Sports betting is a different world and the language used can be confusing for people who are new to it.
Our glossary of the various words and phrases you’ll probably come across gives you all the definitions you need to know about wagering on sports.
Accumulator – A bet consisting of selections from at least two games, with all legs needing to win for the bet to be successful. Also called a parlay.
Across the Board – Betting on a horse to win, place and show.
Action – A bet of any type on a game or event.
Added game – Games that aren’t initially offered by a bookmaker but are then added later in the day, usually due to being rescheduled or at the request of customers.
Against the Spread (ATS) – The result of a bet when the spread is taken into account. Can also refer a team’s record when including the spread.
Agent – Someone who introduces new players to a sportsbook for a commission.
Alternative Line – Different point spreads or game total than the main line, each with adjusted odds to reflect the chance.
Also ran – Runners that finish a race but not in a position that will impact payouts. Usually refers to horses and greyhounds.
American Odds – The main way that US betting sites show odds. Numbers with a + in front of them (such as +200) shows the amount that would be returned from a $100 wager. Prices with a – in front (like -200) is the amount that needs to be bet to win $100.
Ante post – Odds posted at least a day before a horse or greyhound race. For big races, markets can exist for up to a year before the actual event and carries the risk of your selection not being involved in the race.
Arbitrage – Betting both sides of a line at different sportsbooks to ensure profit regardless of result, achieved when there is a discrepancy between bookmakers.
Asian Handicap – One type of handicap used in soccer that can be a full goal, half-goal, or quarter-goal.
Backdoor cover – A late score that impacts the spread but has no bearing on the outcome of a game.
Bad beat – A loss on a bet that was all-but locked in to be a winner for the duration of a game or event.
Bankroll – The amount of money in your betting account(s).
Bankroll management – How well you control your balance when betting. Good bankroll management is spearheaded by only betting on lines you perceive to have value and by not chasing losses.
Betting exchange – A platform that allows bettors to wager against each other and generally has better odds than a traditional sportsbook. The exchange taking a small percentage from winners in lieu of vig.
Bettor – People who bet on sports.
Bookie/Bookmaker/Book – A person or company that offers odds and takes bets on sports or other events.
Buck – A $100 wager.
Buying points – Adding points to the spread or total to make the line more favorable in exchange for reduced odds.
Cash out – Withdrawing from a sportsbook. Not to be confused with early cash out.
Chalk – The betting favorite. In daily fantasy sports, chalk is a player who is expected to be extremely high-owned in contests.
Chasing – Betting larger wagers than usual on random events to try to make back losses from previous bets.
Circle game – A game or event with lower limits than normal due to uncertain weather or player injuries that could impact lines.
Closing line – The final odds available just before a game starts.
Consensus – A side of a bet that takes most of the public money.
Contrarian – Someone who goes against the public opinion of a line. In daily fantasy, a contrarian pick is a player who is likely to be very low-owned.
Correlated parlay – A parlay that has multiple selections from the same game in it, each of which will impact the other.
Cover – Winning once the spread has been taken into account. This is also known as ‘covering the spread’.
Cross-sport prop – A bet involving results from more than one sport. Sometimes shortened to x-sport prop.
Dead heat – Two or more competitors that cannot be separated, most commonly in a horse race. Generally, a sportsbook will divide your stake by however many are tied and pay you out at the normal odds.
Decimal odds – An alternative way to show odds, mainly used around Europe and in Australia. A bet that is -110 in American Odds would be 1.91 in decimal, and the 1.91 refers to total returns from $1.
Degenerate – A compulsive or reckless gambler.
Dime – A $1,000 wager.
Dog – The underdog.
Dollar – A $100 bet.
Double chance – Covers two results in a three-way market and usually used to bet on an underdog in soccer, giving bettors the chance to oppose the favorite winning.
Draw – A tie.
Drifting – Odds that get longer – such as from +100 to +120 – after they are first available are drifting.
Each-way – Betting on a competitor to finish first and also finish in the places at reduced odds. The number of places available in a race or event varies depending on how many opponents there are.
Early cash out – Settling a bet early in exchange for a smaller amount than the full returns.
Earn – How much a sportsbook makes or loses from an event.
Edge – The perceived advantage that a bettor feels they have over a sportsbook, usually acquired from lengthy analysis.
Even money – A wager which has a theoretical 50% chance of coming in. The total amount you win, including stake, is double the risk amount.
Exacta – Picking two horses to finish first and second in the right order in a race. Also called forecast.
Exotic – A bet that is more complicated than a standard straight bet or parlay.
Expected value (EV) – How a bettor determines whether a bet should be successful. Positive expected value (+EV) is good for punters, negative expected value (-EV) is bad.
Exposure – How much money a sportsbook is willing to lose on a particular bet. Also called liability.
Favorite – The team or competitor expected to win.
