Bettors new to the world of sports wagering will find that in addition to a range of betting lines, odds, and sports, there are also plenty of unique sports betting terms to get to know. Understanding these will make placing your bets much simpler.
Here, we offer you a complete A-Z list of the essential sports betting terms and phrases, taking you through what each means.
Before we introduce you to our A-Z list of the essential sports betting terms, it is crucial to understand why knowing these words and phrases is as important. Firstly, many of the best sports betting apps and sites implement these terms on their site, so understanding them will help you to make quick decisions and more accurate wagers.
This becomes crucial for bettors who enjoy visiting the best live betting sites. Here, there is plenty of sports betting terms used, and because placing a wager at precisely the right time is of the essence, having a firm grasp of these terms will help you do just that.
Our sports betting experts have come up with a comprehensive list of the most prominent and useful sports betting terms, which you can find below:
Now that you have our list of the essential sports betting terms out there let’s take a closer look at each one in greater detail with examples where necessary.
This is a term you will see a lot. Action can mean one of two things. While it can refer to placing a live bet, it also is the sports betting term used for placing a wager on a sports event. As a result, oddsmakers may accept action on all the betting odds they have posted on their online sportsbook.
Bettors wagering “Across the Board” are putting down a bet that works the same as three separate bets on a particular horse to win, place, and show. However, in this case, if the horse wins, you win payouts on all three wagers. But if the horse comes second, you only receive payoffs for the place and show wagers. Finally, if the horse comes in third, you will only be paid out for the show portion of the bet.
This term refers to when a bettor backs the underdog in the point spread. Here, a bettor puts money on the prediction that the underdog will not lose by more than the points or they will win outright. For example, if the spread is 5.5, the underdog must not lose by more than five points, or they must win outright for a bettor betting against the spread to win their bet.
Here, bettors have the chance to wager on a sports match using odds that are either higher or lower than those offered on the main line, generally for spread or total bets. For instance, if you were wagering on the NFL on a game of the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, the Eagles may be the favorites at 1.5 on the spread, but you could take the Chiefs at +1.5 as the favorites instead.
Online sportsbooks typically offer three main ways of representing odds, decimal, fraction, and American. However, most US-based sportsbooks offer odds in the American format by default. These odds include a positive and negative three-digit number.
The number with the minus sign (-) indicates the favorite, and the three digits show how much a bettor must put down to win back $100 if that team wins. In contrast, the number with the plus sign (+) highlights the underdog, while the figure represents how much the bettor will win off a $100 bet if that team is successful.
For example, Philadelphia Eagles -130 vs. Kansas City Chiefs +105. Here, the Eagles are the favorites.
Since there are numerous online sportsbooks, bettors can sometimes find odds on a particular sports match, allowing them to profit from ARB or Arbitrage betting. Here, a bettor places a bet on every possible outcome of the sports game at several different sportsbooks, which guarantees a profit.
An Asian handicap is a specific betting line applied to soccer games. This line differs from a regular handicap in that it eliminates the option of a draw, making this a two-way bet. Here, the sportsbooks handicap the teams according to their form, making it more difficult for the favorite to win.
A unique term that refers to an instance where the favorite is covering the spread, but the underdog then scores. While this score doesn’t affect the outcome of the match, it does turn the tables on the spread and sees the underdog cover instead.
A bettor has a bad beat when they have a ticket that looks like it’s about to be a winning ticket, but a goal or score from the opposition in the last minutes or moments of the game turns it into a losing ticket. A bad beat is most common on spreads, totals, and moneylines.
A bankroll refers to the sum of money a bettor deposits into their online sports betting account, which they will use for wagering bets. Bettors can increase their betting funds or bankroll by winning bets. However, wagering frivolous bets will quickly deplete a bettor’s bankroll.
One of the best tools a bettor can have is a betting odds calculator. This software is found online, and it helps you determine how much you can make off a particular wager. Bettors can input their bet, be it in fractions, decimals, or American odds, and the calculator will tell you all you need to know about whether it is a worthwhile bet or not before you place it.
