What are Common Sports Betting Terms?

Sport Betting Terms, Basic, Details & FAQs

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to throw down the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which generally barred sports betting outside of Nevada, sports betting has grown considerably in the U.S. The verdict in May 2018 allowed states to legalize sports betting and benefit from an industry that previously took an estimated $150 billion in illicit bets each year. 

As a result, there has been a rush to introduce sportsbook legislation across the U.S., following in the footsteps of legalized jurisdictions throughout the world. There has been a sharp learning curve in the country, though, as sports betting was previously not a mainstream activity. One of the fundamentals in learning about the activity is to understand Sport Betting Terms.

A-C

Action: The act of betting on a sports event or having an active wager. (For instance, “I have action on this game” or “Do you want to get in on the action?”) 

American Odds: An international term for what is most widely known in the US as “money line.” The odds are represented in dollars, with $100 being the norm. If the odds are negative (–), you must stake that amount of money to win $100. (For example, –150 indicates that you must wager $150 to win $100.) If the odds are indicated by a (+), a successful $100 sports wager will get you that amount of money. (For example, +150 implies you win $150 on a $100 bet.) 

ATS: “Against the Spread” is an acronym. Betting on a sports event’s result based on the point spread rather than betting “straight up.” 

Backdoor Cover: Winning against seemingly insurmountable odds, often with a late score in a sporting event whose outcome had already been determined. (For example, “I won my backdoor cover bet because Stephen Curry nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, despite the fact that the game was already out of reach.”) 

Bad Beat: Losing despite apparently overwhelming odds in your favor, sometimes due to a late score in a sports event whose conclusion had already been determined. (For example, “I lost my wager on a terrible beat because Stephen Curry scored a 3-pointer at the buzzer, despite the fact that the game was already out of reach.”) 

Bet: To bet or stake on the result of a sports event, usually within the confines of predetermined odds. 

Book: The person or business that accepts bets on athletic events, also known as the sportsbook. 

Buck: A $100 wager. This bet is also known as a “dollar” bet. 

Buy Points: To accept a riskier return on investment in order to improve one’s chances of winning, generally by increasing the point spread or money line. 

Chalk: The overwhelming favorite in a sports event. (For example, “Jack’s NBA bracket is all chalk; all No. 1 seeds are in the Final Four.”) 

Closing Line: Before pregame bets are no longer allowed, the final odds on a sports event. As a general rule, the line will go up or down based on which side receives the most bets or if the matchup changes unexpectedly (injury, suspension, etc.). As a consequence, the closing line often changes from the beginning line. 

Cover: To properly predict which side of a point-spread bet will win. (For example, “As Alabama were favored by ten points and ended up winning by eleven, therefore I covered.”) 

D-F

Dime: A $1,000 wager. 

Dog: The “underdog” or the team that isn’t anticipated to win versus the “favorite” in popular terminology. 

Even Money: A bet that is split 50/50, with neither party laying odds nor any single one having a perceived edge. 

Exacta: Betting on the top three finishers in a race, in the order that turns out to be correct. 

Exotic: Any kind of wager that isn’t a straight wager. When it comes to exactas, trifectas, and superfecta bets, this phrase is most often employed in horse racing. It is also commonly referred to as a “proposition,” “prop,” or “special” bet in team sports. 

Favorite: The team or individual projected to win a sports event, with odds reflecting proper confidence in the favorite. 

First Half Bet: A bet on just the first half of a sports event, rather of the whole game. 

Future: Betting on a long-term winner, generally the champion of a sports league (i.e., the Super Bowl winner of the NFL, the World Series winner of the MLB, and so on). 

G-L

Gamble: To place a stake or gamble on the result of a sports event, normally always within the confines of predetermined odds. 

Handicapper: The institution, person, or facility that determines a sports event’s odds or betting line. 

Hook: On a betting spread, a half-point. 

House: The sportsbook accepting the wager or bet. 

Laying the Points: Betting on the underdog while giving up points on the spread or money line. 

Limit: A sports book’s or establishment’s maximum wagering limit. 

Line: The betting margin between the favored and underdog is determined by the betting line or odds. 

Live Betting: Wagering on an athletic event that is now taking place, with odds that are changing in real-time. 

Lock: A “sure thing” or “can’t miss” bet is referred to as a “lock.” (For example, “The Warriors led by Curry are a lock to win the NBA championship.”) 

