Sportsbetting Glossary

29 min read
Author
Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Editor-in-Chief
Fact checked by:
Paruyr Shahbazyan
Founder
Last Updated: May 27, 2024, 4:41 PM

Sports Betting Glossary of Terms

Getting started in sportsbetting can sometimes feel like you’re learning a new language, with its unique set of terms and phrases that can be baffling to newcomers. To help demystify this world, we've put together a glossary of essential sports betting terms. It's designed to make the complex simple, turning jargon into clear, easy-to-understand language.

This resource is for everyone, whether you're just starting out or looking to brush up on your betting terminology. Our aim is to provide a helpful and accessible guide that enhances your understanding of sports betting.

Your feedback and suggestions are always welcome. If there's a term you encounter that's not covered here, let us know. We're committed to evolving and updating this glossary to ensure it remains a valuable tool for all sports bettors.

A

  1. Accumulator: Similar to a parlay, involves multiple bets tied together. All bets must win for the accumulator to pay out.
  2. Across the Board: In horse racing, a bet on a horse to win, place, and show.
  3. Action: A bet or wager.
  4. Agent: An intermediary who places bets on behalf of others, often for a commission.
  5. Alternative Line: A variant of the standard point spread or total, with adjusted odds.
  6. American Odds: A format displaying odds with a plus or minus sign to indicate favorites or underdogs.
  7. Arbitrage: A strategy involving betting on all possible outcomes across different sportsbooks to guarantee a profit.
  8. Asian Handicap: In soccer betting, handicaps set in goal increments to offset the possibility of a draw.
  9. ATS (Against the Spread): Refers to a team's performance compared to the point spread.

B

  1. Backdoor Cover: A late, unexpected event causing the game to cover the spread.
  2. Bad Beat: A bet that loses unexpectedly, often due to a last-minute event.
  3. Bankroll: The total amount of money set aside for betting.
  4. Bankroll Management: Strategically managing the size and frequency of bets.
  5. Beard: Someone who places bets on behalf of another to conceal identity.
  6. Betting Exchange: A marketplace where bettors wager against each other rather than the bookmaker.
  7. Bitcoin: A cryptocurrency often used for transactions in online sportsbooks.
  8. Bonus: Incentives offered by sportsbooks, such as free bets or deposit matches.
  9. Book/Bookie/Bookmaker: An individual or organization that accepts bets.

C

  1. Cash Out: Withdrawing winnings or the remaining balance from a sportsbook account.
  2. Chalk: Slang for the favorite in a betting scenario.
  3. Chalk Eater: A bettor who frequently bets on favorites.
  4. Chasing: The act of trying to recover losses by betting more.
  5. Circle Game: A game with lowered betting limits, usually due to uncertainties like injuries.
  6. Closing Line: The final odds offered before a game or event begins.
  7. Consensus: The majority opinion or most popular side of a bet.
  8. Contrarian: Betting against the majority or public opinion.
  9. Correlated Parlay: A parlay bet where the outcomes are believed to be related.
  10. Cover: Winning a bet against the point spread.

D

  1. Decimal Odds: A common odds format in Europe, showing total payout per unit staked.
  2. Degenerate: A derogatory term for a compulsive gambler.
  3. Dime: Slang for a $1,000 bet.
  4. Dime Line: A betting line with a 10-cent spread, common in baseball betting.
  5. Dog: Short for underdog, the team or individual less likely to win.
  6. Dollar: Betting slang for $100.
  7. Double Chance: A bet allowing two outcomes for a win, common in soccer.
  8. Draw: A tie in a sporting event, common in soccer and boxing.

E

  1. Early Cash Out: An option to settle a bet before the event concludes.
  2. Earn: The bookmaker's hold or profit percentage.
  3. Edge: The perceived advantage a bettor has over the bookmaker.
  4. European Odds: Another term for decimal odds.
  5. Even Money: A bet where the potential win equals the stake.
  6. Exacta: A horse racing bet predicting the first and second-place finishers.
  7. Exotic: A bet that isn't a straight bet or parlay; often a prop bet.
  8. Expected Value (EV): The anticipated value of a bet over the long term.
  9. Exposure: The amount a sportsbook potentially stands to lose on a bet.

