Sports Betting Glossary and Terms

Sports betting lingo can be puzzling. Some terms are almost archaic, having been in use for centuries while newer betting jargon spring up as sports and gambling move on. The more you bet, the more sports betting terms you’ll come across. So, if you don’t know your pleaser from a teaser or the ATS from the SP, here are all the betting terms and abbreviations you need to know to talk like a sharp.

Betting Glossary and Terminology
Published by NYSB Staff
Last Updated: 13. Dec 2023.

Accumulator (acca)

Known as a parlay in the US, accumulator bets combine two or more selections. Each leg must win for the overall bet to win.


A slang term for gambling in general or a bet or wager. For example, the sportsbook saw plenty of action on the big game.

Against the spread (ATS)

Betting against the spread means wagering on the point spread. Unlike the moneyline where you might bet on the favorite to be victorious, betting ATS means they also have to win by a certain amount.

Alternate line

Sportsbooks offer lines or point spreads. In some games, the bookmakers will advertise different (alternate) lines at different odds giving more options on which to wager.

American odds

An odds format most common in the US. American or moneyline odds display as a plus (+) or minus (-) number and are centered around a baseline value of $100.


Also known as the ‘arb ‘or ‘arbing’, this is a betting technique where the odds on a betting market make it possible to guarantee a profit by wagering on multiple outcomes.

Asian handicap

Most common in soccer, an Asian handicap is where one team is given a ‘virtual head start’ as signified by a minus (-) symbol and a given number of goals. A plus (+) symbol is assigned to the underdog who has a handicap advantage on the bet.

Backdoor cover

A term for when a team covers the spread late in a game but this doesn’t affect the result. For example, the NY Jets are a -7 favorite and lead the Giants by 34-21 as the game nears its end. If the Giants score a late touchdown to make the final score 34-28 then bettors on the Giants earn backdoor cover as they were on +7 and the winning margin was six points.

Bad beat

When a bet loses that looked unlikely or even unlucky to do so. For example, a bad beat might occur when there are late points scored in a game.


A wager that’s considered almost certain to win.


The sum of money that a bettor has to place wagers.

Betting exchange

A betting platform without a bookmaker where bettors can wager directly against each other. The exchange operator makes its money by taking a small percentage commission (juice) on winning bets.

Book, bookmaker, bookie

An individual or an organization that takes bets on sporting (and other) events. There are currently nine sportsbooks in New York that are licensed to provide online sports betting.


A slang term for a wager of $100

Buying points

Buying points involves receiving a half point or more in the bettor’s favor, most often on a point spread but also on under/over bets in return for paying a price (worse odds/more juice).

Canadian line

A bet type specific to hockey that combines the points spread with a moneyline. For example, the New York Islanders offered at ‘-1.5, +180’. The Islanders would need to win by two clear points for a successful bet.


A slang term for the favorite. A ‘chalk player’ is a bettor who generally backs favorites.

Circle game

A game in which the action is limited by the bookmaker. Limits are placed on how much can be wagered, usually because the sportsbook faces unknowns such as a question mark over the fitness of a key player and other variables like bad weather or rumors that surface before a game.

Combination bet

A term for any wager that contains more than one selection.


A general agreement among the betting public about the outcome of an event and the side to bet on.


Also known as ‘betting against the public’, a contrarian bet is usually placed because a bettor sees value in taking the opposite opinion to most people’s view.


Also referred to as ‘covering the spread’, a favorite covers if they win by a higher number than the spread, and an underdog covers if they lose by a number less than the spread or win the game outright.

Dead heat

Another way to say the event finished in a tie. Sportsbooks often have different rules on how they will pay on a tie or dead heat.

Decimal odds

One of the three main odds formats along with American and fractional odds. American odds of -110 convert to 1.91 in decimal odds. A wager of $110 returns $100 profit at these odds.


A slang term for a wager of $1,000

Dime line

A 10-cent difference between the favorite and the underdog on a betting line. For example, odds of -125 and +115 on two teams. You’d have to wager $1.25 on the favorite to get $1 profit and you’d get $1.15 on the underdog if you bet a dollar. That difference of 10 cents is of course a dime.


