Sports Betting Glossary

The world of sports betting can be intimidating to a new bettor or someone who is looking to place a wager for the first time. There are many terms and slang words used for several aspects of sports betting. This list breaks down what each term means and simplifies some commonly used sports betting and sportsbook jargon.

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Action

A term for how many bets placed and/or how much money is wagered on an event.

Against The Spread (ATS)

How a team or athlete performs in relation to the point spread. Usually used when referencing a team’s record for covering the spread over a certain period of time.

Alternate Spread

An alternate point spread from what the oddsmaker has set. Usually used in an attempt to either increase chances of winning or payout.

American Odds

Odds are displayed in numbers ranging from 100 and above. A “-” symbol is used to indicate how much you must wager to win $100, while a “+” symbol is used to indicate how much you would profit if $100 is wagered.

Backdoor Cover

When a team or individual covers the given point spread at the very end of a game or event. Usually used when referring to an underdog bringing the score within the point spread late in the game.

Bankroll

The total amount of money that a bettor has set aside to bet with.

Bad Beat

A bet that looked like it was going to win before losing at the last second, usually due to bad luck or an unlikely play.

Betting Unit

Also simply referred to as a “unit”, it’s the standard amount of money that a sports bettor will wager. The amount of the “unit” can differ from person to person.

Bettor

A person who has placed a bet.

Bookie (Bookmaker)

An individual that accepts wagers. Usually unregulated. Different from an establishment that accepts wagers (see Sportsbook).

Buy Points

The option to bet on a smaller (or bigger) point spread in exchange for a reduced possible payout.

Cash Out

An option offered by some sportsbooks which will allow a bettor to count the wager as a win before the event has completed in exchange for a reduced payout.

Chalk

Another term for “betting favorite”. The side of a bet that the sportsbook deems more likely to win.

Closing Line

The final available point spread before the event or game begins.

Consensus

The amount of money (or the amount of bets) that is placed on either side of a game or event.

Cover

Short for “covering the spread”. When a team or individual beats the point spread, either by winning by more points than the given spread (as a favorite) or by not losing by more than the given spread (as an underdog).

Decimal Odds

Sometimes referred to as “European odds” in which you calculate how much you can win on a wager by multiplying the amount you bet by the decimal odds given.

Dime

A slang term for a $1,000 bet, also known as a “dime bet”.

Dollar

A slang term for a $100 bet, also known as a “dollar bet”.

Edge

When a bettor believes they know factors that gives them a better chance of winning than what the odds would suggest. A perceived “edge” against the given odds.

Even Money

A bet that would result in a profit that exactly matches the amount of the bet. Usually a bet that has a slightly below 50 percent chance of winning or a 50/50 bet without the juice.

Exacta

Used in horse racing. Betting on which horses will finish 1st and 2nd.

Favorite (Betting Favorite)

The outcome/team/individual that has the best perceived odds of winning.

Fractional Odds

Most commonly used in horse racing, odds are shown as a fraction instead of American odds or decimal odds.

Futures

A type of long term bet that will be graded at a later date (near or far). The most common type of futures bet is a wager on a sports team to win their season-long championship. Can also be used when referring to a wager on a season-long award, a team’s season-long win total, or an event that’s set to take place sometime in the future like an entertainment awards ceremony, election, a boxing or UFC match and much more.

Handicapping

The process of studying and researching statistics, trends, and any other factors before placing a bet.

Handicappers

People who handicap sports and events before betting on them.

Handle

The total amount of money that a sportsbook has taken from wagers on a game or event.

Hedging (Middling)

The process of betting on both sides of the same bet to ensure minimal losses or a guaranteed profit. Betting on live odds that are offered while the event or game is taking place is the most common way to hedge a bet. This strategy is also known as middling.

Hook

The half point on a point spread or total that ensures a bet must be won or lost, it cannot push. A spread or total that does not have a hook has a chance of landing directly on the given point spread or total number, which would result in the bet being refunded.

Juice (Vig or Vigorish)

The commission that a sportsbook takes on a given bet. When a wager is considered a 50/50 bet, the percentage difference between the amount you profit and the amount you wagered is called the juice, vig, vigorish or rake.

Laying the Points

A slang term for betting on a favorite on the point spread. You’re “giving” the underdog team a certain amount of points in order to get longer odds than a moneyline bet would offer. The opposite of “Taking the Points”.

Limit (Betting Limit or Wager Limit)

The maximum that a sportsbook will allow you to wager on a given event or game.

Lines

Another term for odds or a point spread.

Listed Pitchers

The pitchers that are assumed to start a baseball game when the bet is placed. In most cases if either pitcher does not start the game due to a lineup change or other circumstances, the bet will be void and refunded.

