Sports Betting Lingo


Words & Definitions

I didn't know you could bet on the handicapped.


I was describing what I do to a woman at a bar who had no concept of sports betting.  I told her I handicapped sports, and that was her reply. If you are new to sports betting, even if you have been around for a while, you can get very confused about the words and lingo that echo through the sportsbook.  This helpful sports betting glossary will answer many of your questions and explain terms you may have heard, but don’t yet understand. And also give you a few new cool words to sling around at your next cocktail party!

52 Sports Betting Terms

  1. Action – A wager of any kind. Also denotes that you have a wager on a game. For instance, “I have action on Alabama, minus 7.0.”
  2. Added Game – A game that is not part of the regular betting rotation. This will often be a rescheduled game or the second game of a doubleheader.
  3. Advantage Player – Someone who looks for a reason to bet a game that typically involves handicapping and statistical analysis instead of guessing at an outcome.
  4. Against the Spread (ATS) – Refers to taking or laying points (aka betting the spread) as opposed to betting a game straight-up.
  5. Arbitrage – The purchase and sale of the same game, side or total, in different sports books, with an expectation to profit from unequal prices.
  6. Bankroll – The available funds you have to bet with. These funds should be kept separate from your other funds at all times.
  7. Bookmaker – A person who creates the betting lines and takes wagers.
  8. Buying Points – Paying an additional fee to get a game at a more favorable line or number. Bettors often buy points in football around key numbers such as 3.0 and 7.0. If you like the favorite in a game, but the sports books are offering it at -7.5, it is often advantageous to buy the half point, so you have a bet on the number, -7.0. The half point is also known as The Hook.
  9. Chalk – The favored team. In the olden days, sports books used to display their numbers on chalk boards.
  10. Contrarian Betting – Also known as betting against the public. Contrarian betting finds value by betting on games with lopsided betting percentages. It is also Contrarian to fade, or bet against, conventional wisdom spouted by the various talking heads on television and sports radio.
  11. Cover – In sports such as football and basketball, a bettor wins their bet if they cover the point spread. For example, if you bet a 6-point favorite and they win by 7, you have covered the spread.
  12. Dime – A bet of $1,000.
  13. Dog – Short for underdog. For betting purposes, this is the team that bookmakers have established as the likely straight up loser of the contest.
  14. Draw – Also known as a push. If a game falls exactly on the spread, there is no winner and bettors will receive their money back.
  15. Edge – A bettor’s advantage against the bookmaker. This will typically refer to a wager where you have a positive expected value.
  16. Even Money – A bet where you are not paying any vigorish or juice (i.e. +100). Sometimes this situation is also called a Pick ‘em line.
  17. Favorite – For betting purposes, this is the team bookmakers have established as the likely winner of the contest.
  18. Field – In proposition (prop) bets, bettors are often allowed to bet the field. This refers to all the teams or players that are not specifically listed to win a specific contest.
  19. Future – This refers to bets that are placed in advance of an event. For example, a bettor can bet a College Basketball National Championship future prior to the beginning of the season or tournament by selecting which team or teams they believe will win the championship. A bettor receives payment at the end of the tournament if their selection wins the title.
  20. Grand Salami – This typically refers to the over/under total for how many goals or runs will be scored across all games in a specific sport. You will often see Grand Salami bets offered in baseball and hockey.
  21. Handicapping – The process utilized by experienced bettors to evaluate the line or total set by the oddsmaker. This is the exact opposite of guessing.
  22. Handle – The total amount of money wagered on a specific contest. The term can also describe the total amount of money wagered in a given week, month or year.
  23. Hedging – Placing bets on the opposite side after you have already placed a wager on one side. This can be used to either cut your losses or guarantee a profit.
  24. Hook – In spread based sports, the hook is an extra half-point that bettors can buy. Football bettors will often buy the hook around key numbers like 3.0 to get a line of 2.5.
  25. Hold – Usually expressed as a percentage, this is the amount of the Handle (see above) won, or held, by the sportsbook.
  26. Juice – This the theoretical profit sports books make for holding your bet against the other bets made. It can also be thought of as a tax for allowing a bettor to make a bet. Typical juice is -110 (calculated by dividing 10 by 11). To break even, a bettor must win 52.38% of the bets made. Some sports books offer reduced juice with lines between -104 and -107.
