Sports Betting Terms Explained

Bojan Nikolic 11 months ago
Sports Betting Terms Explained

Betting on sports and other events comes with its unique language and terminology. Whether you’re new to the world of betting or a seasoned bettor looking to expand your knowledge, understanding the key betting terms is essential. From odds and spreads to parlays and handicaps, these terms shape the betting landscape and influence strategies and decisions.

This guide will provide in-depth explanations of common sports betting terms, helping you navigate the intricacies of sports betting and gain a deeper understanding of the terminology used in this dynamic realm.

How Does Sports Betting Work?

Understanding sports betting terminology can be difficult at times, but most of these terms refer to a variation of one of the main three terms: selection, stake, and odds. These three betting words provide a basis for everything else in sports betting, and understanding them is a good start in your betting journey. 

In this section, we’ll have these sports betting terms explained simply and clearly to make it easier for you. 

1. Selection

In the betting world, a selection refers to the specific outcome or event on which a bettor places a wager. It represents the chosen option or prediction in a betting market. A selection can vary depending on the type of bet and the specific sport or event. 

For example, in a soccer match, a selection could be betting on the home team to win, the match to end in a draw, or the away team to win. In horse racing, a selection could be wagering on a specific horse to win, place, or show. The outcome of the selection determines whether the bettor’s wager is successful or not, ultimately impacting the potential payout or return.

2. Stake

A stake is the amount of money that a bettor is willing to risk on a particular bet, and it’s one of the most important sports betting phrases to learn. It represents a financial investment made by the bettor in anticipation of a favorable outcome. The stake amount is chosen by the bettor based on their betting strategy, bankroll management, and personal risk tolerance. 

It can be any predetermined sum of money that the bettor is comfortable wagering. The stake influences the potential payout or returns if the bet is successful. A higher stake typically leads to a higher potential profit, but it also carries greater risk. On the other hand, a lower stake may result in a smaller potential profit, but it also entails less risk. The bettor must consider their financial situation and betting goals when determining an appropriate stake for each wager.

3. Odds

Odds represent the likelihood or probability of a particular outcome occurring in a sports event or betting market. They are numerical values that indicate the potential return or payout a bettor can expect if their wager is successful. 

Odds are typically presented in different formats, such as decimal odds, fractional odds, or American odds, depending on the region or sportsbook. The odds are determined by various factors, including statistical analysis, expert opinions, historical data, and betting patterns. 

Higher odds are associated with less likely outcomes, offering the potential for greater winnings, while lower odds indicate a higher likelihood of occurrence but with lower potential payouts. Understanding and analyzing the odds is crucial for bettors to make informed decisions and assess the risk-reward ratio of their bets.

Sports Betting Terms 

Now that we’ve established the basics of the sports betting lingo, we can dive deeper into other betting terms. There are specific terms that describe types of bets, betting strategies, betting markets, and other components. In the following betting glossary, we have sorted out the most frequent terms in alphabetical order with a brief explanation of each. You’ll talk like a sports betting expert in no time!


A type of wager that combines multiple individual bets into a single bet. In an accumulator, the winnings from the first bet are automatically rolled over to the next bet, with each subsequent bet dependent on the success of the previous one.


Action refers to any wagering activity or bets placed on a particular event or game. It can be used to describe the overall level of betting activity or the specific bets placed by an individual or a group of bettors.

Across the board

A type of wager that combines three different bets on a single horse in a race. When you place an “across the board” bet, you essentially place three separate bets: a win bet, a place bet, and a show bet.

AET odds

This term stands for “After Extra Time” odds. It is commonly used in sports betting, particularly in knockout-style tournaments like soccer or basketball, where matches may have overtime periods if the game ends in a tie. 

Alternate Lines 

Differential odds from the main line. They are used in basketball and football with point spreads and game totals to allow players more flexibility in these markets.

American Odds

American odds, also known as moneyline odds, are a popular method of representing betting odds in the United States. These odds are presented with a plus (+) or minus (-) sign, indicating the underdog and favorite, respectively. Positive odds represent the potential profit on a $100 wager, while negative odds indicate the amount one needs to bet to win $100.


Arbitrage wagering, also known as ARB, is a wagering strategy that covers all possible outcomes of a single game. Bettors take advantage of discrepancies in odds offered by different bookmakers to guarantee a profit. However, these profits are usually small because the odds are usually carefully placed by bookmakers. 

Asian Handicap

Asian handicaps are a type of betting market primarily used in soccer (football) matches, designed to eliminate the possibility of a draw or tie outcome. The concept involves giving one team an advantage or a disadvantage in terms of goals before the match begins.

