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Sports Betting Terms & Glossary

Marcus Mosher for Bookies.com

Marcus Mosher  | 8 mins

Sports Betting Terms & Glossary

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  • Action: In sports betting, “action” means the amount that is wagered on a given event.
  • Added Game: This is a game or contest that isn’t usually part of a sportsbooks rotation of bets. For example, if a game is rescheduled or delayed, it can be considered an added game.
  • Against the spread (ATS): This refers to the point spread of a given contest. The favorite in a contest will be labeled with a (-) sign, indicating they have to win by a certain amount of points to cover the spread, while the underdog will see a (+) sign, showing the amount of points they are getting to cover.
  • Arbitrage: This is when the same game or contest is listed in two or more different markets at different prices. For example, a team could be -121 to cover the spread in one sportsbook while being -110 in another.
  • Bankroll: The amount of money a player has available to spend on sports bets.
  • Backdoor Cover: When a team covers the spread late in a given contest, usually by the underdog. The phrase “backdoor cover” is used when the outcome of the game is already decided, but the spread is still in question.
  • Bad Beat: A loss that appeared to be a victory earlier in the contest. Often, a backdoor cover is the reason why a player suffers a bad beat.
  • Beard: A bettor who conceals their identity. Typically, this is to hide a “shark.”
  • Book: The sportsbook or establishment that takes wagers on sporting events.
  • Bookmaker/Bookie: A person who accepts sports bets.
  • Buying Points: When a player pays an extra amount to receive points (typically no more than half to one point) for a team to cover the spread.
  • Chalk: Another term used to describe the favorite.
  • Closing Line: The final spread before the start of the game or contest.
  • Circle Game: A game or contest that has betting limits, usually due to weather or injuries.
  • Contrarian Bidding: When a bettor places wagers against whom the public backs.
  • Consensus Pick: A team or player who the public backs by a large percentage. Typically, this is on the favorite.
  • Cover: When a side wins against the points spread. An example is if the Cowboys win by 4 points after being a 1.5 point favorite.
  • Dime: A $1,000 bet on an event or game.
  • Dog: Another term used to describe the team expected to lose. Also short for “underdog.”
  • Dollar: A $100 bet on an event or game.
  • Draw: When neither the player nor the sportsbooks wins a given event. This is often referred to as a “push” as well.
  • Edge: This is when the bettor has an advantage over a sportsbook before placing a bet.
  • Even Money: This is when there is no “vig” or “juice” attached to a bet. For an example, a $50 bet will win you exactly $50.
  • Exotic: Any other bet that doesn’t feature a straight bet or a parlay. These are often referred as “prop bets.”
  • Favorite: This is the team (or side) that is expected to win a given event or contest.
  • Field: In a prop bet, a bettor often has the chance to bet on all the players or teams not listed.
  • Fixed: Odds that won’t change throughout the week.
  • Future: A type of bet that involves an event several weeks later. The most common “future” bets are wagering on a team to win a championship in a given year or for a player to win the Most Valuable Player award.
  • Halftime Bet: This is a bet that is placed for only the second half of a game. These points spreads and moneylines are often significantly different than what they were before the start of the contest.
  • Handicapper: A person or group who researches and predicts the outcome of a sporting event.
  • Hedging: This is when a player places a bet on the opposite side of their original bet to guarantee a win. Often, this is used to guarantee a profit or to minimize a loss.
  • High roller: A bettor who only places large bets on sporting events. These players often wager anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 on a single bet.
  • Hook: Refers to the process of buying an extra point to push a spread to 3 to 3.5.
  • Getting Down: This means a sports bettor is making a bet.
  • Grand Salami: This is a bet on the total number of goals scored in all of the hockey games in a single day.
  • Juice: The amount of money charged by a sportsbook to place a bet. This is also referred to as the “vig” or the “vigorish.”
  • Key Numbers: These are numbers that often show up in the final margin of victory or total score. These are the most common in football, where 3, 7, and 10 are considered key numbers as a field goal (3) and a touchdown (6 before extra point) are the most common ways teams score points.
  • Layoff: Term used to refer to the amount of money spent by a sportsbook to reduce their risk of losing money.
  • Limit: The maximum amount a sportsbook will allow a player to wager on in a single event. Sportsbooks will have different limits for each contest.
  • Lines: Another term used to describe “odds.” These refer to the spread, moneyline and point totals for a specific game.
  • Lock: A term used to describe a favorite that is projected win by a large amount.
  • Longshot: Used to describe a big underdog in a given event. This phrase is most commonly used in Horse Racing to describe the horses with the lowest odds to win the race.
  • Middle: This refers to when a player places a bet on both sides at a certain time in the contest to win both bets. Usually, this only occurs when betting on points spreads that move throughout the course of a game.
  • Moneyline: A bet on a team to win the game straight up.
  • Mush: To create bad luck for other sports bettors. This is often referred to as a “jinx” or a “hex.”
  • Nickel: A $500 bet.
  • Oddsmaker: The person or organization in charge of creating and placing odds on sporting events.
  • Off the board: This is when a sportsbook will not place odds or take action on a sporting event or outcome. Unusually, this occurs only when there is missing information regarding a team or player involved in an upcoming game.
  • Over/Under: The number set by a sportsbook that projects the total number of points scored between two teams. A bettor can place a bet on the over or the under. If the total falls on the exact number placed by the sportsbook, the bet is considered a “push” and all funds are returned to the bettor.
  • Parlay: A bet that features two or more events. In order for the bet to cash, all events need to win in order for the whole bet to win. Parlays are popular due to bigger payouts despite greater risks.

