Sports Betting Terms You Should Know
If you are in the dark or confused about terms that are frequently used in sports betting. The following is a complete guide that will enable you to talk like a pro!
Action: Slang term for having a betting interest or wager on a game or contest.
Asian Handicap: This is a form of wagering using two handicaps. For example, Team A is -0.5/-1, while Team B is +0.5/+1. If you are placing a wager on Team A in an Asian Handicap, you are actually placing half of your wager on Team A at -0.5 and half on Team A at -1. If Team A wins by exactly one, you would win your bet at -0.5 and push your wager on Team A at -1. If you placed your wager on Team B, and they lost by one, you would push on the bet at +1 and would lose the bet at +0.5. The two market Asian Handicap can be expressed as either two numbers split (-0.5/-1) or as a quarter number. In this example, Team A would be -.75. The following is the Asian Handicap:
-.25 = (PK/-.5)
+.25 = (+0.5/PK)
-.75 = (-0.5/-1)
-1.25 = (+1.5/+1)
+1.25 = (+1.5/+1)
And so on. Any time that there is a quarter number or two numbers, the wager is split.
ATS: Abbreviation for Against The Spread. This acronym is usually followed by the record of a team that went against the oddsmaker’s lines during a specific time period.
Agent: A middleman who places wagers at sportsbooks or with local bookies for a commission. Agents also usually handle payment of winnings or collection of losses.
Arbitrage: The practice of taking advantage of two different sides on the same game for a guaranteed a profit. This is also known as sure betting. This is sometimes called a Scalp.
Added Game: A game that is not generally part of the sportsbook’s rotation, usually involving smaller schools.
American Odds: Also known as money line odds, expressed in terms of amount that must be wagered to win $100. For example, 10% in money line odds would be $110 to win $100.
Back Door Cover: Points scored late in a contest that have no meaningful effect on the outcome of the game, except to cover the point spread.
Betting Line: The point spread or money line.
Book: Abbreviation for sports book.
Bookie: Slang term for a bookmaker.
Bookmaker: Formal term for a bookie. It means a company that accepts wagers.
Bankroll: Money set aside to gamble with on sports betting.
Beef: A dispute or claim a player has with a bookmaker or sports book.
Buyback: Money that comes in on one side after the other side is heavily wagered to move the line.
Buying Points: The term refers to the process of obtaining a more favorable line on the team that you wish to bet. This can be done for either a favorite or underdog. The cost of points varies on the size of the bet and other factors.
Chalk: The favored team or athlete in a given contest or game.
Chalk Bettor: A player who bets a lot on favorites.
Circled Game: When the amount that you can bet on a game is limited due to uncertainty. Circled games happen when there is late-breaking news regarding weather, injuries, or other unknown variables. Circled games will normally have a clear designation.
Cover: Beating the point spread and winning your wager.
Canadian Line: Another name for a puck line. This is a combination point spread and money line wager on hockey games.
DAILY FANTASY SPORTS: Daily fantasy sports is an accelerated variant of traditional fantasy sports that are conducted over short-term periods, such as a week or a single day of competition, as opposed to those that are played across an entire season.
Dime: Slang term for a $1,000 wager.
Dime Line: A betting line that has a 10-cent difference between the underdog and the favorite. These are most common in baseball. An example would be a favorite at -120 and the underdog at +110.
Dog: Slang term for underdog, means a team not favored to win.
Dollar: Slang term for $100 wager. Sometimes called a Buck.
Degenerate: A compulsive, generally losing sports bettor.
Exposure: A sportsbook’s risk or amount of money on a given game, proposition or total of all parlay and teaser wagers. If a sportsbook is “highly exposed” on a game, they stand to win or lose a lot on the outcome.
Even Money: A bet that has no juice or vig. The odds would be +100 in money line or American odds.
Exotic: A bet that isn’t a straight wager, parlay, or teaser. These include exactas, trifectas and superfectas.
Favorite: The team or player that is considered most likely to win according to the oddsmakers.
Five-Inning Line: A wager that is placed on only the first five innings of a baseball game.
First Half Bet: Similar to a five-inning line, this bet is only for the first half of a basketball or football game.
Freeroll: A situation in betting where you can either push or win, but not lose your bet.
Futures: Bets placed on an event taking place sometime in the future. The most commonly bet future wager is the odds to win the Pro football championship, NBA Championship or MLB Championship.
