Sports Betting Glossary: Terms, Expressions, Slang and Lingo

Table of Contents

Sports betting is a wide term indicating gambling on a number of popular sports such as football, soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey, and tennis. Sports variety, therefore, entitles betting variety as there are different game scales ranging from points, goals, and runs to halves and quarters, but also differences in betting odds systems… 

Up to this day, the sports betting industry is estimated to be trillions, and certain sports events in billions of betting money are wagered on the Super Bowl or the FIFA World Cup. So, it is necessary to be acquainted with the basic knowledge of the sports mentioned above in addition to the betting terms key to sports betting in order to become what sports bettors would call sharp. Down below is a list of over 150 terms:

A

Accumulator/Parlay
Multiple and accumulative bets on a single wager. All bets must win. 

Action
Any live bet or a total betting amount put on a specific sports event.

Added Game
A rescheduled event added to the betting boards or a new event added because of great interest from the potential bettors. 

After Extra Time/AET Odds
These are only added after a certain sporting match has entered the unexpected extra-time interval.

Against The Spread/ATS
A ratio of wins and losses of a sports team against a certain time spread. It helps with better betting chances rather than looking at the entire sum of wins and losses.

Also Ran
Sport participant (human or animal) that doesn’t end in a pay-out position at the end of the race.

Alternate Lines
Betting odds that are different from the Main Line. Higher lines are riskier, but they can pay out larger sums, while lower lines are safer bets but without a sold winning 

American Odds
One of the three main betting odds groups. It is stylized in three digits with a minus or a plus before. The minus stands for the favorite, while the plus stands for the underdog.

Ante-Post
Betting odds on horse and greyhound races that are made at least one day before the race, if not earlier. 

Arbitrage/ARB
Betting on all possible outcomes of the game in order to definitely win. For example, betting on a soccer game in three different bets - home team wins, draw, and away team wins. 

Asian Handicap/Half Ball Handicap
A certain Asian betting system in soccer where no draws are allowed to bet on, but goals range from more than 0.25 to 2 goals per game.

Australian Open
The first of the big 4 Grand Slam tournaments in tennis. It is played annually in Australia in January.

B

Backdoor Cover
This happens when a certain team wins the game but drops the cover spread (-6 favorite spread, for example) in the last minutes and wins by less than 6 points. It doesn’t affect the winner but helps bettors bet on a better performance by the losing team.

Bad Beat
When a bettor loses a winning bet in the dying moments of a sports game. Late match-winning goals or points or late comeback victories usually turn the table from a win into a bad beat.

Bankroll
The total betting money sum is either placed into a betting account or kept close in cash.

Bankroll Management
Systems that players use to control and maintain their bankroll.

Beard
A stand-in bettor who plays for somebody else who wants to keep their identity secret.

Belmont Stakes
Third and final race of thoroughbred horses. Those three races are known as the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing in the United States.

Bet
Any amount of money invested in a sportsbook or a wager.

Betting Exchange
A middleman who places bettors’ bets against each other, not against the bookmaker.

Betting Strategy
The bettor’s betting techniques used to maximize wins.  

Betting Unit
Typical bet amount that a bettor usually invests. Depends on the size of the bankroll.

Bettor
The person betting.

Book/Bookie/Bookmaker/Linemaker/Oddsmaker
A specific individual, with necessary licenses, gives out odds and accepts bets on them.

Bonus
A variety of bonuses are offered to bettors to reward them or entice them to further betting. The most popular bonus is the sign-in bonus for new, first-time bettors.

Breeders’ Cup
World championship for Grade I Thoroughbred horses with multi-million winnings and tens of thousands of attendants. The most popular and reputable event in horse racing.

Buying Points
Allowed only in sports that contain spread bets - most often used in NHL and NBA. Bettors invest a bit more money into a higher spread that could land them a more favorable outcome.

C

Calder Cup
A trophy awarded each year to the team that won the American Hockey League (AHL).

Calder Memorial Trophy
Hockey award given by the NHL during the regular game season to the best-performing rookie hockey player.

CFP
Abbreviation for College Football Playoffs. The highest division of American College Football.

Chalk
A different term for a betting favorite. 

Chalk Bettor
A player that mostly bets on favorites.

Circled Game
A term describing certain sports matches that have a maximum bet amount. That maximum is usually low.

Closing Line
Final bets before a sports competition begins.

