a sportsbook; slang for a person unlicensed to take action

Bookmaker – also called a “line maker”; a person who is licensed to create betting lines and take wagers

Buck – slang for a $100.00 wager

Buying Points – paying an additional fee (or vig) to add or subtract whole or half points in order to get a game to a more favorable spread or total

Canadien Line – a betting line used in ice hockey, which combines point spread and moneyline betting

Chalk – slang for the favorite team, side or outcome reflected in the bookmaker’s odds

Chalk Player – a bettor who consistently wagers on favorites

Circled Game – a game where the betting action is limited by the bookmaker

Closing Line – the point spread when the game begins

Closing Line Value – term used by bettors to measure the value of the line they wagered before the line that was the last available (aka “closing line) before a game begins

Combination Bet – term for any wager containing more than one selection

Consensus – general agreement about something; sports betting consensus could be the most popular teams bet or line available for a game

Contrarian – to bet against the trends of the mainstream popular opinions (aka “the public”). Bettors usually place contrarian wagers when there is value on the opposite outcome or when there is value on betting on games with lopsided betting percentages

Cover or Cover the Spread – winning a bet on the point spread

Dead Heat – another way to say that there is a tie in a finishing position. Sportsbooks have different rules on how to pay in the event of a tie or dead heat in an event.

Decimal Odds – also called “fractional odds”; a type of display of odds common in Europe and the Americas (outside of the US) in which the odds display the total return for every $1 wagered included the money risked. The math is easier to figure out for most bettors than US moneyline odds. Decimal odds are derived from a simple calculation of the amount bet x odds

Degenerate – or “degen” is someone who bets frequently and often recklessly

Dime – slang for a $1,000.00 bet

Dime Line – slang for a line with the typical 10% vig applied by the bookmakers; a “10 cent” difference between the moneyline odds payout between the money laid on the favorite and the money paid by the underdog

Dog – abbreviation for “underdog” or the side or team that is not favored

Dog Player – a bettor who consistently wagers on underdogs

Dollar – slang for a $100.00 bet

Double – a type of wager consisting of two separate selections

Double Chance – a European sports betting term mostly used for soccer betting. A double chance wager allows the bettor two opportunities to win a bet. For example, a result in soccer can be a win, loss, or tie. A double chance bettor may combine two of the three results instead of just one. This gives the bettor twice the chance to win the wager

Double Pop – slang for a bettor having to bet twice the normal amount (commonly used in Europe)

Draw – also known as a push. If a game falls exactly on the spread, there is no winner and bettors will receive their money back

Drifting – a term used to describe odds that are lengthening (getting higher)

Each Way – two-part wager; the first part of the wager is on the selection to win and the second part of the wager is on the same selection to finish in the top few places

Early Cash Out – a way for bettors to settle a wager for a certain dollar amount before the event is over. This is a way to lock in a profit at a smaller value than the wager would ultimately pay

Edge – the advantage a bettor has against the sportsbook (or vice versa)

Even Money – a wager that pays the same as was risked. An even-money sports bet is listed as +100 or -100 in a sportsbook. Unlike traditional -110 wager, there’s no vigorish paid to the sportsbook. A bettor risks $100 to win $100 instead of wagering $110 to win $100

Exacta – choosing horses to finish first and second in a race

Exotic Wager – non-traditional sports bets (so not point spread, moneyline, or futures bets); often listed as a prop bet in a sportsbook

Expected Value – this is a calculation used by a bettor to determine whether a wager should win or lose over time. Positive expected value (EV) bets over time is a good way to become a winning sports bettor

Exposure – the amount of money a sportsbook potentially could lose for a specific event. For example, sportsbooks might have a lot of exposure (money at risk) on one team winning a championship versus another

Favorite – side or team bookmakers expect will win

Field – a term to collectively describe all possible selections in a betting market; in proposition (prop) bets, bettors are often allowed to bet the field. This refers to an accumulation of all the teams or players that are not specifically listed

