Those involved in sports betting know the industry has almost developed a language of its own. When talking to a bookie, or experienced bettor, you won’t be surprised to hear them use betting jargon like how they won a Super Heinz or went all in on a dog and took a bad beat.
This article is for you if you are a sportsbook looking to create a seamless line of communication with your clients by using sports betting terms they are familiar with or a professional bettor looking to talk the talk. OddsMatrix is the provider of choice for more than 50 reputable sportsbooks that know their industry and speak their audience’s languages.
Our sports betting glossary will walk you through sports betting terminology that is specific to certain sports, sporting events, or betting markets.
Knowing the basic terms makes the sports betting vocabulary more approachable and easier to understand. Return to this comprehensive list of popular betting terms whenever you need clarification about specific betting words and phrases.
Accumulator: betting lingo used in North America to describe a parlay bet. The term accumulator represents a wager of multiple selections combined into one bet. The bettor must win all of them to ensure a winning accumulator.
Action – in betting language, the term refers to any wager.
Added Game – an event that has been added to the Las Vegas rotation and betting board because it has been rescheduled, it is the second game of a doubleheader, or because it generated interest from bettors.
AET odds: sports betting terminology characteristic to soccer matches, AET stands for after extra time. The abbreviation refers to a live betting option that covers what happens after the end of regulation time when the game goes into extra time because of in-game blockages.
Against the Spread (ATS): the term is used to showcase how a team does when comparing its win/loss record against the spread instead of counting wins and losses straight up.
Also ran: this is a bookie term that may be used across different markets and sports, referring to an athlete, a horse, or a greyhound that took part in a competition but didn’t win any of the paying positions. It was first used in horse race betting but is now part of the broader sports betting vocabulary.
Alternate lines: one of the sports betting phrases that are most popular with baseball and hockey, alternate lines enable punters to bet on odds higher or lower than the moneyline. For example, if the bettor considers a specific team will win by a bigger difference, they can bet -1.5.
American odds: this sports betting term is also known as US odds or moneyline odds, and it is defined as the default betting odds used by American bookies. These odds use a baseline value of $100. Odds are represented with the (+) and (-) signs that indicate either the favorite or the underdog.
Arbitrage: the term describes a situation in which bettors make multiple bets on the same event with different sportsbooks and sports brokers to ensure they make a profit, no matter the result. Read our dedicated article to discover everything you need to know about the practice and how to protect your sports betting business against arbitrage.
Asian handicap: Asian handicap is a betting market in soccer or baseball. It takes into account the form of each team. The team that is perceived stronger must win by more points for a bet to be considered a win. This system started in Indonesia, but it was soon adopted by western bookmakers, as well. Asian handicaps are two-way bets, as they don’t offer a draw option. OddsMatrix Baseball data feeds cover Asian Handicap among other 32 baseball betting markets, and more than 200 football betting markets, including Asian Handicap With Score.
Backdoor cover: this is one of the sports betting phrases used across multiple sports. The backdoor cover occurs when a team scores points late in the game, helping bettors cover a point spread without influencing the game result.
Bad beat: bettors use the term bad beat to describe a wager that they were sure would be a winner but became a loss in the last moments. A backdoor cover, for example, can generate a bad beat.
Bankroll: is betting jargon used by disciplined punters that know when to stop and assess their losses. The term refers to money that bettors have set aside for sports betting. Since the bankroll decreases with each losing bet, responsible bettors know how to stay moderate and not use money dedicated to life spending or other expenses.
Bankroll management: the term defines strategizing betting. Bettors who practice bankroll management ensure they limit their wagers, shop for the best odds and put thought into managing their budget.
Beard: a person that places bets for professional bettors so they don’t get recognized by bookmakers. It is said that Ashton Kutcher used to be a beard for betting legend Billy Walters.
Bet: a fundamental term in the betting glossary, a bet is any wager placed at a sportsbook, casino, or poker room.
Betting exchange: a marketplace that enables bettors to wager against one another. The exchange places a two-sided bet and keeps it live until two customers take the odds—the marketplace profits by taking commissions from winners.
Betting system: also known as a betting strategy, this is the approach that a punter has to betting. Successful betting systems are based on solid bankroll management, sound research, and statistical analysis.
Book: short for bookmaker.
Bookie: also short for bookmaker.
Bookmaker: also known as a linemaker or a turf accountant, a bookmaker is a licensed individual or organization that puts out daily odds and accepts and pays off bets.
Bookmaker Feed: Sports odds delivered in feeds to the bookmakers platforms.
Buying points: this option enables bettors to improve a spread for a higher price. With each point added, the payout is increased.
Cheetah: a high-roller, a person who places large bets with consistency.
Chalk: in sports betting, chalk is defined as the significant favorite, the team or player with a substantial point spread.
Chalk bettor: the bettor that places most of their wagers on the favorites.
