Sports Betting Terms A-Z

Familiarize yourself with sports betting terms to improve your ability to follow along in conversations between punters. Most of the terms on this page are fundamental to wagering online and provide a great start to learning the vocabulary and meaning behind words and phrases.
Patrik Lidin
Expert: Principal Writer and Editor / Head of Content
Experience: Sports Trader, Market Maker, Product Owner Sportsbook, Professional Gambler, Poker Player

Getting Familiar With Sports Betting Terms

Besides providing the definition and meaning of a sports betting term, we have included each entry's usefulness level and thorough examples, making it easier to learn—from A to Z.



(See also Multiple and Parlay)

  • Definition: Two or more selections are made to make one single bet, where the odds of each selection are multiplied (accumulate). All bets must be successful for the accumulator to be settled as a win. 
  • Usefulness: An accumulator can significantly boost the value of your coupon. It's a strategy that can create interesting, daring, and entertaining coupons, making it a very useful betting style.
  • Example: Imagine it's Sunday Night Football, and you're following three matches: Dallas Cowboys @ NY Giants, Detroit Lions @ Kansas City Chiefs, and Pittsburgh Steelers @ Los Angeles Raiders. Instead of placing individual bets on each game, you spice things up with an accumulator bet. You combine the odds for the Cowboys at +125, Chiefs at -200, and Steelers @ -111. With a stake of $25, you could potentially win $160.39 (net win $135.39) if all your picks are successful.


  • Definition: Bets that are placed on a game can be referred to as action.
  • Usefulness: Some sportsbooks may use the term “All Action” for bet settlement, referring to all bets being settled when the game is finished.
  • Example: “There’s a lot of action on this game.”

Against the Spread (ATS)

(See also Spread)

  • Definition: Betting against the spread involves wagering on a selection that gives away points to level the playing field for both teams. When a punter wagers on a team to outperform the point spread established by the sportsbook, it’s called ATS.
  • Usefulness: More of a conversational sports betting term not explicitly used inside the sportsbook when wagering online.
  • Example: “I’m going against the spread for Bulls on Friday against the Celtics.”

Alternative Betting Lines

(See also Main Line and Runline)

  • Definition: Alternative lines allow you to bet outside the main markets for spreads and totals.
  • Usefulness: Finding alternative lines, especially with mismatched odds, can be a source of value. Venturing outside the main lines also makes betting more versatile, with more betting options in the sportsbook.
  • Example: Let’s say the Toronto Blue Jays are playing against the Houston Astros in the MLB. The Astros are favored to win and have a -1.5 on the runline as the main option. The alternative lines include different runline where you could wager on the favorite (Astros) with a +1.5 at lower odds.

American Odds

  • Definition: The default odds format in the United States expresses the prices of a sports event as a positive or negative number. The positive number shows the amount you win per $100 wagered, and the negative number shows how much you need to wager to make a $100 profit.
  • Usefulness: Integral to sports betting and American punters.
  • Example: In most parts of Europe, they use decimal odds. In the United Kingdom, fractional odds are used. In many parts of Asia, they use Asian Odds. We have the Los Angeles Lakers versus the Golden State Warriors in an NBA game. The moneyline odds are LA Lakers at +193 and Warriors at -238. With decimal odds, the odds would be Lakers at 2.90 and Warriors at 1.40.


  • Definition: Betting all the market outcomes between several bookmakers to exploit price differences and guarantee a positive return.
  • Usefulness: Arbing is an exploitative form of sports betting that typically goes against the terms and conditions of a sportsbook, where punters risk having their account suspended.
  • Example: Two prominent US sportsbooks offer different odds for the same odds, so ‘Big Joe’ decides to make an arbitrage between the bookmakers, where he bets the home team to win at one bookie and the away team to win at the other—guaranteeing a positive result.

Asian Handicap

(See also Spread)

  • Definition: Asian handicap is a type of spread betting that removes the tie/draw from the result using fractional spreads, starting from 0.25. Asian handicaps can win and draw simultaneously, resulting in a half-win and a half-loss.
  • Usefulness: It is not available in all American sportsbooks, is a somewhat complicated market for beginners, and is typically used for soccer betting.
  • Example: A 0.25 Asian handicap bet is similar to an each-way bet in that it is a bet on the two close intervals. For example, a $50 bet at +0.25 is the same as betting $25 on 0 and +0.5. If the match ends 0-0, the bet is half-win and pays back $75 (stake plus $25 profit).


Bad Beat

  • Definition: A bad beat is an unexpected and unlucky loss in which the bet did not materialize despite the odds indicative of that specific result.
  • Usefulness: Bad beat is a term used in conversations with others to describe a particularly tough loss.
  • Example: “I got screwed over by Lillard throwing a no-look three-pointer from halfcourt with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. That bad beat was tough and made me lose out on 740 bucks as it was the last leg of my six-game parlay.”