Co-Favorite/Joint favorite
Two or more teams or individuals who have the same odds of winning.

Commission
Double meaning. First, it stands for the bookmaker’s earnings from players’ bets. Second, it stands for the amount that the betting exchange takes from the player.

Commissioner’s Trophy
A baseball trophy was awarded to the MLB World Series champion team. As for every major sports competition, betting is very competitive on the possible winners. 

Correct Score
Betting on the precise match score based on points or goals.

Cover/Covering The Spread
When a winning team wins by a margin bigger than the spread of odds, for example, if the odds are -5 and the favorites win by 7 points, they have covered the spread and remain a winning wager.

D

Decimal Odds
Used in Europe, decimals (1.91.) are among the three most often odds systems used next to the American odds(-110) and fractional pricing (10/11). 

Dog
Shortened for “underdog”, an individual or a team with the least likely chances to win.

Double Action/If Bet
This betting option puts the potential winnings automatically onto a second bet, so the bets are either won at a high amount or lost entirely.

Double Bet
Simply doubling the standard amount of a player’s bet. Usually wagered on a strong favorite.

Double Result
Betting on the half-time and full-time results in one single bet.

Double-Header
Two games between individuals or teams played back-to-back. Usually seen in baseball.

Draw
The final game score is equal, none of the sides wins that game.

Drift/Drifting
Betting odds that fluctuate upwards as the sporting match arrives. 

E

Each-Way
Popular betting fashion in horse-racing where the bettor divides his bet amount to the horse finishing first and the horse finishing second so he/she has more chances to earn. 

Edge
Or advantage, in other words. A technique of finding ways to maximize the chances to bet on the winning odds.

EPL
English Premier League. The most reputable football (soccer) league in England and around the world. A famous betting moment happened in 2016 when Leicester, who were tipped 5000-1 to win EPL, became champions and earned a certain Leicester fan 72k pounds on a 50 pound bet. If he kept the bet until the season’s end, he would have won 250k pounds.

Even Money
Betting odds that return the money invested - 2.0, +100, or 1/1.

Exotic Bet
Types of certain bets that do not include lines, totals, or spreads. Some exotic bets are parlays, specials, and proposition bets.

Exposure
The amount of money that bookmakers or bettors will lose if the bet doesn’t go their way.

F

FIFA World Cup
Most reputable and most popular soccer competition in the world. It is played by countries that manage to qualify for it every 4 years.

Final Four
Stands for the last four teams in the semifinals of a playoff competition. Most often used in basketball, whether it’s NCAA or Euroleague Basketball.

First Half Bet
When bettors bet only on the outcome of the first half of a game.

First/Last/Anytime Scorer
Bettors can pre-bet on certain players scoring the first, the last, or any in-between goal.

Fixed Odds
Once the bookmaker accepts the bet, the bettor is wagered on those odds, regardless of the changes that might happen after. 

Fractional Odds
After decimal odds and American odds, these are the third most often used betting odds. Most popular in the UK, however.

French Open
Second of the big 4 Grand Slam tournaments in tennis. It is played annually in France throughout May and June.

Futures Bet
Betting on the winner of a competition that is yet to take place.

G

Game Total Bet or Over/Under
Betting on certain times and how many points in a game they will collect. If that number is 60, for example, bettors can go over or under that number. If the points are equal to 60, all bets are off. 

Graded Bet
Once the sporting event has finished, the bookmakers rate the bets as winning ones or losing ones.

Grand Salami
Game Total Bet but for all the games of a certain competition that are played on a certain day. 

H

Handicap
Bettings odds that are set by the bookmaker to even the odds in games where strong favorites play against very weak opponents.

Handicapper
Double meaning. First, it stands for the bettor who does extensive research before a sports bet. Second, it stands for individuals who give out predictions and tip-offs.

Handle
Sports games or event’s total amount of money accepted by the bookmaker. 

Hart Trophy
Another hockey award was given to the MVP (explained below) of the NHL regular season period.

Hedge/Hedging
Betting on the opposite of an already made bet. This gives a bigger chance of a returned investment.

Holding Your Own
A bettor who doesn’t win nor lose but keeps the bankroll more or less unchanged.

Home Field Advantage
Standard advantage for sports teams that play on their home turf. 

Hook
When a half point is added to avoid draws and pushes (over/under bets going off).

J

Juice/Price/Vigorish
The betting percentage that goes to the bookmakers.

