Sports Betting Glossary
If you are new to betting on sports, you will quickly see that there are a lot of words and terms to take in, both of the formal and slang variety.
Just as our sports betting guides help with understanding the ins and outs of betting, this list breaks down and simplifies commonly used sports betting and sportsbook terms.
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.
Example: The Milwaukee Bucks are 18-19 against the spread this season.
Alternate Spread/Alternate Total
An alternate point spread or total that differs from what the oddsmaker has set. Usually used in an attempt to either increase chances of winning or payout.
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.
When a spread or an over/under bet hits 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.
The total amount of money that a bettor has set aside to bet with.
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.
Also simply referred to as a “unit,” this is the standard amount of money that a sports bettor will wager. The amount of the “unit” can differ from person to person. For one person, a unit can be $500. For another person, a unit can be $5.
A person who has placed a bet.
The option to bet on a smaller (or bigger) point spread in exchange for a reduced possible payout.
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.
This is another term for a betting favorite. The side of a bet that the sportsbook deems more likely to win.
The final available odds before an event or game begins.
The amount of money (or the number of bets) that is placed on either side of a game or event.
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).
For example: If the Buffalo Bills are favored by 10.5 points (-10.5) over the Miami Dolphins and win 31-20, they will have covered the spread. But if they beat the Dolphins 31-24, that means the Dolphins will have covered the spread as a 10.5-point underdog (+10.5).
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.
A slang term for a $1,000 bet.
When a bettor believes they know factors that gives them a better chance of winning than what the odds would suggest.
A bet that would result in a profit that exactly matches the amount of the bet.
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.
Most commonly used in horse racing, odds are shown as a fraction instead of American odds or decimal odds.
For example, the favorite in a horse race could have 2/1 odds to win, while the second favorite could have 5/2 odds to win.
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 (Super Bowl futures, World Series futures, NBA championship futures, and Stanley Cup futures, to name a few examples).
This term 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 tennis tournament, a boxing or UFC match, and much more.
The process of studying and researching statistics, trends, and any other factors before placing a bet.
People who handicap sports and events before betting on them.
The total amount of money that a sportsbook has taken from wagers on a game or event, or the total amount of money that a sportsbook has taken in wagers over a given period of time.
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.
The half point (.5) on a point spread or total that ensures a bet must be won or lost and 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 are “giving” the underdog team a certain number of points in order to get longer odds than a moneyline bet would offer. This is the opposite of “taking the points.”
For example: If the Buffalo Bills are favored by 10.5 points over the Miami Dolphins, and you bet on the Bills to cover the -10.5, then you are laying the points.
Limit (Betting Limit or Wager Limit)
The maximum that a sportsbook will allow you to wager on a given event or game.
Another term for betting odds.
The pitchers that are assumed to start a baseball game when the bet is placed.
If either pitcher does not start the game due to a lineup change or other circumstances, the bet will be void and refunded in most cases.
A slang term for a bet that is perceived by a bettor as a guarantee.
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.
For example, if Vanderbilt has +1800 odds to beat Georgia in football, they have very long odds to win.
A bet that is considered to be extremely unlikely to happen, but one that would usually offer a large payout if it does.
For example, if Vanderbilt is +1800 to beat Georgia in football, they are a long shot to win.
A moneyline bet is a straightforward 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.
A slang term for a $500 bet. A “big nickel” bet is a $5,000 bet.
A wager that is cancelled and refunded due to a number of various possible reasons.
For example, if a baseball game is called early due to inclement weather, any bets that were contingent on the game going the full nine innings will be considered no action.
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.
The first odds that are set for a given event or game.
When the number of points (or other measurable statistic) surpasses the given total that was wagered on.
Example: If the total for the Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys game is 45, and the Cowboys defeat the Eagles 27-20, that means the over hits.
Another term for a “total” bet which is most commonly a bet on how many total points will be scored in a game.
It can also refer to a bet on the amount of any other measurable statistic in an event that can be wagered on. For example, many prop bets are over/under bets.
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.
For parlays–which are also known as combination “combo” bets or accumulators–much higher payout is offered than what would be possible if each leg was bet individually.
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”.
- Miami Dolphins +10.5 (-110)
- Buffalo Bills -10.5 (-110)
Someone who places a bet for someone else. Usually used by a bettor to bypass limit or geographical restrictions.
A type of wager that is different from the basic point spread, moneyline, or point total.
Popular prop bets include over/under bets on the total number of points a basketball player may score, how many passing yards a quarterback may have, how many strikeouts a pitcher may record, or the number of shots on goal a hockey player may take in a game.
The side of a bet that is receiving a higher percentage of wagers. Usually referred to as the “public side” of a bet.
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.
Example: If the total for the Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys game is 45, and the Cowboys defeat the Eagles 24-21, then there is a push for over/under bets.
A form of a point spread that’s used in hockey games.
Typically, you will see the puck line at -1.5 for the moneyline favorite and +1.5 for the moneyline underdog but alternate puck lines may be offered.
- Montreal Canadiens (road team) +1.5 (-130)
- Toronto Maple Leafs (home team) -1.5 (+110)
A form of a point spread that’s used in baseball games. Almost always set at -1.5 for the moneyline favorite and +1.5 for the moneyline underdog, but alternate runlines are sometimes offered.
- New York Mets (road team) +1.5 (-190)
- Atlanta Braves (home) -1.5 (+160)
When someone identifies themselves as a problem gambler.
If one opts in for self-exclusion at an online sportsbook, that means you are voluntarily choosing to be banned from gambling at a particular sportsbook. All reputable sportsbook operators, whether in person or online, will have a self-exclusion option.
A slang term for a smart sports bettor, usually someone who does it professionally.
A bet that is expected to have a higher probability of winning. The bigger the favorite, the shorter the odds. Opposite of “long odds”.
Example: Georgia is playing Vanderbilt in football. The Bulldogs, with a moneyline of -5000, have very short odds to win.
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 on.
Example: If you are betting on the Buffalo Bills to cover as a 10.5-point favorite against the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo -10.5 is the side you are on.
A sportsbook is an establishment where you can place your bets, whether online or in person. Also referred to as an operator.
Someone who usually bets on the same side that the majority of bettors are on. They are usually a novice or new bettor.
When odds or a point spread changes rapidly due to a large amount of money or wagers being placed on one side.
Straight Up (SU)
Another term for a moneyline bet.
Example: The Milwaukee Bucks are 25-12 straight up but 18-19 against the spread this season.
Taking the Points
Betting on the underdog side of a point spread. The opposite of “Laying the points”.
Example: The Miami Dolphins are playing the Buffalo Bills, and the Bills are favored by 10.5 points. If you bet Miami +10.5, that means you are taking the points.
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.
Another term for an over/under bet. A wager on how many points (or other measurable statistic) is recorded during an event.
A person who sells their picks to other bettors.
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.
When the number of points (or other measurable statistic) does not surpass the given total that was wagered on.
Example: If the total (over/under) for the Eagles vs Cowboys game is 45 and the Cowboys defeat the Eagles 27-17, that means the under hits.
The individual or team that has been given odds or a point spread that indicates they’re less likely to win than the favorite.
Another term for a bet or the act of placing a 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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