Complete Sports Betting Terminology Guide

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

Here is the complete list of phrases from A-Z. If you’re ever unsure, come back to this page and you will find the answer.

Click any of the letters below to jump to that section.

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Accumulator: Combining more than one bet. Accumulators only pay out if all selections win

Action: A bet of any kind.

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.

Added Game: A late addition to the list of available games to bet on.

After Extra Time (AET): The additional time played in a soccer game if the match ends as a tie in regulation.

Against The Spread (ATS): A betting strategy that goes against the betting lines. Each match will have a betting line that favors one of the competitors. Betting ATS is betting against this competitor by wagering on their opponent to win.

Alternate Lines: Derivatives of standard betting lines.

American Odds: Betting odds expressed relative to $100. Odds with a ‘-‘ require you to wager that amount to win $100. Odds with a ‘+’ show what you win from a $100 wager.

Arb: Short for arbitrage.

Arbitrage: Another word for hedging.

Asian Handicap: Goal/point advantage on the underdog and goal/point disadvantage on the favorite. Eliminates the possibility of a draw.


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.

Banker: Strong favorite to win.

Bankroll: The amount of money a bettor uses for betting. Bankroll management allows bettors to scale bets and avoid going broke.

Beard: 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.

Bet: Risking money on the outcome of an event.

Bet Signals: Automated alerts from bookmakers that are triggered when professional sports bettors place lots of money on a specific result.

Bet To Risk: Betting a specific amount, no matter what the odds are. The bet size will remain the same but the payout will vary, depending on the odds.

Bet To Win: Betting a variable amount based on the betting odds. The bet size changes each time but the payout stays the same.

Bet Versus Dollars Discrepancy: Comparing the percentage of bets to the percentage of dollars a particular competitor is receiving to understand which side the professional bettors are on.

Betting Exchange: A betting site that matches backers instead of accepting bets. Betting exchanges also accept lay bets.

Betting Sheets: The papers a bookmaker prints off outlining their offers before the day starts. Each sport has its own betting sheet.

Betting Syndicates: A team of professional sports bettors.

Betting System: A model that analyses profitable bets in the past and looks at for present-day games that fit the same criteria.

Board: Shows every game to bet on. Also known as a betting schedule.

Bonus: An incentive to entice new or existing account holders to start betting.

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

Bookie: Nickname for bookmaker.

Bookmaker/Bookie: A person who takes bets on sporting events.

Buck: Jargon for $100 (as in a “buck” bet).

Buying Back: When professional sports bettor bet on one side of the line to move it in their favor. Once the odds move to their desired number, they bet on the other side for an even larger amount than the original steam move.

Buying Points: A handicap is placed on the team favored to win in terms of points scored. If you bet on the favorite, you can move the point spread so you get fewer points. If you bet on the team favored to lose, you can buy more points.


Canadian Line: A combination point spread and money line in hockey.

Chalk: The competitor favored to win.

Chalk Player: A better that usually only wagers on the favorites 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.

Closing Line: The final line offered before the market closes.

Closing Line Value (CLV): Value of a bet relative to where the line closes. Consistently beating the closing line is the mark of a sharp bettor.

Commission: The bookmakers’ cost of placing a bet.

Confirmation Bias: Seeking data that fits your own opinion.

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.

Contrarian Betting: Betting against the public. Contrarian bettors look to take advantage of public bias and bet on games being overvalued by average bettors.

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


Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): betting on players across all sports. Bettors pick players on any time, build a lineup and compete against other sports bettors.

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

Decimal Odds: Odds expressed in a decimal format. Also known as European Odds.

Dime: $1,000.

Dime Line: A line where the juice is 10%.

Dog: Short for the underdog.

Dog Player: A bettor who mostly places bets on the underdog.

Dollar: $100.

Double Action: Conditional on the success of the next bet.

Double-Sliding: Handicappers that tell one half of their clients to bet one side of a game and the second half half on the other. No matter the result, the handicapper can say they chose the correct side.

Draw: The final result ends with no winner or loser.

Drift: Implies the event is less likely to win, causing the odds the lengthen.


Each-Way: A bet containing two separate bets, one on the winner and one for the selection placing eg 2nd, 3rd or 4th. Most popular in horse racing.

Edge: 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.