Fifty Cents/ Fin – slang for a $50.00 bet

First-Half Bet – a bet placed on only the first half of the game; football and basketball are the most popular sports to place a first half wager. In soccer, this might be called a “half time result.” (the final result of the game does not matter)

Fixed – a participant in a particular game who alters the result of that game or match to a completely or partially predetermined result

Fixed Odds – odds that are locked in after a bettor makes a wager. They will not change even if the odds for that selection move in the future; horse bettors might experience a change in odds from parimutuel betting

Flat Betting – a betting system where all wagers are the same. A bettor doesn’t change the wager amount based on wins, losses, or any other outside opinion. The wager is usually a percentage of bankroll but could also be a fixed dollar amount

Form – recent results of a team or individual

Freaking – for a horse to post a career best performance in a single race

Futures Bet – this refers to bets that come down in advance of an event. For example, one can bet a Super Bowl future prior to the beginning of the season by selecting which team(s) they believe will win the championship. A bettor receives payment at the end of the season if their selection did claim the title

Get Down – slang for placing a wager

Grand Salami – This typically refers to the over/under total for how many goals/runs will be scored across all games in a specific league that day

Halftime Bet – A bet made after the first half ended and before the second half begins (football and basketball primarily). The oddsmaker generally starts with half of the game side/total and adjusts based on what happened in the first half

Handicapper – A person who analyzes sports events to predict the winning team or player

Handle – The amount of money a sportsbook or sportsbooks take from wagers. This could be broken down by sport, region, casinos, and more

Hedge or “hedging” – a strategy used by sports bettors to either reduce the risk of or to guarantee a profit from a wager

High Roller – a high-stakes gambler

Home Field – This the field (court, rink, etc.) where one team plays its games

Hook – slang for a half point. For example, a team may be a 3.5 point underdog. That could be called “three and a hook”; Often times in football, bettors will buy the hook around key numbers like 3 to get a line of 3.5

If Bet – a wager consisting of at least two separate bets joined together by an if clause that determines the wager process

Implied Probability – theoretical likelihood of a particular outcome, based on the odds on that outcome provided by a bookmaker

In-Game Bets – also called “live betting”; wagers placed on a game after it has already started. This practice has become much more popular with online sports betting so bookmakers will post multiple in-game betting options throughout many major sporting events

Joint Favorite – when there are two favorites for an event (mostly used in England)

Juice – also called vig (vigorish); the “tax” that sportsbooks create for placing a wager. Typically, books offer -110, which means that you need to win 52.38% of your bets to break even

Kelly Criterion – a popular bankroll management strategy for a bettor who seeks to limit losses while maximizing the amount won

Key Numbers – this represents the most common margins of defeat and is used frequently in football where many games end with one team winning by a multiple of three or seven

Lay – accepting a wager

Layoff – When a bookmaker reduces the risk of losing wagers by placing a bet with a different sportsbook(s). This typically happens when there is lopsided wagering on one side of a game and the sportsbook or a bookie want to alleviate potential losses

Laying Points – placing a wager on the point spread for the favorite

Laying The Price – placing a wager on the moneyline for the favorite

Lengthening Odds – odds that are getting higher

Limit – the most money a sportsbook will take on a single event or wager

Line – odds or point spread offered by a bookmaker

Listed Pitcher – This is a baseball bet that is active only if the pitcher listed as the starter throws the first pitch of a game. If the pitcher doesn’t matter a bettor can place a wager on “action.” The latter wager will happen regardless of who starts the game to the team bet on

Lock – a wager considered certain to win; be wary, as there are no sure things in sports betting

Longshot – a selection in a betting market that has a very small chance of winning

Margin – a wager where a bettor selects a team to win or lose by a specific number of points regardless of the point spread. For example, the Oakland Raiders will defeat the Los Angeles Chargers by 10-14 points. The Raiders must win by 11, 12, or 13 points for a win. A victory by 10 or 14 points is a push