The betting slip is the virtual online version of the betting ticket you receive at a brick-and-mortar sportsbook. By clicking on the team and the betting line odds you want to back, the online sportsbook automatically populates your betting slip with these details. Once you are happy with the wager, you’ll need to input your bet value on the slip and then click “Place bet.”
“Both teams to score” is a form of wager that bettors can place on low-scoring sports like soccer. Here, a bettor puts money on the fact that during the game, both teams will score.
A “buck” typically refers to a bet of $100. However, in some instances, when betting the moneyline, a buck may mean a bet of more than $100. For example, the term “buck” may reference a bettor who wagered $150 to win $100 on the favorite with odds of -150.
Bettors can buy points using alternative lines for spreads and totals. Doing this ensures they have a more favorable line. For example, if the spread is offered at +1.5, a bettor can shift the line by buying a point to move it to +2.5. However, the juice goes up with each point a bettor buys.
Another name given to the team predicted to win. For instance, the chalk team is that with odds of -130, while the underdog has odds of +115.
Generally, a sportsbook will stop accepting bets for a sports match just before it begins. The final odds posted before bets are no longer accepted are referred to as the closing line.
A point spread is the number of points a sportsbook adds or subtracts from a team to level the playing field and narrow the odds. To “cover,” which is a quick way of saying “covering the spread,” the favorite must win by more points than the spread. In contrast, for the underdog to cover, the team must win outright or lose by fewer points than the spread.
For example, if the Philadephia Eagles had a spread of -6 applied, the team must win by seven points to cover and for bettors backing them to win their bets.
While American Odds are the default in the US, the typical odds format found in Europe is the decimal odds. Here, American odds of -110 are equal to decimal odds of 1.91 or 10/11 in fractional odds. However, all three options provide a $100 profit on a successful $110 bet.
A “Dime” or “Dime Bet” is betting slang for wagering a $1,000 bet. Sharps or pro bettors typically wager these high-roller bets.
We already know that “Action” refers to a single wager. However, a double action bet is when a wager takes the winnings from one successful bet and automatically places them on a second wager.
A draw or tie speaks about a sports match where the outcome of the game sees both teams finishing with the exact same score. As a result, there is no clear winner. Some sports, like soccer, offer a three-way bet, where bettors can wager a moneyline that the outcome will end in a draw. However, in other sports, this results in a push, where the sportsbook refunds bettors their original stake.
Once a sportsbook posts the opening line for betting odds, these can grow longer. For instance, the moneyline odds may move from +215 to +225 to +245, and in this case, we refer to the line as drifting.
A popular wager to place on horse racing, an each-way bet splits a single stake on a particular horse to finish in first or second place. If the horse comes in first place, both bets pay. However, if the horse comes in second, only the one bet pays. Keep in mind here that the return on a first-place win will always be greater than on a second-place win.
In sports wagering, an edge refers to a unique advantage that bettors gain over the oddsmakers or the overall betting market. In this case, a bettor may find a disparity between the true probability of a team winning and the odds offered by the sportsbook. As a result, the bettor may opt to back the underdog instead of the favorite in hopes of a lucrative win.
When we talk about an even money bet, we refer to odds that return the same value as the original stake. For instance, a $100 wager on Decimal odds of 2.0, Fractional odds of 1:1, or American odds of +100 will all yield a $100 profit.
An exotic bet is a wager other than a moneyline, a point spread, or an over/under bet. For example, a proposition bet, a futures bet, or a parlay are all examples of exotic wagers.
Any sports team or athlete predicted to be the winner of the upcoming match is classified as the “favorite.” Generally, the favorite is the team with the negative value number when using American odds. For instance, in a game between the Philadelphia Eagles (-230) and the Kansas City Chiefs (+115), the Eagles are the favorites to win.
This unique wager sees bettors putting money on the results of the first half of a game, like rugby, football, or soccer. Bettors wagering a first-half bet can use lines like spreads, totals, and moneylines, as well as several props.
When a sports bettor places a bet and the sportsbook accepts it, the line becomes fixed odds, meaning that the odds the bettor placed their stake at remain in place for their wager, even if the line moves before the game begins. For example, if a bettor wagered on the Philadelphia Eagles at +2.5 odds and the line then moves to +2.0 before the game begins, the bettor retains their fixed odds of +2.5.
