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Glossary of Betting Terms

Understanding betting terminology can be a challenge. Below we offer explanations on a wide variety of gambling terms in our handcrafted A to Z Glossary. For additional information, please see our feature on How do odds work explained here

Sports Gambling Terms

Accumulator: Also know as a Parlay bet, Accumulator wagers consist of two or more selections and each side must win (or push) to create a winning ticket.

Added Game: Most common in College sports, Added Games are contests that are not part of the daily selection list but rather added due to public demand. An added game may also be a previously cancelled contest – such as a rained out match from the day before in baseball.

AET: Short for “Added Extra Time” AET betting options are common in soccer matches where time is added for stoppages, injuries or two-leg Cup matches that end in a tie after regulation time in the second contest.

Alternative Lines: Common in most sports, Alternative Lines raise or lower the set match odds and prices change accordingly. As an example, a +7 (1.95) NFL line can be bet on at anywhere between +3 (2.52) to +11 (1.48) odds.

American Odds: Based on 100 unit wagers, American Odds are alternatives to Decimal and Fraction betting lines. Negative lines indicate a favorite while underdogs are tagged with plus odds. Winning wagers on a (-320) line returns a $31.25 profit while (+320) odds pays $320.

Ante-post: Posted well in advance of horse races, and pro sport championships, Ante-post odds are also known as Futures or Outright wagering options. Ante-post prices have added value but come with risks as a horse may not run or a team may not make the championship round.

ARB: Short form for Arbitrage betting below.

Arbitrage: Available when bookmakers post different odds, on the same match, Arbitrage betting is designed to set up “risk free” wagers that pay a return regardless of which side wins. If one sportsbook offers NYJ at (2.05) while another has MIA at (2.05) betting both sides sets up a guaranteed return.

Asian Handicap: A variation of spread wagering, Asian Handicap is primarily associated with soccer betting and odds run from ¼ to multiple goals. Since a draw result is not possible with Asian Handicaps, bettors choose between two sides rather than three.

ATS: Against The Spread (ATS) betting allows players to take or lay points/goals. DAL -6.0 vs WAS +6.0 means the Cowboys need to win by at least 7 points in order to cash. A Redskins wager pays if Washington wins outright or losses by 5 points or less. A 27-21 final would result in a PUSH and wagers are returned.

Banker: Associated with parlay betting, a Banker is a perceived “lock” favorite and is used as the foundation of accumulator bets with additional less obvious sides added around it.

Best-Price Percentage: Implies the chance of winning on a variety of odds. A match with EVEN (2.00) odds gives both sides a 50% chance of cashing. A price posted at (3.00) means the wager has a 33.33% chance of winning.

Bet: Real or bonus money used to wager on any betting option.

Betting Exchange: Neither a player nor the house, a betting exchange allows bettors to wager against each other rather than a bookmaker. A player wanting to bet the Patriots at -7 needs another player to take the Jets at +7 to create action. The betting exchange takes a small commission from the winning side.

Betting Strategy: Different from bettor to bettor, a betting strategy consists of one to several approaches designed to give handicappers an edge over bookmakers. Home Dogs, Sandwich Games and fading teams playing on back-to-back nights are common strategies.

Bonus: Player rewards, such as cash-back or free bets, offered to potential customers to encourage account registration and funding. Existing players are offered rewards such as reload bonuses or match free bets that can double the payout.

Book: Short form for any online or land based sportsbook that offers betting odds.

Bookie: Short form for a Bookmaker/Linemaker who sets prices at a sportsbook.

Canadian Line: Offered on ice hockey, Canadian lines are a combination of ATS and Moneyline wagers.

Chalk: Synonym for a side that is the favorite on any wager.

Circled Game: Reducing bookmakers risk, Circle Games have wagering limits that are capped at low levels. Added games, opening odds and prop bets often have circled odds.

Closing Line: Normally higher or lower than an Opening Line, a Closing Line is the final odds offered prior to start of a competition.

Co-Favorite: Common in futures betting, Co-Favorites are two or more teams priced with the same betting odds.