K

Kentucky Derby
First race in the Triple Crown Thoroughbred Racing. Also called the first jewel.

L

Larry O'Brien Trophy
The most reputable basketball trophy that is awarded to the NBA Finals winning team.

Laying Points
Simple betting on a favorite. If, for example, one team is -4 points favorite, then the bettor is laying down 4 points.

Layoff
Bookmakers can invest money into a different bookmaker on a bet that is very popular at their own place and most likely to pay out. That way, bookmakers cover their expenses and minimize losses. Layoffs are hard to spot because of the internal knowledge that only bookmakers possess.

Limit
Both bookmakers and bettors set high and low limits on betting. Using this form of bankroll and budget management, both can assure controlled spending.

Line
Every betting odds given by the bookmaker.

Listed Pitchers
Baseball betting term where two listed pitchers can be bet on, but only if they both start the game. If any pitcher fails to start the game, the listed pitchers bets are off.

Live Betting
Betting after the game has already started. It can include next goal scorer, next team to score or any other live variant of game betting

Lock
Tipsters use locks to convince bettors into buying their predictions.

Longshot
Underdog’s betting odds.

M

March Madness
NCAA College Football Championship that is the pinnacle of College Football in the United States.

Masters Tournament
First of the big 4 Grand Slam tournaments in golf, the Masters Tournament is held annually in Georgia in April.

Middle/Middling
Bettor places a bet on a favorite before the odds turn around in the days before the game, and he/she decides to place another bet on the new favorite team. With middling, bettors can even out odds and maximize their advantage.

MLB/Major League Baseball
The highest-ranked baseball league that combines teams from the US and Canada. 

MLB Draft
The process of selecting amateur, college and high school baseball players that will first enter the minor leagues before MLB. It is held in June every year in five rounds. A part of a strong American sports draft tradition.

MLS/Major League Soccer
Highest-ranked North American soccer league.

Moneyline
Standard betting on winners, without any points, spreads or variations.

Multiple Bets
Simple action of playing two or more bets on one ticket.

MVP/Most Valuable Player
A player from a sports team deemed key to their team's successes. Usually awarded in the regular seasons before playoffs take place.

N

Nap
Best daily bet suggested by the handicapper.

NASCAR
The governing body, but also the abbreviation standing for the most popular North American racing sport - National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.

NBA/National Basketball Association
Highest-ranked basketball league in the world, consisting of teams from the US and Canada.  

NBA Draft
Similar to the MLB Draft, this is a draft for amateur, college and high school basketball players. It is held every June and consists of two rounds of picking.

NCAA/National Collegiate
Governing body overseeing all college sports in the United States.

NFL
Highest-ranked football (called American football in the rest of the world) league in the world. Consists of teams based in the US.

NFL Draft
NFL teams select college football players in a draft of seven rounds every April.

NHL/National Hockey League
Highest-ranked hockey league in the world. Consists of teams based in the US.

NHL Draft
NHL teams select the best US college players but also European talents every June in a seven round draft.

No Action
Another term for betting odds canceled by the bookmaker.

Novelty Bets
Special betting odds that go beyond the moneyline, spreads and game totals. Novelty bets can be about specific player or team events during the game.

O

Odds
Numbers placed by the bookmakers that stand for betting chances.

Odds Shopping
When bettors scout all bookmakers to find where the odds are most favorable.

Off The Board/OTB
Sports games that appear on betting boards but without any odds.

Outright Betting
When bettors predict the winner of a tournament or a competition.

P

Parlay Banker
That one favorite bet among other riskier odds on an accumulator/parlay ticket.

Payout
The amount of money the bettor stands to win if his bet is successful.

PGA Championship
The second big Grand Slam tournament in golf. It is held annually in May across the United States.

Pick ’em
Betting odds equal for both teams playing against each other.

Point Spread
Betting odds that try to level out the possible game points from favorites against underdogs.

Post Time
A specific time period when the race starts. Often used in horse racing.

Power Rankings
A ranking system that determines a scale of sports teams’ strength based on various statistics.

Preakness Stakes
Second race and second jewel in the Triple Crown Thoroughbred Racing. 

Proposition Bet/Special
Unusual and numerous odds are available for certain sports and certain sports events.

Proxy
A person or a group who places bets instead of someone else who prefers anonymity. 

Public Money
The amount of money given by the bettors/the public on any bet.

