Sports Betting Terms Explained: Your Guide to Understanding Sports Gambling Terminology

Content Team 2 years ago
Sports Betting Terms Explained: Your Guide to Understanding Sports Gambling Terminology

Sports wagering is associated with many unique terms. So if you come across an unfamiliar term or phrase while placing a bet, bookmark our glossary of betting terms and check it out later.


In North America, accumulators are parlays, in which each selection must win (or push) to win.

Action: The total value of live wagers or bets on a specific event. Betting odds posted by bookmakers are accepted.

Across the board: Bets on winning, placing, and showing a horse.

AET odds: Typically, after extra time, odds are displayed on soccer matches where extra time is added due to in-game stoppages at the end of regulation time. You can also bet on AET in real-time

Alternate lines: Differential odds from the mainline. They are used in basketball and football with point spreads and game totals.

American odds: In addition to American odds, fractional and decimal odds are also in this group. The (-110) American Moneyline represents 1.91 decimal odds and 10/11 fractional pricing. In all three formats, a winning wager of $110 returns a profit of $100.

Arbitrage: Arbitrage wagering, also known as ARB, is a wagering strategy that covers all possible outcomes of a single game. It is rare for sportsbooks to offer ARB betting options because they disagree on the appropriate odds for a match.

Asian handicap: It is common to have Asian handicap odds between 0.25 and 2.0 goals in soccer. Due to the lack of a draw/tie option, these are two-way bets.

ATS: The purpose of against the spread odds (ATS) is to give both sides of a contest equal exposure. There are perhaps two options for bettors: Las Vegas at home as a -3.5 point ATS favorite or Denver at home as a +3.5 point underdog.


Backdoor cover: Scores are helpful to bettors covering spreads without affecting the game-winner. Cleveland bettors receive a backdoor cover if the Browns score a late touchdown to make the final score 35-28 in favor of Baltimore.

Bad Beat: The player experiences a bad beat when their wager looks like it is going to win but ends up losing. When points are scored late in a match, this will often result in a bad beat. A bad beat will occur from time to time to players who wager on game totals, point spreads, and money lines.

Bankroll: An account where betting money is deposited or set aside. Winning wagers increase a player’s bankroll, while losing wagers decreases it.

Bankroll Management: Proper bankroll management is similar to managing a personal bank account. When managing a sports betting budget, it is important to set wagering limits, shop for the best odds value, and only wager what one can afford to lose.

Bet: Sportsbooks, casinos, racetracks, and poker rooms all accept money wagers.

Betting exchange: The middleman is neither a sportsbook nor a bettor. When two sides are betting on an exchange, the betting option stays listed until both sides are bet on. A small commission (juice) is taken from winning tickets by betting exchanges.

Betting strategy: There are several strategies bettors use to beat bookmakers. Performing extensive research before placing a wager should be a primary betting strategy.

Bookie: Short for a bookmaker

Bookmaker: Betting odds are set by a licensed individual who accepts wagers. Linemakers are also known as bookmakers

Buy points: Bettors can gain a more favorable line by using alternative point spreads and game totals. For example, a player can buy one point to raise a spread to +3.5 points if the line is set at +2.5 points. The odds increase as more points are purchased.


Commission: In addition to vigorish and juice, the commission is the bookmaker’s percentage from any bet. An exchange takes commission as well.

Correct score: The odds on a match are provided to bettors. Bettors can bet on soccer matches ending 0-0, 5-0, and anything in between. The favorite is the most likely outcome, while the underdog is the least likely.

Cover/Covering the spread: Any bet in which the final score exceeds the point spread if the favorite is victorious. If the Patriots beat Miami 32-21, they would cover a -10 point spread. Betting on the Patriots to win 29-21 will lose bets since they won’t cover the spread.


Double action: Double-action bets, also known as “If bets,” automatically take the stakes and winnings from a successful wager and use them on a second wager.

Double bet: Double the normal wager of a bettor. When one side seems vastly superior to another, bettors usually double their wagers.

Double result: This is an option where the halftime and end of a game are combined into one betting option.

Double-header: On the same day, there are two games played back-to-back. In baseball, a double-header is most common after a game the previous day has been rained out.

Draw: Tie-breakers are those contests that end in a tie. In most cases, draws are graded as PUSHes, and bet amounts are refunded. The tie/draw option is a key exception to the three-way line.