(See also Chalk, Favorite, and Lock)

  • Definition: A strong favorite used in a parlay bet to boost the odds is referred to as a banker.
  • Usefulness: A conversational sports betting term not explicitly used inside the sportsbook unless it’s part of a temporary promotion.
  • Example: “I’m banking with the Chicago Blackhawks against the New York Islanders.”


(See also Bankroll Management)

  • Definition: Bankroll is a term used to refer to the amount of money a punter has put aside which is dedicated to sports betting.
  • Usefulness: Bankroll and the related term bankroll management is paramount to success as it helps to separate and budget your sports betting activities from your other financial responsibilities.
  • Example: I set aside $1,000 to start a sports betting bankroll. I plan to stake 3% of my bankroll on every bet, and all the money I win will return to the bankroll.

Bankroll Management

(See also Bankroll, Betting Strategy, and Units)

  • Definition: Bankroll management is a system that helps the punter manage their betting activity. The punter sets aside a budget and then uses a percentage for each bet to maintain a healthy ratio and minimize the risk of wiping out when experiencing a cold streak.
  • Usefulness: Any punter serious about their sports betting should have a bankroll and practice bankroll management.
  • Example: Every time punters place a bet, they use 3% of their bankroll. If their bankroll increases or decreases, the pure dollar value of their bets will increase or decrease depending on the size of the bankroll.


  • Definition: When a third party is used to conceal the true identity of the natural person who is betting.
  • Usefulness: This is typical sports betting lingo among advanced punters. Betting using another person’s identity goes against the terms and conditions of US sportsbooks and can result in a ban and seizing of funds.
  • Example: “I used my girlfriend as a beard after the sportsbook limited my betting account to zero.”


(See also Stake and Wager)

  • Definition: Bet is the activity of risking real money on the outcome of an event with the potential of winning a proportionate amount of money corresponding to the likelihood (odds) of the specific outcome.
  • Usefulness: Integral part of sports [bet]ting.
  • Example: Placing a bet on Inter Miami FC to win against Los Angeles Galaxy.

Bet Receipt

(See also Ticket)

  • Definition: Bet receipt is the confirmed ticket or note for a placed bet. Each receipt confirms selections, odds, results, win amount, and a unique reference number.
  • Usefulness: The bet receipt is vital for tracking your betting activity, referencing old bets, and receiving assistance from customer support.
  • Example: After placing a bet on the Chicago White Sox to win, the sportsbook provides a bet receipt available from your betting history where you can see the complete rundown of your wager.

Bet Slip

(See also Coupon)

  • Definition: The bet slip is a sportsbook's shopping cart, the area containing your picks. It is where you enter your stake and confirm all details before placing a bet and receiving a bet receipt.
  • Usefulness: Every site and app features a bet slip to facilitate the bet placement process.
  • Example: “I’m going to share my bet slip in the group chat with the boys to see what everyone thinks about my picks before placing the bet.”

Betting Exchange

  • Definition: Unlike a sportsbook, a betting exchange doesn’t accept bets. Instead, it matches people betting against each other, so-called backers (betting on odds), with layers (offering odds). The exchange takes a commission on the winnings bets.
  • Usefulness: No legal US betting exchanges are currently available in the United States. The Betfair exchange was the last available US exchange in New Jersey, but it withdrew on 1 October 2020.
  • Example: Imagine a game between the New Jersey Jets and the Buffalo Bills where you think the Jets will win. Rather than visiting a US sports betting site, you could head to a betting exchange (if they existed in the US) and lay a bet on New Jersey Jets not to win. This way, you offer odds on the betting exchange, and someone betting on New Jersey not to win will be matched with your odds. If the Jets win, you win the matched amount minus the exchange commission fee.

Betting Strategy

(See also Bankroll Management)

  • Definition: A betting strategy is a plan of action, a system approach, to making wagers to achieve long-term profitability.
  • Usefulness: A punter with aspirations of consistently beating the sportsbooks needs to devise a betting strategy that incorporates analysis, stake sizing, and execution to be successful.
  • Example: ‘Big Joe’ has a strategy of betting the moneyline for underdogs in March Madness from the Round of 64 until the Final Four. Joe has found that the underdogs’ record in the tournament is high enough to bet on every underdog. In doing so, Joe has had an ROI of almost 20%.


(See also Promotions and Bonus Chasing)

  • Definition: A bonus is an incentive (with strings attached) given by operators to sway new punters to sign up with them or incentivize existing punters from leaving for another operator.
  • Usefulness: Depending on the terms and conditions of the bonus, these incentives can be lucrative, especially for skilled punters with higher winrates.
  • Example: FanDuel just launched in North Carolina, and they have the best welcome [bonus] for new NC punters.

Bonus Chasing

  • Definition: A person who opens accounts with every sportsbook to take advantage of their bonuses (exploiting).
  • Usefulness: Bonus money can boost your betting bankroll, so bonus chasing is a good practice, especially for new punters with limited funds.
  • Example: When I started betting, I opened a new account and deposited the maximum bonus amount with every operator, one after another, until I had used all welcome bonuses available on the market.