Commission: Also know as “juice” or “vigorish” Commission is the take of a bookmaker or the amount a betting exchange takes from winning wagers.

Correct Score: Primarily offered on Soccer, Correct Score wagering requires bettors to predict the exact final outcome and the winner of a match.

Cover: Any wager where a side exceeds the point spread. Detroit (-1.5) winning an NHL match 3-1 would be a winning wager as the Red Wings “covered” the puck line spread.

Decimal Odds: Decimal Odds are alternatives to American and Fraction betting lines. Smaller lines indicate a favorite while underdogs are tagged with larger lines. Winning wagers on (1.49) odds returns a $48.78 profit while a (2.49) price pays $149 on $100 bets.

Dime: Betting odds of (-110) are prices where the juice is 10% of the bet. Dime also refers to a $1000 wager though it can also be slang for a $10, $100 or $10000 wagers.

Dog: Short for underdog, a Dog is perceived by bookmakers to be the inferior side on any wager. The Raptors were dogs prior to the start of the 2018-19 NBA Finals vs Golden State.

Double Action: A variation of an “If Bet” Double Action is wagering on at least two different games and requires previous bets to win, tie or be cancelled to produce winning final tickets. 

Double Bet: This is a wager on two separate selections with the return on the first wager rolled over to the second bet. Both selections must win to generate a return.

Double result: Wager on a single game where bettors predict the winner at halftime and fulltime. Common across most sports, a double bet example in the NFL is: NO Saints win first half/LA Rams win game.

Doubleheader: Primarily a baseball term, a doubleheader is two games, played by the same teams on the same day, with a short break in between the contests. A rained out match on Friday often creates a Saturday doubleheader.

Draw: Any match that ends tied whether straight up or with the point spread added. Also known as a tie or a push, tickets do not cash and original investments are returned.

Drift: Occurring due to a variety of reasons, when the odds on a particular selection “drift” they are getting larger.

Each-Way: Each-Way betting is two wagers on the same side and the selection must finish first or second for the ticket to be cashed as a winner.

Edge: Any information or wagering strategy that gives bettors a perceived advantage over the bookmaker is referred to as the player having an “edge” over the house.

Even Money: Any wager that returns the same amount as the original stake. Odds of +100, 2.0 or 1/1 are Even Money bets which would return $100 on a $100 wager.

Exotic: Wagers that are not a parlay or straight bet are considered exotics. Also known as prop or special bets, exotic options are available on most regular season and playoff sporting events.

Expected Goals: Estimated total number of goals by one or both sides during a match.

Expected Value: Calculated over several wagers, Expected Value (EV) is the amount a bettor can expect to win or lose if betting on the same odds many times.

Exposure: Amount a bookmaker or player stands to lose on any wager. A $100 bet on the Blue Jays means a gambler has a $100 exposure on their bet.

Favourite: Also known as the “Chalk” side, a favorite wager is a bet placed on a side that is expected to win.

First Half Bet: Available on most sports, players can wager on which side they believe will be ahead at halftime of a sporting event. The final outcome is not a factor when first half betting.

First/Last Goal Scorer: A wager on which player will score the first or last goal of a match that is common when betting on soccer and ice hockey matches.

Fixed-Odds Betting: Placing a bet on Fixed-Odds means the line will not change after a bettor has placed a wager.

Fractional Odds: Popular in the UK, fractional odds are prices posted using fraction numbers. Fraction odds set at 2/1 translate to +200 in American odds and 3.00 using Decimal prices.

Future: Any wager that is placed in advance of future contest. In particular, futures wagers are most common on the eventual winner of a league championship like the NFL Super Bowl, MLB World Series or the NHL Stanley Cup.

Grand Salami: Posted as Over/Under odds, a Grand Salami bet is predicting the total goals/points scored in all the games listed on a particular day. Available on many sports, this bet must be placed before any of the contests are played each day.

Half Time Bet: A wager placed on a side to win the second half of any competition. Bets are made with straight up or against the spread odds.