Puck Line
Hockey points spread. Usually, it stands at -1.5 for favorites and the reverse, in plus, for underdogs.

Push
When games end on a point spread, the over/under bets are graded as push, and all bets are off.

Q

Quarter Bet
In sports that have quarters rather than half, bettors can bet before or during quarters to determine goals, points, or winners of certain game quarters.

R

Recreational Bettor/Square
While still counted as public money, this kind of bettor bets very rarely or only on major tournaments.

Reduced Juice
When the bookmaker’s commission (juice) is lowered so bettors can win bigger sums.

Reverse Line Movement
Line changes in bookmaker’s odds that are opposite of the public expectations.

Round Robin/RR
A betting strategy where the bettors placed multiple accumulator/parlay bets.

Rotation Number
A specific number that bookmakers award to all betting options on the betting board.

ROI/Return On Investment
The higher the ROI, the better the bettor stands.

ROY/Rookie Of the Year
The award for the best new player is given out in various sports. A very popular betting option around the world.

Run Line
Baseball points spread. Usually stands at -1.5 runs for favorites and the reverse, in plus, for underdogs.

S

Second Half Bet
Similar to the first-half bet, this option allows bettors to bet on events and results of only the second game half.

Selke Trophy
An NHL award for the attacker with the best defensive statistics. Another award is given only during the regular season, before playoffs.

Sell Points
Sometimes bettors can sell points on their bets and go for a riskier but more profitable bet.

Sharp/Professional
Quality bettors who do extensive research and different skills in order to maximize their advantage.

Spread Betting
Bettors can lay and take points in a points spread, depending on whether they bet on favorites (lay) or underdogs (take). 

Sportsbook
Physical places where the bookmakers have laid out all available current odds and certain possible future ones.

Stake
The amount of money that the bettor risks losing when it is placed on a bet.

Staking Method
Different methods that bettors use to limit their stakes. The two most popular methods are bankroll percentage and maximum stake limits.

Stanley Cup Trophy
Awarded every year to the best hockey team in the NHL.

Steam
Quickly changing odds after a strong action from sharp bettors on certain bets.

Straight Bet
Single bet on one of the three most popular betting odds - moneyline, points spread, or a game total.

Syndicate
A group of bettors who intentionally all bet on a certain bet in hopes of creating new odds which can give them a larger gain.

T

Taking Points
Any time the bettors bet on an underdog by using points spread.

Teaser Odds
Any line that bookmakers move or change in order to attract bettors. But bettors can also tease bookmakers by creating additional lines and making them popular.

Teaser Card
A daily betting board list that has different odds than the main betting board. Bettors must use at least two sides from that teaser card in order to make them available.

Ted Lindsay Award
The most valuable NHL player is voted only by active players.

Ticket
A receipt for the bet is given out to bettors by the bookmakers. These can be online tickets or physical tickets printed out by sportsbooks.

Tip
Betting advice offered by individuals or groups who sell them for monetary gain. There are legal tips based on knowledge and deduction, and there are illegal tips based on match-fixing information.

Tipster/Tout
An individual who shares tips either for free or for a certain amount of money.

The Open Championship/The British Open
Fourth and final Grand Slam golf tournament. It is held annually in the UK in July.

Three-Way Odds
Betting options that have three sides - home win, draw, away win.

Two-way odds
Betting options that have only two sides - home win or away win, no draws.

U

Underdog
A sports team or sports individual who is very unlikely to win a game, a match, or a competition.

U.S. Open (Golf)
Third of the 4 big Grand Slam tournaments in golf. It is played annually in the United States across July.

U.S. Open (Tennis)
Fourth and final Grand Slam tournament in tennis. It is played annually in the US throughout August and September.

V

Vezina Trophy
A hockey award given to the most valuable goalkeeper in the NHL.

Vince Lombardi Trophy
American football award given to the Super Bowl winning team.

W

Wimbledon
Third of the big 4 Grand Slam tournaments in tennis. It is played annually in the UK in June.

Wire-to-Wire
One of the Quarter Bet methods, this means that the bettor bets on a team that will be the winner at the end of every quarter of one sports game.

Wise Guy
Another term for handicappers, sharps and pro bettors.

Conclusion

While sports betting will not quite change very often as the sports have dedicated and firm rules, in this case, it is worth noting that new and recreational bettors should not just learn sports betting terms but also keep watching games and competitions and following multiple sports in order to have a better advantage when betting against bookmakers. 

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