F

  1. Favorite: The team or player expected to win.
  2. Field: An option in futures betting representing all competitors not listed individually.
  3. First-Half/Quarter Line: Odds for the first half or quarter of a game.
  4. Flat: Refers to a bet with standard odds of -110.
  5. Form: A guide providing statistical data, especially in horse racing.
  6. Fractional Odds: Odds displayed as fractions, common in the UK.
  7. Futures: Bets placed on events that will happen in the future, like championships.

G

  1. Getting Down: Placing a bet.
  2. Giving the Points: Betting on the favorite to cover the spread.
  3. Grand Salami: An over/under bet for the total score of all games on a given day.

H

  1. Halftime Line: Odds offered at halftime, based only on the second half's outcome.
  2. Handicapper: Someone who analyzes sports events to predict outcomes.
  3. Handle: Total amount of money wagered on a game or event.
  4. Heater: A winning streak.
  5. Hedge: Placing bets on opposite sides to guarantee a profit or minimize loss.
  6. High Roller: A bettor who wagers large amounts of money.
  7. Hold: The percentage of money the sportsbook retains on a given wager.
  8. Home-field Advantage: The perceived benefit of playing on home turf.
  9. Hook: Half a point in betting spreads, crucial in close games.

I

  1. In-Play Betting: Also known as live betting, placing bets during an event.
  2. In the Money: In horse racing, a horse that finishes in the top three.

J

  1. Jackpot: A large prize, often in a pool betting scenario or contest.
  2. Jockey: In horse racing, the rider of the horse.
  3. Joint Favorites: When two competitors share the lowest odds in an event.
  4. Juice: The bookmaker's commission on a bet, also known as vig or vigorish.

K

  1. Key Number: Significant numbers in sports betting, particularly in football.
  2. Knockout (KO): In boxing, winning by incapacitating the opponent.

L

  1. Laying the Points: Betting on the favorite in a point spread.
  2. Layoff: Sportsbooks betting with another bookmaker to balance action and reduce risk.
  3. Liability: The amount a bookmaker stands to lose on an event.
  4. Limit: The maximum bet accepted by a sportsbook.
  5. Line Movement: Changes in betting lines due to various factors.
  6. Linemaker: The individual responsible for setting betting lines or odds.
  7. Lines: The offered odds or point spread on a game or event.
  8. Live Betting: Wagering on an event while it is in progress.
  9. Lock: A perceived easy win or near-guaranteed successful bet.

M

  1. Margin: The amount a team wins or loses by.
  2. Matched Betting: A strategy using free bets to guarantee a profit, regardless of outcome.
  3. Middle: Winning both sides of a bet by exploiting line movements.
  4. Money Management: Strategic management of betting funds to minimize losses.
  5. Moneyline: A straight bet on a team or player to win an event.
  6. Mush: A bettor considered to bring bad luck.
  7. Mutuel Pool: The total amount bet into a pool in horse racing.

N

  1. Nickel: Slang for a $500 bet.
  2. No Action: A bet where no money is won or lost, often due to cancellation.
  3. Novelty Bet: Wagering on non-sporting events, like political elections or award shows.

O

  1. Odds-on Favorite: A heavily favored competitor with odds less than even money.
  2. Oddsmaker: The person setting the betting lines or odds.
  3. Off the Board (OTB): A game that bookmakers are not accepting bets on.
  4. Opening Line: The initial betting line set for an event.
  5. Outright Bet: A bet on a competitor to win an entire event, not just one match.
  6. Over: A bet that the total score will be higher than the sportsbook's prediction.
  7. Overlay: A situation where the odds are more favorable to bettors than to the house.
  8. Over/Under: A bet on whether the combined score will be over or under a set amount.

P

  1. Parlay: A single bet linking two or more wagers; all must win for the bet to pay out.
  2. Payout: The amount paid on a winning bet.
  3. Pick/Pick'em: A game with no clear favorite; bettors simply pick the winner.
  4. Point Spread: A handicap used to create a more even betting field.
  5. Prop Bet (Proposition Bet): A wager on specific occurrences within an event, not tied to the outcome.
  6. Public Money: Bets predominantly placed by casual bettors.

Q

  1. Quarter Bet: A wager on the outcome of a specific quarter in a game.
  2. Quinella: In horse racing, a bet on two horses to finish first and second, in any order.

R

  1. Rebate: A refund or cashback offer based on betting activity.
  2. ROI (Return on Investment): A measure of the profitability of bets.
  3. Round Robin: A bet consisting of multiple parlays.
  4. Runner: Someone who places bets for others, especially professionally.