Half-Ball Handicap: Any wager where the odds are set at a half goal or point. Betting on Manchester United at -0.5 means Man U must win by one goal or more to cash a wining ticket.

Handicap: Levelling the playing field, a handicap is a number set by a bookmaker on any sporting event.

Handicapper: Anyone who sets a handicap, predicts or wagers on any betting option.

Handicapping: Predicting the outcome of any event that has pre-set odds.

Handle: Total amount bet by all gamblers and accepted by sportsbooks on any single event.

Hedging: Most common with parlay betting. Hedging a bet consists of betting on the opposite side of an original wager to set up a guaranteed return. A hedge may also be placed to reduce the initial risk on a potential losing wager.

Holding Your Own: Bettors who are holding their own aren’t winning or losing but rather breaking even over a long run of betting.

Home Field Advantage: A perceived advantage the home team has over a visiting squad.

If Bet: A secondary wager predicated on a previous bet being successful with the winnings being rolled over to a subsequent bet.

In-Play Betting: Real-time wagering on any contest that is in progress – also know as LIVE betting.

Joint Favourite: Two or more teams, players or horses viewed as equally likely to win a match or race.

Juice: Take (commission, vigorish, margin) of the bookmaker on any wager. Odds set at -111 have juice set at 10% meaning successful $100 bets return a $90.09 profit

Kelly Criterion: Betting strategy that helps handicapper determine the perfect bet size on any wager.

Landing on Three/Seven: Most common final score differential during American football games.

Laying The Points: Betting on a match favorite and giving up points to the opponent before a match begins.

Layoff: Form of hedge betting where bookmakers or players reduce their overall risk by betting on the opposite side of an existing wager.

Limit: An amount set by bookmakers that players can wager on any particular betting option. May also refer to self-imposed betting amounts or an individual wagering budget.

Line: Any pre-set handicap odds place on a sports, entertainment or political event.

Linemaker: Sportsbook employee tasked with setting odds on all betting options.

Listed Pitchers: Baseball term where starting pitchers are named prior to a contest. If one pitcher changes, wagers are voided, stakes are returned and new odds are set.

Live-Betting: In-game wagering on a contest that has already started.

Lock: Term that suggests one side is certain to defeat the other. In reality, there is no such thing as a “lock” bet as anything can happen in any given contest.

Longshot: Underdog side perceived as having limited chances of defeating a match favorite.

Margin: Can refer to a bookmaker’s commission on a match or the point spread on a game.

Match Bet: Any head-to-head wager placed on a bet with just two sides.

Middle: Winning both sides of a wager when odds shift. A line that moves from 3.5 to 4.5 will “middle” if the final score differential is four. That was the case on “Black Sunday” during Super Bowl XIII when the Steelers defeated the Cowboys 35-31 and backers of both teams cashed in.

Moneyline: Straight up wager where the winning side pays regardless of the final score. See also, our Moneyline or Point Spread – that’s the question feature.

Multiple: Any wager that consist of multiple matches being bet on simultaneously – most commonly referred to as a parlay or accumulator bet.

  • Double: One bet parlay on two different sides.
  • Treble: One bet parlay on three different sides.
  • Trixie: Four bets on three sides: Three doubles and one treble.
  • Patent: Seven bets on three sides: Three singles, three doubles and one treble.
  • Yankee: Eleven bets on four sides: One four-leg parlay, six doubles and four trebles.
  • Lucky 15: Fifteen bets on four sides: Four singles, one four-leg parlay, six doubles and four trebles
  • Lucky 31: Thirty-one bets on five sides: One five side parlay, five four side parlays, five singles, ten doubles and ten trebles.

MVP: Player deemed most valuable to their team during the regular season or playoffs. QB Joe Montana is a three-time Super Bowl MVP prop bet winner.

Nap: Also known as a “Lock” a Nap is a tipster’s best bet on any given card.

No Action: Wagering option that is pulled off the board (voided) by a bookmaker. Original investments are returned.