Longshot: An improbable winner with extraordinary odds who will pay out handsomely. 

M-P

Money Line: This is one of the most common sports betting terms. The odds are represented in dollars, with $100 being the norm. If the odds are negative (–), you must risk that amount of money to win $100. (For example, –150 indicates that you must wager $150 to win $100.) If the odds are in your favor (+), a successful $100 gamble will get you that amount of money. (For example, +150 implies you win $150 on a $100 bet.) The money line is also known as “American Odds” in certain cases. 

Nickel: A $500 bet. 

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

Number: The betting line, often known as the spread or odds. 

Off the Board: An athletic event on which bets are no longer allowed, generally owing to disagreement, injury, or some other unforeseen occurrence. 

Opening Line: The start of a sports event’s odds. As a general rule, the line will go up or down based on which side receives the most bets or if the matchup changes unexpectedly (injury, suspension, etc.). As a consequence, the concluding line often varies considerably. 

Over: The final and combined score of the two teams in a game will be more than what the sportsbook set.

Over/Under: The total number of points or goals expected or pre-specified by bookmakers to be scored in a sports event, with bets on whether there will be more (over) or less (under) points or goals scored. Also called the game total.

Parlay: A series of bets in which the initial investment, as well as any gains, are staked on subsequent bets. To be paid out, all bets must win.

Pick ‘Em: An even-money wager in which there are no odds and merely the winning side’s “pick.” 

Point Spread: Often referred to simply as “spread.” The favorite and underdog are determined by the betting line or odds. 

Prop Wager: A wager or proposal that is only distantly tied to a sports event. (For example, popular Super Bowl prop bets include coin toss winner, time of national anthem singing over/under, the color of Gatorade poured on the winning coach, etc.).

Puckline: Similar to the spread, but for hockey. In almost all cases, the puck line is 1.5.

Push: When the final score or number lands precisely on the spread, over/under, or betting line. In this situation, the house generally comes out on top. (For example, Alabama is favored by ten points and wins by precisely ten points.) 

Q-Z

Run line: Similar to the spread, but for baseball. In almost all cases, the run line is 1.5.

Sell Points: Reduce the chances of winning, generally by reducing the point-spread advantage or money line, to get a better return on investment. 

Sharp: A professional bettor, sometimes wrongly known as a “shark.” 

Spread: The spread is another of the common sports betting terms. The sports betting margin between the favored and underdog.

Stake: Amount bet on the result of a sports event in terms of money or collateral. 

SU: An abbreviation for Straight Up. It refers to betting only on the winner of a game, without taking into account the point spread or other factors. 

Superfecta: Betting on the proper order of the top four finishers in a race. 

Taking the Points: Betting on the underdog and taking points on the spread or money line, despite a technical defeat on the field, might result in a sports betting information victory. 

Teaser: Multiple bets that allow the bettor to manipulate the odds or point spreads by mixing the games. To get payment, all bets must be winners. 

Ticket: The receipt of a verified wager, which may be in the form of a physical “ticket” or an electronic confirmation. 

Trifecta: Betting on the proper and correct order of the top three finishers in a race. 

Under: The final and combined score of the two teams in a game will be less than what the sportsbook set. Both the Over and the Under are common sport betting terms.

Underdog: The team or individual who is projected to lose in a sports event, with odds showing a lack of trust in the squad or individual. 

Wager: To stake a wager or bet on the result of a sports event, usually within the confines of predetermined odds. 

Wise Guy: A bettor who has access to valuable insider knowledge.
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Sport Betting Terms FAQs

This is entirely up to the bettor. Some are comfortable using a single site, while others like to shop the lines for the best deal. Either approach is fine.

The process differs slightly from one site to the next, but the concept is the same. Register with a sportsbook per their guidelines, visit the cashier section, choose the deposit method and send the funds.

Placing bets at most betting sites is easy. After you log in to your account you will need to select the sport that you want to place a wager on. The next events will be displayed. Select the event that interests you and all available wagers will be displayed. Select the event you are interested in, then enter the stake amount and click “confirm” to place your wager.

There are literally endless options. There are many different types of wagers available, especially for popular sports. It is not unusual for a website to offer 50 or more wagers for one event.

How much should I wager?

It is essential that you establish a bankroll management program. This will allow you to create a program that will guide you in determining how much you should be wagering at any given moment. This will help you avoid losing your bankroll and leaving you without betting funds.