  27. Key Numbers – Most frequently used in football, this represents the most common margins of defeat, where many games end with one team winning by 3.0 points or 7.0 points.
  28. Leg – A single bet within a bet that contains two or more wagers, such as a parlay. If you bet a three-team parlay, it is often referred to as a three Leg parlay.
  29. Limit – The largest wager amount a sportsbook will take on a single event.
  30. Lines – Another term for the odds.
  31. Middle – A Middle occurs when you bet on both sides of a game and have an opportunity to win both bets. For example, if you bet on Team A +10.5 and Team B -6.5, you win both bets if Team B wins by 7, 8, 9 or 10 points.
  32. Money line – This is a wager made on the team a bettor thinks will win the game, straight up. The point spread has no bearing on money line wagers.
  33. Nickel – A bet of $500.
  34. Off the Board – A game or event the sportsbooks will not take Action on. A game may be taken off the board for any reason, but often it is due to a player injury or inclement weather. These games are usually back on the board before game time, but with adjusted prices that theoretically account for the new information or conditions.
  35. Over/Under – Also known as the Total. This refers to the total amount of points/goals/runs that will be scored in a contest. If both teams combine to score more than the total, the over wins. If they combine to score fewer, the under wins. All points scored in overtime are added to the Total
  36. Parlay – A wager where a bettor makes multiple bets (at least two) and ties them together, into a single wager. To be paid, all individual legs of the parlay must win. If one of the legs of the parlay pushes (ties), then the parlay payout odds are reduced by one team or leg. This is a risky proposition, but potentially very lucrative.
  37. Pick ‘Em – A betting line in which neither team is favored. In spread based sports like basketball or football, this is a line of 0.
  38. Proposition Bet – A bet on something other than the outcome of a game. Common prop bets include Heads or Tails on the coin toss, total number of passing yards, or strikeouts by a specific pitcher. Proposition bets are made using money lines.
  39. Public The Public are bettors who typically bet for entertainment and tend to guess at the outcomes of games. Sometimes known as Squares.
  40. Push – When a contest ends in a tie and no winner is designated, for betting purposes. In a money line wager, this happens if the game ended in a tie. In a spread wager, this happens if the favorite wins by the exact point spread.
  41. Real Time Odds – Live lines that update immediately as sportsbooks adjust their lines.
  42. Reverse-Line Movement – Betting line movement that contradicts the public betting percentages. For example: if Team A is receiving 80% of the public bets as a 7-point favorite yet the line drops to -6.5, this is an example of reverse line movement. This indicates that sharp money is taking Team B.
  43. Return on Investment (ROI) – A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment.
  44. Run Line / Puck Line – In money line sports like baseball or hockey, you can bet the equivalent of a spread — the run/puck line and is usually set at +/-1.5. This wager allows you to add 1.5 runs or goals to the underdog final score or subtract 1.5 runs or goals from the favorite final score. This means that a favorite must win by at least two runs for you to win your bet, while an underdog could either lose by one run or win straight-up to win the bet. The benefit of this is that you can bet more lucrative lines on favorites, but because baseball and hockey are such low-scoring games, this can be a risky proposition.
  45. Runner – An individual who places a bet on behalf of another person. Sometimes referred to as a Beard.
  46. SharpSomeone who is skilled at handicapping betting lines and sporting contests.
  47. Steam Move – A sudden, drastic and uniform line movement across the entire sports betting marketplace.
  48. Teaser – A special bet in which you can adjust the point spread or total for a game. The more you change the spread, the lower the payout becomes.
  49. Tout – An individual who sells their picks or their sports betting expertise to others.
  50. Unit – The percentage of your bankroll used to make one (1) bet. Depending on the amount of your bankroll and your betting skill, you should risk no more than 1% to 5% of your bankroll on any single wager. For example, if your bankroll is $1,000, one unit is between $10 and $50.
  51. Value – The concept of handicapping a contest against the betting line to find an advantage over that betting line. For instance, you are considered to have found Value if the chances of an underdog winning a game are -150, but you have found a money line that is offering +200
  52. Wager – Any type of bet.
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