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Sports Betting Glossary

  • Accumulator -

    A bet which includes multiple selections, which must all be correct for the bet to win.

  • Action -

    A bet or wager.

  • Against the spread -

    The result of a game including the point spread.

  • Alternate Lines -

    All sportsbooks offer lines (point spreads) on sporting events. Some sportsbooks may offer different (or alternate) point spreads that pay different odds for the same game. These provide bettors more options to wager on certain games.

  • American Odds -

    American odds are displayed differently than the rest of the world. Moneyline odds are shown as + or – a number in the US. Outside of the US, the same odds might be presented with a decimal point or by a fraction. Example: Yankees +400 American odds would be 5.0 or 4/1. The bettor takes home the same amount of money if the wager wins.

  • Arbitrage -

    This betting strategy involves placing a wager on all possible outcomes of an event so that that there’s a guaranteed profit regardless of the winner. This is best done with moneyline or futures wagers in the US and will usually take place across multiple sportsbooks.

  • Asian handicap -

    A specific type of handicap betting that originated in Asia and is popular for soccer betting.

  • Backdoor Cover -

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

  • Bad Beat -

    A bet that looks like the bettor is going to win but doesn’t.

  • Bankroll -

    Total amount of money a bettor has to place wagers.

  • Betting Unit -

    A betting unit is the amount of a typical wager. Bettors may have different sized bankrolls and a unit is a way to share how much was bet without giving away a specific dollar amount. For example, a high roller might have a unit size of $10,000 per wager while a low roller has a unit size of $20 wager per wager.

  • Bonus -

    Sportsbooks offer a financial bonus to customers for a variety of reasons. A signup bonus is the most popular way to incentivize bettors to use a certain sportsbook.

  • Book (Sportsbook) -

    A place where someone can bet on the outcome of sporting events.

  • Bookie -

    A person who accepts bets illegally and charges vig.

  • Buck -

    A $100 bet.

  • Buying points -

    Some bookies or sportsbooks will allow customers to alter the set line and then adjust odds. For example, a bettor might decide he wants to have his team as a 3-point underdog instead of the set line of 2.5. He has then "bought" half a point, and the odds of his bet will be changed.

  • Canadian Line -

    A betting line used in ice hockey, which combines point spread and moneyline betting.

  • Chalk -

    A term for the team that is the favorite in an event. This team or player is usually a big favorite. The chalk is the expected winner by a large margin.

  • Circle Game -

    A game is circled by a sportsbook because betting limits are lower than usual. This most often happens when there’s a questionable injury before a game. It can also happen if there’s potentially bad weather, a trade rumor, or the possibility of “load management” which might give a player a night off.

  • Closing line -

    The final line before the game or event begins.

  • Combination Bet -

    A term for any wager containing more than one selection.

  • Consensus -

    Percentage of the betting public on each side of a game. Some bettors will bet against the “public money” (whichever team more bettors have placed their bets on).

  • Contrarian -

    Betting against the trends of the mainstream popular opinions. Bettors usually place contrarian wagers when there is value on the opposite opinion.

  • Cover -

    The betting result on a point-spread wager. For a favorite to cover, it has to win by more than the spread; an underdog covers by winning outright or losing by less than the spread.

  • Cover The Spread -

    Winning a wager placed against the point spread.

  • Decimal Odds -

    This is a different way to present odds than Americans are used to. They’re sometimes called “European odds” since this is how odds are listed with European sportsbooks.
    The math is easier to figure out for most bettors than US moneyline odds. Decimal odds are derived from a simple calculation of the amount bet x odds.

  • Dime -

    A $1,000 bet.

  • Dog Player -

    A bettor that tends to bet on underdogs.

  • Dollar -

    A $100 bet.

  • Double -

    A wager consisting of two separate selections.

  • Double Chance -

    This is a European sports betting term mostly used for soccer betting. A double chance wager allows the bettor two opportunities to win a bet. For example, a result in soccer can be a win, loss, or tie. A double chance bettor may combine two of the three results instead of just one. This gives the bettor twice the chance to win the wager.

  • Double Pop -

    A European way of saying that a bettor will bet twice the normal amount. In the US this is known more often as doubling up.

  • Early Cash Out -

    A way for bettors to settle a wager for a certain dollar amount before the event is over. This is a way to lock in a profit at a smaller value than the wager would ultimately pay.

  • Edge -

    The advantage a bettor has before a bet is placed.

  • Even (Even Money) -

    A $100 bet to win $100.

  • Exacta -

    Choosing horses to finish first and second in a race. This is sometimes, but rarely, offered for other competitive sports.

  • Expected Value -

    A theoretical measure of how much a wager is likely to win in the long term.

  • Favorite -

    A team favored to win a game.

  • First Half -

    A derivative bet that can be placed on a sport that has two halves. Football and basketball are the most popular sports to place a first half wager. In soccer, this might be called a “half time result.”

  • Fixed Odds -

    These are the odds that most sports bettors will experience. Once a wager is placed, the odds are set and don’t change. Horse bettors might experience a change in odds from parimutuel betting.

  • Fractional Odds -

    Another kind of odds used mainly in Britain and Ireland. Odds are listed in fraction form (1/5) instead of as a moneyline (-500) that US sportsbooks use.