Drift: After the opening odds are posted, the odds can grow longer. Moneylines that move from +220 to +225 to +230 are considered drifting.


Edge: The ability to gain a competitive advantage through much research or insights not available to the general public.

Exotic Bet: A variety of bets beyond point spreads and money lines. The most common exotic bets are proposition bets, specials, and parlays.

Exposure: Bookmaker or bettor’s potential loss on any given wager.


First half bet: In sports like basketball, soccer, and football, a wager is based on the results of the first half. The most popular betting odds are spreads, money lines, and game totals for the first half. The first half bets also include various team and player props.

First/Last/Anytime Scorer: This is a list of three pre-game prop bets offered across many sports. In the NHL, all skaters have the chance to score the first and last goal, plus the chance to score at any time during a game.

Fixed odds: Upon acceptance of a wager by a bookmaker, the odds become fixed. The Raiders will retain their previously accepted fixed odds if the line drops to +3.0 before the game if a bet is placed on Las Vegas at +3.5 odds. That is also known as the Moneyline.

Fractional odds: As well as decimal and American odds, fractional odds are in the “big three” group. In American odds, the fractional line for 10/11 is -110, and in decimal terms, it is priced at 1.91. So winning $100 on each of these lines returns $90.91.

Futures bet: Wagers placed on events that will occur in the near or distant future. There are several popular futures options to choose from, including the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, NBA Finals, and World Series. In addition to soccer, major horse races, and golf and tennis tournaments.


Game total bet: An Over/Under bet is based on the expected number of goals/points/runs in a game. The total runs in a baseball game set at 7.5 must be over or under eight runs for bettors to win a wager.

Graded Bet: Upon conclusion of the competition, bookmakers mark bets as winners, losers, or pushes. When a bet has been graded, winnings are paid out as push refunds.

Grand Salami: A bookmaker offers the Over/Under odds on any given day based on all of the goals, runs, and points scored in the games in a given league. The most common juice in NFL bets will be -110 on both sides if there are seven games.


Halftime bet: An outcome-based only on results from the second half of the competition. During the intermission or the second half, halftime wagers can be placed.

Handicap: Usually set by a bookmaker as odds that are equal to all players. New Orleans may be assigned a -7.5 point handicap before or when playing a perceived weaker Atlanta team. The Saints cover the handicap if they win by eight or more points.

Handicapper: The process of researching matchups and placing a bet. Tipsters can also provide predictions.

Home field advantage: Playing at home in familiar settings can benefit a team.

Hook: The point spread and game total odds are adjusted by half a point. By hooking, you ensure that the wager will not be considered a push. There will be a winner and a loser.


In-play betting: After an event has already started, bets are placed. In addition, bookmakers offer multiple live betting options during major sporting events, also known as live betting.


Joint favorite: The same betting odds are offered by two or more sides on the same event.

Juice: Bookmakers set juice, also called vigorish, which is attached to spreads and totals. If bookmakers earn $10K profit from the juice on the losing bets on Minnesota -3.5 (-110) versus Green Bay +3.5 (-110) with $110K wagered on both sides, they earn $10K profit from the juice on the winning bets.


Layoff: The purpose of this tool is to reduce the market risk for players and bookmakers. Parlay bettors may lay off both sides of the last open bet in the ticket to guarantee a profit.

Limit: Different sports and betting options have different wagering limits. Players should set and adhere to their betting limits as part of a good bankroll management system.

Line: Bookmaker odds posted on their website.

Linemaker: In the same vein as a bookmaker, someone or an organization sets the odds for betting every day.

Listed pitchers: Baseball betting odds appear every day. Usually, bets are voided, and the stakes are returned if the pitcher listed doesn’t start the game.

Live to bet: Live betting is available once a sporting event begins and is referred to as in-play wagering. As each match concludes, the spreads, money lines, and totals are updated. Several props are also available, such as the correct final score and next goalscorer.

Lock: Tipsters sometimes use this term to lure bettors into buying handicapping advice. There are only two certainties in life: death and taxes.

Longshot: An underdog is a side that is perceived as inferior. Positive prices are always listed as longshots. Against the New England Patriots, the New York Jets would be a longshot with a +9.5 point spread.


Middle: A bet that pays out both sides. Whenever a point spread moves up or down before a match, bettors have an opportunity to middle.