Field – The list of competitors in an event such as a golf tournament or a horse race. Some sportsbooks will allow you to bet “the field” against a specific team or player.
First-half/first-quarter line – Odds that only take the first-quarter or first-half into consideration.
Fixed odds – When a bet is placed, the odds become fixed for that specific wager. If the line moves after that, the odds on previous bets remain the same.
Flat – Standard -110 line on either side of a market.
Forecast – Picking two competitors, usually horses, to finish first and second in a particular order. Also known as an exacta.
Form – How well a team or competitor is playing recently.
Fractional odds – Primarily used in the UK to display odds. A line that is -110 in American odds would be displayed as 10/11 in Fractional, which means you win $11 for every $10 risked.
Futures – Bets that are for more than just a single game and will usually be settled at the end of the season, such as the winner of a championship.
Getting down – Putting a bet on.
Giving the points – Betting on the favorite.
Grand salami – The over/under line on how many runs or goals or points will be scored across a single day in a specific league.
Half-time line – Odds set at half-time of a game for the second half.
Handicapper – Someone who researches and analyzes games or events to predict winning bets.
Handle – The amount of money a sportsbook takes on a single game or event.
Heater – A bettor on a winning streak.
Hedge – Betting on the opposite side of an existing bet to either minimize risk or guarantee a small profit.
High roller – A bettor who wagers high amounts of money.
Hold – The money that a sportsbook keeps after paying out winners.
Hook – A half-point on a spread, eliminating the chance of a push.
Implied percentage – The theoretical chance that a bet has of coming on based on the odds available. A line that is -110 has a 52.4% chance of being successful.
In-play/in-game/in-running – Markets that are available to wager on during a game or event.
In the money – A horse that finishes first, second or third in a race (win, place or show).
Key numbers – The most common margins of victory in a sport. In football, the key numbers are 3, 7 and 10 because you get three points for a field goal and seven for a converted touchdown.
Laying the price/points – Betting the favorite against the spread.
Lay off – When a bookmaker or bettor guarantees a profit by using a betting exchange to offer odds to other bettors.
Liability – How much money a sportsbook is set to lose on a particular bet or market. Also known as exposure.
Limit – The most money that a sportsbook is willing to take on a single bet.
Line movement – Alterations to a line made by a sportsbook based on a variety of factors such as exposure, limits, or player injuries.
Linemaker – Someone who creates odds. Also called an oddsmaker.
Lines – The odds of a market. Can also be called a price.
Listed pitchers – In baseball betting, sportsbooks will show pitchers who are scheduled to start that game. If one or both pitchers don’t start for any reason, then betting sites will usually void all bets on that game.
Live betting – Placing wagers on a game as it happens. Also called in-play.
Live odds – Markets that are available during a game or event for live betting.
Lock – A bet that someone perceives to be a sure thing.
Long shot – A bet that only has a small chance of being successful.
Lump on – Place a large wager.
Matador – A late action in a game that impacts the spread but not the end result (usually called a backdoor cover).
Middle/middling – Betting both sides of a line, such as a point spread. For instance, a bettor may bet on -5.5 on Los Angeles Lakers and then after the game has started, bet on Golden State Warriors +7.5 in-play. If the Lakers win by six or seven points, both bets will win.
Moneyline – A wager on which team will win the game,
Moose – A bet that goes wrong at the last minute. Similar to a bad beat.
Multis/Multiples – Any bet that involves more than one selection, such as a parlay.
- Double – A parlay consisting of two selections.
- Treble – A parlay consisting of three selections.
- Trixie – Three doubles and a treble. Three selections are required.
- Patent – Three singles, three doubles and a treble. Three selections are required.
- Yankee – Six doubles, four trebles, and a four-leg parlay. Four selections are required.
- Lucky 15 – Four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a four-leg parlay. Four selections are required.
- Lucky 31 – Five singles, 10 doubles, 10 trebles, five four-leg parlays and a five-leg parlay. Five selections are required.
Mush – A bettor considered to be bad luck.
Nap – The best bet for an event or game.
Newbie/noob – Someone who is new to betting on sports.
Nickel – A $500 wager.
No action – A wager that is canceled and stake returned.
Novelty odds – Bets on non-sporting events such as the Oscars, or on markets like Super Bowl National Anthem Length.
Odds – Betting lines that show the payout of a wager.
Odds-on favorite – A favorite who is listed as shorter than +100/Evens.
Oddsmaker – Someone creates sports betting odds for sportsbooks. Also called a linemaker.
Odds shopping – Looking at the same line at multiple sportsbooks to find the best price.
Off the board (OTB) – A game that is unavailable for wagers, usually due to uncertainties such as weather or player injuries.
Opening line – The first prices available on markets.
Outright – A bet that takes an entire season into account rather than just a single game. Usually known as a future.
Outsider – A selection that only has a small chance of winning.
Over – More than the projected total in a bet such as total points in a game. Opposite of under.