  • Futures bet -

    A long-term wager that typically relates to a team's season-long success. Common futures bets include betting a team to win a championship at the outset of a season, or betting whether the team will win or lose more games than a set line at the start of the season.

  • Grand Salami -

    A popular hockey bet which the wager is for the over/under on total number of goals scored by all teams in a day. Some sportsbooks may offer derivative versions for home, away, or periods of games during the day. Some sportsbooks may offer a similar bet for runs in Major League Baseball.

  • Halftime bet -

    A bet made after the first half ended and before the second half begins (football and basketball primarily).
    The oddsmaker generally starts with half of the game side/total and adjusts based on what happened in the first half.

  • Handicapper -

    A person trying to predict the winners of an event.

  • High roller -

    A high-stakes gambler.

  • Hook -

    A half-point. If a team is a 7.5-point favorite, it is said to be "laying seven and a hook."

  • In-game wagering -

    A service offered by books in which bettors can place multiple bets in real time, as the game is occurring. This is also known as live-betting.

  • In-game wagers -

    Bets made after a game started.

  • Juice -

    The commission the bookie or bookmaker takes. Standard is 10 percent.

  • Limit -

    The maximum allowed wager on a single bet.

  • Live Betting -

    Placing a wager on a game or event while it’s taking place. This is also known as In-Play wagering.

  • Lock -

    A guaranteed win in the eyes of the person who made the wager.

  • Long Shot -

    A large underdog.

  • Margin -

    This is a wager where a bettor selects a team to win or lose by a specific number of points regardless of the point spread. For example, the Oakland Raiders will defeat the Los Angeles Chargers by 10-14 points. The Raiders must win by 11, 12, or 13 points for a win. A victory by 10 or 14 points is a push.

  • Moneyline bet -

    A bet made if a team will win or lose outright with no point spread.

  • Moneyline Odds -

    One of the three main formats for expressing odds, commonly used in America.

  • Multiple -

    A term used to describe any wager which contains more than one selection.

  • Mush -

    A bettor or gambler who is considered to be bad luck.

  • Nickel -

    A $500 bet.

  • No Action -

    A game that is no longer taking bets and all wagers are refunded.

  • Novelty Bet -

    Placing a wager on a non-sports event with a sportsbook. For example, betting on the Oscars in NJ. These kinds of wagers are more popular overseas.

  • Odds-on Favorite -

    When a team or person is heavily favored to win a game or event. They often have very low odds paying much less than the amount wagered.

  • Oddsmaker (Linemaker) -

    Someone who sets the opening line on a game.

  • Off the Board -

    A game bettors can not wager on.

  • Opening Line -

    This is the first point spread available for a game.

  • Over -

    The combined score of two teams is more than what the sportsbook set.

  • Parlay -

    A bet that combines multiple games for a higher payout. The more games, the higher the risk but the greater the payout. In order for the parlay to win, each game must win or push (tie). If any of the games lose, the entire wager loses.

  • Point Spread -

    Margin of victory set by oddsmakers to attract bets action on both the favorite and the underdog.
    A favorite must win by a number higher than the point spread to cover the spread. An underdog can cover by losing by a number less than the spread or by winning the game outright.

  • Proposition bets (prop) -

    A bet on anything that is not directly tied to the outcome of the game. For example, it can be the first team or the first player to score in a game.

  • Public Betting Percentage -

    his is the percentage of wagers placed by the general betting public.

  • ROI -

    ROI is an acronym for Return On Investment. The ROI of a sports wager can simply be calculated this way: (Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment.

  • Runner -

    Someone who makes bets for another person (aka "beard").

  • Sharp -

    A professional, sophisticated sports bettor.

  • Sharp Money -

    Money wagered by sports bettors that a sportsbook operator respects. Sharp money often comes from large wagers placed by professional bettors. It should be noted that not all large wagers are considered Sharp.

  • Single -

    A wager with one selection.

  • Square -

    A casual gambler. Someone who typically isn't using sophisticated reasoning to make a wager.

  • Steam -

    This is when odds change because of the money wagered on a game or participant. Some bettors will “follow the money” or “chase steam” thinking the bettors know something they may not.

  • Straight Up -

    When a team wins or loses an event. The point spread isn’t involved with the winner or loser.

  • Sucker Bet -

    A slang term for a “bad” bet, one that significantly favors the bookmaker.

  • Tissue Price -

    The initial odds offered by a sportsbook. This price is usually considered to be the fairest price on a wager.

  • Total -

    The perceived expected point, run or goal total in a game. For example, in a football game, if the total is 41 points, bettors can bet "over" or "under" on that perceived total.

  • Tout (service) -

    A person (or group of people) who either sells or gives away picks on games or events.

  • Under -

    The combined score of two teams is less than what the sportsbook set.

  • Underdog (dog) -

    A team not favored to win a game.

  • Value Bet -

    A wager where the theoretical likelihood of winning is greater than the odds suggest.

  • Wager -

    A bet.

  • Welch -

    To not pay off a losing bet.

  • Wire-to-Wire -

    This is a wager that a team will lead at every quarter or for a specific number of quarters. Wire-to-wire bets are the most popular in basketball.

  • Wiseguy -

    A professional bettor. Another term for a "sharp."

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