Sports Betting Glossary

Sports betting terms can be a little bit confusing for those who are just getting into handicapping. Heck, even those with intermediate or advanced backgrounds in sports gambling may be unsure of some of the jargon. Below, we have an exhaustive list of sports betting terms, with added definitions.

Action: This term is sometimes used when referring to betting action. A friend might ask you, “Do you have action on tonight’s game?”

Added Game: A game from a lower division which is not typically a part of a sportsbook’s rotation of leagues. These are usually college football and basketball contests, from lower division schools.

Agent: Agents are guys who work for local bookies or offshore sites that often handle collections and recruiting for bookmakers. They are typically paid on commission, based on the losing bettors they bring in.

American Odds: The term for the odds most utilized by North American betting markets. These are technically money line odds.

Arbitrage: Utilizing the betting market to place wagers on two sides of a market to lock in a profit regardless of the outcome. This is also known as “surebetting”, “scalping”, or “arbing” for short.

ATS: Acronym for “Against the Spread”. This is normally utilized to cite a team’s performance against the oddsmakers’ closing lines.

Backdoor Cover: When points are scored late in the game to cover the spread for a team that isn’t currently winning. It can be a moment of pure joy or anger, depending on what side you’re on.

Bad Beat: A term used when you experience a rough loss or run of luck during gambling. More commonly used in the poker world, it typically refers to when a player who is a large favorite in the hand loses on the latter streets.

Bankroll: A specific amount of money set aside for use with sports betting or other gambling games.

Beard: Someone who places bets for other person. Most likely due to them being limited or their action discouraged. Also called a “runner.”

Beef: A dispute or issue that a player has with a sportsbook.

Book: This is the short form for sportsbook or bookmaker. A person or an establishment that legally accepts bets from customers.

Bookie: Slang term for an illegal sportsbook or bookmaker.

Bookmaker: Technical term for a person or establishment that accepts wagers. Bookmaker is used more in European markets, compared to sportsbook in North America.

Buck: Slang term for a $100 bet.

Buyback: Money that comes in on the opposite side of a market after a large bet was placed on the other side to move the line.

Buying Points: The practice of buying points at a sportsbook or bookmaker. For instance, if the line offered is +6.5 for an NFL side, the bettor may choose to buy a half-point to make the line +7. This is known as “buying” points.

Canadian Line: Technical term for a “puckline.” The betting market is a combination point spread and money line for hockey.

Chalk: The favored team or market.

Chalk Bettor: Player who consistently bets favorites.

Circled Game: A market where the betting limits are lowered, typically due to injuries, as well as other factors. The bet may also not be available in teasers or parlays.

Closing line: The final line before the event or game starts. This is the line that is utilized in ATS spread statistics.

Consensus: The consensus play is the public’s opinion on a game. These numbers are reported on a variety of sites and usually get their numbers from offshore sportsbooks.

Cover: The ultimate result on a point spread bet. For a favorite to cover, they must win the game by more than the point spread. For an underdog to cover, they must win the game outright or lose by less than the point spread.

Degenerate: A compulsive, typically losing sports bettor. One might call someone a “degenerate gambler.”

Dime: Betting jargon for a $1,000 wager.

Dime line: Betting line that has a 10-cent different between both sides.

Dog: The short form for underdog.

Dog Bettor: A player who consistently takes underdogs. As far as the betting public is concerned, this is considerably rarer, as most players tend to bet favorites.

Dollar: Betting jargon for a $100 wager.

Earn: Also known as “hold percentage”. The earn is the total amount won by a sportsbook or bookmaker divided by the amount of action on the market.

Edge: A bettor’s perceived advantage when it comes to sports betting or a particular wager.

Even Money: A market that has no juice of vigorish. An even money bet expressed in money line odds is +100.

Exotic: Wagers besides a straight bet or parlay. Props and futures fall under this category.

Exposure: The amount of money that a sportsbook stands to lose on a particular market.

Favorite: The team or individual that the oddsmakers feel will win the game or event. This is expressed via the point spread or in money line odds.

Fifty Cents: Slang terminology for a $50 bet.

Final Four: The final four teams left in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

First Half Bet: A bet placed only on the first half of a game. Sportsbooks often abbreviate this market with 1H.

Five Inning Line: A betting market that is placed only on the first five innings of a baseball game.

Fixed: A participant(s) in a game or sporting event that alters the result of the game event due to outside factors. A game that is “fixed” doesn’t have a true or honest outcome.

Freeroll: A situation in sports betting or other forms of gambling where you can win or push your wager, but not lose.

Future: Typically a long-term wager that relates to a team or player’s season-long rate of success. The most common type of future bet is the team’s odds to win a championship, such as the Super Bowl or World Series.

Getting Down: Placing a bet on a game or event. One might say they are “getting down” on the Patriots +7.

Getting Value: Getting the best odds on a wager, relative to the betting market.

Grand Salami: A bet offered by many sportsbooks that allow bettors to wager (over/under) on the amount of goals scored in all the hockey games played that day.

Grading: When a wager is settled and the money is put into a player’s account.

Half Time Bet: A betting market that is placed on the second half of a game only. Sportsbooks usually abbreviate this with 2H.

Handicapper: A person trying to predict the winner or outcome of a sporting event.

Handicapping: An attempt to predict the outcome of sporting events.

Handle: Similar to exposure. The amount of money in wagers, a sportsbook takes on a market.

Hedging: Betting the opposite side of an event that you already have action on to minimize risk and guarantee a specific amount of winnings.

High Roller: A high-stakes bettor who stakes large amounts of money on sports betting or other forms of gambling. Not the same as a sharp.

Hook: Slang term for a half-point or 0.5 used by sports bettors.

Hot Game: A game that is drawing a lot of interest from professional level handicappers.