Overlay – When the odds favor the bettor rather than the sportsbook. The opposite of underlay and also known as value.
Over/under – A bet on whether the actual total will be over or under the projected total set out by the sportsbook.
Parlay – A single bet consisting of selections from at least two games or events. Also known as an accumulator.
Past post/past posting – Wagers that are made after an event starts, usually in the context of horse racing.
Payout – The total amount won from a bet.
Pick ‘em (PK) – When two teams can’t be separated on the points spread and so neither is determined to be the favorite.
Point spread – A handicap applied to a team to make the game more even for wagering purposes. The favorite starts with a negative handicap and the underdog with a positive.
Professional handicapper – A person who makes their living by gambling on professional sports.
Prop bet/props – Bets that are settled on the stats of a player or teams, such as touchdowns thrown. Short for proposition.
Public money – Bets placed by casual gamblers on a market.
Puck line – The point spread in hockey. Almost always set at 1.5 goals.
Punter – Someone who bets.
Puppy/pup – The underdog in a game.
Push – A wager which results in a tie on both sides. Money is returned to the bettor in this instance, assuming there is no option to bet on a tie.
Quarter lines – Bets that refer to a specific quarter of a game rather than the entire event.
Recreational bettor – Someone who bets for fun and usually only on major events like the Super Bowl.
Reduced juice – A sportsbook that offers better prices than usual such as -105 on both sides of the spread rather than -110.
Reload – A deposit into an online sportsbook account.
Return – The amount of money you win from a bet.
Reverse line movement – Happens when one side of a market takes the most bets but the line moves in the opposite direction. An example would be most people wagering on a spread of -4.5, signifying confidence in that team, but the line moves to -3.5 – meaning that sharps prefer that bet.
Risk – How much is wagered.
ROI (Return on Investment) – The amount of money that is gained or lost on bets over a period of time.
Rotation number – An ID number given to each betting option, usually only found at physical sportsbooks.
Round robin – A wager that consists of more than one parlay bet.
Run line – The baseball equivalent of the spread. Generally set at 1.5 runs.
Scalper – Someone who takes advantage of price discrepancies at different sportsbook to bet on both sides of the market, guaranteeing a return regardless of result. See arbitrage.
Scamdicapper – Someone who promises winning bets at a near-impossible rate.
Score – A big win.
Sharp – A respected and experienced sports bettor with a proven track record. Sportsbooks usually move lines based on their bets and ignore public money.
Sharp money/sharp action – Bets placed by sharp bettors.
Soft line – A selection that a bettor believes offers good value.
Sportsbook – An online or physical place that accepts bets on various sporting events. Also called a bookmaker.
Spread – Shorter way of saying point spread.
Square – A new sports bettor.
Stake – How much you wager on a bet. Also called risk.
Steam – Sudden line movement.
Straight up – A bet on a team to win, also called a moneyline bet.
Sucker bet – A wager that looks good but is unlikely to win.
Superfecta – A bet where you choose the first four finishers in the correct order in a horse race.
Sweat/sweating – A bet that goes down to the wire.
Syndicate – A group of bettors who combine money and knowledge to place bets.
Taking the points – Placing a bet on the underdog.
Tapped out – Run out of money for wagering.
Teaser – A parlay bet consisting of only spreads or totals that allows you to adjust the points, giving different odds to a regular parlay.
Three-way odds – Markets that have three selections available to wager on.
Ticket – Receipt of a bet.
Tilting – Placing bets without much thought or consideration. Goes hand-in-hand with chasing losses.
Total – The projected number of points/goals/runs scored in a game. Bettors can wager on whether the actual total will be higher or lower.
Tout – Someone who provides tips for a game. Can either be paid or free.
Traders – People responsible for monitoring betting lines and ensuring they are moved when appropriate.
Trends – Statistical tendencies of a team or competitor.
Trifecta – A bet where you choose the first three finishers in the correct order in a horse race.
Tweeners – Sportsbooks that offer lines in the middle of most others.
Two-way odds – Markets that have two selections available to wager on.
Under – Less than the projected total in a bet such as total points in a game. Opposite of over.
Underdog – The team or competitor not expected to win.
Underlay – Odds that favor the sportsbook rather than the bettor. Opposite to overlay.
Unit – The size of a bet based on confidence level. One unit should equal 1% of your entire bankroll.
Value – When the bettor perceives a selection to be more likely to win than the odds suggest. Also called an overlay.
Vig/vigorish – The margin that is built into the odds offered by a sportsbook, ensuring they will come out on top almost every time. Also called juice.
Wager – A bet.
Welch – When a bookie doesn’t pay out a winner.
Wise guy – A sharp.
X-sport prop – A bet involving results from more than one sport. Short for cross-sport prop.
Yankee tax – When a sportsbook offers worse prices on teams that will see the most public action, such as the New York Yankees or Dallas Cowboys.
Zebras – Referees.