Circled game: one of the common bookie terms. Circled game defines a game that sportsbooks have limited because there are unknown variables, like player injuries or bad weather conditions. This means that there is a maximum amount that a gambler may wager on it.
Closing line: the last betting odds are to be posted before the competition begins.
Co-favorites: two or more sides that are favorites and have the same odds of winning. This can refer to everything from basketball teams to horses and dogs.
Commission: this is the bookie’s juice, the money bookmakers take on bets, or that betting exchanges take from winning wagers.
Consensus pick: the term refers to information derived from analyzing data from a series of sportsbooks in PickCenter. The purpose is to understand what the masses are betting on. Experienced bettors are less interested in public opinion since they know it isn’t the winning choice often.
Contrarian betting: contrarians bet against the public, which means that if most people bet on a particular result, they go the other way.
Correct score: this betting market focuses on the final score in a game.
Covering the spread: the sports betting term defines any bet where the favorite team wins by more than the point spread. At that point, the team covers the spread.
Decimal odds: these types of odds are common in Europe. The decimal odds number shows how much a bettor makes for each $1 played. The sum includes the stake and the profit.
Dog: sports betting lingo for the underdog, used for the team or individual expected to lose a particular event.
Double action: is a type of bet that only comes into play provided the precedent one wins, ends up in a tie, or gets cancelled. The relationship between the two bets is conditional; this is why they are also known as if bets.
Double bet: the term describes two bet selections combined into one. Bettors choose this because it generates more profit than placing their money on a single market.
Double result: when betting on a double outcome, punters may choose one score at halftime and another one at the end of the game. This approach increases their chances for a win.
Doubleheader: a sports term primarily associated with baseball, a doubleheader represents two games played one after another, on the same day, usually in front of the same audience.
Draw: a tie.
Drift: when betting odds increase after a bookmaker posts the opening line, the odds are drifting.
Even Money: a bet in which the payout equals the wager. Even Money is the equivalent of (+100), for American odds, or a Decimal (2.0).
Exotic bet: the term refers to a less popular bet with the masses. Examples include proposition bets, specials, and parlays.
Exposure: the term exposure is used both by bettors and bookmakers when they define the sum of money they might lose on a wager.
Favorite: the team or player expected to win, according to bookies.
Field betting: betting the field is a sports betting idiom that refers to betting on all the teams and players, even those that are not explicitly listed. This happens in proposition bets.
Final Four: a basketball term used to refer to the last 4 teams in the NCAA March Madness finals. Two Final Four games take place before the Championship game.
First-half bet: a betting market that focuses on the score of the first half of a game, such as a basketball, soccer, or American football match.
First/Last/Anytime Scorer: pre-game prop betting markets that focus on when a particular player will score throughout the game.
Fixed odds: also known as moneyline odds, the term describes a situation when the bettor places a bet with a bookmaker, and the odds become fixed. For example, a bet set at (+120) retains its odds, even if the line moves.
Fix a match: this sports betting term refers to a match with a predefined result. This practice is against the law and the rules of any game.
Fractional odds: together with Decimal and American odds, Fractional odds form the “big three” group. For example, a 1.91 decimal is a -110, in American odds and a 10/11, in fractional.
Futures bet: a long-term wager that may be placed significantly before the event occurs. This type of bet refers to the winner of a specific championship or cup. For example, betting on which team will win the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup is an excellent example of a futures bet. Futures are prevalent in sports, such as soccer.
Game total bet: this is an over / under betting market that focuses on how many points will be scored during the game.
Graded bet: the term defines a bet that is categorized as a winner, a loser, or a push after the competition ends.
Grand Salami: a total or over/under bet that focuses on the number of points scored during a certain day, for all the games that are part of a certain competition or league. For example, if the MLB has 6 games during the day, bookmakers and bettors consider the possible number of points scored for each.
Half ball handicap: a handicap that uses 0.5 goals, plus or minus, to balance sides and remove the draw possibility.
Halftime bet: a type of wager that happens once the first part of the game ends, either during intermissions or as a live bet. The result covers what happens in the second half of the game and overtime, if applicable. These bets are common in basketball and football.
Handicap: a betting odd set by the bookie to balance the game and even out the field. If team A has a -5.5 handicap, they have to win by 6 or more points to be perceived as the wager’s winner.
Handicapper: a bettor who tries to predict what will happen during a sporting event by using extensive research.
Handle: the sum of money from the accepted wagers.
Hedge: to make a wager on the opposite result of an original bet, to reduce risk, or even ensure profit. This strategy is common with futures bets or individual games that allow in-game wagering.
Heinz: a form of multiple bet with 57 wagers across 6 selections.
High-roller: also known as a whale or a cheetah, a high-roller is a bettor who constantly bets considerable sums of money.
Holding your own: when a bettor has several consecutive bets in which they’re not losing or winning but just breaking even.
Home field advantage: the benefit associated with teams that play in a familiar setting, in their home stadium.