More popular in the UK for sports betting, Fractional Odds are often used in the US market for displaying horse racing betting odds. Fractional odds of 10/11 are the same as -110 in American Odds and 1.91 in Decimal Odds. While all formatted differently, these odds all provide a return of $90.91 off a winning $100 wager.
These wagers allow bettors to place a stake on an outcome that will only happen in the future. For instance, at the beginning of the NFL season, bettors can put a futures bet on the team they predict will win the Super Bowl.
This wager is essentially a Totals bet. However, instead of betting on the total combined score of a single game, you wager on the total number of goals or runs scored across all the matches played on a particular day. A sportsbook typically provides a Grand Salami bet for hockey and baseball games.
Much like a first-half bet, the half time wager sees bettors placing bets on the outcome of the second half of the game. However, bettors typically place these bets during the half time break or as in-play wagers once the second half of the match is underway.
When a sportsbook applies a handicap, they do so because there is one clear favorite which results in poor odds. Here, the oddsmakers add points to the underdog to level the playing field and boost the odds. By giving the underdog an advantage, the sportsbook makes it more challenging for a bet on the favorite to win.
This sports betting term refers to the total bet value a sportsbook accepts on a single game or sports event. It could also refer to the total amount of money the betting site takes in bets for a particular month or year. For example, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board records the total betting handle in PA for March 2023 at $723.5 million.
When a bettor hedges their bet, they make an additional bet that is in direct opposition to your original bet, to cover your bases and guarantee a profit. For example, you could place a moneyline bet on the Philadelphia Eagles (-105) to win as your original bet, but then you may decide to also bet on the Kansas City Chiefs (+105) to win because the odds are so close.
Many bettors are of the thought that a team who is playing a home game holds an advantage because they are familiar with their surroundings. This is called a home field advantage. Typically, the public (recreational bettors) will back the home team for this exact reason.
Many sports betting sites add an additional half-point to a point spread or over/under wager to prevent wagers from ending in a push. The half-point ensures there will be a definite winner and loser. For example, a point spread of +2.0 doesn’t have a hook, but a spread of +3.5 does.
All sportsbooks apply rules of their own, called house rules. These determine minimum and maximum payouts when payouts will be made by the sportsbook and other general rules. Bettors who do not abide by these regulations may be blocked or excluded from the site.
An If bet generally comprises two or more wagers, where a bettor stipulates that if they win the first bet, they will stake their winnings on a second game.
This sports betting term means the same as live betting. Here, the sportsbook allows a bettor to place a wager on a sports game already in play. However, the odds here are not fixed and fluctuate as the game advances. Bettors will find that in-play betting is available for most sports, and some sportsbooks will even offer a live-stream of the game.
In this situation, there are no clear favorites. Instead, both opposing teams have the same betting odds for the same game, meaning the outcome could swing either way. Typically in this instance, bettors may hedge their bets.
This term is used to describe the commission or profit a sportsbook makes off offering a specific bet. Bettors can use an odds betting calculator to determine the juice or vigorish a sportsbook applies to a particular wager.
A leg refers to one of the smaller bets that make up a parlay bet. For instance, betting a moneyline wager for a specific team to win in the next three games constitutes three legs of a parlay.
Sportsbooks apply limits to the bets they accept. For example, they may impose a minimum betting limit of $10 on a specific bet, which means a bettor must stake $10 or more to participate in that wager. Additionally, sportsbooks also apply maximum betting limits. Here, a bettor may not wager more than the maximum limit on a particular line.
The movement of a betting line refers to the odds changing from when the sportsbook releases them to when the line closes. Line movement is caused by bettors placing their bets. For instance, if more bettors begin backing the underdog, the line will shift, lowering the odds for the favorite.
A longshot speaks about an underdog team that has a wide margin between itself and the favorite in terms of the offered odds. For instance, on a spread, a longshot team would have applied points of +9.5 or odds of around +200 on a moneyline.
This is an annual three-week-long NCAA college basketball National Championship tournament. March Madness runs from March to April and is the highlight on many sports betting calendars. However, keep in mind that in Pennsylvania, prop bets are prohibited on college athletes.