Bookmaker (Bookie)

(See also Sportsbook)

  • Definition: Sportsbooks are synonymous with bookmakers, whereas “bookmaker” is a more dated term from the word “book”, similar to how companies, banks, and governments keep ledgers. Both refer to someone (person or organization) who sets the odds for sporting events and accepts bets.
  • Usefulness: US sportsbooks rarely refer to themselves as bookmakers, but news articles, politicians, and resources such as JustGamblers can sometimes use the term bookmakers or bookies.
  • Example: “This online bookmaker is great. They have the best player props for NCAA basketball.”

Buy Points

(See also Spread and Alternative Betting Lines)

  • Definition: Buy points are related to spreads where the punter takes alternative lines instead of the main line to get a higher point/goal spread advantage.
  • Usefulness: In rare cases, there can be better value on an alternative line, creating a situation where buying points is more favorable than betting on the main line.
  • Example: If you bet Dallas Mavericks to win against Houston Rockets as a -6.0 favorite, you could buy points and bet the -5.5 line to increase the likelihood of your bet winning while removing the risk of a push.


Canadian Line

(See also Moneyline and Point Spread)

  • Definition: A combination bet of Moneyline and Points Spread typically offered on ice hockey.
  • Usefulness: Canadian lines are sometimes used as a betting promotion featuring a matchup between two Canadian NHL teams.
  • Example: DraftKings has a temporary betting promo called Canadian Line for the NHL game between Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Cash Out

(See also Partial Cashout)

  • Definition: A betting feature allowing the punter to “cash out” a bet before the outcome is settled, allowing them to secure a part of winnings or reduce losses.
  • Usefulness: Cashing out can be useful in certain situations, but it usually has an expected negative value over time and shouldn’t be used too often. From an entertainment perspective, having the option to cash out bets can be a lot of fun.
  • Example: “I put $100 on Seattle Kraken to win. They were up 3-1 in the third period, and I was thinking of cashing out, but I didn’t because cashing out is for losers. In the end, they lost 3-4 in overtime. Should have cashed out.”


(See also Banker, Favorite, and Lock)

  • Definition: Chalk refers to heavy favorites in any given betting market based on the odds.
  • Usefulness: It is not essential to betting per se; it is more of a conversational lingo.
  • Example: All chalk are favorites, but not all favorites are chalk. A punter can be a chalk-eater if he only bets on teams that are heavy favorites to win according to the odds.

Closing Line (Closing Odds)

  • Definition: The closing line refers to the last available odds before a market closes right before the event starts.
  • Usefulness: The closing line is significant because it relates to the last available time to place a bet. Punters often use the term to determine success, where a punter consistently beating the “closing line” is considered a skilled punter.
  • Example: “I bet  New York Yankees to win at -150 while the closing line was -130.


(See also Juice, Margin, and Vig)

  • Definition: Commission is the cost of placing a bet in a sportsbook, typically called margin. 
  • Usefulness: Depending on the size of the commission, this fee can have a considerable effect on your overall profitability.
  • Example: A low-commission sportsbook offers higher odds and the potential for higher earnings than a high-commission sportsbook.


(See also Bet Slip)

  • Definition: Coupon is another more dated term for betslip. It is a sportsbook's shopping cart, the area containing your bets before you place them. It is where you enter your stake and confirm all details before placing and confirming a bet and receiving a bet receipt.
  • Usefulness: Every betting site and app features a coupon to facilitate the bet placement process.
  • Example: “I’m just adding bets to my coupon now. I have to hurry because the market closes in 2 minutes.”

Cover the Spread

(See also Spread)

  • Definition: Cover the spread is used when the favorite team wins the game with more than the required number of points/goals in a spread bet.
  • Usefulness: Common term used in conversations and writing.
  • Example: If the punter backs New York Knicks to cover the -5.5 spread and the final score is 116 - 110 in favor of the Knicks, they cover the spread.



(See also Stake)

  • Definition: Term used by punters referring to a $1,000 bet.
  • Usefulness: Dime is slang used by punters.
  • Example: “I dropped a dime on the Steelers to win on Sunday.”


(See also Tie and Push)

  • Definition: Draw is another word for tie. It is commonly used in sports like soccer, where a match can end in a draw, and is available as a betting option for soccer and some other sports.
  • Usefulness: Considering tie is the preferred term in the United States, draw is a less-used word.
  • Example:  An available betting option in match odds markets where the game can end with a home win, [draw], or away win.


  • Definition: Drifting odds are when the price changes from the original odds when the betting lines were first published.
  • Usefulness: Being aware that odds change is essential, and drifting is a term used to describe the changes in odds before a match starts.
  • Example: The opening price for a match is +250, then it moves to +300 and +350 before the game starts. The odds drifted.

Double Header

  • Definition: When two high-profile/popular games are played close together on the same day.
  • Usefulness: Not useful other than a commonly used term on big game days.
  • Example: Carlos Alcaraz faces Daniil Medvedev on the same day Novak Djokovic plays Jannik Sinner.