Short for the underdog, i.e. the team or player not expected to win.

Dog player

A bettor who tends to bet on underdogs.


A wager that contains two separate selections.

Double chance

Most commonly used in Europe to describe a bet on a soccer match. There are three possible outcomes to a match - a win, tie, or loss. A double chance wager combines two of those such as the win or the tie.


A common term in horse racing, an each-way bet has two parts. The first is on the selection to win and the second for it to finish in the top few places in a race or contest.

Early cash out

Settling a wager before an event finishes for a certain cash value. Most commonly used to lock in a smaller profit than would otherwise be gained but without the risk of it ultimately losing or cutting losses on a bet that looks like failing.


An advantage of some kind. The bettor might have an edge over the bookmaker or vice versa.

Evens or even money

Odds that will win an equal amount to the stake. Evens is displayed at +100 in moneyline format, 2.00 in decimal format, and 1/1 in fractional format. Even money has no vigorish applied.

Exotic bets

These are non-standard bet types, so not the moneyline, points spread, or futures. They’re quite often to be found listed as a prop bet.

Expected value (EV)

A calculation of how much a wager is likely to win in the long-term when placed at the same odds over and over again. A positive expected value (+EV) implies profit over time, while a negative value (-EV) implies a loss over time.


The total amount of money a sportsbook or a bettor could lose on a specific event.


The selection in a betting market that the bookmaker expects to win.

Fixed odds

Odds that are agreed at the time a wager is placed and won’t change for that bet despite future movements.

Fractional odds

Odds listed as a fraction such as 2/1. Fractional odds are the most common format at UK and Ireland sportsbooks.

Futures bets

Futures betting means betting on an event that will conclude in the longer term, such as who will win a division, a league or a championship.

Grand salami

A wager type specific to hockey betting, on the total number of goals scored in an entire slate of games such as all those in the NHL on a given day.


The total amount of money taken from wagers. This could be broken down by sportsbook, sport, region, or a defined time period.

Handicap betting

A bookmaker hypothetically adds points or goals to an underdog or takes them off a favorite to level the playing field for the purposes of making bets.


A bettor who analyzes statistics and other key factors to try and make accurate predictions. A handicapper could also be a tipster who publishes predictions on sporting events.


Hedging in sports betting means betting the opposite outcome to a previous wager to minimize losses or guarantee a profit.


The percentage of money retained by sportsbooks for every dollar wagered.


A half point in points spread and totals betting. For example, if a spread is 5.5, then the hook is 0.5. If it’s 6, then there is no hook. A hook is used to guarantee wagers don’t result in a push.

In-game or in-play bets

Wagers made after a game has started. This can also be referred to as in-running or live betting.

Implied probability

The theoretical likelihood of a certain outcome as reflected by the odds provided.


The margin, profit, or commission a book takes for facilitating a bet. The juice on bets is built into the odds offered.

Key numbers

The most common margin of victory or defeat in a sport. Key numbers are also based on the scoring increments in a sport. For example, in football teams usually win in multiples of three or seven.

Laying points

Betting on the favorite in a points spread. For instance, if the New York Jets are 2.5-point favorites over the Buffalo Bills, then wagering on the spread is referred to as ‘laying 2.5 points’ on the Jets.

Laying the price

Placing a wager on the moneyline favorite.

Lengthening odds

Odds that are increasing.


Can be the odds on offer or the value a sportsbook sets a point spread or over/under at.

Live betting

Live betting, or in-play betting, involves wagering on an event as it happens. This means odds can change dynamically as the game unfolds, with a range of betting options available from the final score to who will land the next point.


A large favorite or a wager considered almost certain to win.

Long shot

A large underdog.

Matched betting

A betting technique using free bets and other promos offered by sportsbooks to generate profits. Proponents of matched betting cover all possible outcomes to guarantee positive cash returns.


Placing a bet on both sides with the opportunity to win both bets. For example, a wager on the NY Knicks at +10.5 and on the Nets at -7.5 would see both bets win if the Nets win by eight to 10 points.


A moneyline bet is wager on whether a team or player will win a game.

Moving the line

The action taken by a bettor to receive a half point or more in their favor on a points spread wager.


