Whether you’ve been into sports betting for years or you’re just getting started, you need to know how to talk the talk. Check out this glossary of some of the most common sports betting terms so you won’t be left guessing.
Sports betting has been around for centuries, and its global popularity has meant that it has collected a lot of terminology around its every aspect.
As part of our ultimate guide to sports betting, we’re going to share common sports-betting lingo and slang you need to know if you want to get the hang of the whole process.
Another name for the parlay bet. It consists of two or more selections as part of your wager, and every side you bet on has to win.
When betting on sports, the term “action” refers to any live wagering option.
These appear on the betting boards after the main lists have already been posted. These can happen due to a postponed match, like a rainout.
Against the Spread (ATS)
How well a team does when it comes to covering a point spread rather than being the outright winner.
This is another way of referring to moneyline odds. They can be converted into fractional or decimal odds, and they show the favorite with a minus (-) symbol and the underdog with a plus (+) symbol.
The sum of money you’ve set aside strictly for betting purposes. It typically goes up with each winning bet and goes down with each losing wager. Once you’ve determined your bankroll, you should bet only about 2% of that amount to keep yourself from betting too much at once.
A person who is making wagers on any given event.
An abbreviated term for sportsbook. This is the dedicated space for wagering on sports, and they often create their own betting lines.
Also abbreviated as “bookie.” This is the individual or organization that is licensed to create betting lines and take bets in a professional capacity.
A slang term for the favorite in any given matchup.
Chalk Bettor/Chalk Player
Someone who typically bets on the favorites.
This is how much the bookmaker will take on any given bet. It’s also called the vig.
Someone who bets against the trends and mainstream popular opinion. They usually do so because they see a positive value in betting this way.
When a team covers the spread, that means the favorite won and the final score of the game exceeded the given point spread. If New England won 32-21 over Detroit, the Patriots are covering a 10-point spread. If the Patriots win 29-21, they do not cover that given spread, and any bets on the spread are counted as losing wagers.
Common in Europe, they present the odds of either side in a matchup as decimals. If the Portland Thorns are given 2.5 odds to win, the implied probability of them winning is a 40% chance (1 ÷ 2.5 = 40%). If the Orlando Pride are given 8.0 odds to win, they have a 12.5% chance of winning (1 ÷ 8.0 = 12.5%).
A slang term for a $1,000 wager.
A line where the commission is 10%.
Short for underdog. This is the team or player who is more likely to lose in a matchup.
Someone who typically bets on the underdogs.
Also referred to as a push. If the final score lands exactly on the given point spread, there is no winning bet, and all bettors get their money back.
A bet where you aren’t paying any commission/vig. This is exceedingly rare.
The player or team who is most likely to win in any given matchup. Betting on the favorite typically means lower payouts.
Different nicknames for a $50 bet.
A bet placed on only the first half of the game. The final result of the game doesn’t matter.
These are the odds that are locked in after a bettor makes a wager. They will not change even if the odds for that selection move in the future.
Most common in the U.K., they present the odds of either side in a matchup as fractions. If Liverpool FC are given 1/3 odds to win, the implied probability of them winning is a 75% chance (3 ÷ [1+3] = 75%). If West Ham are given 4/1 odds to win, they have a 20% chance of winning (1 ÷ [4+1] = 20%).
Sometimes also called “outrights.” This is a wager that’s placed on an event in the future, like the winner of the Stanley Cup, Super Bowl, or World Series. Your chosen team would have to win multiple games for you to win this type of bet.
A bet placed on only the second half of the game. Many sportsbooks offer updated odds on the second half of the game, and they reflect how the first half of play went. These types of bets can be placed during the intermission or as live bets once the second half starts.
Betting odds that the bookmaker has set to try to add points to the underdog in order to level the playing field. Cleveland may get a +6.5 handicap when playing the stronger New Orleans. If the Browns’ final score is at least 6.5 points higher than what the Saints scored, you’ll win that bet.
A bettor who researches sports matchups to try to predict the winner. They are the type of person who pays close attention to statistics and other key factors to inform their bets.
The total amount of money a sportsbook will accept on an event.