  • Definition: The bettor can gain an edge (advantage) over the sportsbook by conducting research and better understanding the potential outcomes of a match. 
  • Usefulness: Having an edge is useful as it increases the chances of being a profitable punter.
  • Example: Based on his research, the punter analyzed the match and realized that he had found an edge over the sportsbook based on the odds and proceeded to place a bet with the max stake.

Even Money

  • Definition: A bet that returns your stake 1:1, represented by +100 odds.
  • Usefulness: Terminology used between punters and pundits in conversations and writing.
  • Example: You wager $100 one +100 odds, and you receive $100 in profit plus the stake.


  • Definition: All markets that aren’t Moneyline, Spread, or Total are considered exotic betting markets.
  • Usefulness: This is typical sports betting lingo among punters and written media.
  • Example: Player props are an exotic market, for example, predicting the first player to score in a soccer match or if Victor Wembanyama will score over 29.5 points in his next game.

Expected Value (EV+/-)

  • Definition: The expected win or lose amount if a punter were to place the same bet/odds many times over time. Decided by [Probability of Winning] multiplied by [Expected Win Amount Per Bet] minus the [Probability of Losing] multiplied by [Amount Lost Per Bet].
  • Usefulness: Advanced punters who calculate the probability for matches and betting markets and find odds that differ from the implied probability of odds can use the expected value to decide if the punter should take the bet.
  • Example: A simplified example would be if the New York Rangers played the New York Islanders in the NHL, and you calculated the implied odds to be 100+ (50/50). The odds offered on Rangers is +120; the expected value would be (120-100) * 0.5, resulting in $10 expected winnings on a $100 bet, or 10% EV. If you make this bet 100 times, you can expect to make $1.000 in net profit.


  • Definition: Exposure is the amount of money a punter/operator can expect to lose on any given bet/outcome.
  • Usefulness: Useful for punters and operators alike to understand their risk exposure on specific outcomes.
  • Example: If a specific outcome plays out, you could hedge your bets to limit your exposure (the risk of losing money).



(See also Banker, Chalk, and Lock)

  • Definition: The favorite is the most likely outcome of a bet.
  • Usefulness: A common term to describe a team most likely to win a match.
  • Example: The Kansas City Royals are favorites to win on Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles.

Fixed Odds Betting

  • Definition: After a bet is accepted, the odds at which it was placed remain fixed regardless of whether the actual odds of the match change for subsequent bets.
  • Usefulness: A common term that refers to traditional sports betting.
  • Example: If you place a wager on +150 odds and the odds change to +110 by the time the game starts, you are still paid according to the +150 bets.


(See also Halftime, Innings, Periods, Quarter)

  • Definition: Fulltime is simply the stipulated full time of a match, excluding overtime (OT), for example, three 20-minute periods in ice hockey.
  • Usefulness: For US sports, most bets include overtime, but many international sports feature a match odds market (1X2), where betting options are decided based on the full-time result, excluding overtime. This is important to be aware of so you don’t bet on markets that are fulltime only and expect them to include overtime.
  • Example: The market is decided based on the fulltime result, so if a soccer match ends 1-1 and goes to overtime, the final OT is not counted towards the bet outcome.


(See also Outright Betting)

  • Definition: Betting outcomes that are decided in the future, from days to months, or even years in advance.
  • Usefulness: A popular type of market that all sportsbooks offer.
  • Example: An example of a futures market is when a person bets on what time will win the Super Bowl in August.



(See also Innings, Fulltime, Periods, Quarter)

  • Definition: Halftime is the period between two parts of a game, such as soccer or basketball, during which players rest briefly.
  • Usefulness: Most main markets, such as moneyline and spreads, are offered as halftime bets based on the results in the first half of the match.
  • Example: “Caesar’s offers plenty of halftime betting markets for MLS, making it an exciting sportsbook for soccer betting.”


(See also Spread)

  • Definition: An international term for “spread” where each team is given a fictional advantage (+/- points or goals) to even the playing field in uneven games.
  • Usefulness: The term “handicap” is not as important in the United States because “Spread” is preferred, but it is good to know since the term handicap is sometimes used.
  • Example: Green Bay Packers have a handicap of -2.5 against the San Francisco 49ers.


  • Definition: The total volume of wagers a sportsbook accepts for an event, sport, league, or period.
  • Usefulness: Handle is often used as a reference to determine the significance or highlight the value of sports betting in general or a specific event.
  • Example: ESPN Bet's handle for all of the US was $526 million, up 12% compared to the previous month.


  • Definition: Hedging is made when you bet on either side of a market to take advantage of odds discrepancies or limit a potential loss.
  • Usefulness: Hedging is significant as a strategy in sports betting, especially to limit risk in the case of a loss.
  • Example: You have an 8-leg accumulator with one leg left, and you decide to back the opposite outcome of that last leg to guarantee a profit on all results in case the accumulator misses.

