Betting Glossary A To Z

I travel to Las Vegas every year for the Super Bowl. I overhear many conversations near the betting boards in the sportsbooks on the Strip, and most of them center around gambling terms.

Most bettors don’t know what all the numbers mean on the odds board. They’re confused about how to make a bet. These gaming words are made clear on most top-ranked online sites like Bovada and BetNow, but Las Vegas sportsbooks do a poor job in explaining gaming terminology.

Here, VegasBetting explains the gambling lingo from A to Z that will help you become an informed Vegas gambler on all the action in any sportsbook.

Glossary A to Z

Accumulator

An accumulator is a wager that combines four or more picks into a single bet that earns a return only when all picks win. The advantage of an “accumulator” is that winnings are much higher but they come with an increased risk — just one wrong pick loses the entire bet.

Added Game

If there is enough betting demand for action on a game, sportsbooks may choose to list odds for the matchup and start taking bets on it. The new listing is the definition of an “added game.”

AET

AET stands for “Added Extra Time.” The term is commonly used in soccer matches where time is added for stoppages and injuries.

Alternative Lines

Alternate lines cover both sides of the betting line, allowing users to bet under or over the original betting line and this bet always adds more risk to the wager. Alternate lines are most often offered on the spread and over/under point totals, and typically posted on MLB and NHL games.

American Odds

Betting lines are posted on a 100-unit base figure in American Odds. Whenever there is a negative (-) sign, that’s the amount of money a bettor must wager to win a hundred dollars. Whenever there is a positive (+) sign, that’s the amount a bettor wins on a hundred dollar wager.

Ante-Post

Ante-post betting, also known as futures betting, are wagers where the result is determined at a later date. For example, an ante-post bet can be placed on the winner of the Super Bowl during the regular season.

Arb

Arb or arbitrage betting is a risk-free wager to make a guaranteed profit on a particular sporting event. When arbing, the bettor takes advantage of the difference in odds offered by two or more bookmakers. An arb is also sometimes called a “surebet” or a “miraclebet.”

Arbitrage

Arbitrage is a betting system that allows a customer to place multiple bets to guarantee a profit regardless of the outcome of the event.

Asian Handicap

Asian Handicap is a form of betting on football in which teams are handicapped according to their form so that a stronger team must win by more points than the betting line.

ATS

ATS stands for “Against The Spread” and is used to describe a wager against the betting line. Oddsmakers attempt to predict how many points (spread) it will take for approximately the same amount of money to be wagered on the favorite and underdog.

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Banker

A “banker” bet is the most important selection for your combination or accumulator bets. It gives the bettor a chance to earn a profit, even if one or two of the other selections do not win. The banker bet must win for the rest of your ticket to be successful. If your banker loses, so does your ticket.

Best-Price Percentage

Bookmakers offer different prices on outcomes of events. By always choosing the best price on offer and being strict with only getting the best price, the bettor is opting for the “best-price percentage.”

Bet

A wager made on the outcome of an event. Players may be able to make several bets on a single event.

Betting Exchange

A betting site that doesn’t accept bets, but rather matches players against one another on both sides of the bet. The site takes a commission on the winning bets.

Betting Strategy

A systemic or mathematical approach to placing bets designed to generate a profit for the player over the house or bookmaker.

Bonus

An incentive or reward given by bookmakers to encourage betting activity for new or existing members.

Book

Short form for any online or land-based sportsbook that offers odds on the outcome of an event.

Bookie

An abbreviation for bookmaker, this is an individual or venue that accepts bets on the outcome of an event.

Chalk

In any event, there is a longshot and a favorite. The participant with the lowest odds is considered the “chalk.”

Circled Game

An event where the maximum bet is capped or limited, usually due to injuries or poor weather conditions.

Closing Line

The last available betting lines before the market closes. Bettors who consistently beat the closing line increase their odds of winning wagers.

Co-Favorite

More than one selection is priced as the favorite with the exact same betting odds. A league’s top two teams with the same odds to win the championship would be called “co-favorites.”

