Complete Sports Betting Terminology Guide

Complete Sports Betting Terminology Guide

You don’t need to be an expert to understand sports betting terminology.

We thought we would give you the complete list of phrases from A-Z. If you’re ever unsure, come back to this page and you will find the answer.

We’ve even made it easier for you and broken down each term down which sport you are most likely to find it. You may notice that some terms are used more than once but over time you will get used to the language.

Get familiar with these sports betting definitions and you’ll become a digital nomad in no time.

We will start with sport-specific terminology before getting into general terms:

Baseball Betting Terminology


A baseball bet where it doesn’t matter if the pitchers meant to start the game or pitcher is specified.

Listed Pitchers

A baseball bet which will be placed only if both of the pitchers scheduled to start a game actually start. If they don’t, the bet is canceled.

Run line

In baseball, the run line is a spread used instead of the money line.

As you can see, there aren’t too many terms that are specific to a particular sport. The remainder of this sports betting glossary will show you terminology that can be used across all different sports.

Check out our baseball betting tips page for more of the best sports betting tips!

Basketball Betting Terminology

Final Four

The remaining four teams in the NCAA basketball tournament.

Home court

The host team’s arena. In basketball, home teams win 60% of their games in the regular season.

Ice Hockey Betting Terminology

Canadian Line

A combination point spread and money line in hockey.

Grand Salami

The grand total of goals scored in all the hockey games of the day. It can be wagered to go Over/Under.

Horse Racing Betting Terminology

Across the Board

A method of betting on a horse to win, place and show on a single ticket. If the horse comes first, all three will pay out. If it finishes second you win the place and show. If it finishes third, you win the show bet only.

Dead Heat

When two or more horses cross the line at the same time.


A riskier play that places a bet on more than a single outcome eg winners of more than one race. All the outcomes are placed in a single wager. Exotic bets are commonly known as proposition or ‘prop’ bets.

Football Betting Terminology

Yardage differential

This is determining how good an NFL team is based on the average offensive yards gained per play and the average defensive yards allowed per play.

Home-field Advantage

Total home team points minus total visiting team points, divided by the total number of games played.

Want some more advice from our top soccer betting tipsters? Check out our dedicated page!

Cricket Betting Terminology

Run rate

Average number of runs a batsman scores per over.

Strike rate

The bowler’s average number of balls bowled for every wicket they take.

Checkout more of the best cricket match betting tips for further information.

General betting terminology


Also refers to the number of bets being placed on a certain event.

ATS (Against The Spread)

A betting strategy that goes against the betting lines. Each match will have a betting line that favours one of the competitors. Betting ATS is betting against this competitor by wagering on their opponent to win.

Backdoor cover

When a team unexpectedly scores points at the end of a game to cover the spread.

Bad Beat

A bet that loses unexpectedly.


This is a friend, or someone a sports bettor will know, that places a bet on behalf of the sports bettor. Beards are used to hide the identify of the actual bettor.


An establishment that accepts bets on the outcome of sporting events.


A person who takes bets on sporting events.


Jargon for $100 (as in a “buck” bet).

Buy (Points)

A handicap is placed on the team favoured to win in terms of points scored. If you bet on the favourite, you can move the point spread so you get less points. If betting on the team favoured to lose, you can buy more points.


The competitor favoured to win.

Chalk Player

A better that usually only wagers on the favourites and rarely gambles on the underdogs. These people are also known as “chalkeaters.”

Circled Game

A game where the limits are lowered, or betting options are restricted, usually due to bad weather conditions or player injuries.

Consensus pick

Derived from data accumulated from a variety of sportsbooks. The pick, and its percentage, shows what the general public is thinking about the match.


To beat the point spread by the required number of points. When you win, you have “covered the spread.”



Dime Line

A line where the juice is 10 percent.


Short for the underdog.

Dog Player

A bettor who mostly places bets on the underdog.




This is the advantage you have over the bookmaker when placing a bet.

Even Money

Placing a bet where you either win or lose the same amount of money. You will either see even money odds listed as +100, Evens or 1/1.


The maximum amount of money a sports book stands to lose on a game.


The team expected to win an event. The odds given to you reflect how big of an advantage one competitor has over the other. The longer the odds, the more they are expected to win.

Fifty Cents



The amount owed to or by a bookmaker.

First Half Bet

A bet placed only on the first half of the game.


A competitor that will change the result of a game by dishonest methods. Most of the time, matches are fixed in exchange for an external financial reward.


These are bets that get put down in advance of the final outcome. A popular future is betting on the winner of the next season’s NBA.

Getting Down

A term for just making a bet.

Half A Dollar


Half Time Bet

Placing a bet on events occurring in the second half only. Bookmakers will adjust their odds based on the previous half’s events.


A sports bettor who studies and rates sporting events.


This is a process that tried to predict the winner of a match. Lots of research goes into this.


The total amount of money bet on an event or group of events.