ATS (against the spread)

Betting against the spread means wagering on the outcome of a game while factoring in a point spread set by oddsmakers. When betting against the spread, you’re not solely predicting which team will win or lose but rather if a team will perform better or worse than the point spread.


Backdoor Cover

This term describes a situation where the underdog team manages to score points late in a game, allowing them to cover the point spread just before the game ends. This outcome can occur when the favorite team has a comfortable lead throughout the game but fails to win by a margin large enough to cover the spread. 

Bad Beat

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


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

Bankroll Management

Proper bankroll management is similar to managing a personal bank account. When managing a sports betting budget, it’s important to set wagering limits, look for the best odds value, and only wager what you can afford to lose.


Any wager placed on a certain outcome in a sports event.

Betting Exchange

A betting exchange is a platform or marketplace where individuals can bet against each other rather than against a traditional bookmaker. It allows users to both back (bet on an outcome to happen) and lay (act as a bookmaker, accepting bets) on various sports events or other outcomes. 

Betting Strategy

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


Short for a bookmaker.


A licensed individual who accepts wagers and sets betting odds. Bookmakers are also known as linemakers.

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 and increase the odds.



Refers to a fee charged by a betting exchange or sportsbook on the net winnings of a bettor. It’s a percentage of the profit made from successful bets and is deducted from the winnings before they are paid out to the bettor. 

Correct Score

These lucrative betting markets carry high odds, as players are trying to predict the correct score of the game. This market is mostly used in football. 

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. If the first wager loses, the second one is canceled. 

Double Bet

A type of wager that combines multiple individual bets into a single bet. In a double bet, bettors select two separate outcomes they want to bet on, and both selections must be correct for the bet to be a winner.

Double Result

This is a betting option where the halftime and end-of-game bets are combined into one betting market. For example, you can bet that the home team will lead at the half and that the away team will win the game in the end. These markets usually have high odds.


Refers to a day or event where two games or matches are scheduled to take place consecutively at the same venue. Typically, a double-header involves two consecutive games in the same sport, such as two baseball games or two basketball games.


Draw is when a sports event is finished with a tied result. While some sports have draws included in the markets, sports with overtime usually disregard the draw at the end of regulation.


After the opening odds are posted, the odds can grow or fall, which is called drifting. Moneylines that move from +220 to +225 to +230 are considered drifting.



It’s the ability to gain a competitive advantage through much research or insights not available to the general public.

Exotic Bet

A type of wager that goes beyond the traditional outcome of a game or match. It involves betting on specific events or occurrences within a sporting event, such as the number of goals scored, the performance of an individual player, or the timing of specific events.


Bookmaker’s potential loss on any given wager.


First-Half Bet

In sports like basketball, soccer, and football, a first-half wager is based on the results of the first half. The most popular betting odds are spreads, moneylines, and game totals for the first half. 

First/Last/Anytime Scorer

This is a list of three pre-game prop bets offered across many sports with which you can bet on the first scorer in the game, the last scorer in the game, and if a player will score at all. 

Fixed Odds

Refer to predetermined odds that are set at the time of placing a bet and remain unchanged regardless of any subsequent fluctuations in the market. These odds indicate the payout a bettor will receive if their wager is successful.

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds, also known as British odds or traditional odds, are a way of expressing betting odds commonly used in the United Kingdom. They are presented as fractions, such as 2/1 or 5/2, representing the potential profit relative to the stake.

Futures Bet

Those are wagers placed on events that will occur in the near or distant future. There are several popular futures options to choose from, including the champions of the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, NBA Finals, and World Series. 


Game Total Bet

An over/under bet based on the expected number of goals/points/runs in a game. 

Graded Bet

A wager that has been settled and its outcome is determined by the bookmaker or sportsbook. Once the event or game on which the bet was placed has concluded, the bookmaker reviews the results and grades the bet as a win, loss, or push (tie). 

Grand Salami

A wager that involves betting on the total number of goals/runs scored in multiple games or matches within a specific sport on a given day. It is often associated with hockey and baseball betting.


Halftime Bets

Wagers that are based only on results from either of the halves in sports like football or the NFL. These include moneylines, spreads, over/under, and more. 


A type of wager that introduces a handicap or point spread to even the playing field between two teams in a sporting event. The stronger team is given a handicap by deducting points from their final score or adding points to the weaker team’s score. 


An individual or entity that specializes in analyzing and predicting the outcomes of sporting events to provide betting advice or recommendations. Handicappers can be independent professionals, part of betting services, or associated with sports media outlets.

Home Field Advantage

Playing at home in familiar settings can benefit a team. That is why the odds are in favor of the home team, even if the teams are similar.