Non-runner: Prevalent in horse and greyhound racing, plus head-to-head player props, a Non-runner is a side that was posted and bet on but did not compete. Wagers are returned.

Novelty Bet: Betting options (propositions) that are difficult to predict using standard handicapping methods. Chicago Bears DT William “The Fridge” Perry “YES or NO to score a Touchdown” in Super Bowl XX is the Godfather of Novelty Bets.

Odds: Against the Spread (ATS) handicap placed on any wagering option.

Odds Format: Bettors can choose from three standard odds formats: Decimal (2.00), Fraction (1/1) or American (EVEN)

Odds on Favorite: Any side perceived to be the most likely winner of any competition.

Oddsmaker: Sportsbook employ(s) who sets the odds on any competition posted on a betting board.

Off The Board: Any upcoming competition that does not have odds posted. An existing or pre-game injury to a star player will often cause bookmakers place OTB where odds will normally be.

Outright Betting: Also known as futures wagering, Outright Betting is selecting a leagues overall Champion prior to the season ending. Moneyline bets can also be referred to as wagering on the outright winner of an individual match.

OVER: Betting that a competition will result in more goals/points/yards being scored than the pre-set number established by the bookmaker. A 27-24 NFL final produces winning OVER tickets on bets with 50-points as the set Game Total.

Overbroke: Any betting option where the betting market is less than 100% and thus turning odds in favor of bettors over bookmakers.

Overround: Opposite of Overbroke, this occurs when markets are above 100% and thus turning the odds in favor of bookmakers over bettors.

OVER/UNDER: A fixed number (odds) set by bookmakers on the total goals/points/runs expected to be scored during the competition.

Parlay: A combination of at least two different sides one wager. Calgary + Winnipeg + Hamilton on a single ticket is a three team (leg) parlay.

Payout: Original stake, plus the amount won, on any successful wager.

Pick ’em: Any betting option posted with EVEN odds on both sides.

Point Spread: Odds posted by bookmakers on any betting option such as a 1.5 NHL puck line price. 

Post Time: Time that horses/greyhounds are scheduled to leave the gate to start a race.

Power Ranking: Arrived at using various statistics, Power Rankings rate teams in a sports league from the perceived best to worst squads.

Price: Also known as the point spread, moneyline or game total betting odds.

Prop (Proposition) Bet: An exotic betting options beyond those covered with standard odds. Available on most competitions, prop betting is especially popular during major events like the NFL Super Bowl.

Public Money: Heavy bets, often placed on chalk sides, by recreational bettors.

Puckline: Number of goals (usually -1.5) a favorite needs to win by, or an underdog must stay within, to cash a winning ice hockey wager.

Push: Any bet on a match that ends tied straight up or against the spread. A 21-14 football final would result in a 7 point ATS bet being a push and initial wagers are returned.

Quarter Bet: Any wager made on a sport that is timed by four quarters.

Rag: Slang term implying a match or event underdog.

Reload Bonus: Cash back or free bets paid to bettors when they reload funds into an existing betting account.

Rotation Number: Primary used in Las Vegas, a rotation number is a bookmaker assigned ID used by bettors when placing wagers at a betting window.

Round Robin: Parlay wagers that cover all possible winning combination on three lines or more and at least two separate sides.

Run Line: A handicap in baseball betting, a Run Line is an ATS wagering option that is normally posted at 1.5 runs prior to start of a match. Run lines change on LIVE betting boards as contests play out.

Scalping: Frowned upon by bookmakers, scalping is taking advantage of bonuses and price differentials at various sportsbooks.

Second Half Bet: A wager, usually placed LIVE after the first half ends, specifically on the second half of any competition.

Sell Points: Occurs when a bettor feels a line is posted higher than it needs to be. Gamblers “sell points” and take lower ATS odds that come with more profitable odds.

Sharp: Expert/experienced handicapper who is also known as a professional bettor and is willing to bet on favorites or underdogs in any given situation.

SP: Abbreviation for Starting Price, which is the official odds when the gate opens during Greyhound and horse races.

Special: Another term (such as prop or novelty) for any bet beyond standard ATS, moneyline and game total options.

