Being an avid gambler doesn’t simply come down to consistently wagering money on whatever events are currently available. Sports betting, in particular, involves statistics, analysis, and strategy.
At the same time, there’s also a ton of slang and terms unique to sports fans, that it can be a bit overwhelming for someone who just entered this vast world. However, you don’t need a degree in “sportsology” to understand this unique language.
To help you find your footing and ensure you always know what’s going on, we’ve put together this glossary of sports betting terms. Whenever you run across a new and unfamiliar term, simply look it up on this page.
Accumulator — A wager that combines multiple bets, where you have to win every individual bet for the wager to be successful.
Across the Board — Placing a bet on a horse race, which includes both the winner, as well as the horses that place (2nd) and show (3rd).
Action — A wager on any sports event.
Added Game — A game that’s not included within the standard Las Vegas rotation. This is typically a rescheduled game, and a bookmaker may offer odds after a request from a bettor.
Against the Spread (ATS) — Taking the point spread into account when referring to a result of a sports event. Signals taking or laying points, as opposed to taking an entire game.
Alternate Lines — Bets which include an adjusted point spread or total, and therefore offer better odds and more options, than the standard bets. Alternate lines serve the purpose of providing bettors with more choices. Common examples are Alternate Handicaps and Alternate Totals.
American Odds — Odds expressed through relative returns per 100 units wagered. A minus (−) here indicates that you lay that amount to win $100. On the other hand, a plus (+) indicates how much you’ll win for every $100 you wager.
Ante-post — Placing wagers on a horse race well in advance.
Arbitrage — Buying and selling the same game and leveraging the price discrepancies between different markets to guarantee a profit.
Bankroll — The money you’re prepared to wager; your gambling funds.
Backdoor Cover — A term that refers to a situation when a team barely covers the point spread in the final minutes of a game. This usually happens when the game itself is a total blowout, but a particular spread or line is still in play.
Bad Beat — A wager you placed that loses out of the blue.
Bookmaker — A person who licensed and assigned the job of creating betting lines and accepting wagers.
Beard — An individual who places a wager in place of another person; sometimes also referred to as “the runner.”
Book — Short for bookmaker/bookie or a sportsbook. The term encompasses both the person as well as the game house.
Buying Points — The practice of altering set lines and adjusting the odds accordingly. Although it isn’t exactly commonplace, some bookies and sportsbooks will accommodate your request to increase/decrease a handicap and bet on different odds.
Bonus Chasing — Creating new accounts in an attempt to abuse a welcome bonus, typically a no-deposit bonus at an online casino.
Chalk — The favorite; In any sports event, “chalk” is the side that’s heavily favored, and will probably win.
Circle Game — A game that offers lower than standard betting limits, primary as a result of player injuries or poor weather.
Closing Line — The very last line, available minutes before the sports event begins.
Cover — A winning bet that covers the point spread. For example, if you bet on a basketball match with a −5 line on one team, and they win by 7, you have covered the spread and won the wager.
Dead Heat — When two horses finish the race neck and neck, and it’s impossible to determine the winner, even with the use of photo-finish technology.
Dime — A $1,000 bet.
Dog — Underdog, a team expected to lose.
Dollar — Sports betting slang for a $100 bet.
Draw — A game which falls on the spread, in which case there is no winner. In these cases, all bets on said game are typically refunded. Some people also refer to a draw as “push.”
Edge — An advantage, whether for the player or the house (casino, sportsbook), regardless of how big or small. For instance, a “house edge” is a percentage expression of how much more likely the house is to win over the player.
Even Money — A bet with 50/50 odds. The potential profit from such bets is equal to the amount of money you wager.
Exotic — Complex wager, that’s typically more difficult to win, but will also pay much more if it does. Any wager that isn’t a straight bet. An exotic wager can also be a combination of several straight bets.
Exposure — Shows how much money a sportsbook stand to lose on a particular event.
Favorite — The objectively superior/better team; one that is most likely to win a game or sports event. The odds roughly represent how much the said team is favored over the underdog.
Fifty Cents — Following the same logic of the “dollar,” fifty cents would be $50.
Figure — The money someone owes or is owed to by a bookie.
Final Four — The top four teams in a basketball tournament.
Fixed — An event whose outcome isn’t determined by who the better team is, but rather one team deliberately loses. Also known as throwing the game.
Futures/Future Bets — Bets placed well in advance, typically on an outcome which will be revealed several months in the future. An example would be betting on a Super Bowl winner during the season.
Get Down — Place a bet.
Grand Salami — A total number of goals scored across all hockey days played that day. You can typically bet on the number to go Over or Under what the sportsbook offers.
Halftime Bet — A distinct bet, which becomes available during a halftime break. In this instance, the second half is considered to be an isolated event you can bet on. The result of the first half doesn’t impact the bet since you’re not betting on the total.