Halftime Betting: Similar to first half betting, but these are posted at halftime and only involve the outcome of the second half of the game.
Handicapping: Researching sports and the bookmaker’s odds to make your bets on a specific game or event.
Handle: The amount of money, in dollar terms, which have been accepted on a game or specific prop.
Hook: Slang term for a half-point.
Hedge: Placing a wager that goes against a previous bet to guarantee a profit or minimize risk.
Juice: The bookmaker’s commission on each wager placed, also known as vigorish. The standard juice on each wager is 10%.
Layoff: A wager made by a bookie or sportsbook with another bookie or sportsbook that is done to balance action or reduce exposure.
Limit: The maximum amount that can be wagered on a specific game, proposition, parlay or teaser.
Line: Refers to the bookmaker’s current odds on a particular event.
Listed Pitcher: A pitcher or pitchers listed to start an MLB baseball game by the oddsmakers. A bet will often be graded "no action" if a pitcher is scratched, and the bet will be refunded.
Lock: Supposedly an easy winner, but the term is often misused.
Linesmaker: A person at a sportsbook that establishes the original betting lines or point spreads.
Long Shot: A team that is extremely unlikely to win according to the betting line.
Middle: A situation that allows a bettor to win both sides of the same betting market. For example, if a player takes team A at -6.5 and also manages to bet team B at +7.5 after a line movement. If team B wins by 7, the bettor “middles” the game.
Money Line: Odds for a team or athlete to win outright, regardless of the point spread. A -160 money line means that a player must bet $160 to win $100. A +120 money line means that a $100 bet will win $120.
Money Management: Also known as bankroll management. A strategy used by sports bettors to manage their sports betting funds.
MMA: Mixed-martial arts.
MULTI-SELECTION WAGERS: Bets in which at least two horses or athletes are selected to finish in a particular order. While these bets are more difficult to correctly select than single selection wagering, multi-selection wagers generally offer greater returns. See five examples below:
DAILY DOUBLE: You win if you pick the first-place horses or athletes of two preselected, separate props. A daily double is similar to a two-team parlay. (Example: A quarterback winner in prop one and a running back winner in prop two.)
PICK THREE: You win if you pick the first-place horses or athletes of three preselected, separate props. A pick three is similar to a three-team parlay. (Example: A quarterback winner in prop one, running back winner in prop two and a receiver winner in prop three.)
EXACTA: You win if you pick two horses or athletes to finish first and second in the exact order in a single fantasy prop.
TRIFECTA: You win if you pick three horses or athletes to finish first, second and third in the exact order in a single fantasy prop.
SUPERFECTA: You win if you pick four horses or athletes to finish first, second, third and fourth in the exact order in a single fantasy prop.
MVP: Most Valuable Player. Futures markets use the abbreviation for betting on the MVP for a specific season or game, e.g, NBA Finals MVP.
Nickel: Slang term for a $500 wager.
Nickel Line: A betting line that has a 5-cent difference between the favorite and underdog. These are much rarer than dime lines. An example of a nickel line would be the favorite listed at -120 and the underdog listed at +115.
No Action: A bet where no money is lost or won. This can occur on a cancellation or Push.
Odds: the likelihood of a certain game outcome that is determined by the bookmaker.
Offshore: The organized sports betting industry that operates outside the United States.
Off the Board: A game that the sports book has removed from its betting menu.
Oddsmaker: Same as a linemaker; someone who established and controls the betting line movements.
One Dollar: Slang term for a $100 wager.
Over/Under: Another term for a total. A wager on the number of final points scored in a game, quarter or halftime or by a particular team. Bettors can wager “Over” or “Under” the oddsmaker’s total.
Overlay: A situation in betting where the odds are higher than they should be on a particular game. This is generally due to public betting action and can be advantageous for sharp bettors.
PARI-MUTUEL SYSTEMS: Pari-mutuel is a betting system in which bettors wager against one another with odds being determined by what percentage of the prize pool is bet on each athlete. The odds are consistently updated and presented to the contestants in real-time. Final payout odds can fluctuate until the horse races or contests are closed at the beginning of the first sporting event.