Moneyline: Straight-up bets involve no point spread, and the winner must be predicted outright. A favorite is listed with a negative odds value of -185, whereas an underdog has a positive value of +165.

Multiple bets: The same as parlays, multiple bets are single wagers that contain at least two sides on the same ticket. To cash multiple winning bets, all sides must win (or push).

MVP: Player of the season or playoffs voted most valuable to their team. The most valuable player in a professional sport is a popular futures bet. For example, Tom Brady is a four-time Super Bowl MVP.


Nap: Naps are a handicapper’s recommended best bet on a daily betting card, similar to locks.

No action: When a bookmaker cancels a betting option, it is graded as a no action. Bettors are refunded their original stakes.


Odds: A bookmaker sets betting lines on a variety of events.

Odds formats: The three main odds formats are American (+100), Decimal (2.00), and Fractional (1/1).

Oddsmaker: It is also known as a linemaker, someone who sets betting lines for each day.

Odds on a favorite: An opponent with very low odds and viewed as superior to the other.

Odds shopping: Comparing the odds at various sportsbooks to discover the best price.

Off the board: OTB stands for off the board, and it is a wager posted on a board, but that does not include odds. Bookmakers may adjust their odds if a star player is injured.

Outright betting: A tournament or playoff competition is predicted by predicting the overall winner.

Over bet: Under betting on game totals is the opposite of Over betting. The combined final score of a Bengals versus Cardinals NFL match has to be at least 42 points for over bettors.

Over/Under: Match results are given as a number indicating the number of runs/goals/points scored. To place a bet, bettors must determine whether the combined scores of both teams will go over or remain under the line. These odds are often known as game total odds.


Parlay: A single bet that includes two or more sides also called an accumulator or multiple. A winning ticket must include each side. When a parlay ticket ends in “push,” the selection is voided.

Parlay banker: The banker is the preferred side that forms the basis of a parlay bet. Chicago (+120) and Detroit (+110) would be the halves of a parlay ticket with New York as the banker (-130).

Payout: Bettors collect winnings when they place a winning wager. Betting receipts usually include the original stake as part of the payout upon placing the wager.

Point spread: Matches with odds aimed at leveling the playing field. The underdog gets a “head start” with positive odds (+6.5) when the favorites have a negative point spread (-6.5).

Post time: Racing starts at the scheduled time. The horses are at the starting gate once all of them have been loaded.

Power rankings: Teams are graded using various criteria, from best to worst, according to a ranking system.

Price: Betting odds and juice are other terms used by bookmakers.

Proposition bet: On most sporting events, proposition bets are exotic or special wagers that can be placed. Over 100 prop bets are available for the NFL Super Bowl.

Proxy: A proxy is a person who places bets on behalf of another. Typically, this term refers to individuals who participate in season-long sports pools such as the Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest for non-Las Vegas residents.

Public money: Public wagers on all betting options.

Puck line: In hockey, point spreads are used. An underdog usually receives +1.5 goals before a match, while the favorite is normally posted at -1.5 goals.

Push: In case of a tie, any wager. Basketball bets on both teams are graded as a push if the final score is 120-109 and the spread is 11 points.


Quarter Bet: Wagers place before, during, or after a sporting event. A -1.5 point favorite Boston may win the first quarter of an NBA game against Philadelphia, who would be a +1.5 point underdog. As the first 12 minutes of the match progress, the odds will change frequently.


Recreational Bettor: One who rarely bets or on only major sporting events. Recreational players bet public money. That is in opposition to sharp or professional bettors.

Rotation Number: Every betting option on the board is assigned a rotation number. When placing a bet at land-based sportsbooks, bettors use the rotation number rather than team names.

Run Line: Baseball point spreads. In most cases, the underdog odds are listed at +1.5 runs, and the favorite odds are listed at -1.5 runs before a game. In live betting, odds may increase or decrease as the match progresses, depending on the score.


Second half bet: The winner of the second half of a game is the focus of any bet. If the match resumes during the second half, bettors can either place bets before or make live bets.

Sell points: The point spread and the game total can be altered by bettors to sell points. For example, if a player sells a point in football, their line moves from -6.5 to -7.5. Each point sold increases the juice for the bettor.

Sharp: An expert sports gambler who uses a wide variety of resources to determine his bets. Their bets are based on knowledge, and they look at the big picture. To get the best value, professional bettors shop around for the best prices.