  • Pick'em: A game that features no favorite or underdog. This game will not feature a point spread as both sides or teams are considered equal.
  • Proposition (Prop) Bet: A bet that doesn't focus on the spread, moneyline or point total but instead, the specific stats for a player or team. An example of this is how many receptions a player will make in a specific NFL game. Prop Bets often have lower limits than traditional bets.

  • Public betting percentage: The amount of bets and money placed on one side in a given contest by the betting public. Often, contrarian bettors will wager against the public betting percentage in order to find value.
  • Push: When a bet is won by neither side and all action is returned to the bettor.
  • Real time odds: These are odds that move and change throughout the course of a game or contest.
  • Reverse Line movement: This is when bettors will track line movement in order to find value. Typically, these lines move in the opposite direction of what is expected.
  • Return on investment: The total amount of money won or lost while sports betting.
  • Run Line: A typical points spread of 1.5 that is common in both baseball or hockey
  • Runner: A person who places a bettor for another person.
  • Sharp: An experienced or professional bettor who is well-informed before placing bets.
  • Spread: Short for "Points Spread." Refers to the margin of victory the favorite needs to win by to cover the bet.
  • Square: An inexperienced bettor who often bets on only their favorite team or player.
  • Steam Move: A line that changes quickly, typically because of significant action coming from sharp bettors.
  • Straight Up: A bet or wager on just one team to win a game.
  • Teasers: A parlay bet where the points spread and/or total is adjusted in the player's favor. However, the odds are lower in a teaser bet in comparison to a traditional parlay bet.
  • Total: The combined number of points, goals or runs scored between two teams in a given game.
  • Tout: A sports betting expert who sells advice or picks.
  • Units: The size of a sports bet in a player's bankroll. Also known as the percentage of a player's bankroll that is spent on a given bet.
  • Underdog: The team (or player) that is the most likely to lose a game or a contest. Also known as a "dog."
  • Vigorish: The commission a sportsbook makes on a bet. Also known as the "vig" or the "juice."
  • Wager: To place a bet on an outcome of an event.
  • Wiseguy: Another term used to describe a “sharp” bettor. Typically, this is a professional or semi-professional sports bettor.

About the Author

Marcus Mosher for Bookies.com
Marcus Mosher
Marcus Mosher covers the NFL for Bookies.com. The managing editor of The Raiders Wire is also a contributor to The Athletic DFW, Pro Football Weekly and FanSided.

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