S

  1. Sharp: An experienced, professional sports bettor known for making smart bets.
  2. Square: A novice or casual bettor, often making less informed bets.
  3. Stake: The amount of money placed on a bet.
  4. Steam: A sudden, drastic movement in a betting line due to heavy wagering on one side.
  5. Straight Bet: A single wager on a game or event, as opposed to a parlay or teaser.
  6. Straight Up (SU): Betting on a team or individual to win outright, regardless of the point spread.
  7. Sucker Bet: A wager with poor odds for the bettor, often appearing too good to be true.
  8. Superfecta: In horse racing, a bet predicting the first four finishers in exact order.
  9. Sweat: Experiencing nervousness or anxiety while waiting for the outcome of a bet.

T

  1. Taking the Points: Betting on an underdog in a point spread bet.
  2. Teaser: A type of parlay bet where the bettor adjusts the point spreads in their favor, but at reduced odds.
  3. Ticket: The physical or digital record of a bet.
  4. Total: The combined score of both teams in a game, used in Over/Under bets.
  5. Tout (Service): A person or service providing betting picks and advice, often for a fee.

U

  1. Under: Betting that the total score in a game will be below a specified number.
  2. Underdog: The team or individual considered less likely to win.
  3. Underlay: A bet where the odds are less favorable than the actual chance of winning.

V

  1. Value: Finding a bet that has higher odds than you believe it should.
  2. Vig/Vigorish: The commission or fee taken by the sportsbook, often factored into the odds.

W

  1. Wager: Another term for a bet.
  2. Welch: Failing to pay out or honor a bet.
  3. Wire-to-Wire: A term used when a team leads a game from start to finish.

X

  • X-Factor: An unpredictable or unforeseen variable that can affect the outcome of a bet or game.

Y

  1. Yield: The percentage of profit or loss from a series of bets.
  2. Yankee: A type of bet involving four selections and 11 separate bets: six doubles, four trebles, and a fourfold accumulator.

Z

  1. Zebras: Slang for the referees or officials in a game.
  2. Zig-Zag Theory: A betting strategy that suggests betting on a team to bounce back after a loss, particularly in a playoff series.
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Meet Our Authors

Paruyr Shahbazyan began his business career in 2000 as a private entrepreneur. Over thirteen years, he developed a deep understanding for business and leadership, laying a solid foundation for his professional journey.

In 2013, Paruyr stepped into the sports and betting industry as the founder and president of Bookmaker Rating. This online mass media platform, which he led until 2020, focused on providing in-depth analysis and insights in sports betting, earning a reputation for its quality content. 

Continuing his innovative approach in 2022, Paruyr co-founded Azuro, a decentralized betting protocol. This venture showcases his dedication to integrating advanced technology in the evolving landscape of sports betting. Through these diverse experiences, Paruyr has continuously influenced and shaped the betting industry, driving new trends and setting high standards.

 ExperienceYear
Engaged in private entrepreneurship2000-2013
Founder and President at Bookmaker Rating, an online platform focused on sports and betting2013-2020
Co-founder at Azuro, a decentralized betting protocol2022

"Innovation in sportsbetting comes from a deep understanding of both technology and the human element of sports." 

- Paruyr Shahbazyan, Founder, RG

 

Principles and Ethics

Paruyr Shahbazyan's core beliefs lie in the power of informed decision-making and integrity in the betting industry. He understands that the foundation of successful betting is not just about odds and predictions, but also about the trust and reliability of the information provided. Paruyr advocates for a betting environment where transparency and knowledge are paramount, ensuring that bettors are well-equipped with accurate data and insights.

Strategic Vision

Paruyr's vision is to revolutionize the sports betting industry through the integration of technology. He sees the future of betting as a blend of traditional sports knowledge with innovative tech solutions, like decentralized protocols, to enhance user experience and fairness. His aim is to create platforms that are not only user-friendly but also uphold the highest standards of ethical betting, contributing to a more responsible and enjoyable betting culture.

Future Perspectives

Looking towards the future, Paruyr envisions a betting landscape that is more inclusive, technologically advanced, and globally connected. He anticipates a significant shift towards more decentralized and transparent betting systems, driven by blockchain technology. Paruyr is committed to being at the forefront of this change, continuously exploring new possibilities and innovations that can redefine what it means to engage in sports betting in a digital world. His focus is on building systems that prioritize user empowerment, fairness, and the global growth of the sports betting community.

