Sports Betting Terms Explained

Defining the most common gambling phrases used in sports betting.

Sports betting (aka sports gambling) is about to become more prevalent, following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which largely outlawed sports betting outside of Nevada. The May 2018 ruling opens the door for states to legalize sports betting and profit from an industry that had previously taken an estimated $150 billion illegal bets annually. To help understand the gambling lingo and betting slang, we’ve defined the most common gambling phrases used in sports betting.

 

Action

The act of placing a bet or having an active wager on a sporting event. (e.g. “I have action on this game.” Or “Do you want to get in on this sweet action?”)

 

American Odds

International phrase for what is more commonly known as “money line” in America. Odds expressed in terms of money, with $100 being the standard. If the odds are minus (–), then that amount of money must be wagered to win $100. (e.g. –150 means you must bet $150 to win $100.) If the odds are plus (+), that amount of money would be earned on a successful $100 wager. (e.g. +150 means you make $150 on a $100 wager.)

 

ATS

Acronym meaning “Against the Spread.” Betting on the outcome of a sporting event as it relates to the point spread, as opposed to betting “straight up.”

 

Backdoor Cover

Winning despite seemingly insurmountable odds against the bet, often with a late score in a sporting event whose outcome had already been decided. (e.g. “I won my bet on a backdoor cover because Stephen Curry hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, even though the game was already out of reach.”)

 

Bad Beat

Losing despite seemingly insurmountable odds in your favor, often with a late score in a sporting event whose outcome had already been decided. (e.g. “I lost my bet on a bad beat because Stephen Curry hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, even though the game was already out of reach.”)

 

Bet

To gamble or wager on the outcome of a sporting event, most often within the parameters of agreed upon odds.

 

Book

The entity or establishment accepting wagers on sporting events. Also known as the “sports book” in a casino setting.

 

Buck

A $100 bet. Also known as a “dollar” bet.

 

Buy Points

To take a less favored return on investment in order to increase the odds of winning, usually by improving the point-spread advantage or money line.

 

Chalk

The odds-on favorite to win a sporting event. (e.g. “John’s NCAA Tournament bracket is all chalk; he has all No. 1 seeds making it to the Final Four.”)

 

Closing Line

The final odds on a sporting event before pregame bets stop being accepted. As a general rule, the line will move up or down, depending on which side is receiving the most money wagered or an unforeseen change in the matchup (injury, suspension, etc.). The closing line often differs from the opening line, as a result.

 

Cover

To correctly pick the winning side of a point-spread bet. (e.g. “Alabama was favored by 10 points and won by 11, I covered.”)

 

Dime

A $1,000 bet.

 

Dog

Popular slang for “underdog” or the side not expected to win against the “favorite.”

 

Even Money

A 50-50 wager, where neither side lays odds or has a perceived advantage.

 

Exacta

Wagering on the first three finishers of a race, predicted in the correct order.

 

Exotic

Any bet that isn’t a straight bet. Term most often used in horse racing, regarding exactas, trifectas and superfecta bets. In team sports, often referred to as a “proposition,” “prop” or “special” bet.

 

Favorite

The side expected to win a sporting event, with odds reflecting perceived confidence in favored team/person.

 

First-Half Bet

A wager on the first half of a sporting event only, and not the outcome.

 

Future

Wagering on a long-term winner, usually on the champion of a sports league (i.e. NFL’s Super Bowl winner, MLB’s World Series winner, etc.)

 

Gamble

To bet or wager on the outcome of a sporting event, most often within the parameters of agreed upon odds.

 

Handicapper

The entity, person or establishment that decides the given odds or betting line of a sporting event.

 

Hook

A half-point on a betting spread. (i.e. “10 and a hook” is 10.5 points.)

 

House

The sports book taking the bet or wager.

 

Laying the Points

Betting on the favorite but sacrificing points on the spread or money line.

 

Limit

The maximum wager allowed by a sports book or establishment.

 

Line

Betting line or odds used to determine the gambling margin between the favorite and underdog.

 

Live betting

Wagering on a sporting event already in progress, with fluctuating odds in real time.

 

Lock

Term for a “sure thing” or “can’t miss” bet. (e.g. “The Golden State Warriors are a lock to win the NBA title.”)

 

Longshot

An unlikely winner with improbable odds that will pay off big.

 

Money Line

Odds expressed in terms of money, with $100 being the standard. If the odds are minus (–), then that amount of money must be wagered to win $100. (e.g. –150 means you must bet $150 to win $100.) If the odds are plus (+), that amount of money would be earned on a successful $100 wager. (e.g. +150 means you make $150 on a $100 wager.) Money line is also sometimes referred to as “American Odds.”

 

Number

The spread or odds or betting line. (e.g. “What’s the number on the USC-Notre Dame game?”)

 

Off the Board

A sporting event on which bets are no long being accepted, usually due to controversy, injury or other unusual circumstance.

 

Opening Line

The initial odds on a sporting event. As a general rule, the line will move up or down, depending on which side is receiving the most money wagered or an unforeseen change in the matchup (injury, suspension, etc.). The closing line often differs from the opening line, as a result.

 

Over-Under

The betting line on total number of points or goals scored in a sporting event, with action taken on whether there will be more (the over) or fewer (the under) points or goals scored.

 

Parlay

A series of bets in which the original stake plus winnings are wagered on successive bets. In most cases, all bets must win in order to pay out.

 

Pick 'Em

An even-money bet in which there are no odds, only the “pick” of the winning side.

 

Point Spread

Commonly referred to as just the “spread.” Betting line or odds used to determine favorite and underdog.

 

Prop Bet

Proposition or exotic bet, sometimes only tangentially related to the sporting event. (e.g. Popular Super Bowl prop bets include winner of coin toss, over/under on time of national anthem singing, color of liquid dumped on winning coach, etc.)

 

Push

When the final score or number falls exactly on the betting line, spread or over/under. In which case, the house usually wins. (e.g. Alabama is favored by 10 and wins by exactly 10 points.)

 

Sell Points

To take a more favored return on investment by decreasing the odds of winning, usually by lowering the point-spread advantage or money line.

 

Sharp

A professional bettor, often mistakenly called “shark.”

 

Spread

Betting line or odds used to determine the gambling margin between the favorite and underdog.

 

Stake

The money or collateral wagered on the outcome of a sporting event.

 

SU

Acronym meaning “Straight Up.” Betting on either a winner or loser, without point spread taken into consideration.

 

Superfecta

Wagering on the first four finishers of a race, predicted in the correct order.

 

Taking the Points

Betting on the underdog and accepting points on the spread or money line, which can result in a gambling win despite a technical on-field loss. (e.g. “Louisville lost to Kentucky by 2, but I ‘took the points’ on a 3-point spread and won big.”)

 

Teaser

Multiple wagers in which the bettor is able to manipulate the odds or point spreads by combining the games. All bets must be winners in order to pay out.

 

Ticket

The receipt of a confirmed wager, either in physical “ticket” form or online confirmation.

 

Trifecta

Wagering on the first three finishers of a race, predicted in the correct order.

 

Underdog

The side expected to lose a sporting event, with odds reflecting perceived lack of confidence in team/person.

 

Wager

To bet or gamble on the outcome of a sporting event, most often within the parameters of agreed upon odds.

 

Wise Guy

A bettor with advantageous insider information.

Event Date: 
Tuesday, July 10, 2018 - 13:00

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