Home Field Advantage (HFA)

  • Definition: Home field advantage refers to the perceived advantage of a home team.
  • Usefulness: This is a relatively self-explanatory term that can be confusing when it’s abbreviated to just HFA in certain circumstances.
  • Example: “Atlanta Falcons definitely has a home field advantage against Carolina Panthers on Tuesday.”


  • Definition: Hook refers to the half-point (0.5) advantage in spreads or totals that eliminates a push or tie in games.
  • Usefulness: Common lingo but not crucial to wagering.
  • Example: If you bet on under 324 runs being made in an NFL game and 324 runs were made, the operator would have to refund your bet. This is why operators add the hook, the 0.5, to the line and make it 324.5 runs, forcing a win or lose settlement.


In-play Betting

(See also Live Betting)

  • Definition: Betting on a game in progress, where the odds fluctuate in real-time based on what happens as the game is played.
  • Usefulness: In-play betting is the less common term used for live betting. 
  • Example: The game has now started and is available in the in-play section of the website or app.


(See also Fulltime, Halftime, Periods, Quarter)

  • Definition: An inning is the time period in baseball where a game comprises nine innings in between which players take a short rest.
  • Usefulness: Most main markets, such as moneyline and spreads, are offered as innings bets, such as the “First Five Innings” market.
  • Example: “DraftKings offers plenty of innings betting markets for the MLB, making it an exciting sportsbook for baseball betting.”

Implied Probability

(See also Odds and True Odds)



(See also Commission, Margin, and Vig)

  • Definition: Slang for the fee or cost of placing a bet.
  • Usefulness: Terminology used instead of the more common margin or commission.
  • Example: This betting site has lower juice, taking less of the top than its competitors.


Kelly Criterion

  • Definition: Staking strategy where the punter’s stake is proportional to the perceived edge of each bet.
  • Usefulness: Useful to understand different betting strategies and management of funds.
  • Example: If the bet you’re placing has an odds of +250 (implied probability of 28.6%) and your estimates have the odds at 35%, you should bet 9% of your bankroll based on the formula of [(Odds * Probability of Winning—Probability of Losing) / Odds].


Laying Points

(See also Taking the Points)

  • Definition: When punters are laying the points, they are betting on the favored team to win by more points than the spread.
  • Usefulness: Lingo used in the betting community.
  • Example: “Instead of laying the points at -1.5, you could pretty much get the Moneyline odds at -150.”


  • Definition: Maximum limit for the accepted stake of a bet.
  • Usefulness: Useful because every betting market has a limit. Operators may also impose limits on punters, restricting them to staking less than the default stake limit of a market.
  • Example: “It looks like the NFL max limit at FanDuel is based on the expected return of a bet, which is capped at $1,000,000.”


(See also Odds)

  • Definition: Another term for “odds” predominantly used in North America.
  • Usefulness: Every sports bettor in the US will know what you refer to when you say lines in relation to betting, but if you go to any other part of the world, they’re less likely to understand what you refer to.
  • Example: The opening line for Buffalo Sabres against Philadelphia was +300.


(See also Oddsmaker)

  • Definition: Another word for oddsmakers, linemakers essentially refer to the sportsbook operator.
  • Usefulness: Alternative way of referring to sportsbooks or betting sites.
  • Example: A punter that consistently wins when sports betting can be said to be “beating the linemakers consistently”.

Listed Pitchers

  • Definition: Baseball-related term referring to the conditional requirement that bets are only valid if the listed players start the game.
  • Usefulness: It is often mentioned as part of MLB lines and fixtures to indicate that some markets have listed pitchers' dependency.
  • Example: If the listed pitchers don’t throw the first pitch of the game for their respective teams, bets are void.

Live Betting

(See also In-play)

  • Definition: Live betting is available for matches that have started. Punters can bet on matches in real-time, and the odds constantly change based on what happens in the game.
  • Usefulness: Live betting differs from pre-match betting, providing bettors with a different experience and other opportunities to use strategies and capitalize on fluctuating odds. 
  • Example: The game has now started and is available in the in-play section of the website or app.


(See also Banker, Chalk, and Favorite)

  • Definition: A pick considered highly likely to win is called a lock.
  • Usefulness: A conversational sports betting term not explicitly used inside the sportsbook unless it’s part of a promotion or advertisement.
  • Example: You use the Dallas Cowboys as a lock in their game versus the Carolina Panthers in all your trebles.


(See also Underdog)

  • Definition: A bet with long odds (low probability) can be called a longshot because it’s an unlikely winner.
  • Usefulness: Longshot is not a negative term; the odds for longshots offer proportionately higher returns where you can find positive expected value the same way as for any other odds.
  • Example: “Detroit Redwings on Monday night is such a longshot, but I like their chances anyway.”



(See also Commission, Juice, and Vig)

  • Definition: Margin is the most technically relevant term for operators' fees or commissions on each bet.
  • Usefulness: The margin on odds is important as it indicates the odds quality and payout percentages.
  • Example: Unfortunately, there are no low-margin sportsbooks like Pinnacle in the United States.