Exotic: 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.

Expected Value (EV): The amount expected to win from the same bet over and over.

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


Fade: To go against or bet the opposite side.

Fading The Trendy Dog: The rare occurrence where contrarian bettors can bet on the undervalued favorite.

Favorite: 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.

Field: Betting all the other bets or players listed in the original prop bet. 

Fifty Cents: $50.

Figure: The amount owed to or by a bookmaker.

Final Four: The remaining four teams in the NCAA basketball tournament.

First Half Bet: A bet placed only on the first half of the game.

Fixed: 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.

Flat Betting: Always betting 1 unit or only 1-5% of your bankroll on every game.

Fractional Odds: Odds expressed as a fraction.

Futures: 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 NHL.


Gambler’s Fallacy:The false idea tat if something has happened more often in a normal period of time, it is bound to happen less often in the future.

Getting Down: A term for just making a bet.

Grand Salami: The grand total of goals scored in all the day’s hockey games. It can be wagered Over or Under the line.


Half A Dollar: $50

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.

Handicapper: A sports bettor who studies and rates sporting events.

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

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

Heavy Juice: A higher price on the standard -110 juice, typically up to -125.

Hedging: 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.

High Roller: A high-stakes sports bettor.

Hold: The amount of money the house holds onto after all bets have been settled. Also known as the profit.

Home Court/Field: The host team’s arena.

Home Court/Field Advantage: Refers to the perceived edge the home team has over the away team.

Hook: The extra half point on a bet.

House: The bookmaker or casino that accepts all wagers.


If Bet: Bets conditional on a sequence of outcomes.

Implied Probability: Used to convert betting odds into a likelihood percentage chance of winning.

In-Game: Placing a real time bet while the event is ongoing.


Jolly: Slang for favorite.

Juice: The commission the bookie earns. The figure is typically around 10%.


Kelly Criterion: Staking method that suggests how much to bet based on the perceived edge.

Key Numbers: The most common margin of victory or defeat. For example, in football, the most common key numbers are 3 and 7.


Laying The Points: Betting on the favorite 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 favorite to win by laying money odds.

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

Lean: When you ‘like’ a bet but haven’t actually bet it, or place less money on it than you usually would.

Liability: When a bookmaker has heavy action on one side and stands to lose big money if that side wins or covers.

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

Line: Another word for odds.

Line Freeze: When there is heavily lopsided betting on side but the line refuses to budge toward the tram getting the vast majority of bets.

Line Shopping: Going to multiple bookmakers to find the best and most profitable line for each game.

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

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 cancelled.

Live Line: Line at any given moment while the game is in progress. Also known as live betting, in-play betting or in-game betting.

Lock: A guaranteed winner in the eyes of a sports bettor.

Long Odds: Large betting odds that occur if there is a large gap between two teams’ power ratings.

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


Margin: Another term referring to the cost of making a bet.

Martingale Betting System: Doubling your bet after each loss so you can recoup your loss and turn a profit. By doubling down, you increase your risk and more likely to go broke.

Middling: 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 favorite at a different point spread and winning both sides. 
This can be difficult to pull off but if done properly can give you big returns.

Mobile Betting: Placing a wager through an app.

Moneyline: Betting on a team to win straight up. The moneyline has no point spread involved.

Moving On Air: When bookmakers adjust their lines to mirror what other sharper bookmakers are offering.

Moving The Line: A player pays an additional price to receive half a point or more in his favor on a point spread game.

Mush: A sports better who is bad luck.

MVP: Stands for Most Valuable Player.


Nickel: $500.

Nickel Line: A sports betting line where the juice is 5%.

No Action (NA): A bet in which no money is lost nor won.

Non-Runner: The selection is not participating in an event.


Odds: Represents the perceived frequency of an event derived from the underlying probability, thus enabling betting.

Oddsmaker: Someone that sets the odds or betting lines.

Odds On: The odds imply they have more than a 50% chance of winning.

Off The Board: A game that the bookmaker is not currently offering action on. They may have taken the bet away or not updated their prices.

Opening Line (Opener): The first time the bookmakers release on the game. It will then move (or not move) based on the action.

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.

Over: Betting the total will be more than the bookmakers’ line.

Over/Under Betting: Betting if there will be more or less total points/goals scored than the line set by the bookmaker.