Commission

It’s the added amount tacked onto the betting lines for the sportsbook to make a profit. It’s also called Juice, Margin, and Vigorish. The commission on most bets at Las Vegas sportsbooks is roughly 10 percent.

Correct Score

A bettor predicts both the winning team and the final score of the game. The bet is usually posted for soccer matches.

Cover

When the favorite wins by more than the posted spread or handicap. For example, an NFL team is favored in the point spread by three points but wins by a touchdown. The winning team “covered” the spread.

Decimal Odds

Often referred to as European odds, the betting lines are posted in a decimal format. A simple formula is your betting amount multiplied by the decimal odds. For example, a $100 bet on a team listed at 1.82 odds returns $182.

Dime

Slang term for a $1,000 wager: “I’m betting a dime on the championship.”

Dog

Abbreviation of the term underdog, which is rated by the betting market as the least likely to win. If a game between two teams has a prohibitive favorite, the other team can be called a huge “dog.”

Double Action

A wager which is conditional on the success of a previous wager.

Double Bet

A bettor wagers twice the amount of a usual bet, normally where the player sees good value in the wager. The wager is also known as “double pop” or “doubling up.”

Double Result

A conditional bet that combines the result of the game at halftime with the result at the end of the game.

Doubleheader

Two games that normally take place on the same day, usually in baseball because of games postponed early in the season due to bad weather.

Draw

When a game ends with no winner or loser. It’s also called a Push or a Tie.

Drift

The odds on one of the teams increase or “drift” from the opening odds, usually because of injuries or suspensions of key players.

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Each-Way

A wager where the bettor attempts to pick a winner and a second- or third-place finisher. This betting option is most commonly used in greyhound and horse racing.

Edge

Betting margins are the difference between the odds the bettor is offered by sportsbooks and the true probability of the outcome. If you can exploit a bookmaker’s margin, you have gained an “edge.”

Even Money

A bet which is listed at +100 or 1-1 is considered to be “even money.” The return is exactly double your initial wager.

Exotic

Any wager other than a straight bet is called an “exotic.” In horse racing, it’s any wager that is not win, place or show.

Expected Goals

The number of times a team or teams will score in a single game. For example, bettors will use this feature to help determine the over-under totals of a hockey game.

Expected Value

The measure of what a bettor can expect to win or lose per bet placed on the same odds time and time again is called “expected value.”

Exposure

The total amount of money a sportsbook stands to lose from a particular event. In 2019, the exposure for New Jersey sportsbooks was $4.5 million when the Philadelphia Eagles upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 53.

Favorite

The top pick according to the betting markets is called the “favorite.” Just because the favorite has the lowest odds does not necessarily mean it is the most likely to win.

First-Half Bet

A bet on the outcome of the first half of play in a single game.

First/Last Goal Scorer

A bet on the specific scorer of the first or the last goal in a given game, usually in soccer or hockey.

Fixed-Odds Betting

The type of betting offered by sportsbooks with odds fixed at the time the bet is struck. The odds may change between now and the beginning of the game, but your odds are fixed at the time of your bet.

Fractional Odds

The ratio of the amount profit compared to the unit bet is called “fractional odds.” For example, a team that is listed at 6-1 would pay $6 profit for every $1 bet.

Future

Betting lines posted for an event that is to take place at a later date. For example, “future” bets are made in the NFL preseason or regular season on which team will win the Super Bowl.

Grand Salami

A wager where the bettor selects whether the total number of goals, runs or points will be over or under a betting line. It’s also known as the totals bet.

Half-Time Bet

A bet made on the result of the first half of a specific game.

Half-Ball Handicap

One team is allotted 0.5 of a point, run or goal in a game with betting lines attached to that “handicap.”

Handicap

One team, typically a prohibitive favorite, is given a “handicap” to overcome in order to win. It is similar to point spread betting and provides more balanced odds.

Handicapper

A person — amateur or professional — who uses statistics or other methods to forecast an outcome of a game, race or event.

Handicapping

Statistics or information bettors use to forecast an outcome of a game, race or event and then bet accordingly.

Handle

The total amount of money bet on a certain event. A record Super Bowl handle of $160 million was bet at Nevada sportsbooks for Super Bowl 53.

