Sports Betting Terms and Definitions all Bettors Should Know



06 / 05 / 2020 . By Mark Saldana

If you’re new to sports betting, you’ve likely come across a few unfamiliar sports betting terms. Learning these sports betting terms will help you become a more skilled sports bettor and avoid common betting mistakes.

This list features terminology that you’ll see on when betting with online betting platforms, traditional sportsbooks, and casinos. Learn these terms today to start betting like a seasoned professional!

sports betting terms and odds on an MLB betting board

Sports Betting Terms in Alphabetical Order

Action: A bet or wager.

Against the Spread (ATS): The result of a bet including the point spread.

Bad Beat: A bet that is a winner for most of the game but loses in the end. Usually by a last second score by the opposing team.

Bankroll: The amount of money a bettor has available for betting.

Betting Line: The point spread, money line, or total that a bet must cover to win.

Bookmaker: A place where a person can make a wager (also called bookie).

Buck: A $100 bet.

Buying Points: A player paying an additional amount to receive half of a point or more in their favor on a point spread game.

Chalk: The favorite in a particular betting scenario. The opposite of an underdog.

Contrarian: A person who “fades the public” and takes the opposite of the majority of bettors.

Cover: The act of winning a point spread bet.

Dime: A $1000 bet.

Dime Line: A line where the “juice” or “vig” is 10%.

Double Bet: A wager for twice the size of one’s usual wager.

Edge: The advantage a bettor has before placing a wager.

Even Money: A wager that pays out exactly the amount you bet. No “juice” or “vig.”

Exotic: Any wager other than a straight bet or parlay. Also known as a “prop bet.”

Exposure: The maximum amount of money a sportsbook stands to lose on a particular event.

Fading The Public: Betting on the team or player that the majority of the public is against.

Favorite: The team or player that is expected to win a game or match.

Field: In “prop bets, the field refers to an accumulation of all the teams or players that are not specifically listed.

First Half Bet: A bet placed only on the first half of the game.

Future Bet: A bet on events that will happen further in the future. Such as who will win a division or a championship well in advance.

Grand Salami: The Over/Under total for how many points, goals, or runs will be scored across all games in a specific league on a certain day.

Handicapper: A person who studies, researches, and wagers on sporting events.

Handle: The total amount of money wagered on a game by every bettor for a particular book.

Hedge: Betting opposite of a previous bet to guarantee winning at least a small amount of money, or to cut losses.

Hook: A half-point in the spread.

In-Play: Bets made after a game has started. Also known as “live-betting.”.

Juice: The bookmaker’s commission on a losing bet. Also known as “vigorish” or “vig.”

Laying Points: Betting the spread on the favorite by giving up points.

Linemaker: The person who established the betting lines for a sportsbook. Also known as an “Oddsmaker.”

Longshot: A team, player or horse perceived to be unlikely to win. A large “underdog,” usually with a high payout.

Middle: When you bet on both sides of a game and have an opportunity to win both bets.

Moneyline: A bet made if a team will win or lose outright with no point spread.

Move the Line: A player pays an additional price to receive half a point or more in his favor on a point spread game.

Nickel: A $500 bet.

Odds: The likelihood of the outcome occurring.

Outlaw Line: The earliest line in sports betting. An overnight line. Also known as “opening line.”

Over/Under: Also known as the “total”. This refers to the total amount of points, goals or runs that will be scored in a particular game or match.

Parlay: A bet with two or more teams in which all teams must win or cover for the bettor to win and receive a higher payout.

Pick’em: When neither team is favored. There is no spread.

Point Spread: The predicted scoring differential between two opponents set by a sportsbook.

Prop Bet: A bet on something other than the outcome of a game. Such as passing yards, or points scored by an individual player.

Public Betting Percentage: The percentage of public bettors on a particular bet. Used to “fade the public.”

Puckline: A term for the “spread” in a hockey game. Almost always 1.5.

Puppy: Slang term for “underdog”.

Push: When neither team covers the spread, no one wins the bet and all bets are refunded.

Reverse-Line Movement: Betting line movement that contradicts the public betting percentages. This indicates that “sharp” money is taking the opposite of the public.

ROI “Return On Investment”: A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of a bet.

Round Robin: A series of three or more teams in 2-team parlays.

Runline: Same as the “puck line” in hockey, the “runline” refers to baseball. Almost always 1.5 as well.

Runner: A person who places bets for another person. Also known as a “beard”.

Sharp: A very successful professional sports bettor. Known for winning.

Sides: The names of the two teams playing. The underdog and the favorite.

Square: A beginner sports bettor. Opposite of a “sharp.”

Steam Move: When a line starts to move rapidly. Usually due to heavy betting on one side.

Taking the Points: Betting an underdog against the spread.

Taking the Price: Betting the underdog and accepting money odds.

Teaser: A type of parlay in which you adjust the point spread or total of each individual play. Results in a lower payout.

Ticket: Also known as a “bet slip.” A receipt given to a bettor that shows the bet, odds, and potential winning payout amount.

Total: The combined amount of runs, points or goals scored by both teams during a single game.

Tout: A person who sells their picks or their sports betting expertise to others.

Underdog: The team or player not expected to win the game or match.

Units: A standard monetary measurement of how much you typically bet.

Vigorish: The bookmaker’s commission on a losing bet. Also known as “vig” or “juice.”

Wager: A bet placed at a sportsbook.

Wiseguy: A well-informed handicapper.

Now that you’ve learned these sports betting terms, why not test your skills with a wager on ZenSports? Download the app today for iOS or Android to start betting on MMA, Esports, and more. 

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