Parlay: A bet in which you bet on more than one outcomes, either against the spread or on the moneyline. 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.

Partial Game Lines: Spreads only available for the first half, second half or one of the four quarters of a game. 

Payout: The return on a winning bet.

Percentage Play: How large your unit size is compared to your bankroll.

Pick’em: A game where there is no favorite or underdog.

Pleaser: Opposite of a teaser bet – worse odds but at a much better price.

Plus Money: Incentive to bet the underdog with bigger payouts.

Points Spread: The number of points by which the supposed better team is favored over the underdog. Referred to as spread betting.

Press: To place a larger bet than you would on a normal wager.

Price: Another expression used to describe odds.

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.

Public Money: Money coming from amateur, recreational or casual bettors that bet for fun and do not have a clear edge.

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

Puppy: Another phrase for the underdog.

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

Pythagorean Differential: Converts each team’s point differential into an expected winning percentage. also known as the Pythagorean Expectation.


Quarter Bet: Betting on the outcome for a specific quarter of a game only.


Rag: Slang for longshot.

Real-Time Odds: Sports betting lines that update automatically as as soon as a bookmaker adjusts their numbers.

Recency Bias: Psychological bias where the public overvalues recent games and results, undervaluing the long-term outlook.

Reduced Juice Sportsbook: Rare and relatively unknown to public bettors, a sportsbook that offers lines well below the standard juice and is the best-kept secret. These are favorites for serious, experienced and professional sports bettors.

Return On Investment (ROI): The amount that a bettor should expect to get back from a winning wager.

Reverse Line Movement (RLM): When the betting line moves in the opposite direction of the betting percentages, one of the clearest indicators of smart money.

Rotation Number: Number located to the left o a team and unique to the team, sport and event. Also known as the NSS number, ID number, game number of Vegas rotation number. It is universal across all sportsbooks.

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.

Run Rate: Average number of runs a batsman scores per over.

Runline: In baseball, the run line is a spread used instead of the moneyline.

Runner: One who places bets for another.


Scalping: Exploiting price differences between bookmakers for a profit.

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

Second Half Bet: A bet placed only on the second half of the game.

Shaded Line: A line that occurs when sportsbooks move the odds further in the direction of the popular public side, forcing recreational bettors to take bad numbers.

Sharp: Professional sports bettor with a long tack record of success. They bet big amounts on games and bets based on value, numbers and data.

Sharp Action: Line movement caused by professional bettors betting one one side of the line.

Sharp Bettor: A sophisticated or professional sports bettor.

Sharp Sportsbook: A sportsbook that sets its own lines, has high limits and accepts big wagers from experienced, professional players.

Short Odds: Small betting odds which occur if there is a small gap between two teams’ power rankings.

Sides: The two teams or athletes playing – the underdog and the favorite.

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

Smart Money: Money from professional bettors who have an edge, a long track record of success and win at a high rate. Sportsbooks will move their lines based on which side is getting sharp money.

Sportsbook: Another term for a bookmaker.

Spread: Just short for point spread.

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

Square Sportsbook: A sportsbook with low limits that caters to recreational bettors, doesn’t set their own lines and follows other sportsbooks.

Steam Move: 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.

Store: 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.

Strike Rate: The bowler/pitcher’s average number of balls bowled/thrown for every wicket/out.

Survivor Pool: Group of people enter the same contest and all pick one tam to win straight up each week. Each person can only pick each team once. Whoever last the longest through the season wins the money.

Sweat: When you have action and root for your bet to win.

Syndicates: Group of professional sports bettors.


Tail: To follow someone’s pick.

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.

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

Ticket: A sports bet.

Tie: 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.

Total: 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.


Under: A wager that the total points/goals scored by two teams will be under the sportsbooks’ line.

Underdog: 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.

Unit: A bet size based on your bankroll. Bets placed in terms of units. For a $10,000 bankroll, one betting unit would typically be $100.

Upset: When the underdog wins the game straight up.


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

Variance: Massive ups and downs in betting in a short period.

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


Wager: A bet.

Welch: This is not paying off a losing bet.

Window: The cashier at a sportsbook where you walk up and place a bet or cash a ticket.

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


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.


Z-Score: Measures how far one data point is from the average.