Martingale System – gambling system where bettors doubles the amount of a wager after losses. This system can be used for sports and other forms of gambling (i.e. blackjack)

Matched Bet – when a bettor uses free wagers from a sportsbook operator to increase potential profit. This is a popular technique employed in new legal US sports betting markets as promotional offers are available

Middle – occurs when you bet on both sides of a game and have an opportunity to win both bets. For example if you bet on Team A +10.5 and Team B -7.5, you win both bets if Team B wins by 8-10 points

Moneyline Bet – a simple type of wager on a selection to win the match or event; sports like baseball, soccer and hockey, there are so few runs/goals scored that it doesn’t make sense to only offer a spread. Instead, these sports offer a moneyline in which you bet on whether or not a specific team is going to win straight-up

Moving The Line – paying to receive half a point (or more) in your favor for a point spread wager

Mush – a bettor orNo

No Action – a wager where the bettor doesn’t lose any money and the original stake gets refunded. This can happen when the bookmaker cancels the bet

Nickel – slang for a $500.00 bet

Novelty Bet – Placing a wager on a non-sports event with a sportsbook. For example betting on an awards show or presidential election gambler who is considered to be bad luck

No Action – a wager where the bettor doesn’t lose any money and the original stake gets refunded. This can happen when the bookmaker cancels the bet

Nickel – slang for a $500.00 bet

Novelty Bet – Placing a wager on a non-sports event with a sportsbook. For example betting on an awards show or presidential election

Odds – used to determine the potential payout of a wager

Odds Against – odds that are higher than even money, meaning you can win an amount higher than your wager

Odd Compiler – person working inside a sportsbook who adjusts the lines/ odds as necessary to balance the action on both sides of the book

Odds On – odds lower than even money

Odds-on Favorite – when a team or person is heavily favored to win a game or event. They often have very low odds paying much less than the amount wagered (odds on)

Off The Board – when the bookmaker is taking no more bets on an event or betting market; example when a player is uncertain to participate because of an injury

Opening Line – first line available for a sports event

Outsider – betting selection that has a very small chance of winning

Overround – profit that bookmakers build into their books; when sportsbooks set their implied probabilities for any given matchup, their percentages always add up to more than 100%. Whatever percentage is over 100 is their overround, and from there they make their profit (vig)

Parlay – a wager containing multiple selections, all of which must win for the wager to pay out

Payout – sum of money received from a bookmaker following a winning wager

Permutation Betting – form of wagering which covers multiple selections in different combinations

Pick or Pick ‘Em – a game in which neither side is favored to win and the odds are the same on both sides

Pleaser – a type of point-spread wager in which you move the spreads out of your favor. While pleasers are an even more difficult style of parlay betting, making the odds harder equates to a larger potential payout

Point Spread – type of betting where the bookmaker allocates points or goals to the underdog to create a theoretically level playing field. The points allocated are also referred to as the point spread

Press – to wager a larger than normal stake

Pricing The Market – setting the odds or lines for a betting market

Proposition or Prop Bet – a bet on something other than the outcome of a game. Common prop bets include an over/under on points scored, passing yards, or strikeouts by an individual player.

Public Betting Percentage – the percentage of wagers placed by the general betting public;

Puck Line – a spread based on goals scored during a hockey game. The base puck line for a game is often plus or minus 1.5 since there are so few goals scored. Sportsbooks might offer an alternative puck line with more or fewer goals scored with adjusted odds and vig

Push – a wager that ties and the stake is returned to the bettor

Power Rankings (or Ratings) – creating a ranking score for each team so that a bettor, handicapper, or sportsbook can create a point spread. Experienced handicappers use their point spreads to compare with a sportsbook in order to find the best bets available

Quarter Bet – A bet placed prior to or during any quarter of a sporting event

Real-Time Odds – live lines that get updated immediately once sportsbooks adjust their lines

Return – sum of money received on a winning wager

Return on Investment (ROI) – metric that bettors use to measure the efficiency of any investment