Refers to half a point added to or subtracted from a point spread or total line. The purpose of the hook is to eliminate the possibility of a tie or push in the betting outcome, forcing bettors to take a side and creating a clear winner or loser.


In-Play Betting

In many sportsbooks, players can place wagers while the game is happening. This is called in-play betting and includes betting markets like the next goal scorer, spreads, and moneyline bets. 


Joint Favorite

Two or more participants or teams that are given equal or nearly equal chances of winning an event or competition. They share the status of being the favorites in the field.


Another term for “vig” or “vigorate.” It refers to the commission or fee charged by a sportsbook or bookmaker on a bet. The juice is typically expressed as a percentage and is factored into the odds to ensure the bookmaker maintains a profit margin.



A practice where a bettor reduces or hedges their risk by placing additional bets on outcomes that offset or balance their existing wagers. It’s often done to minimize potential losses or secure a guaranteed profit.


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.


Refers to the point spread, moneyline, or total set for a particular game or event. It’s the set of odds or handicaps established by oddsmakers to even out the betting action and create balanced wagering opportunities.


Someone in the organization of the bookmaker that sets the odds for sports events of the day. 

Listed Pitchers

The specific starting pitchers for each team that are designated by sportsbooks at the time of placing a wager. When a bet is made with listed pitchers, the bet is contingent upon those pitchers starting the game for their respective teams. If there’s a change in the starting pitchers, the bet may be voided or adjusted according to the sportsbook’s rules.

Live Betting

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


A bet or selection that’s considered highly likely to be successful or have a high probability of winning. It implies a level of confidence in the predicted outcome, often based on strong statistical analysis, expert opinions, or inside information.


A selection or outcome with low odds or a low probability of occurring. It’s an underdog or unlikely contender that’s not expected to win or succeed. 



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


A straightforward method of indicating the odds for a particular team or participant to win a game or event. It is expressed as a positive or negative number, with positive values indicating the potential profit on a $100 bet and negative values representing the amount needed to be wagered to win $100. 

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).


Players 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.



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.



A number that represents the probability of the bet winning. Odds also show how much money you can make by betting on a certain market.

Odds Formats

The three main odds formats are American (+100), decimal (2.00), and fractional (1/1).


Also known as a linemaker, it’s someone who sets betting lines for each day.

Odds on Favorite

When a team or a participant is the overwhelming favorite, they tend to have really low odds. By seeing the odds differential, bettors can determine who is the favorite and by how much. 

Odds Shopping

Comparing the odds at various sportsbooks to discover the best price.

Off the Board

A situation where a particular game or event is temporarily unavailable for betting. This can happen due to various reasons, such as uncertain player availability, injury concerns, or significant line-up changes.

Outright Betting

Wagering on the outcome of an entire competition or event rather than an individual game or match. It typically involves predicting the winner of a tournament, league, or championship before it begins or at an early stage.

Over Bet

A wager placed on the total combined score, goals, or points of a game exceeding a specified number set by the sportsbook. The bettor is predicting that the total score or outcome of the game will be higher than the given line.


Lines 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. 



A single bet that includes two or more selections. Also called an accumulator or multiple. A winning ticket must have all the selections as winning bets. 

Parlay Banker

A selection or bet that’s considered the most confident or certain among the multiple wagers included in the parlay. The banker is typically the strongest or most heavily favored pick that the bettor is highly confident will win.


The amount of money a bettor receives if their wager is successful. It represents the total return, including both the initial stake and the winnings.

Point Spread

A betting line established by oddsmakers to create a more balanced wagering environment in sports betting. It’s designed to handicap the favored team and give the underdog team a theoretical head start in terms of points.

Post Time

The scheduled time at which a race is set to begin. It’s the designated moment when the horses are released from the starting gate, and the race officially commences.

Power Rankings

Power rankings are a system used in sports to rank teams or individuals based on their perceived strength or performance level. A combination of statistical analysis, expert opinions, and historical data often determines these rankings.

Proposition Bet

A proposition bet, also known as a “prop bet,” is a type of wager that focuses on specific events or occurrences within a sporting event. Prop bets can be related to individual player performances, team statistics, or specific outcomes that are not directly tied to the final result of the game.


An individual or service authorized to place bets on behalf of another person. 

Public Money

Refers to the collective wagers placed by the general public or casual bettors, rather than professional or sharp bettors. It represents the bets made by the majority of recreational bettors, often influenced by popular opinion, media coverage, or public sentiment.

Puck Line

In hockey betting, a “puck line” is a form of point spread betting. It involves placing a wager on the margin of victory for a specific game. The puck line typically sets a standard spread of 1.5 goals, with the favorite team needing to win by two or more goals to cover the spread, while the underdog can either win the game outright or lose by one goal.