 

Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Editor-in-Chief

Sol's interest in sports was sparked at a young age, inspired by athletes such as Barry Sanders, Michael Jordan, and Wayne Gretzky. This early fascination evolved into a deep-seated passion, guiding him toward a career in sports journalism in 2007. Over the years, Sol has contributed thousands of articles and reviews to dozens of online platforms, sharing his research, knowledge, and perspectives.

“In the world of sports betting, truth is more valuable than any bonus offer.”

ExperienceYear
Content Manager, OnlineCasinoReports2012-2021
Sports Journalist, Dottraffic2009-2011
Content Writer, HouseTech2007-2009
Cristina Varela Galan
Cristina Varela Galan
Problem Gambling Expert

Cristina used to work as a Psychology Assistant in the Bizkaia Pathological and Risky Gamblers Association. She was also part of a research team in Deusto University, specializing in pathological gambling area. While working there, she managed to develop her own project 

 “Exploring the association between emotional regulation, alexithymia, stressful life events and gambling in adolescent and young adult women”.

Nick Ashbourne
Nick Ashbourne
Senior Writer

Nick has been fascinated with sports since he was first taken to a Toronto Maple Leafs game back in 1998, and he's written about them professionally since 2014.

Nick has covered baseball and hockey for outlets like The Athletic, Sportsnet, and Yahoo Sports, and his sports betting expertise has grown since its legalization in Ontario in 2022. 

Between 2022 and 2023 he worked for a betting startup called NorthStar Bets, and in 2024 he contributed to Oddspedia before joining the Responsible Gambling team.

Anna Kravtcova
Anna Kravtcova
Problem Gambling Expert

Ph.D. in organizational psychology, an internationally certified psychologist (EuroPsy 2022, Cognitive behavioural therapy of mindfulness 2020, International Society for Emotional Intelligence 2017, Russian Psychological society 2014, American Psychological Association(Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychologist) 2011), speaker of many international conferences (USA, Brazil, Portugal, Czech Republic, Russia, etc.). TEDx speaker.

Mike made the decision to dive headfirst into the booming world of sports betting fresh out of college. Back in the day, when 1-800 pick lines and sports pagers were all the rage, he couldn't resist the allure, having grown up idolizing sports legends like Sweetness, MJ, and Slammin Sammy. Mike dedicated his early years to the industry, tirelessly analyzing games, writing articles with free picks, and selling his expertise on reputable handicapping sites. Unlike many others, Mike was known for his integrity and only released one Game of the Year per sport, per season. His hard work and unwavering commitment paid off, earning him a devoted following and propelling his career to new heights. Then came the explosion of Daily Fantasy Sports. Believe it or not, companies like DraftKings and FanDuel used to pay Mike's company to increase their brand exposure. Now, those same industry giants don't even bother responding to his emails. While Mike appreciates the convenience of being able to place legal bets in his own backyard, he can't help but feel disheartened by what has become of the industry. People are being led astray, falsely believing that a mere $5 wager on a 20-team same-game-parlay will be their ticket to financial security. If there’s one thing Mike learned from making book back in the day, it’s that parlays are a bookie’s best friend. A bankroll is the only leg you have to stand on in the battle with the books, and Mike’s here to offer up advice on how to protect it.

Mark Medina
Mark Medina
NBA Reporter

Mark Medina is a longtime NBA reporter that includes stints as a Lakers blogger with The Los Angeles Times (2010-12), Lakers beat writer with the Los Angeles Daily News (2012-17), Warriors beat writer with Bay Area News Group (2017-19) as well as an NBA reporter/columnist for USA Today (2019-21) and NBA.com (2021-23). Medina is also an NBA insider with Fox Sports Radio and frequent contributor to CBSLA's SportsCentralLA with Jim Hill and with Spectrum Sportsnet.

Daria Tuboltseva
Daria Tuboltseva
Hockey Journalist

Daria went to St. Petersburg State University and earned a bachelor of international journalism. Working as a sports journalist from 2014, from 2016 as a hockey journalist. Covered 5 World Championships, 2022 Winter Olympics, 2020 World Juniors, 6 Gagarin Cup Finals. 

Owner of a telegram channel Coolest Game on Earth.

Integrative nutritionist specializing on sports nutritionology.