Sports Betting Terms

Sports Betting Terms

If you are a sports fan and want to bet on your favorite team, it is important that you know and understand the language of betting. Doubts or confusion about sports betting terms could lead you to make mistakes and/or lose money. A betting glossary is fundamental to avoiding that confusion and ensuring all your bets count. 


Perhaps the most important term in sports betting is odds. This is the index that shows bettors the amount that the bookmaker will pay us for each wager. The higher the odds, the higher the payment will be for the bet if it is correct. 

The value of the quota will always be greater than one, and each sportsbook stipulates them based on the probability of success they grant in each case. That number fluctuates continuously and is updated based on news about that event or the number of people who bet. 

Odds are presented in one of three ways, loosely based on the geographical location of the bettor. However, all formats produce the same results, meaning one will not reward bettors more than another. 

  • Decimal Odds

This is a numerical reflection of the potential profit on the bet. Thus, odds of 1.80 reflect the potential net profit (0.80) per unit wagered.

  • Fractional Odds

Common in countries like the U.K., the top number represents the winnings, and the lower number represents the bet. For example, if the odds are 2/3, If you bet $3 and the bet wins, you win $2 (plus the initial investment.

  • American Odds

Most common in North American sportsbooks. It presents odds using a plus (+) and minus (-) sign, where minus represents the favorite, and the plus represents the underdog. However, it’s possible to have a contest where both are minuses or pluses. In these cases, the lower number is the favorite. 

Outright Bet

This type of bet applies to the competition as a whole and not to individual events. You can bet on who will win a group, league, phase, competition, or cup.

Simple Bet

In a simple bet, the wager is made on the results of a single event or game. It is beneficial for beginning players since it only requires that one result be defined in their favor to win.


The moneyline refers to the bets for the winner of a sporting event. They are the odds with which any sporting event is normally presented, indicating the contenders and their respective odds for victory.


The spread, or point spread, is a type of “handicap” the sportsbook assigns to the game or contest based on available sports information. The favorite team must win by at least the number displayed for the bet to pay. 

Conversely, it’s possible to bet the underdog’s spread, in which case the team must lose by less than the number displayed or win the game for the bet to pay. 


The perceived expected total of points, goals, or runs in a game or event. For example, if the total is 41 points in an NFL game, bettors can bet that the game will end with a point total above or below 41. This is often referred to as the over/under.

Parlay Bet

This action involves combining two or more individual bets (each called a leg). You will only be able to win if all the games you selected are successful. You will lose all the money wagered if you lose any of the legs in the bet.

Futures Bet

A long-term bet that is generally tied to a team’s performance at the end of the entire season. Common futures bets include betting at the start of the championship that one team will win the title or that they will win more or fewer games than a pre-established line.

Prop Bets

Prop bets are bets on something that is not directly related to the outcome of a game or event. For example, a bet can be on the first team or player to score.

Canceled Or Null Bet

Canceled bets occur when a circumstance resolves the bet by returning to the bettor the money he had played. For example, if you bet on a team with an Asian handicap of zero in a soccer match and the match ends in a draw, the bet would be canceled or voided.

Live Betting

Live betting on a variable of a game or event while it is taking place. It has become an increasingly popular option with sports bettors and is now found in all major sportsbooks.


The contender (team or athlete) that bookmakers feel has the best chance of winning the contest. In the American odds format, the favorite always has odds lower than the underdog’s.


The underdog is the contender (team or athlete) who is not the favorite to win. The odds will always be higher for the underdog than for the favorite.


This is similar to the concept of “underdog” but has one primary difference. It connotes that the team is not only not a favorite for victory but also that the probability of victory is extremely low.

If in a sporting event participant, A comes in with odds of -125 and participant B comes in with odds of -111, participant B is the underdog since the odds are slightly lower than participant A’s. If the odds were to be -250 for participant A and +700 for participant B, the latter would be an outsider since they are practically given no chance of winning.

Backdoor Cover

Backdoor cover describes a situation when a team scores points at the end of a match and covers the spread.

Bad Beat

A bet in which it seems that the bettor will win but ultimately loses.

Bet Unit

A bet unit is the amount of a typical bet. Bettors can have bankrolls of different sizes, so a unit is a way of sharing how much was wagered without disclosing a particular number. For example, a high roller may have a bet unit of $10,000 per bet, while a low roller might have a unit of $10 per bet.


Based on available sports information, the stake is the confidence one has in a bet’s success. Its value goes from 1 to 10, where one is the minimum stake, and 10 is the full stake. The assessment is based on the bettor’s confidence in the bet. 

The stake is crucial in elaborating the bet since it will determine the amount to bet, translating the degree of stake into units to bet and its possible profits.


The total amount of money a bettor has to bet with.


This means betting all of your available money on a single bet. The area in which this expression is best known is that of poker. 

When it comes to sports betting, it is totally discouraged to make an all-in, no matter how safe a bet may seem. It is an extremely risky practice that entails making mistakes such as overbetting.

Asian Handicap

The Asian handicap is a type of bet in which advantages or disadvantages are awarded to one of the contenders to eliminate the tie as a third result that causes the bet to be won or lost. 


Chalk refers to the team that is the favorite in an event. Usually is the overwhelming favorite and is therefore expected to win by a large margin.


A fixed or sure win in the eyes of the person who placed the bet.


A person who is quite the sports betting professional (also known as wiseguy).


The commission the sportsbook earns from the wagers. Also known as the vigorish, or vig, the sports betting platform only takes the juice on losing bets. 

Head To Head

Head-to-Head is part of the betting glossary that compares two players or teams and predicts who will be in the best position in direct competition.

Draw No Bet

In sports betting terms, Draw No Bet refers to a type of bet on the winner of the match, in which, in the event of a tie, the money bet is returned to the bettor. For practical purposes, this is the same as placing a bet on a team’s victory with an Asian Handicap of 0.

Betting Liquidity

The liquidity of a market in sports betting is determined by the popularity of its events and bets. Liquid markets are those where sports betting platforms allow bets without hardly changing their odds. The drawback of this type of market for tipsters is that it is difficult to find interesting bets with value or that aren’t overpriced.


A tipster is dedicated to sharing his sports betting forecasts as a novice or professional bettor. Some tipsters do it for free, and others have a premium service in exchange for paying a fee to access their best forecasts.


Rollover refers to the bettor’s requirements to withdraw the account balance at a bookmaker. Generally, these conditions apply to bettors in exchange for accepting welcome bonuses or coupons.

Return On Investment

Return on investment (ROI) refers to the net profitability bettors obtain with their sports bets. It is the formula resulting from dividing the net profit by the initial investment made in a period of time (usually a calendar year).

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Sports Betting Terms FAQs

Most sportsbooks in the U.S. will display American odds, which use a plus and a minus symbol. However, almost all sportsbooks allow the bettor to change the format based on preference.

The juice (or vig or vigorish) is the commission the sportsbook collects on the bet. Sportsbooks only take juice on losing bets.

All betting formats produce the same results and are qualified based on the same criteria. Using one or the other is based on preference and what’s customary in the region.

Occasionally, someone who only places a small bet can wager without much knowledge of sports betting terminology. However, those who want to practice sports betting must understand the terms used. 

Generally speaking, all sportsbooks use common terminology on their sports betting platforms. However, different terms that mean the same thing, like juice or vig, can vary.