An acronym for Major League Baseball, this event is one of the top baseball tournaments globally and sees teams from across the US and Canada competing for the The Commissioner’s Trophy.
Another acronym, this time for Major League Soccer, that sees the top soccer teams across the US and Canada battle it out for the coveted spot of the MLS Cup Champions.
The moneyline is the most straightforward and simple wager a bettor can place. Here, they stake money on the team or athlete they predict will win the game. This wager uses straightforward odds and is on of the three non-exotic bets a sportsbook offers that applies to all sports events.
An acronym for Most Valuable Player, an MVP award is given to the best player in a team whose individual performance ha a significant impact on the overall team performance.
The National Basketball Association or NBA is professional basketball league in the United States that sees 30 teams (one from Canada) compete for the championship title. Here, bettors will find teams like the LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics.
The National Football League is the professional football league in the US that comprises 32 teams split between two divisions, the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference. These teams duel it out to reach the Super Bowl and walk away with the championship title.
A professional ice hockey league, the National Hockey League comprises 32 teams, 25 from the United States and seven from Canada. These teams work towards competing in the championship final for the Stanley Cup.
In some cases (not due to a push) a sportsbook will determine a wager or line as “no action” or invalid. Here, the sportsbook then refunds a bettor with their original stake.
The odds are the figures that a sportsbook uses to convey information to sports bettors. Firstly, the odds indicate the likelihood of a particular team winning the game. Additionally, odds show a bettor how much they can win off a wager on a specific team.
An odds boost is an exciting promotion offered by many sportsbooks. Here a bettor can sign up for an odds boost that will improve the odds on a specific line, making a bettor’s winnings more lucrative should that team win. This is a top way many sportsbooks encourage bettors to wager on sports with not much action.
Another sports betting term for a bookmaker or online sportsbook. The oddsmaker is the facility that posts the lines and determines the odds for a particular game.
When bettors go odds shopping, it means they research and review the odds provided by various online sportsbooks in an attempt to find the best odds for a particular line or game. While most sportsbooks typically offer very similar odds, bettors looking to place a high stakes bet will benefit from finding the best possible odds.
The Totals or over/under bet is another top wager offered by sportsbooks that allow bettors to stake a bet on the outcome of a game. However, instead of betting on the final score of just one team, here bettors put money on the total combined score. A sportsbook will release its prediction of what the total score will be at the end of the game and bettors must then put money on whether they think the final score will be more than (over) or less than (under) what the sportsbook releases.
This form of wagering is also called pool betting and is most commonly used in horse racing betting in the United States. Parimutuel betting sees all bets of a specific type on a particular race placed together in a pool. The sportsbook then deducts taxes and the juice and then calculates the payoff odds based on the remaining value.
A parlay is an exotic bet that also happens to be one of the riskiest bets a bettor can wager. Here a bettor must place three or more small bets called legs. These must either be on the same game (same-game parlay) or they can be over a series of games. However, to win their parlay wager, a bettor must win all the legs of their bet. Losing even one leg results in the entire bet folding.
When a bettor wins their wager the sportsbook gives them their winnings called a payout. Here, bettors receive their original stake and their profits back from the sports betting site.
PK is the acronym used for a “Pick ‘Em” bet. This is a spread market where both teams have an equal standing, so the sportsbook does not apply or remove points from either team. In this case, the spread works much like a moneyline, where the bettor essentially picks the team they think will win.
A primary betting line that sees a sportsbook add or remove points from one or both teams in order to narrow the gap between the two and improve the odds. For example, if the Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5) were playing the Chicago Bears (+2.5) and you bet on the Eagles to win, the team would need to win by three points or more for you to win your wager. Conversely, if you were backing the Bears, they would need to win outright or lose by fewer than two points for your bet to be successful.
An exotic bet that allows a bettor to put money on an occurrence other than the outcome of the game. Bettors will find player and game props available. Player props allow bettors to focus on athlete activity during a game, like who will score the first touchdown or which player will win man of the match. In contrast, game props allows for wagers on happenings within the game, like when the first touchdown will be scored or how many goals will happen in the first half of a match.