Spread betting: When you bet on competition, you lay or take points. That spread bet matches Los Angeles, at -7 points against New York (+7). At least eight points must be scored against the Giants for the Rams to win. The spread is laid by bettors on favorites and taken by bettors on underdogs.

Sportsbook: Sportbooks are popular meeting places for bettors and sports fans alike, whether in a freestanding shop or a space at a casino. You can place bets on US events as well as events around the world, and you can follow the action on giant screens.

Stake: When a bettor places a bet, a certain amount is at risk. All winning bets and many bets that are deemed pushes are returned to the original stake.

Staking method: Different for every bettor. Others use a bankroll percentage to stake their bets when they set maximum stake limits on their bets.


Taking points: Underdog betting is betting on a team that is considered to be the underdog. Bettor’s wagering on Washington, with a +1.5 run line, results in a payout in a baseball wager. Cash tickets would be redeemed if the Nationals won outright or lost by one run.

Teaser odds: Lines raised or lowered by bookmakers to entice (tease) bettors. The odds can be teased by using alternative lines on a single game. A teaser card issued by a sportsbook can also be used to place a parlay bet.

Teaser Card: Here, you will find a list of daily games from a specific sport with higher or lower odds than those posted on the main betting board. Teaser card bets require selecting two or more sides.

Ticket: The receipt that the bookmaker issues to confirm the acceptance of a wager.

Tip: Tipsters and handicappers offer betting advice that indicates the most likely outcome of events. When used with a proper pre-game research plan, tips can prove helpful but should never be used blindly.

Tipster: Offering betting advice is either a person or a group. There are sports betting tipsters who offer free advice and others who charge a fee.

Three-way odds: Three-sided wagers that also include ties as a wagering option.

Two-way odds: A wagering option without ties, and that includes two sides.


Underdog: Negative numbers are assigned to underdogs, who are perceived as being inferior. As an underdog against Dallas, Washington will need to win outright to cash a winning NFL Moneyline ticket if its odds are listed as (+280).


Vigorish: Juice is also known as juice. Generally, the vigorish price is (-111), which means a $100 return is earned by wagering $110.


Wager: Betting on any sport, casino game, or horse race played at a sportsbook, casino, or racebook.

The Mechanics of Sports Betting

The Three Components of a Sports Bet

There are three components to every sports bet at the end of the day. But, in the end, selections, stakes, and odds are always the same two components, regardless of how complex they may be.

1. Selection

Choosing what to bet on or what outcome you think will happen is what the selection portion of the bet is about. Choosing the team you want to bet on or the outcome you want to bet on can’t just be a case of saying, “I’m betting on the Superbowl.” You have to choose what you want to bet on. Sadly, it is that simple. We’d love to overcomplicate it and sound smarter, but that’s not possible. You can also make different types of bets based on the selections you make.

2. Stake

What’s the stake? It’s the amount you want to wager. A stake of $10 is what you stake when you wager $10 on a game. Hence, a high-stakes game is referred to as such. Individuals who wager large sums of money are considered high-stakes. Stakes are the amount being wagered, high is the level. It is totally up to you how much you wager. The minimum stake required by some sportsbooks is a certain level, while others set a maximum. Casinos, for instance, might have a minimum bet of $5 and a maximum bet of $5,000. There is a $5 minimum but a $5,000 maximum bet. The minimum is $5, and the maximum is $5,000.

3. Odds

Many players find it difficult to understand the odds. Odds refer to the probability of an occurrence. In the example above, if your chances of making a free throw are 1 in 20, you will make one out of every 20 attempts. You will be paid based on the odds if you win your wager. Sportsbooks don’t always pay bets one to one, meaning that if you bet $10, you won’t win $10. Many bets don’t pay up to one to one. The odds of what you are betting on happening will determine the amount you receive from the sportsbook. When something is less likely to occur, you will be paid more if you win. If you win, you will receive less money if something unlikely happens.

Types of Sports Betting

Casual Betting

Most sports bettors are casual bettors. Their interests include watching sports, betting on them, and knowing a little bit about what is going on in the world of sports.

However, a casual sports bettor is most likely not going to bet very large amounts on any single event or game. Casual bettors tend to increase their bankroll steadily through a sports season by making consistent profits.

Full-Time Betting

There is a lot of risks involved with full-time sports betting. There are, however, many successful professional sports bettors who earn a living from their betting.

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