  • Definition: Middle or middling betting is an advanced strategy in which the punter secures profits by betting on both sides of an outcome while taking advantage of odds and spread discrepancies.
  • Usefulness: If you’re serious about online betting, you should learn more about middling, as it can be a helpful way to boost your overall profitability as a sports bettor.
  • Example: If you have bet on the opening line at under 125.5 points in an NBA game, and it moves to 116.5 during the game, you could take the overbet of 116.5. If the game ends with a total of 122 points, both bets win because you used the middle strategy.


(See also Accumulator and Parlay)

  • Definition: A less common term for Parlays where the punter adds multiple selections to their bet slip. Each odds is multiplied, and a winning outcome for each selection is required for the multiple to win.
  • Usefulness: Multiples are both fun and useful. When combined with a banker or a lock with a positive expected value, you can build high-value doubles, trebles, or larger multiples.
  • Example: It’s NHL game night, and you have your eyes on three matches: Pittsburgh Penguins versus Washington Capitals, Toronto Maple Leafs versus Tampa Bay Lightning, and Las Vegas Golden Knights versus Arizona Coyotes. Instead of making individual wagers for each game, you create a multiple bet using all three matches. Your picks include the Penguins at -111, Tampa Bay at -200 and Golden Knights at +125. With a stake of $25 on this multiple, you could potentially win $160.39 (net win $135.39) if all legs are successful.



  • Definition: Nap is a term for a tipster’s most confident bet/recommendation of the day.
  • Usefulness: Nap is commonly associated with horse racing tips but can sometimes be included as part of sports betting tips.
  • Example: “Horse Racing Tips: Nap of the Day.”

No Action

  • Definition: No action is a term used for bets that resulted in a void for whatever reason.
  • Usefulness: Some sportsbooks may use no action as part of the settlement and the bet history of betting accounts.
  • Example: The listed pitchers didn’t start pitching, so the bets were deemed no action and were voided.

Novelty Bet

  • Definition: Novelty bets are also referred to as specials and include betting options such as the US election, the Academy Reward and other events that cannot be assessed in conventional handicapping terms.
  • Usefulness: Novelty bets can have a lot of value since the odds and price are difficult to assess. However, the stake limits for novelty bets are relatively low compared to popular sports.
  • Example: “BetMGM has a great offering of non-sporting events where you can place novelty bets.”



(See also Implied Probability, Price, and True Odds)

  • Definition: Odds is the numerical betting value representing the underlying probability of an outcome of an event.
  • Usefulness: Odds enable betting and are integral to all activities in sportsbooks.
  • Example: If Cleveland Brows has -110 odds and you wager $100 on them to win, you stand to win $110 (plus the return of your $100 stake).

Odds on Favorite

  • Definition: An odds where a participant has a 50% or greater chance of winning.
  • Usefulness: Slang, odds on favorite is only useful in conversations.
  • Example: When you have an odds on favorite, the odds will always show a minus (-) symbol, indicating the amount you need to stake to win $100.


(See also Linemakers)

  • Definition: Oddsmaker is synonymous with sportsbooks as these are responsible for offering and maintaining odds.
  • Usefulness: Oddsmaker is an alternative way of referring to sports betting sites and can sometimes be used to reference the sportsbook provider. This third-party entity provides sportsbooks with odds and data.
  • Example: A punter that consistently wins when sports betting can be said to be “beating the oddsmakers consistently”.

Off the Board

  • Definition: A game that the operator does not include or removes from their sportsbook
  • Usefulness: Niche term used by sports bettors to reference a game the sportsbook doesn’t accept bets on.
  • Example: It could be a lower-level ITF tennis match involving a participant suspected of being involved with match-fixing. As a safeguard, the sportsbook keeps the match off the board.

Outright Betting

(See also Futures)

  • Definition: Related to futures as an outright betting market is to predict the overall winner of a league, tournament, cup or race.
  • Usefulness: Common betting term.
  • Example: When you place a bet on which team will win the NCAA Championship Game as part of March Madness.



(See also Accumulator and Multiple)

  • Definition: Parlay is the preferred term for bets that include multiple legs (picks), where the success of each leg is required for the parlay to win. The odds of each leg are multiplied to provide high odds but at higher risk.
  • Usefulness: Parlays are popular and fun betting methods that allow punters to create unique and exciting combinations of matches to yield high odds. Including a banker in a parlay can be a good strategy.
  • Example: It’s game day in the MLS, and you’re interested in three matches: Inter Miami FC versus Monterrey, La Galaxy versus Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and Minnesota versus Real Salt Lake. Instead of making single bets on each game, you include all your picks in a parlay—the odds for LA Galaxy @ -111, Inter Miami @ -200, and Minnesota @ +125. With a stake of $25, you can win $160.39 (net win $135.39) if all your legs are successful.