The puck line is the equivalent of a spread bet in hockey. However, because players use a puck to score their goals, bettors wager on the puck line. In most cases, a sportsbook will set the puck line at +1.5 and -1.5, including a hook to prevent a push.
In an instance where the outcome of a game results in a tie, the result is considered a push and the sportsbook refunds bettor’s stakes. For example, if the spread on an NBA game was nine, and the final score was 111-120, the result would end in a push because neither team covered the spread.
A round-robin wager works like a parlay in that it comprises a series of bets that bettors must win to earn a payout. However, a round-robin offers several bet combinations that make it easier for the bettor to win their wager.
In baseball, players score runs. As a result, the baseball equivalent of a point spread is a runline. Generally, the best online sportsbooks apply a spread here of +1.5 and -1.5 with an added hook to prevent a push.
A sharp is another of the more common sports betting terms for a professional sports bettor who has a vast knowledge of the sports they bet on, as well as the lines and how they work. Typically, these bettors will visit the sharpest sportsbooks and wager their bets to turn a profit as opposed to betting recreationally.
A sportsbook is a sports betting term we all know, it refers to a sports betting facility, offered either at a brick-and-mortar establishment or at an online betting site. Here, bettors wager their bets on the sports provided using the odds offered according to the betting site guidelines.
In sports betting, a square is another name for a recreational bettor, essentially, the opposite of a sharp. These bettors are often considered the “Public” or bettors who wager with the crowd rather than doing their homework before betting.
When wagering, sports bettors put down money to back the team they predict will win. This money they risk on that team is referred to as a stake.
When sharp bettors begin to place their bets and a large amount of betting action takes place, causing the lines to move and the odds to change, this is called steam. While some bettors may accept this, others may head to other sportsbooks where the original odds were offered.
When you have single wager on your betting slip, it is called a straight bet. For example if you have a moneyline bet and you’re backing the favorite and that is your only wager, it is a straight bet.
A Superfecta bet is a wager placed on horse racing. Here, a bettor chooses four horses to finish the race in first, second, third, and fourth place. However, winning a superfecta is exceptionally challenging as the horses you pick must place as you have chosen them to. Say you pick Horse 3 to finish first, Horse 5 to finish second, Horse 9 to finish third, and Horse 7 to finish in fourth place. These horse must finish in that order for you to win.
Parlays are risky business and tough to win. However, many sportsbooks offer a teaser bet, which allows bettors to add a spread or handicap on the outcomes, making it a little simpler to win the individual legs and the parlay itself.
Generally offered in sports like soccer, three-way odds accommodate the chances of a tie taking place. So, a bettor wagering a moneyline now has three options to pick from, the favorite, the underdog, or a tie.
A tip is precisely what it sounds like, where a professional bettor or handicapper may offer advice or hints on the outcome of a sports game. While these can be helpful, relying on them solely is one way to lose your bankroll quickly.
In contrast to three-way odds where bettors have three outcomes to pick from, two-way odds only offer odds on two possible outcomes. Here, either the underdog or the favorite will win and those are the only two options presented.
An acronym for the Ultimate Fighting Championship that focuses on mixed martial arts fights. The championship features fighters from across the globe who showcase their unique styles and fighting abilities.
Another top sports betting term, the underdog refers to the team in a game who the sportsbook predicts is least likely to win the game. However, don’t always be so quick to disregard the underdog. In some cases, these teams can come out on top, which makes reviewing stats, injuries, new players, and recent wins essential before picking a team to back.
This sports betting term provides an alternative name for the concept of “Juice” or the commission a sportsbook makes by offering bets at specific odds. Adding vigorish or vig to a betting line is how a sportsbook makes money as a business.
The term wager is interchangeable with the word “Bet” as both mean the same thing. When a bettor puts money on a team they predict will win, they are putting down a wager.
Bettors that have extensive knowledge of the sports and sports teams they are backing are referred to by the betting community as “wise guys” thanks to their deep seated knowledge and understanding of one or more sports and their bets.
If you have found our sports betting terms fascinating and there are a few you want to check out in a little more detail, then take a moment to browse out top sports betting guides listed below:
How to bet on the UFC
How to bet on baseball
How to bet on horse racing
How to bet on the Super Bowl