This is when a sports bettor places a bet on one side of an event and then places another bet on the opposite side. Hedging can be used to either reduce your losses or guarantee some sort of profit. It’s popular with parlay and futures bets.
The field, court, rink, etc. where one team plays their games. If a team is playing on their home field, they’re said to have a home-field advantage. In sports like baseball, this can mean a greater likelihood of winning.
A slang term for the half point that may appear on a point spread. This half of a point guarantees that a wager will not result in a push. In other words, one side will win and one side will lose.
This is an advanced type of parlay bet that consists of two or more wagers in a specific order. A bettor applies their stake on a successive game if their initial wager is successful. For example, a bettor has wagered that the Steelers will first win their game and that the Packers will also win theirs. If the Steelers win, then the bettor wins profits on that game and their initial stake then gets placed on the Packers. If the Packers then also win, the bettor wins everything. If the Steelers win but the Packers don’t, the bettor earns winnings from only the first scenario.
The theoretical chances of a particular sporting outcome. This is based on the odds that the bookmaker provides to bettors.
In-Game Bets/In-Play Bets
Wagers placed on a game after it has already started. This practice has become much more popular with online sports betting, and so bookmakers will post multiple in-game betting options throughout many major sporting events.
A slang term for the profit margin that bookmakers build into their odds. This is their commission, also called the vig.
The maximum amount a sportsbook will allow a bettor to wager on a particular event. Limits are not per bet but a total limit — if the book’s limit on a game is $2,000, then the most you can bet on that game is $2,000; you cannot make multiple $2,000 bets.
The betting odds posted by a sportsbook.
The person who sets the odds and prices at any given bookmaker. They may also be called the oddsmaker.
Another name for in-game betting. This is when a bettor places a wager on an event while it’s taking place.
A team or player who pundits proclaim to be an easy winner. Be wary, as there are no sure things in sports betting.
The team or player who’s considered to be unlikely to win. Also referred to as the underdog.
This is when a bettor plays different sides of the same game and takes advantage of a line movement to potentially win both sides. It’s a type of hedging, but the goal isn’t to reduce a bettor’s exposure. Instead, the bet gets staked on a point spread in which the final score will land between both numbers, or in “the middle.” If this happens both wagers will win.
Also called a win bet or a straight bet, this type of bet is the most straightforward type of wager: You bet that one team will win an event. If they do, you win the bet, irrespective of how many points they accrue.
The more formal name for American odds. The odds are expressed in terms of money rather than actual decimal or fractional odds. Whenever a team has minus (-) odds as the favorite, the bettor puts down that amount to be able to win $100 back. If a team has positive (+) odds as the underdog, the bettor can win that amount for every $100 wagered.
A slang term for a $500 wager.
A wager where the bettor doesn’t lose any money and the original stake gets refunded. This can happen when the bookmaker cancels the betting options.
A type of wager on a non-sports event. Betting on awards ceremonies like the Oscars would count as a novelty bet, and some sportsbooks have those options.
The numbers that show the likelihood of an outcome and the potential payout of a wager.
When the probability that an event won’t happen is greater than the probability that it will.
These odds mean that the amount you could win is greater than the amount you’ve staked. If odds are written as 5/1, that means the odds are 5 to 1 against.
The opposite of odds against — when the probability that an event will happen is greater than the probability that it won’t. These odds mean that the amount you could win is less than the amount you’ve staked. With fractional odds, the odds on would look like 1/4.
The person who works for the sportsbook and sets the lines on the different games.
Off the Board
An event where a sportsbook isn’t accepting any wagers is off the board because the bookmaker has removed the game odds from the betting board. This can happen when a player is injured and might not participate or the weather has canceled the matchup.
The first line available for a specific sporting event.
When a bettor wagers that the combined point total of two teams will be higher than a specified number. Compare to under.
When sportsbooks set their implied probabilities for any given matchup, their percentages always add up to more than 100%. Whatever percentage is over 100 is their overround, and from there they make their profit/commission/vig.
A single bet that links together two or more wagers. In order to win the bet, you have to win all of the wagers in your parlay. If you lose one wager, you lose the entire bet. On the other hand, if you do win all of the wagers in your parlay, your payout is much higher because the odds were so difficult to beat.