Parlay: A wager that involves multiple bets or legs, in which all must win to have a winning ticket. These offer higher payouts than placing individual wagers. In the event of a push on one of the bets, the parlay would revert to a lower number of teams. For instance, if you push one leg of a 4-team parlay, the parlay would then become a 3-team parlay. If one team fails to cover the point spread, the bet is lost. Payoff odds are higher than if the bets were placed individually.
Pick or Pick’em: Abbreviated as PK by sportsbooks, which means there is no favorite or underdog in a current game. One might say, “the game is a pick,” if there is no favorite according to the sports books. A game listed at PK still has attached odds, generally starting at -110.
Point Spread: The oddsmaker’s handicap or projected margin of victory between two teams or opponents. If a bet lands on exactly the point spread number, it is considered a Push, and both sides get their money back. Point spread bets are usually offered at 11 to 10 odds. A $110 bet will win $100 for a total payout of $210.
Press: A larger than normal wager placed by a player. If a bettor has lost on the early games and bets big on a later game, one might say the bettor is “pressing.”
Price: The point spread, total, or money line odds.
Proposition Bet: Props, for short. A wager that is not dependent on the final score of the game. Player and team propositions are extremely common. These can be based on just about anything, such as which team will score first, the number of points a player will score, the number of three point shots a player will make, etc.
Public: Describes the sports betting masses as a whole. The public describes the average sports bettor. When someone says the “public” is heavy on a game, they’re referring to the everyday sports bettor.
Puck Line: Same as a Canadian Line. Hockey betting odds that is a combination between a point spread and a money line.
Push: When, from a wagering perspective, a game or contest ends with no winner or loser. Bettors from both sides have their bets refunded.
Quarter Line: A wager placed on a particular quarter in a football or basketball game. These betting options are abbreviated with 1Q, 2Q, etc.
Rotation: The official list of games on the board by a sportsbook.
Risk: The amount bet on a game or wager.
Round-Robin: A way to bet multiple parlays at the same time. A three-team round-robin is three different two team parlays. That is (A+B, B+C and A+C).
Runner: Someone who places sports bets for another person.
Runline: Similar to a puck line but used in baseball. Basically, a combination point spread and money line.
Run Down: All the lines for the day or specified time frame.
Sharp: A sophisticated or highly informed sports bettor; the opposite of the public.
Side: One of the two teams playing in a sporting event.
SINGLE SELECTION WAGERING: The most common types of bets comprised of Win, Place and Show.
WIN: You WIN if your selected or horse or athlete finishes first place in his/her fantasy prop.
PLACE: You PLACE if your selected horse or athlete finishes first or second in his/her fantasy prop. PLACE payout is typically less than WIN but offers two chances to receive a payout.
SHOW: You SHOW if your selected horse or athlete finishes first, second or third in his/her fantasy prop. SHOW payout is typically less than WIN or PLACE but offers three chances to receive a payout.
Spread: Shortened term for point spread.
Square: Similar to the public. A square is an unsophisticated or casual sports bettor.
Sportsbook: The physical location within a casino that accepts sports wagers.
Standard Line: The -110 or 10% commission that is the standard vig or juice at a sportsbook.
Steam: One-sided action that results in a line movement on a game or prop.
Straight Bet: A wager placed on a single game or prop. The outcome will be determined by the money line or point spread.
Straight-up: Winning a money line bet.
Takeback: Slang term for betting the price of an underdog on the money line wager.
Taking the Points: The practice of taking the points refers to betting on the underdog with the point spread. Taking the points and betting on the underdog is the same thing.
Teaser: Similar to a parlay but with the line adjusted in favor of the bettor. These can be utilized in both basketball and football. Like a parlay, all selections must win for the bet to cash. In football, the point spread can be moved by 6, 6.5, 7, 10 or 14 points. In basketball, the point spread can be moved by 4, 5 or 6 points.
Total: The combined number of points scored in a game by a both teams or a single team. Also, called the Over/Under.
Tout: Also known as a service. A tout is a person or organization that sells sports betting picks.
Ticket: A record of your sports betting wager.
Underdog: The team picked to lose in the minds of the oddsmakers, called the “dog” for short.
Value: The best odds or line available on a particular game or prop. If you get the best price, you could say you “got value.”
Vigorish: The commission charged by a bookmaker. “Vig” for short and also called “juice.” The standard vigorish is -110 or 10%.
Wise Guy: A person who has a lot of handicapping knowledge and wins a lot betting sports.