Split-Ball Handicap: Any wager split on two handicaps on the same match. An example is betting Liverpool at EVEN and plus +0.5 goals. A DRAW would return the first bet and pay the second wager. If Liverpool loses by one or more goals – both bets are graded as a losing wager.

Sportsbook (Individual): As a general term, a sportsbook is another name for a bookmaker.

Sportsbook (Structure): As a literal term a sportsbook is a land based location (like in Las Vegas) where bettors go to place bets.

Spread: A set number, determined by bookmakers, which estimates the final score difference between two sides.

Spread Betting: Any wager with predetermined points for and against on both sides. Dallas -7.5 is a wager against the spread. Washington +7.5 is a bet with the spread.

Stake: Amount of money a bettor risks (spends) on any wager.

Staking Method: Part of an educated betting style, where bettors calculate the proper amount of money on every wager, which helps create regular profit taking.

Steam: Betting odds that move quickly (up or down) due to a heavy volume of wagers being placed over a short time period – usually by the public on favorites.

Straight Bet: Any single game wager that is placed on a moneyline, spread or game total option.

Taking The Points: Another term for underdog betting, gamblers who take points are betting against the favorite covering the spread or the underdog winning outright.

Teaser: Betting on multiple games with odds that are higher or lower than standard wagering lines. A -6 point favorite may be “teased” down to -3 points while a +7 underdog line may be have their odds boosted up to +10 points.

Ticket: A receipt issued by a bookmaker for any wager placed online or at a land based sportsbook.

Tie: Also known as a PUSH or a DRAW, a Tie bet is a wager where no winner was determined by the final score or with the spread added. Pittsburgh and Cleveland playing to a 21-21 draw would mean all moneyline wagers are returned to bettors.

Tip: Offered on sports and events of all sorts, a Tip is a suggested wager made by a Tipster. A tip can also be “inside information” that the general public is not aware of.

Tipster: Any person who supplies betting tips to the public. Some tips from a handicapping service are free, like CSB Free Picks, while others cost bettor’s a fee to obtain.

Total: Pre-set number on the amount of goals/points/runs bookmakers expect a match final will reach.

Totals Bet: On a Total Bet, bettors are required to pick whether the total of a game will go OVER or stay UNDER a set number posted by bookmakers.

Tout: A perceived “expert” betting service that charges a fee for wagering advice and/or tips.

True Odds: An odds number added to a competition which bookmaker’s estimate will make final score even between a favorite and underdog.

UNDER: Any contest that ends UNDER a fixed number set by bookmakers on the total goals/points/runs expected to be scored during any competition.

Underdog: Also known as dog or pup, an Underdog is perceived to be the weaker of two sides. Underdogs receive goals/points/runs prior to the start of a match to level the playing field.

Value: Bettor’s are said to receive value when they wager on odds that appear to be outside the norm. A powerhouse team, that is tagged with low ATS odds vs a weaker squad, is referred to as a value bet.

Vigorish: Amount bookmakers receive for taking wagers. If Player A bets Houston -7 (-110) and Player B bets Baltimore at +7 (-110) bookmakers take $100 from the loser and pay $90.91 to the winner. The $9.09 vigorish collected is no risk house profit.

Wager: Same as a bet, a wager is the act of paying money to buy odds from a sportsbook on a certain side.

Additional Sports Betting Terms

Here is a list of additional terms that are commonly associated with sports betting:

MLS: Major League Soccer – Highest level of pro soccer in North America.

MLS Cup: Awarded annually to the overall Champion after the Major League Soccer playoffs and MLS Cup Final.

MLB: Major League Baseball – Highest level of pro baseball globally.

Commissioner’s Trophy MLB: Awarded annually to overall Champion after the MLB playoffs and World Series is complete.

NBA: National Basketball Association – Highest level of pro basketball globally.

Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy: Trophy presented to the overall Champion following the three rounds of playoffs and the NBA Finals.

NFL: National Football League – Highest level of North American pro football.