Hedging

Wagering on both sides of the betting line to take advantage of discrepancies in the odds or limit losses.

Holding Your Own

The bettor is neither winning or losing money after a number of wagers. The bettor is said to be level, even or “holding your own.”

Home-Field Advantage

Home teams take advantage of the familiar surroundings and hometown crowd to win the majority of games, often around 55 to 60 percent, depending on the sport. That’s why it’s commonly referred to as a “home-field advantage.”

If-Bet

A series of bets that carry over to the next wager and are dependent on the previous selection.

In-Play Betting

Regular betting stops once the event starts, but that is when “in-play betting” begins. Also known as live betting, players can wager in real-time on the next play, score or outcome throughout the entire event.

Joint Favorite

Two selections in a field share the lowest betting odds in an event. The top two of the 32 NFL teams may be tagged with the same future odds to win the Super Bowl and they are called “joint favorite.”

Juice

A commission or “juice” is applied to every bet by the sportsbook, typically around 10 percent of the wager. That’s why two evenly matched NFL teams are both be listed at -110 on the betting lines and not even money.

Kelly Criterion

A mathematical formula that can be applied to determine the optimal sum of money that should be invested or wagered on an opportunity.

Landing on Three/Seven

A phrase used to describe the most statistically common final-score differential in the NFL since field goals are worth three points and touchdowns count for seven.

Laying the Points

The favorite must not only win the game but also beat the point spread when a bettor is “laying the points.”

Layoff

Sportsbooks don’t always take on all the risk of a bet, especially ones of a large amount. They will at times reduce the liability of some wagers with another bookmaker.

Limit

The maximum bet amount, or “limit,” varies from online and land-based sportsbooks.

Line

Also known as point spread, the betting “line” is the assigned number on the favorite and underdog to encourage betting on both sides involved in the game.

Linemaker

The person responsible for setting the line or point spread is called a “linemaker.” These people use algorithms and mathematical formulas to come up with these betting numbers.

Listed Pitchers

A conditional bet based only on the starting pitchers in a baseball game.

Live-Betting

One of the hottest trends in sports betting where bettors can wager on an event during the action, unlike regular betting markets which close at the start of the event.

Lock

The most probable winner on the schedule is often called the “lock.” It is usually the primary bet on a wager of multiple games.

Longshot

A selection in a field of contenders that carries some of the highest odds. The odds suggest a win is unlikely, but a bettor can expect a high return.

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Margin

The cost of placing a bet is set by the sportsbook, usually around 10 percent. The “margin” is also called Commission, Juice, or Vigorish.

Match Bet

A wagering technique used to turn free bets offered by online sportsbooks into a profit. You cover all the potential outcomes of an event by placing two bets.

Middle

Betting lines change from the opening line to game time. This is a sports betting strategy that takes advantage of those changing odds, usually on the point spread and totals bet.

Money Line

One of the most common wagers in sports betting, just pick the winner of the game and you have won the “money line” bet.

Multiple

  • Double: A multiple bet consisting of two selections, where both must win to earn a return.
  • Treble: A multiple bet consisting of three selections, where all must win to earn a return.
  • Trixie: A multiple betting method betting where four bets on three different selections are combined into one. The advantage is that if one selection fails to win, a return is still generated.
  • Patent: A multiple bet consisting of seven selections: three singles, three doubles and a treble. It means that even if only one of your selections is a winner and the other two legs are losers, you are still going to receive a return on your bet.
  • Yankie: A multiple bet consisting of four selections that include a four-timer, four trebles, and six doubles.
  • Lucky 15: A multiple bet consisting of five selections that include a four-timer, four trebles, six doubles, and four singles.
  • Lucky 31: A multiple bet consisting of five selections that include a five-timer, five four-timer, 10 trebles, 10 doubles, and five singles.

MVP

A bet on an individual player who will be voted the league’s Most Valuable Player. All four major sports — MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL — have an MVP.

Nap

This is a tipster’s most confident selection (best bet) of the day.

No Action

A canceled bet, resulting in a refund of money wagered.

Non-Runner

Your selection has been withdrawn from the event, so your bet is refunded.