In-Play Wagering: Also known as “live betting.” This refers to markets that are available during the game and are updated in real time.

Juice: The sportsbook’s commission placed on each bet also called “vigorish”. The standard juice charged at sportsbooks is 10%.

Laying the Points: Something often said by sports bettors when they wager on the favorite. Instead, of “getting points” with the underdog, they are “laying the points” with the favorite.

Layoff: Money wagered by the oddsmakers at a sportsbook at another sportsbook in an effort to reduce the book’s exposure on a specific market.

Limit: The maximum amount for a market or sporting event.

Line: The current odds available for a betting market.

Linemaker: The person who sets and adjusts the odds for sports betting markets, also known as an “oddsmaker.”

Listed Pitchers: Important for baseball betting markets. Betting with the listed pitchers means that both pitchers must start for the bet to have action.

Lock: A bet that is “guaranteed” to win, used by those who are confident in their wager. Not a term we like to use on this site.

Longshot: A team or participant in an event that is highly unlikely to win according to the oddsmakers’ lines.

Middle: A betting strategy utilized when the odds more where a bettor bets both sides of a market and tries to win both with little risk. Middling is common in football betting markets, usually when the odds move between 2.5 and 3.5 on the point spread.

MMA: This stands for Mixed Martial Arts.

Moneyline: Betting odds without an attached point spread. The team needs to win outright when betting on the money line. Moneyline odds are expressed in the amount it takes to win $100. For instance, on a -150 money line wager, a bettor would need to stake $150 to potentially win $100 in profit.

Money Management: The practice of managing your bankroll and size of your wagers when it comes to betting sports.

Mush: A term associated with a bettor or gambler who is considered to have bad luck.

MVP: Most Valuable Player. Commonly used for future markets which are available for betting, for MVPs of major sports.

Nickel: Betting jargon for a $500 wager.

Nickel Line: A betting line that has a 5-cent difference between the underdog and the favorite. Also, the baseline pricing for reduced juice markets. Vig in true nickel lines is reduced from the standard 10% to 5%.

No Action: A wager that is canceled for whatever reason and the stakes are returned to both sides.

Odds: The likely of certain outcomes expressed in betting markets.

Off The Board: When a market is taken down and no bets can be made. This is usually due to an injury.

Opening Line: The first betting odds posted for an event.

Over: A wager on the oddsmakers’ total that the points scored in the game will go above the projected number scored.

Over/Under: Odds on the total number of points scored in a game, also called the “total.” In all North American sports, the over/under includes extra periods, such as overtime or extra innings.

Overlay: A scenario where betting odds are higher than they should be on a particular event. This usually ties in with public betting action and can be a strong betting opportunity for sharps.

Parlay: A bet on two more selections where the original stake and profits are reinvested in the successive wagers. All selections on a parlay must win for the wager to be profitable. In the event of a push, most sportsbooks revert the parlay to a lesser number of teams.

Pick or Pick’em: Abbreviated by the sportsbooks as a “pk”. There is no favorite or underdog in games that are pk. Bettors must simply pick the team they think will win outright in order to win their wager.

Point Spread: The difference between two teams in terms of skill, expressed in points by the oddsmakers.

Press or Pressing: Placing a larger wager than normal, usually in an attempt to get back previous losses.

Price: The point spread or moneyline odds on a betting market.

Proposition (Prop): An exotic wager on a game or event that isn’t a side or total.

Public: Used to describe the consensus public opinion on a particular bet. One might say, “The public is betting heavily on the 49ers in this weekend’s game.”

Puckline: A modified point spread for hockey wagering, also known as a “Canadian line.”

Puppy: Slang term for underdog.

Push: When a game ends with no winner or loser according to the point spread, and lands right on the oddsmakers’ line. In the event of a push, stakes are returned from both sides to players.

Quarter Line: A wager that is placed on a specific quarter of a basketball or football game.

Reverse Bet: Two separate if-bets.

Round-Robin: A bet type that allows bettors to bet multiple parlays at the same time.

Runline: Point spread betting in baseball, inside of traditional moneyline wagering.

Run down: All the lines for a specific sport for that day.

Runner: A person who places bets for someone else. See beard.

Sharp: A sophisticated, professional level bettor.

Side: A team, either the favorite or underdog, which bettors can wager on in a sporting event.

Single: A single wager on a side or total.

Sportsbook: A company or business that accepts wagers.

Spread: Shortened version of “point spread.”

Square: A novice or inexperienced bettor, same as the “public.”

Stake: The amount wagered.

Steam: A rapid change in betting markets caused by large wagers being placed on one side. This can be as a result of a betting syndicate placing their wagers at the same time. It can also occur when the betting markets react to injury news or changes in weather.

Straight up: The expected winner of a sporting event, according to the money line odds, without a point spread consideration.

Sweetheart Teaser: A special type of teaser for football or basketball which must be 3-4 teams.

Takeback: Sports betting jargon for betting an underdog on the moneyline.

Taking the Points: Betting the underdog on the point spread. One might say, “I am taking the points with the Ravens +3.5 tonight.”

Teaser: Similar to a parlay, but with adjusted point spreads for all selection. Like parlays, all selections must win for the wager to be a winner.

Ticket: A record of your wager in the sportsbook’s ledger.

Total: Over/under wagering on the total number of points scored in a game from both teams and/or participants.

Tout: A person or group of people who sell betting picks.

Underdog: The team or participant who is expected to lose according to the oddsmakers.

Vigorish: The commission charged by a sportsbook, often shortened to “vig.” The standard vigorish is 10%.

Wager: Formal term for a bet.

Welch: When you owe a bookie or a friend on a losing wager, and you refuse to pay

Wiseguy: A professional level sports bettor, also known as a “sharp.”