Handicapper — An individual betting on a team to win the entire event.
Handle — Handle can mean one of two things:
1) The total amount of money taken by the book regarding one sports event.
2) The amount of money wagered.
Hedging — Protecting your original bet by wagering on the opposing side. This is typically done to ensure profit or minimize potential losses. Bettors most commonly hedge futures bets, but hedging can be applied to individual games as well through real-time wagering.
High Roller — A gambler who plays high stakes games.
Hook — Half of a point.
Hot Game — A game that manages to attract the attention of a considerable number of bettors.
In-game Wagering — Placing bets in real-time. Most sportsbooks even stream the game, so you can wager depending on what’s going on at any given moment.
Juice — The commission a bookmaker earns on a losing bet. Also referred to as “vigorish.”
Key Numbers — The key numbers represent standard margins of defeat. They are commonly used in football, where the games often end with a team winning by a multiple of three or seven.
Laying the Points — Giving up points by betting on the favorite.
Laying the Price — Accepting lower odds, and consequently a lower potential payout, by wagering on the favorite.
Layoff — A term which denotes a specific bet, made by the house (sportsbook or bookmaker), in an attempt to reduce its liability.
Limit — The maximum amount of money you can wager on a single game or event, before a bookmaker adjust the odds or points.
Lines — Odds you can bet on.
Linemaker — The individual responsible for establishing and adjusting the betting lines. Oddsmaker.
Listed Pitchers — A specific baseball bet which is only accepted if both of the scheduled pitchers start the game. If they don’t, for whatever reason, the bet is automatically canceled.
Lock — A safe bet; one where the difference in skill between the two teams is so vast, that it would be a shock if the favorite didn’t win convincingly.
Longshot — Similar to underdog; a team or an individual athlete with slim chances of winning.
Middle — A rare occasion when there’s a possibility, although very slim, that bets on both sides of the game might win. This is due to a point spread, where one team might have a line of +11.5 while the other has a line of −8.5. If the second team wins by 9–11 points, betting on either side is a win. “Middling” can be leveraged in any game with a point spread or totals, but it’s most common in NFL.
Money Line — A straight bet on the winner of a game. Typically used in soccer, hockey, and baseball, where it wouldn’t make sense to exclusively offer a spread since there are so few goals or runs.
Move the Line — On any point spread game, sportsbooks and bookmakers might allow you to “buy” half a point or more in your favor, for an agreed upon price.
Mush — An individual who’s considered bad luck by the local sports gambling community.
Nickel — You’ll typically hear a bookie call a $500 dollar wager a “nickel.”
Off the Board — Any game or sports event that you cannot bet on. Sportsbook will typically close off all bets on games where there’s uncertainty regarding the weather or if it isn’t clear whether a player is injured or will participate.
Over/Under — Total; the estimated number of goals/points/runs for any particular game. You can bet over or under the amount predetermined by the sportsbook. Both teams contribute towards the total. If they score more than the given number together, the over wins.
Parlay — A combined wager where you bet on several teams, whether it’s against the spread or on the money line. You must win all individual bets for the parlay to pay out. Naturally, the odds increase with each team you add to the parlay.
Pick ’em — Any game or event when the teams are so equally matched that there isn’t even a slight favorite. There is no point spread. Whoever wins the game is considered the spread winner as well.
Point Spread — The number of points that represents just how much one team is favored over another.
Push — A game that ends in a draw. Any sports event that ends without a winner. In any sport where a spread is offered, the “push” occurs when the favorite wins by the exact spread.
Prop Bet — Any exotic wager that’s not typically offered by a sportsbook on every event. For instance, in a Champions League soccer game, you can bet on which player will score, the number of corners, who’ll get a yellow card, etc. Super Bowl is one of the events which offers a wide range of prop bets you can wager on.
Run Line — The equivalent of Alternative Line, only in money line sports like hockey and baseball. In essence, it works as a handicap, where runs/goals are subtracted from the favorite or added to the underdog. With a run line of +1, a favorite would have to win by at least 2 runs. On the other hand, a wager on the underdog is successful whether they win or lose by less than 2 runs.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that both baseball and hockey are low-scoring games. Hence, run lines are often high-risk wagers.
Runner — Anyone who places a wager on behalf of another individual.
Steam Move — An abrupt, consistent line movement across the sports betting marketplace.
Teaser — A unique bet which allows you to adjust the point spread or total of a sports event. However, by altering the spread you’re also lowering the odds.
Tout — An experienced bettor who sells their tips, advice, picks, and experience to other gamblers.
Underdog — The objectively weaker team, expected by the vast majority of the sports betting community to lose a game.
Vigorish (Vig) — Term that refers to a commission a bookie or bookmaker takes. Vigorish is often called “juice” as well. The standard bookie commission is 10 percent.
Wager — Any type of bet.
Welch — Refusing to pay off a losing bet.