SPORTS BETTING TERMS & DEFINITIONS
In order to win bets like a seasoned sports bettor, it helps to communicate like a seasoned sports bettor. Much of the language of betting is intuitive, and it’s fairly easy to learn. But you will happen upon a sports betting term that you don’t know or recognize, and it may hamper your ability to make the best possible decision when placing your bets.
To help prevent this from happening we have provided this list of sports betting terms and definitions worth knowing and understanding. And worth bookmaking on your browser for future reference.
Action — A sports bet of any kind. Another word for a live wager.
Across the Board — A horse racing bet that puts money down on the same horse to win, place, and show. (Finish first, second, or third.)
Against the Spread (ATS) — Wins and losses as measured against the posted point spread, and not just wins and losses in the standings.
Alternate Lines — These are point spreads that differ from the main point spread for a game, and payout different odds.
American Odds — These odds are listed as pluses or minuses around a base number of 100. Even odds are +/-100. The favorite pays on negative numbers, while the underdog pays on positive numbers.
Arbitrage — A betting strategy that involves guaranteeing some level of profit by betting all sides of a bet. This usually involves finding different odds and spreads at different sportsbooks.
Bad Beat — An unexpected loss on a bet that appeared to be a guaranteed winner.
Bankroll — The total amount of money that a bettor sets aside for sports betting.
Betting Exchange — A place for bettors to wager against other bettors, instead of against a sportsbook. A bettor posts about a desired bet, and if another bettor wants to take that bet, the betting exchange facilitates the transaction and takes a small fee.
Betting Odds — Odds that represent the likelihood of a specific outcome, and how much a bet on that outcome will pay. [LINK TO SPORTS BETTING ODDS PAGE]
Bookmaker/Bookie — A person or establishment that sets odds and point spreads and takes in sports wagers.
Buck — A $100 sports bet. This is sometimes called a “Dollar.”
Buy Points — Some bets will allow a bettor to lay more money down to receive a half-point or more on a point spread. This is called buying points.
Chalk — Another word for the favorite in a sporting event, this is more often used to describe a large favorite. A bettor who prefers to place their bets on favorites is called a chalk player.
Closing Line — The point spread at the time the game begins.
Cover — A bet that covers the point spread. If a bet is covered with a score late in the game it’s called a backdoor cover.
Decimal Odds — A common way to show odds in Europe, so much so that they are sometimes called European Odds. A favorite shown as -200 in American Odds is listed at 1.50 in Decimal Odds.
Dime Line — When the difference between the favorite and the underdog on the moneyline is 10 cents, this is the dime line, and it is the standard profit collected by the bookmaker.
Even Money — This is a bet with no odds and no juice. You bet $100, you can win $100.
Field — Some prop bets allow bettors to bet the field — meaning they can bet on all of the teams or individuals not specifically listed and given odds.
Fixed Odds — When a bet is placed on a sporting event, the odds or point spread that are listed at the time the bet is placed become fixed. The odds on the board may change, but the bettor is playing the fixed odds shown on their betting slip. This isn’t the case with parimutuel wagering.
Fractional Odds — Mainly used in the UK and Ireland (and horse racing around the world), a favorite listed at -200 in American Odds is listed at 1/2 in Fractional Odds.
Futures Bet — A wager on an event far off in the future, such as the winner of next season’s Super Bowl, next year’s U.S. Open Champion, or the next team to win the Final Four.
Handicapper — A person or group that chooses the odds and point spread of an event. Can also refer to people who bet on sports and predict winners. A “handicap” refers to the actual spread that is used to level the bet.
Handle — The total amount of wagering taken in by sportsbooks.
Hedging — Placing a bet opposite of a bet that has already been wagered to minimize a potential loss or ensure that there is at least some smaller amount of profit.
Hook — Another word for half a point, the “hook” is what takes a line from 7 points to 7.5 points, preventing the bet from ending in a tie.