Another name for a bet that contains more than one selection.


A handicapper's suggested best bet of the day.


A slang term for a bet of $500.

No action

An event in which betting options are canceled by the bookmaker and all bets are refunded.


In sports betting, the odds represent the likelihood, in the eyes of a bookmaker, that an outcome will happen. You can use a betting odds calculator to work out how much you stand to win, based on the odds available for a wager.

Odds against

Odds that are higher than even money and will payout more than the amount wagered.

Odds-on favorite

When a team or player is heavily favored to win. The odds will be very low and return less than the amount wagered.


Also known as the linemaker, this will be a sportsbook that sets the odds, often offering the opening lines on a market and altering them to create a balanced book as money starts being taken.

Off the board

An event for which the bookmaker is taking no more bets.

Opening line

The first line that is available for an event.


A betting selection that only has a small chance of winning.


A term for the profit margin that sportsbooks build into their betting lines.

Over/under bet

An over/under bet is a wager on the combined score of a competition. If both teams or players score more than the total that’s set, the over wins, and if less, the under wins.


A parlay bet is a wager that combines multiple legs for a potentially higher payout. All of the selections must win for the parlay to be successful.


The total amount of money a bettor receives for a winning wager.

Pick ‘em

A bet on a market that has no favorite and underdog or in which there is no spread. Pick ‘em bets are sometimes denoted with ‘pick’ or ‘PK’ at a sportsbook.


A multiple points spread bet, similar to a parlay, where the player moves the lines in the sportsbook’s favor in return for higher odds.

Point spread

A type of bet on the margin of victory. The point spread will reflect the favorite and the underdog. The favorite must win by a number higher than the set figure to cover the spread. An underdog can cover by losing by a number less than the spread or by winning the game outright.

Prop bet

A prop bet, or proposition bet, is a wager on something not connected to the outcome of a game. It could be a bet on the first goalscorer, the number of passing yards in a match, or how many strikeouts a player will get.


Another slang term for an underdog or a ‘no hoper’.


Occurs when a contest ends without a winner or when neither side covers the spread so the margin of victory lands exactly on the set spread. In the event of a push, all wagers are normally refunded.

Reduced juice

When a sportsbook lowers the vigorish or juice on a game. The reduced juice is reflected in the odds so it might be that a side is priced at -105 instead of -110.

Return on investment (ROI)

A measure to express the amount of profit generated from the value of wagers.

Reverse line movement

When a line or points spread moves in a direction that contradicts the money being wagered on a game. For instance, if a team is listed as a -5 point favorite and 75% of the betting public are wagering on them and the line shifts to -6.5 then this is reduced line movement. It usually happens because big-money gamblers (sharps) are favoring the other side.

Round Robin

Round robin betting involves combining multiple smaller parlay bets on a group of teams or players to increase the odds and winning potential.


A slang term for a professional or experienced bettor.

Short odds

Another term for low odds.

Shortening odds

Odds that are getting lower over time.

Starting price (SP)

A term used in horse racing to indicate the odds of a runner at the beginning of a race. A bookmaker will usually offer bettors the opportunity to take the odds offered at the time of the bet or back the horse at the starting price.


A sudden and substantial movement in a betting line or odds that’s usually caused by the amount of money being wagered.

Sucker bet

A bad wager that heavily favors the bookmaker. Sucker bets are not just losing ones but also those that would return considerably less than the real chance of it winning.


A point spread bet that allows bettors to adjust multiple lines in their favor with a resultant lowering of the odds. The opposite of a pleaser bet.

Totals bet

Totals betting is another name for an under/over bet where you wager on the combined score being above or below a line set by the sportsbook.


The selection that’s considered the least likely to win, although betting on underdogs can be a rewarding strategy if successful.


A standard monetary measurement as defined by yourself. Often a unit will be 1% of a bettor’s total bankroll. So, if someone has $1,000 allocated to betting, one unit would be $10. Tipsters will often recommend a number of units to wager or risk based on their perception of how likely a bet is to win.

Value bet

A wager where the theoretical chances of a win are greater than the odds suggest.

Vig or vigorish

Another term for ‘juice’, the vig is the profit margin that bookmakers build into their odds.

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