  • Definition: Payout refers to the winnings a sports bettor receives when their bet is settled as a win.
  • Usefulness: Payout is realized when a bet is settled but can also be seen as a “potential payout” before the bet is decided.
  • Example: “I received a huge payout when my 5-leg parlay hit last weekend.”


(See also Halftime, Innings, Fulltime, Quarter)

  • Definition: A period is the time period in ice hockey. An ice hockey game comprises three periods in which players rest briefly.
  • Usefulness: Most main markets, such as moneyline and spreads, are offered as period bets (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) based on the result of the specific period you wager on.
  • Example: “Bet365 offers plenty of period betting markets for the NHL, making it an exciting sportsbook for ice hockey betting.”

Point Spread

  • Definition: The point spread is the perceived difference in the margin of victory between two teams/outcomes that the oddsmaker assigns to create a more balanced betting market closer to even odds.
  • Usefulness: The point spread is the most popular market alongside Moneyline bets and is vital to understand to get the best betting experience. Point spreads are particularly useful in games with large favorites, where you can bet on the favorites to cover the spreads, which includes a negative point deficit.
  • Example: If the Oklahoma City Thunder are big favorites in an NBA game, the moneyline for OKC might be less attractive. However, with a point spread, you can bet OKC will win, but they have to cover a negative point deficit, for example, -8.5 points. This means that they need to beat the other team with 9 points or more for your team to win. Similarly, you could bet the away team as underdogs with a point advantage of +8.5 points, and your bet is won if OKC only manages to win the match with a 7-point margin.


(See also Odds)

  • Definition: Another term for odds.
  • Usefulness: Price is synonymous with odds, but it is more of a business term for odds used for internal communication within sportsbook teams. It can commonly be used by more advanced sports bettors rather than leisurely bettors.
  • Example: “The price on Minnesota Timberwolves drifted a lot the last hour before start time.”

Proposition Bet (Prop Bet)

  • Definition: Prop bets are betting options within a match, such as a bet on a specific player scoring a goal or a hat-trick, an NFL player rushing a certain amount of yards, or other significant and insignificant happenings inside a game.
  • Usefulness: Prop bets are fun and often a better source of expected value than traditional markets. In other words, every serious sports bettor should know about them.
  • Example: The Super Bowl Coin Toss is among the most popular prop bets. Each team chooses heads or tails, and a person, typically a celebrity, tosses the coin that lands either heads or tails, effectively deciding the bet. This is a 50/50 market with even odds, usually featuring low margins, contributing to its popularity as a prop bet market. 

Puck Line

(See also Point Spread)

  • Definition: The puck line is an ice hockey term and is the same as spread for other sports.
  • Usefulness: Most sportsbooks use spreads, but you can find US sports betting sites that use the term “puck line” for NHL and other ice hockey.
  • Example: The puck line for the Colorado Avalanche is -1.5 on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers.


(See also Tie)

  • Definition: When an event ends with no winner or loser for the purpose of bet settlement, a push occurs where stakes are refunded.
  • Usefulness: You should be familiar with the term “push” since push outcomes can occur and can be confusing at first.
  • Example: If you bet a point spread of -5 for Cincinnati Bengals and they win with precisely 5 points, the bet is push.



(See also Halftime, Innings, Fulltime, Periods)

  • Definition: A quarter is the time period in basketball. A game comprises four quarters, in between which players take a short rest.
  • Usefulness: Most main markets, such as moneyline and spreads, are offered as quarter bets based on the results of the first, second, third, or fourth quarter.
  • Example: “ESPN Bet offers plenty of halftime betting markets for the NBA, making it an exciting sportsbook for basketball betting.”


Recreational Betting

  • Definition: Recreational betting is for entertainment rather than the pursuit of becoming a professional sports bettor.
  • Usefulness: Term used in sports betting circles.
  • Example: “Andy likes to kick back on the couch during Sunday Football, open the betting app, and place small-sized bets to spice up the game experience.”

ROI (Return on Investment)

  • Definition: ROI (Return on Investment) is a term borrowed from the financial world to help measure the profitability of a punter’s sports betting activities.
  • Usefulness: If you’re serious about sports betting, you should use a spreadsheet or similar tool to keep track of all your betting activity, with one of the metrics being ROI.
  • Example: “Big Joe has an ROI of 3.8% for major sports, which is considerable considering that he has a turnover of millions of dollars annually.” ROI is calculated by dividing the net profit (or loss 🤞) by the total wagered amount and multiplying it by 100 to get a percentage value. To be successful, a sports bettor needs to have a positive ROI.



  • Definition: A professional bettor who consistently wins can be considered a sharp.
  • Usefulness: Lingo used in sports betting circles.
  • Example: “Big Joe is a sharp because he can make a living from sports betting.”