Novelty Bet

A bet on an outcome that is not sports related, like a presidential race or an Oscar winner.

Odds

Numbers that represent the probability of an event happening. If the odds on your selection are 3-1, that means you win $3 for every dollar bet.

Odds Format

The betting line is posted in different forms, depending on where the odds originate. European odds are listed in decimals — even money is 2.0. UK odds are listed in fractions — even money is 1-1. American odds are listed plus or minus — even money is +100.

Odds-On Favorite

A betting selection that returns less than even money. The odds imply a chance of winning greater than 50 percent, but a bet on this selection will not double your money.

Oddsmaker

A person who is responsible for setting the betting lines or odds at a sportsbook.

Off the Board

An event where the sportsbook is not accepting bets. In most cases, “off the board” means the betting lines for the game aren’t available yet.

Outright Betting

A bettor wagers on the winner of the entire competition instead of a single match. For example, betting on an NFL team during the regular season to win the Super Bowl. Also known as Futures, Ante-post, and Special.

Over

Sportsbooks set a betting line for the total score of an event. There are two sides to this bet — the “under” and the “over.” If a line is set on an NFL game at 49.5 points, the final score must total 50 points or more for the “over” to win.

Overbroke

An outcome where a sportsbook pays out more than the total amount bet on the game.

Overround

Another term for the profit a sportsbook builds into the betting lines.

Over/Under

One of the most common bets in sports betting, a player must decide if the total score of an event will be “over” or “under” the set betting line.

Parlay

A single bet that consists of two or more outcomes. All selections must be correct to win the “parlay.” A common NFL parlay is a selection of the winner against the spread and total score (over/under) of the game.

Payout

The return on an individual winning bet.

Pick ’Em

The point spread is even or zero and does not come into play. The payout will be equal for both teams in a “pick ’em” game.

Point Spread

The handicap assigned by the sportsbook to the favorite in order to generate balanced betting on both opponents in a game. A team might be an obvious favorite to win the game, but would you still bet on them if it had to beat the “point spread” and win by two touchdowns?

Post Time

The scheduled start time of an event, a common term in horse racing.

Power Ranking

A rating system of teams in a league based on a number of statistical categories so that the outcome of a game between any two opponents can be predicted.

Price

The odds or betting lines offered by a sportsbook.

Prop (Proposition) Bet

A wager made on an outcome that does not directly affect the final result of a game. For example, the coin toss in the Super Bowl is a popular “prop bet.”

Public Money

A term used for money and/or bets that typically chase the favorite in an event. For example, “public money” can turn a solid favorite on the betting line into a huge favorite as bets continue to roll in.

Puck Line

The favorite in a hockey game is handicapped in this bet. A similar bet to the point spread in other sports, the hockey favorite is always -1.5 goals on the “puck line.”

Push

A bet ends in a tie between the bettor and the sportsbook. For example, a “push” often occurs in total bets where the final score is exactly the same as the betting line.

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Quarter Bet

A bet made on one specific quarter of an event, typically the first quarter in a basketball or football game.

Rag

A term used for a longshot, most commonly heard in UK horse racing.

Reload Bonus

An incentive to active members to make a deposit in a real money gambling account.

Rotation Number

A numerical identification system sportsbooks assign to players and teams. In the Super Bowl, the visiting team is listed as rotation number 101, while the home team is listed as 102.

Round Robin

Multiple parlays can be made with a single bet. The 10 combination bet consists of three doubles, one treble and three up-and-down single stakes about pairs.

Run Line

The favorite in a baseball game is handicapped in this bet. A similar bet to the point spread in other sports, the baseball favorite is always -1.5 runs on the “run line.”

Scalping

A process of placing bets on both sides of the market in order to profit from small price movements in the odds.

Second-Half Bet

A bettor chooses which team will score more goals in the second half of the game.

Sell

To earn a more profitable return by decreasing the odds of winning, usually by lowering the point-spread advantage of your selection.

Sharp

A professional bettor who uses sports betting as a primary means of income.

SP

The starting price (or SP) is simply the official odds of a horse at the time the race starts.