If you already have a bet on one outcome, you can place another on the opposite outcome to guarantee a win or cut your losses.


A high-stakes sports bettor.


A half-point.

Hot Game

A game or event that is drawing a lot of attention and having a large number of bets placed placed on.


Placing a real time bet while the event is ongoing.


The commission the bookie earns. The figure is typically around 10 percent.

Laying the Points

Betting on the favourite to win by giving up points. In bookmakers’ eyes, your chance of winning goes down so you will receive better odds.

Laying the Price

Betting on the favourite to win by laying money odds.


Money bet by one bookmaker with another bookmaker to reduce its liability.


The maximum amount a bookmaker will allow you to bet before they change the odds and/or the points.


Another word for odds.


The person who comes up with the original betting lines and the updates. Also known as an “oddsmaker.”


A guaranteed winner in the eyes of the sports bettor.


Similar to an underdog, they are a competitor that is unlikely to win.


This can be difficult to pull off but if done properly can give you big returns. This bet requires you to win both sides of the same contest in a sports betting event. Betting on the underdog at one point spread and the favourite at a different point spread and winning both sides.

Money Line

A wager where no point spread is involved.

Move the Line

A player pays an additional price to receive half a point or more in his favour on a point spread game.


A sports better who is bad luck.



Nickel Line

A sports betting line where the juice is five percent.

No Action

A bet in which no money is lost nor won.

Off the Board

A game that the bookmaker is not offering action on at that moment. They may have taken the bet away or not updated their prices.

Outlaw Line

The earliest line available in sports betting. However, this is an overnight line and only a handful of players are allowed to bet into.


A bet on whether the combined total of the points/goals scored by the two teams will exceed or be less than a specified number.


A bet in which you bet on more than one outcomes, either against the spread or on the money line. In order to win the parlay, all the selections must be correct. In the event of a push or a game cancellation, the parlay reverts to the next lower number (e.g. a 4-team parlay becomes a 3-team parlay). The more teams you have, the greater the odds.

Pick ’em

A game where there is no favourite or underdog.

Point Spread (Spread)

The number of points by which the supposed better team is favoured over the underdog.


To place a larger bet than y0u would on a normal wager.

Prop (Proposition) Bet

A special wager offered by the sportsbook that’s not based on a winner or loser, such as the first team to score or the number of fouls in a game. The most popular prop bets are, unsurprisingly, placed on the Super Bowl.


Giving odds of a goal spread in hockey instead of using a Canadian Line, where both a goal spread and moneyline are played.


The underdog.


When a result lands on the betting number and all wagers are refunded. There is no winner or loser. For example, a 3-point favourite wins by exactly three points.


The odds or point spread.

Return On Investment (ROI)

ROI is the amount that a bettor should expect to get back on a spread pick.

Round Robin

A series of three or more teams in 2-team parlays.

Run down

All the lines for a specific date, sport, time, etc.


One who places bets for another.


Someone who will wait for what they believe is an unusually strong wager. Scouts are also known as a ‘sports player.’


A sophisticated or professional sports bettor.


The two teams or athletes playing – the underdog and the favourite.

Single Action

An “if bet” that’s processed only if the precedent bet wins.


Just short for point spread.


A casual sports bettor that doesn’t use sound reasoning to make a play.


When a line starts to move unusually quickly. It could be because of a whole series of bets coming in at once. Most ‘steam games’ do not necessarily reflect objective circumstances, but are games that draw a mass of bettors for some reason.


A bookmaker or sports betting establishment.

Straight Bet

A wager on just one winner.

Straight Up

The expected outright winner of the money line in an event or game, not contingent on the point spread.

Taking the Points

Betting on the underdog and its advantage in the point spread.

Taking the Price

Betting on the underdog and accepting money odds.


A bet on multiple teams where the line on each team is adjusted in the favour of the bettor. All selections must be correct for the teaser to win, similar to the parlay.


A sports bet.


A bet in which no money is won or lost because the teams’ scores were equal to the number of points in the given line. This is the same as a push.


The combined amount of runs, points or goals scored by both teams during the game, including the overtime (see Over/Under).

Totals Bet

A proposition bet in which the bettor speculates that the total score by both teams in a game will be more or less than the line posted by the sportsbook.

Tout (Service)

Someone who sells information on what bets to place. They will usually have great expertise in their particular sport .


A wager that the total points scored by two teams will be under a certain figure.


These are competitors that are expected to lose. You can either bet that the team will lose by less than the ATS, or get better than even-money odds that they will defy expectations and win the match.


A bet size based on your bankroll. Bets placed in terms of units. If your bankroll is $1,000, one betting unit would typically be $10.


Getting the best odds possible from a potential bet. The better your edge, the better your value bets.


Commission that bookmaker’s take. This is also known as “juice” or “vig” for short.


Just a bet.


This is not paying off a losing bet.


Another name for ‘sharp’, wiseguys are sophisticated, professional sports bettors.

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