  • Definition: The spread levels the playing field between two teams for betting purposes, introducing a handicap (a point deficit or advantage) on each team expressed as plus (+) or minus (-) followed by a numerical value defining the point or goal deficit.
  • Usefulness: Spreads are among the more popular forms of sports betting and something everyone should know.
  • Example: Let’s say we have an NFL mismatch between Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos in the NFL. Chiefs are huge favorites to win, meaning the moneyline isn’t attractive to bet on because of the low odds. Instead, you opt for the spread for Chiefs at -12.5, where they need to win with 13 or more points for your wager to win. In the spread, you could also pick the Broncos at +12.5 or more, where the wager would be won, even if the Broncos lose with a 10-point margin.


  • Definition: A square is the opposite of a sharp. A novice bettor who doesn’t know what he is doing can expect to lose money over time.
  • Usefulness
  • Example: “Andy is new to sports betting. He bets for fun occasionally and can be considered a square.”


(See also Bet and Wager)

  • Definition: The stake is the amount of money a bettor risks (wagers) on a specific betting market.
  • Usefulness: Stake limits are integral to sports betting, and it’s important to be aware that they differ for different sports, leagues, events, and markets. An operator can also impose stake limits on winning customers.
  • Example: The maximum allowed stake for the CS:GO esports match between Fnatic and Cloud9 at this sportsbook is $15,000.


Taking the Points

(See also Taking the Points)

  • Definition: When punters bet the underdog and take advantage of the positive point spread, they are taking the points.
  • Usefulness: Lingo used in the betting community.
  • Example: “Instead of taking the moneyline, you’re more likely to win if you take the points at +2.5 for slightly lower odds.”


  • Definition: Teasers are a particular type of parlay in which multiple point spreads or totals are adjusted or “teased” down to increase the likelihood of winning, but with the tradeoff of a lower payout.
  • Usefulness: Teasers rarely produce a positive expected value but remain a fun way of betting.
  • Example: If the original point spread for an NFL game is -6.5, you can “tease” the odds by adding 5 points to the spread, making it -1.5. In the case of totals, the original line for an NBA match could be 222.5, where you tease the odds by removing 7 points from the total to make it 215.5.


(See also Bet Receipt)

  • Definition: Ticket is another word for the bet receipt, the confirmed note for a placed bet. Each ticket confirms selections, odds, results, win amount, and a unique ticket reference number.
  • Usefulness: Tickets are essential for tracking your betting activity, referencing old bets, and receiving assistance from customer support.
  • Example: After he placed a bet on the Atlanta Braves to win, the betting site provided a betting ticket with all the necessary information about his bet for tracking and referencing purposes.


(See also Push)

  • Definition: When an event ends with no winner or loss for the purpose of bet settlement, the term tie is often used, and stakes are refunded to the bettor's account.
  • Usefulness: While the term “push” is more common, you should be familiar with “tie” since some operators can use it.
  • Example: If you bet a point spread of -2 for the Las Vegas Golden Knights, and they win with exactly three goals, the bet is tied.


  • Definition: A tipster is an individual who shares bet recommendations and predictions that other bettors can follow.
  • Usefulness: If you find a good tipster who gives solid betting tips, you can increase your profitability without doing too much extra work.
  • Example: A tipster could have an X (Twitter) account where he or she shares his analysis and picks with others.


  • Definition: Totals refer to the total number of goals, points, and runs scored in the game. Bettors wager whether the total amount will be over or under the market line.
  • Usefulness: This is the third most popular market in most sportsbooks, following moneyline and point spread.
  • Example: “I’m looking at the line totals for the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night. Curry has been on fire lately, and I’m considering going with the over.”

True Odds

(See also Implied Probability and Odds)

  • Definition: The underlying probability of an outcome before the sportsbook applies its margin to the odds.
  • Usefulness: True odds represent the actual probability of something happening, whereas implied probability is what the market thinks the true probability is. Both can be used for bet analysis to determine a bet's expected value.
  • Example: If you think you have an edge over the oddsmaker, you have reason to assume that the true odds are greater than the implied probability.



(See also Longshot)

  • Definition: The team less likely to win is considered an underdog (as opposed to the favorite).
  • Usefulness: A widespread term that is used in different circumstances.
  • Example: “I’m backing all the underdogs in March Madness this year.”


(See also Bankroll Management)

  • Definition: Instead of a monetary amount, sports bettors often refer to the size of their stake as “units”, which typically correspond to a percentage value of their total bankroll.
  • Usefulness: Useful term commonly used by tipsters and something you should consider if you’re setting up a bankroll and need better bankroll management.
  • Example: A punter bets two units on the Los Angeles Lakers to win.

Vig (Vigorish)

(See also Commission, Juice, and Margin)

  • Definition: The sportsbook vig is the same as margin, commission, or juice—it’s just a different term shortened from the word vigorish.
  • Usefulness: Depending on the vig, this fee can considerably affect your overall profitability.
  • Example: The sportsbook has a small vig, which makes it easier to be profitable.



(See also Bet and Stake)

  • Definition: Wagers is simply a different term for bets and can be used interchangeably.
  • Usefulness: Useful as the terms are often used inside and outside of sportsbooks.
  • Example: “I’m wagering that Los Angeles Dodgers are winning the World Series this year.”
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