Reverse Bet – a type of “if bet” that can work in all directions as opposed to going in a specific order. Making a reverse bet won’t alter your potential payout, but it will protect the bettor from losing the entire stake if the first wager ends up losing

Reduced Juice – when a sportsbook lowers the vig on a betting option

Reverse Line Movement – when a line (or point spread) moves differently than the money wagered on the game or event

Round Robin – a parlay bet in which you place multiple small parlays at once. It can include different two-team combinations of events. If one part of the parlay loses the entire bet does not automatically lose

Run Line – a spread based on the number of runs scored in a baseball game. The run line is typically plus or minus 1.5 since there are so few runs scored in baseball. Sportsbooks might offer an alternative run line with more or fewer runs scored with adjusted odds and vig

Runner – also a “beard”; a person who places wagers at a sportsbook for someone else

Sharp – slang for an experienced, professional or skilled bettor

Sharp Money – money wagered by sports bettors that a sportsbook operator respects. Sharp money often comes from large wagers placed by professional bettors.

Short Odds – another term for low odds

Shortening Odds – odds that are getting lower

Single – a wager with one selection

Smart Money – wagers placed by bettors that are either very experienced or have information not readily available

Special – wager on a specific outcome in a sports event; ex. first player to score

Sportsbook – bookmaker, group of bookmakers or sanctioned area inside of a legal casino to make bets

Spread – short for “point spread”

Spread Betting – type of betting where the amount the bettor wins or loses is determined by the margin which the value of a specified outcome varies from the expected value quoted by a bookmaker

Square – slang term for a casual or novice bettor or one who generally loses money

Stake – a sum of money wagered

Steam – a substantial move in a betting line or odds, usually caused by the amount of money being wagered

Steam Move – A sudden, drastic and uniform line movement across the entire sports betting marketplace

Straight Up – when a team wins or loses an event. The point spread isn’t involved with the winner or loser

Sucker Bet – slang for a “bad bet” or one that significantly favors the bookmaker

Take the Points – when a bettor places a wager on an underdog they are taking the points offered by the sportsbook

Take the Price – Similar to taking the points. This is when a bettor takes the price on a game offered by the sportsbook. The bet is typically wagering a moneyline on the underdog

Teaser – a point spread wager containing multiple selections where the bettor can adjust the spread for each selection in their favor; the more the spread is changed, the lower the payout becomes

Ticket – the receipt a bookmaker will give to confirm a wager. At a physical sportsbook, this printed-out ticket is what must be turned in to collect winnings. At online sportsbooks, all tickets are digital

Tissue Price – The initial odds offered by a sportsbook. This price is usually considered to be the fairest price on a wager

Totals Bet – a wager on the total number of something (such as points or goals scored in a match); the numbers that bettors will choose the over or under on points (or runs, goals, etc,) scored

Tout – An individual who sells their picks or their sports betting expertise to others

Treble – a wager consisting of three separate selections

True Odds – the actual odds of a sporting event’s outcome. Unlike implied probability, the true odds for both sides in a matchup will add up to 100%. These represent the most accurate prediction for how an event will go

Underdog – selection in a betting market which is least likely to win

Under – When a bettor wagers that the combined point total of two teams will be lower than a specified number; the opposite side of the wager is called the over

Units – a metric of the amount wagered on a bet used for tracking; a unit can be any denomination of currency that aligns with the bettors bankroll, budget or betting tendencies

Value – Getting the highest possible edge with the best implied odds vs true odds. A wager has good value if the true odds are higher than the implied probability

Value Bet – a wager where the theoretical likelihood of winning is greater than the odds suggest

Vig – abbreviation of vigorish

Vigorish – the margin/profit that bookmakers build into the odds they offer. It comes from the Russian term for winning: vyigrysh

Wager – another term for a bet or any type of bet

Welch – to not pay off a losing bet

Wire-to-Wire – a wager that a team will lead at every quarter or for a specific number of quarters

Wiseguy – a professional bettor; another term for a “sharp”