A situation where the result of a wager ends in a tie or lands exactly on the point spread or total line. When a push occurs, the bettor neither wins nor loses the bet, and the original stake is typically returned.


Quarter Bet

A type of wager that focuses on the outcome of a specific quarter or period within a game. Instead of betting on the final result, bettors can place bets on the point spread or total for a particular quarter.


Recreational Bettor

One who rarely bets or bets on only major sporting events. Recreational players bet public money.

Rotation Number

A rotation number is a unique identifier assigned to each team or participant in a specific game or event. It’s a standardized numbering system used by sportsbooks to organize and track betting options.

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. 


Second-Half Bet

A type of wager placed specifically on the outcome of the second half of a sporting event, typically in games with halftime breaks, such as basketball or soccer.

Sell Points

Refers to the option of buying a better point spread or total line in exchange for accepting lower odds or a reduced potential payout. It allows bettors to adjust the lines offered by sportsbooks in their favor by adding points to the underdog or subtracting points from the favorite.


An expert sports gambler who uses a wide variety of resources to determine their 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

A form of betting where the outcome is determined by the accuracy of a prediction rather than a traditional win or loss scenario. It involves placing wagers on the range or “spread” of a particular outcome, such as the number of goals scored in a soccer match or the point difference in a basketball game.


A sportsbook refers to a facility, establishment, or online platform that accepts and facilitates sports betting. It serves as a marketplace where bettors can place wagers on various sports events, such as football, basketball, soccer, or horse racing.


Refers to the amount of money that a bettor wagers or puts at risk on a particular bet. It represents the financial investment or the value of the bet.

Staking Method

A specific strategy or approach used to determine the size or proportion of the wager (stake) placed on each bet. It’s a systematic way of allocating betting funds based on factors such as the perceived value of the bet, the bettor’s bankroll, and the level of confidence in the selection.


Taking Points

Betting on the underdog team or participant by accepting the points given to them by the sportsbook as part of the point spread. The bettor is essentially starting the game with an advantage in terms of points added to the underdog’s score.

Teaser Card

A form of sports betting offered by some sportsbooks where bettors can select multiple teams and adjust the point spreads or totals for each game in their favor. It typically involves selecting at least two or more teams and adjusting the lines by a predetermined number of points, known as the teaser points.


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


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.


An individual or entity that provides predictions, tips, or recommendations on the outcomes of sports events or betting opportunities. Tipsters typically have expertise or knowledge in a specific sport or betting market and share their insights with others for a fee or through various platforms.

Three-Way Odds

Commonly used in soccer (football) betting to represent the potential outcomes of a match. In three-way odds, there are three possible options: “1” represents a home team win, “X” indicates a draw or tie, and “2” signifies an away team win. 

Two-Way Odds

A wagering option without ties, including two sides. There are only two betting options: either the home team wins, or the away team wins. It’s common in basketball betting. 



Refers to the participant or team that is thought to have a lower chance of winning in a particular sports event or competition. They are typically expected to be less skilled, less favored, or facing stronger opponents. 



The commission or fee charged by a sportsbook for accepting and facilitating bets. It is the bookmaker’s way of ensuring a profit margin on the overall betting activity. The vig is typically included in the odds offered, where the odds are slightly adjusted to account for the commission.



A bet placed on any sport, casino game, or horse race played at a sportsbook, casino, or racebook.

Summary of Sports Betting Terms

In conclusion, understanding various sports betting terms is crucial for anyone interested in sports betting. From selection and stake to odds and accumulators, each term plays a significant role in shaping the betting experience. Being familiar with these terms allows bettors to navigate the betting landscape with confidence, make informed decisions, and develop effective strategies. 

Having a solid understanding of sports betting terms will enhance your overall betting experience and help you make more informed and successful wagers. So, equip yourself with the knowledge of these betting terms in sports and take your betting game to the next level. 


What are common sports betting terms? 

Common sports betting terms include “spread,” “moneyline,” “over/under,” “parlay,” “handicap,” “juice/vig,” “favorite,” and “underdog,” among others.

What is +200 in betting? 

+200 represents the American odds format for a positive underdog. It means that a $100 wager on the underdog would result in a $200 profit if the bet is successful, in addition to the return of the initial $100 stake. 

What does +1.5 mean in sports betting? 

+1.5 indicates a point spread. If a team has a +1.5 spread, it means they are the underdog and can lose the game by up to 1 point (or win the game outright) for the bet to be a winner.

How do you read moneyline odds? 

Positive moneyline odds, such as +200, indicate the potential profit on a $100 wager if the bet is successful. Negative moneyline odds, such as -200, indicate the amount of money you would need to wager to win $100.

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