In-Play/In-Game Wagering — Also referred to as live wagering because these are bets placed on an event while it is in progress. As the game progresses there are new odds and point spreads, new prop bets, and multiple buyout options.
Juice — Also called vig (short for vigorish), this is the fee the sportsbook charges for its services. Most point spread bets pay at -110, which means that for every $110 a book takes in bets, it pays out $100. The extra $10 that is kept by the book is the juice.
Lay Points — When betting the point spread favorite of an event, the bettor is said to be laying the points.
Limit — The largest amount of money that a sportsbook will allow a bettor to make.
Lines — Another word for odds or point spread.
Lock — A way to describe an easy winner. Although it’s worth remembering that even “locks” do occasionally lose.
Middle Betting — A rare but possible occurrence, when a bettor takes one side of a wager, and the point spread or odds move enough that a bet is placed on the other side of the wager, and both bets win. Example: A bet is placed on the underdog at +3.5 and the favorite at -2.5, and the favorite wins by 3, the bettor has “middled” the bet.
Moneyline — A win/loss bet that uses odds to determine the favorite and the underdog. The moneyline tells you exactly how much a winning bet will pay.
No Action — A bet in which a winner or loser was not determined and the original money is returned to the bettor.
Off the Board — If there is uncertain injury news or something else that makes it difficult to set accurate odds or a point spread, a game may be taken off the board — meaning that no bets are being accepted at that time.
Opening Line — The first point spread listed for a game.
Over/Under — Also called a totals bet, an over/under bet is a wager on the total number of combined points scored in a game, and the bettor takes either over the posted line, or under it.
Parlay — Multiple wagers that are combined into one large wager. If all of the small wagers are winners, the parlay is a winner, and the payout grows as the number of bets grows. But if even one bet loses, the entire parlay loses.
Pick ’Em — A game that has no favorite or underdog. Instead of a point spread these games are listed as PICK.
Point Spread — The most popular type of team sport wager, the point spread represents the margin of victory in which the favored team must win the game in order for a bet on the favorite to also win.
Proposition — A proposition, or prop bet, is a wager on an event that takes place during the game, like the first team to score, number of made three-point baskets, or which player rushes for the most yards.
Puck Line — Hockey’s version of a point spread bet, the puck line is almost always -1.5 or +1.5, depending on if you’re betting the favorite or the underdog.
Push — A draw or tie. A bet that ends with no winner.
Round Robin — A type of wager that takes several different bets and turns them into a series of small parlays.
Run Line — Similar to a point spread bet, a run line bet is specific to baseball and pays different odds depending on if you are giving runs to an underdog or taking runs away from a favorite.
Sharp — A respected or professional sports bettor who often places large wagers. They make more sophisticated bets and have a greater influence on how a bookmaker adjusts their odds.
Square — A casual sports bettor who places wagers as a hobby. Squares are less experienced, less knowledgeable, and less respected by the bookmaker.
Straight-Up — There is no point spread involved. When it’s just win or lose, the bet is straight-up.
Take the Points — When a point spread bet is placed on the underdog the bettor is “taking the points” the sportsbook is offering.
Teaser — A type of parlay in which a bettor can adjust the point spread on each of the individual wagers. When the spread is moved in favor of the bettor the payoff odds are lowered.
Tout — A person who sells their expertise in the way of sports betting picks.
Underdog/Dog — The team predicted to lose the game and the bet that comes with the biggest payoff.
Unit — A unit is a measurement of money and can be any amount the bettor chooses. When reading about specific betting strategies often there is a reference to betting a “unit.” This is simply a way to ensure that the betting amount remains consistent.
Value — Finding the best odds on a wager. Getting “value” on a bet means that the bet comes with the highest edge to the bettor.
Wager — Any type of bet.
Wire-to-Wire — A bet on a team to maintain a lead at every point of an event. Most common with NBA bets, and team-leading after each of the four quarters, wire-to-wire bets can be placed on football, as well as golf, which requires that the golfer lead the event after each of the four rounds.
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Source — Linesniper.com (Sports Betting Glossary)