Special

Also known as prop bets, these are wagers on events that won’t affect the final outcome of the game. For example, one of the most popular special bets in soccer is which player will score the first goal in a game.

Split-Ball Handicap

A betting line is divided, or split, into two separate bets by the sportsbook. If the handicap or point spread was one and 1.5 goals, half the bet would be struck at one goal and the other at 1.5.

Sportsbook (general term)

Another name for a bookmaker, which accepts and pays off bets.

Sportsbook (at a casino or other offline venue)

A land-based venue where bettors watch games and place bets. There are more than two dozen land-based sportsbooks on the Las Vegas Strip.

Spread

A point handicap is assigned by the sportsbook to the favorite to try and balance wagering on the two opponents.

Spread Betting

A common bet where a team is favored to win by a certain number of points. The betting line, or “spread,” is set by the sportsbook and bettors must choose whether the favorite will cover the spread or not.

Stake

The amount of money placed on a single bet.

Staking Method

A betting strategy that defines how much of your bankroll you should place on a particular event.

Steam

A sudden, drastic and uniform movement of the odds on a particular game, usually due to a large volume of bets over a short period of time.

Straight Bet

A bet on just one team. Common straight bets are money line, point spread, and over/under totals.

Taking the Points

Betting on the underdog on the point spread bet. The underdog can lose the game but win on the point spread because of the points handicap assigned to the favorite.

Teaser

A special bet in which you are able to adjust the point spread or total for a game. Lower point spreads equal lower payouts.

Ticket

Bettors receive hard copy printouts of their bets at land-based sportsbooks. Bettors receive an e-ticket from online sportsbooks to confirm a wager.

Tie

There are no winning or losing bets on the event. The outcome is also known as a draw or push.

Tip

A prediction on the outcome of a game provided by someone with knowledge of the league or competition.

Tipster

Someone who regularly provides information on the predicted outcomes of games or competitions.

Total

The betting line assigned by the sportsbook for the combined score of two teams in a singular game.

Totals Bet

Bettors wager over or under on the combined score of the two teams. For example, the totals bet for a hockey game is 5.5. If the game ends in a score of 4-2, those that bet the over win the “totals bet” since the six goals that were scored are over the 5.5 betting line.

Tout

An individual who sells their picks or their sports betting expertise to others.

True Odds

The actual odds of winning a bet. However, the payoff is always less than the true odds because of the sportsbook’s margin placed on every wager.

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Under

Sportsbooks set a betting line for the total score of an event. There are two sides to this bet — the “under” and the “over.” If a line is set on an NFL game at 49.5 points, the final score must total 49 points or less for the “under” to win.

Underdog

A team or teams that have the highest odds on the betting board and are considered to be the least likely to win.

Value

The risk is considered to be less than the odds on the player or team.

Vigorish

Margin or charge a sportsbook adds for taking bets, traditionally around 10 percent.

Wager

Any type of bet.

Special Sports Terms

Breeders’ Cup

An annual series of Grade I thoroughbred championship races. It has been held at various tracks throughout the United States since its inception in 1984 but did make one stop in Canada in 1996. Today, there are 14 races for horses of all ages and on dirt and the turf. The day of championship racing ends with the richest race of the event — the $6-million Breeders’ Cup Classic. 

Breeder’s Stakes

The third jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown.

Calder Trophy

Awarded annually to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League. It is named after Frank Calder, the NHL’s first president.

Canadian Triple Crown

Three races are exclusive to three-year-old thoroughbred racehorses foaled in Canada. The three jewels — all raced at the same distances as its American counterpart — are the Queen’s Plate, Prince of Wales Stakes, and Breeders’ Stakes. Established in 1959, only seven horses have captured the Canadian Triple Crown.

Combine (NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB draft scouting events)

A combination of certain sports-specific skills is performed by draft-eligible athletes. These drills help coaches and scouts evaluate athletes for an upcoming league draft. The NFL Scouting Combine, for example, is held every February in Indianapolis, while the NHL event has been held in the spring in Buffalo, New York in recent years.