Lock

A slang term for a bet that is perceived by a bettor as a guarantee.

Long Odds

When something is less likely to happen the odds are considered “long”. Betting on an underdog would mean that you’re betting on “longer odds” than you would be if you were wagering on the favorite.

Long Shot

A bet that is considered to be extremely unlikely to happen, but one that would usually offer a large payout if it does.

Moneyline

The most simple and straight forward type of bet. It is a wager on a person or team to win a game/event without involving a point spread. When betting on a favorite on the moneyline the payout will usually be much smaller than it would be if you were betting on the point spread . When betting on an underdog on the moneyline, the payout will usually be much larger than it would be if you were betting on the point spread.

Nickel

A slang term for a $500 bet. Also known as a “Nickel bet”.

No Action

A wager that is cancelled and refunded due to a number of various possible reasons.

Oddsmaker (Linemaker)

The person at a sportsbook who sets the opening line or odds for a given event or game.

Off the Board

When a scheduled game or event is currently not available for bettors to wager on.

Opening Line

The first point spread that is set for a given event or game.

OVER/UNDER

Another term for a “total” bet which is most commonly a bet on how many total points will be scored in a game. Can also refer to a bet on the amount of any other measurable statistic in an event that can be wagered on.

OVER

When the amount of points (or other measurable statistic) surpasses the given total that was wagered on.

Parlay

A bet that has multiple different “legs” included. Each game or “leg” that is included in the parlay must hit for the parlay to be considered a winner. A much higher payout is offered than what would be possible if each leg was bet individually.

Pick’em

An event or game in which each side has a perceived 50 percent chance of winning. There is no favorite or underdog as both sides have an equal perceived chance of winning.

Point Spread (Spread)

A set number of points that is either given or taken away from each side of a sporting event to create 50/50 odds between a favorite and an underdog. The “favorite” must win by more than the point spread in order for the bet to cash. Also commonly just referred to as the “spread”.

Proxy

Someone who places a bet for someone else. Usually used by a bettor to bypass limit or geographical restrictions.

Prop Bet

A type of wager that is different from the basic point spread, moneyline, or point total.

Public

The side of a bet that is receiving a higher percentage of wagers. Usually referred to as the “public side” of a bet.

Push

When a bet is refunded due to the game ending in a draw or the result of the event lands directly on the given point spread or total.

Puckline

A form of a point spread that’s used in hockey games. Is always set at -1.5 for the favorite and +1.5 for the underdog but “alternate pucklines” may be offered.

Runline

A form of a point spread that’s used in baseball games. Almost always set at -1.5 for the favorite and +1.5 for the underdog, but alternate runlines are sometimes offered.

Self Exclusion

Identifying oneself as a problem gambler. If one opts in for self exclusion at an online sportsbook, the user will either be given a betting limit, or not be allowed to bet at all. All reputable sportsbook operators will have a self exclusion option.

Sharp

A slang term for a smart sports bettor, usually someone who does it professionally.

Short Odds

A bet that is expected to have a higher outcome of winning. The bigger the favorite, the shorter the odds. Opposite of “long odds”.

Side

The team that a bettor wagers on when placing a bet on the point spread. They are choosing which “side” of the point spread they are one.

Sportsbook (Book)

A sportsbook is an establishment where you can place your bets, whether online or in person. Often referred to as an operator.

Square

Someone who usually bets on the same side that the majority of bettors are on. They are usually a novice or new bettor.

Steam

When odds or a point spread changes rapidly due to a large amount of money or wagers being placed on one side.

Straight-Up

A simple bet on one team to win or lose. A different term for a moneyline bet.

Taking the Points

Betting on the underdog side of a point spread. The opposite of “Laying the points”.

Teaser

A “teaser bet” is similar to a parlay except the point spreads or totals are adjusted to give the bet a better chance of winning in exchange for a smaller payout.

Total

Another term for an OVER/UNDER bet. A wager on how many points (or other measurable statistic) is recorded during an event.

Tout

A person who sells their picks to other bettors.

Trifecta

A type of bet on a horse race. A wager on which horses will finish 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. All three must finish in the correct placing for the bet to be graded as a winner.

UNDER

When the amount of points (or other measurable statistic) does not surpass the given total that was wagered on.

Underdog

The individual or team that has been given odds or a point spread that indicates they’re less likely to win than the favorite.

Wager

Another term for placing a bet. Risking money in an attempt to correctly predict the outcome of an event or game.

3-Ball Bet

A type of golf bet in which you’re wagering on a golfer to finish with the best round score within the group of three that are playing together that day. The same bet between two golfers who are paired together is a 2-ball bet.

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