The monetary sum a bettor collects from a winning wager. On a betting slip, the potential payout usually includes the original stake.
A game in which neither side is favored to win and the odds are the same on both sides. In a point spread, the number would be 0.
A type of point-spread wager in which you move the spreads out of your favor. While pleasers are an even more difficult style of parlay betting, making the odds harder equates to a larger potential payout.
The amount of points that the bookmaker determines a team will win or lose by. This creates a margin of victory for the winning team that they have to “cover” or beat. Each team gets assigned a point total that can be either added to or subtracted from the final score. The favorites might be listed with a negative (-7) spread while the underdog would be listed as having a “head start” with a positive (+7) point spread.
Another term for the odds.
Prop Bet/Proposition Bet
A wager on a specific proposed outcome. Prop bets can include who wins the coin toss, who will be the first player to score, passing yards, individual player strikeouts, and many more options.
A slang term for a sports bettor.
A tied wager, in which no one has covered the point spread. If a basketball game’s spread is 11 points and the final score is 110 – 99, then the favorite has won by the exact spread amount. Everyone gets their original stakes back in the event of a push. To avoid this, many sportsbooks will create fractional point spreads like +\-6.5.
A bet placed prior to or during any quarter of a sporting event.
Live lines that get updated immediately once sportsbooks adjust their lines.
Return on Investment (ROI)
A metric that bettors use to measure the efficiency of any investment. ROI = (gains – cost) ÷ cost.
This is a type of if bet that can work in all directions as opposed to going in a specific order. Making a reverse bet won’t alter your potential payout, but it will protect you from losing your entire stake if your first wager ends up losing.
A parlay bet in which you place multiple, small parlays at once. You can include different two-team combinations of events, and if you lose one part of the parlay you don’t automatically lose everything.
A skilled or professional sports bettor who uses as many resources as possible to make smart wagers. Sharps will shop around for the best value.
The two teams or players in a given matchup. Typically, they are the underdog (who is not favored to win) and the favorite (who is predicted to win).
Another term for the bookmaker. Oftentimes this is a physical location that accepts sports bets and has giant screens for people to watch the action.
An abbreviated term for the point spread.
A slang term for someone who is a novice or who generally loses their money betting on sports. They are the opposite of a sharp.
The amount of money a bettor risks when placing a bet. When a bettor wins a wager, they get their original stake returned to them along with their profits.
Another term for a moneyline bet. This is the most simple type of bet, in which you wager on which team will win.
A slang term for a bad bet that significantly favors the sportsbook.
Take the Points
When you bet on the underdog and take the sportsbook’s offered points in the point spread.
Take the Price
Similar to taking the points. This is when you accept the moneyline odds on the underdog.
A type of point-spread wager in which you adjust the spread further into your favor. This is another type of parlay bet and the opposite of a pleaser. Because you’re lowering the spread to make it easier to win, you’re making the odds easier as well, which equates to a lower potential payout.
The receipt a bookmaker will give you to confirm your wager. At a physical sportsbook, this printed-out ticket is what you’d turn in to collect your winnings. At online sportsbooks, all tickets are digital.
This is when both teams or players end up with equal scores at the end of the game. As a result of a tie, no money is won or lost.
The combined number of runs, points, or goals scored by both teams during the entire game, including overtime.
A wager on the combined total points both teams will score during the entire game. You bet on whether the actual total will be higher or lower than the sportsbook’s given number.
A person who sells their picks or general sports-betting expertise to others.
The actual odds of a sporting event’s outcome. Unlike implied probability, the true odds for both sides in a matchup will add up to 100%. These represent the most accurate prediction for how an event will go.
When a bettor wagers that the combined point total of two teams will be lower than a specified number. Compare to over.
The team or player who is less likely to win in a matchup.
Getting the highest possible edge with the best implied odds vs. true odds. A wager has good value if the true odds are higher than the implied probability.
A term for the commission that a sportsbook takes from each bet. This amount is built into the odds that they offer so that the bookmaker can earn a profit no matter which way the game goes. This means that the odds you see on the board are not the true odds of an event.
Any type of bet placed at a sportsbook or casino.
A slang term for handicappers and sharps who have a vast knowledge of their sports of choice.
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