Vince Lombardi Trophy: Presented annually to the overall Champion following the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl.

NHL: National Hockey League – Highest level of pro ice hockey globally.

Stanley Cup Trophy: 
Presented annually to the top team in the National Hockey League once the playoffs and Stanley Cup Finals end.

Hart Trophy: Awarded annually to the Most Valuable Player during the NHL regular season via a vote by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Wayne Gretzky earned a record nine Hart Trophies

Vezina Trophy: Awarded annually to the player deemed to be the best goaltender during the NHL regular season. During the current era, Dominik Hasek earned a record six Vezina trophies.

Selke Trophy: Awarded annually to a Forward who plays the best defensive hockey during the NHL regular season. Patrice Bergeron and Bob Guiney share a record four Selke awards.

Ted Lindsay Award: Awarded annually to the player recognized as the most outstanding regular season performer and voted on by NHL players only. Wayne Gretzky earned a record five Ted Lindsay trophies.

Calder Trophy: Awarded annually to the top first season player (Rookie of the Year) during each NHL regular season.

Rose Bowl (Stadium): Multi-purpose venue, often referred to as America’s Stadium, the Rose Bowl is located in Pasadena, California, and opened in 1922. The Rose Bowl is the site of the annual NCAA Football Rose Bowl game and has been the venue for five NFL Super Bowl games.

Rose Bowl (Game): First played in 1902, the Rose Bowl is an NCCA football game affectionately known as The Granddaddy of Them All. Since 2015 the Rose Bowl has been part CFP New Year’s Six Bowl Game rotation that decides the National Championship matchup. 

The Grand National: A “National Hunt horse race” the Grand National is a 4 mile and 514 yard handicap steeplechase race held annually at Aintree Racecourse, just outside of Liverpool, England.

Triple Crown (US Thoroughbred Racing): A series of three horse races, the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, held annually in the United States. As of 2019, thirteen horses have won all three races to claim the US Triple Crown.

Kentucky Derby: First run in 1875, the Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the US Triple Crown. The race is held on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

Preakness Stakes: Inaugurated in 1873, the Preakness Stakes is the second jewel of the US Triple Crown. This race is run at Pimlico Race Course, in Baltimore, Maryland, on the third Saturday in May.

Belmont Stakes: Oldest (1867) and longest (12 furlongs) Triple Crown race, the Belmont Stakes is known as The Test of the Champion. The final jewel race runs three weeks after the Preakness

Canadian Triple Crown (Thoroughbred Racing): A series of three horse races, the Queen’s Plate, Prince of Wales Stakes and the Breeders’ Stakes are held annually in Canada. As of 2019, twelve horses have claimed Canadian Triple Crown honours.

Queen’s Plate: As the first jewel, in the Canadian Triple Crown, the Queen’s Plate (Est. 1860) is the oldest continually run horse race in North America. Woodbine Racetrack in Ontario hosts the race in late June or early July annually.

Prince of Wales Stakes: First run in 1929, the Prince of Wales Stakes was added as the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown in 1959. Fort Erie Race Track in Ontario is the venue for this 9.5 furlong race that is run on a dirt track.

Breeders’ Stakes: Established in 1889, the Breeders’ Stakes is the third leg of the Canadian Thoroughbred Triple Crown. Similar to the US Belmont Stakes, in that it’s 1.5 miles long, the Breeders’ Stakes runs annually in August on the turf course at Woodbine Racetrack.

NCAA: Short for National Collegiate Athletic Association, the NCAA is the governing body of United States College amateur athletes and sports leagues.

March Madness: Playing out annually, since 1939, March Madness is an NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament that determines the National Champion of US College Basketball.

Combine: Organized by major sports leagues, such as the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, combines are scouting events that allow pro scouts to assess the attributes, performance and skills of young college athletes. Combines are held prior to annual pro sport Entry Drafts.

Draft: Held annually, several months before the start of a new season, pro sports leagues restock their teams by selecting young players during their respective drafts. High draft picks often head straight to the pros while lower selections are usually assigned to minor league teams.