Draft

Teams take turns selecting eligible players from a pool of athletes. Depending on the sport, the players may come from college, high school, junior leagues, or teams in other countries. Once drafted, the team holds exclusive rights to sign that player. Teams with the worst records from the previous season typically have the top picks in the next draft. 

Hart Trophy

Awarded annually to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team in the National Hockey League. The original trophy was donated to the league in 1923 by David Hart, the father of Cecil Hart, the longtime head coach of the Montreal Canadiens.

Kentucky Derby

Nicknamed the Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports, the lucrative horse race for three-year-olds is annually run on the first Saturday in May at the traditional distance of a mile-and-a-quarter. The Kentucky Derby, which has been held uninterrupted since 1875, goes to post at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky and is the first leg in thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.

Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy

Awarded annually to the team that wins the NBA Finals. Larry O’Brien served as NBA commissioner from 1975 to 1984. The Boston Celtics and the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers alone own almost half of the titles, having won a combined 33 of 73 championships.

March Madness

NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament held annually in the spring in the United States. The single-elimination tournament features 68 teams from across the country, with the winner, declared the national champion. UCLA holds the record for the tournament, which was created in 1939, with 11 national titles.

MLB

Professional baseball league consisting of 30 teams in North America — 29 in the United States and one in Canada. The MLB regular season schedule runs annually from March to October. The league was founded in 1903. 

MLS

Professional soccer league consisting of 26 teams in North America — 23 in the United States and three in Canada. The MLS regular season schedule runs annually from March to October. The league was founded in December 1993.

NBA

Professional basketball league consisting of 30 teams in North America — 29 in the United States and one in Canada. The NBA’s regular season schedule runs annually from October to April. The league was founded in New York City in June 1946.

NCAA

The non-profit national governing body for student athletes from 1,268 North American institutions and conferences. In 2016-17, the NCAA took in $1.06 billion in revenue, with more than 82 percent of that generated by the March Madness basketball tournament. The National Championship is the “College Super Bowl”. The association was founded in March 1906 and is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana.

NFL

Professional football league consisting of 32 teams in the United States. The NFL’s regular season schedule runs annually from September to December. The league was founded in August 1920.

NHL

Professional hockey league consisting of 31 teams in North America — 24 in the United States and seven in Canada. The NHL’s regular season schedule runs annually from October to April. The league was organized in Montreal in November 1917.

Rose Bowl (stadium)

An outdoor athletic stadium located in Pasadena, California. Opened in October 1922, the stadium is recognized as a National Historic Landmark. It is the 11th-largest stadium in the U.S. and home to college football’s Rose Bowl.

Rose Bowl Game

A college football game usually played on New Year’s Day between champions from the Pac-12 and Big Ten. Nicknamed the Granddaddy of Them All, the prestigious game has been played annually since 1916. The Rose Bowl functions as a semifinal for the College Football Playoff every three years.

Selke Trophy

Awarded annually to the player who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game in the National Hockey League. Patrice Bergeron and Bob Gainey, both with four, have won the award the most times.

Stanley Cup

Awarded annually to the team that wins the championship in the National Hockey League. The Montreal Canadiens hold the record of 24 titles.

Ted Lindsay Award

Awarded annually to the most outstanding player in the regular season as judged by the members of the NHL Players’ Association. Formerly known as the Lester B. Pearson Award.

The Grand National

A horse race held annually at Aintree Racecourse, near Liverpool, England. First run in 1839, it is a handicap steeplechase over a distance of about 34.5 furlongs, with horses jumping 30 fences over two laps of the course. It is the most prestigious steeplechase event in Europe.

Triple Crown

Three races exclusive to three-year-old thoroughbred racehorses are contested over five weeks in May and June. The three jewels — all raced at different distances — are the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. Only 13 horses have won the Triple Crown, including Secretariat (1973), who holds the stakes record in all three races.

Vezina Trophy

Awarded annually to the goaltender who is judged to be the best at his position in the National Hockey League. The NHL general managers vote on this award.

Vince Lombardi Trophy

Awarded annually to the team that wins the Super Bowl in the National Football League. It is named after the famous coach whose team won the first two Super Bowls.

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