Hook: a half-point in the spread.
If bet: this is a parlay-style bet, where the primary wager is made of two or more bets. When placing an if bet, a capper places their stake and/or the profit of a certain bet on the next game.
In-game wagering: referring to bets placed on an event happening in real-time, the term is synonymous with live betting. OddsMatrix enables bookmakers tosoffer live betting options on a series of sports. Our live sports odds service and data APIs cover hundreds of thousands of live sports events monthly.
In-play betting: see in-game wagering
Joint favorite: when two or more teams that compete in the same event have the same betting odds.
Juice: also known as vigorish or vig, this is the bookie’s commission.
Key numbers: the most common victory margins in football and basketball.
Laying points: betting on the favorite team to win.
Layoff betting: when a sportsbook places a bet with a peer, to reduce their liability. The alternative meaning of layoff betting describes how bettors limit their losses by backing up both sides of a particular market.
Limit: the maximum bet accepted by a bookmaker on any sporting event.
Listed pitcher: this is an MLB bet. If the bettor places money on the listed pitcher wager, the bet will only be valid if the pitcher starts the game.
Live betting: in-game, real-time betting.
Lock: also known as a sure bet, this is a wager guaranteed to be successful in the eyes of the handicapper.
Longshot: a wager that is not expected to win. Cappers choose longshots because, when they succeed, they pay off significantly.
Martingale: a betting strategy according to which, with every loss, a bettor needs to double their bet to compensate for the previous loss.
Middle: when a bettor bets on both sides of the game. This is common when point spreads move up or down before the match begins.
Moneyline: a betting market that focuses on whether a specific team will win.
Money-back bets: a marketing offer where the capper is refunded if they lose their bet. These bets encourage users to explore sportsbooks and try new platforms.
Multiple bets: the sports betting term refers to wagers that include two or more sides. All sides need to win, to ensure a winning multiple bet.
Mush: a bettor who has been through a losing streak and is considered bad luck.
MVP: also known as the Most Valuable Player, this is an award given to a player judged the most important during a game o tournament.
Nap: a bettor’s best bet of the day.
No action: when a bookmaker cancels betting actions and returns the original stakes to bettors.
Novelty bet: a prop bet.
Odds: betting lines set by a bookmaker to determine the wager’s payout.
Odds format: the three types of odds formats are American, Decimal, and Fractional.
Oddsmaker: the person that sets the lines, estimating the odds of an event. Although oddsmaker is not a complete synonym for bookmaker, some people use them interchangeably.
Off the board: the bookmaker’s refusal to accept bets for a specific event or market after it has been taken down from the board.
Opening line: the initial value of an event’s odds.
Outright bet: placing a bet on the winner of a particular tournament rather than on an individual event.
Outsider: a team or player that has minimal chance of winning.
Over/under bet: this is a betting market that focuses on whether the result will be above or below a certain value.
Payout: the sum of money a bettor collects on a winning bet.
Parlay: a multiple bet.
Patent: a form of multiple bet, where 7 bets are placed on 3 selections.
Permutation bet: a type of multiple bet that involves placing wagers on several selections but doesn’t require the bettor to win each of them to get a return.
Pick’em: a game where the odds are so close that there isn’t a favorite or an underdog. The point spread, in this case, is zero.
Point spread: the number of points by which the favorite team is expected to win.
Power rankings: a sports ranking system that analyzes competitions and their results to rate teams and players.
Price: another sports betting term for odds.
Proposition bet: an exotic or a particular wager that usually isn’t on the board but is offered on many games.
Proxy: a person or a group that places bets for others. This sports betting term is usually used for those submitting picks for non-Vegs residents.
Public money: the total sum that the general public wagers on a betting option.
Push: a bet where the result lands on the betting number. For example, if the point spread is 11 points, and the final score is 80 to 91, then the wager is graded as a push, and money is refunded.
Quarter bet: a wager placed before or during a quarter of a sporting event.
Real-time odds: odds that update in real-time and impact live betting.
Recreational bettor: a person who occasionally bets to entertain themselves and have fun. The term is the opposite of a professional bettor.
Request a bet: this feature enables bettors to ask bookmakers for personalized bets. In this case, you have to create odds.
Return on investment: the amount of money a bettor wins on a wager.
Reverse-line movement: this situation occurs when more bets are placed on one side, but the line moves in a different direction. In this context, money is on the less popular side. One reason why this could happen is that professional players are betting against the general audience.
Rotation Number: the number that bookmakers assign to each option on the betting board to make it easier to take bets at brick-and-mortar shops.
ROY: Rookie of the Year, an honor offered to an athlete considered most successful in their first year of professional sports.
Round Robin: a form of multiple bet with 10 options across 3 selections.
Runner: also known as a beard, this is a person that places bets for other people.
Second half bet: a betting market focusing on the competition’s second half.
Sharp: a professional sports bettor who does comprehensive research and analysis to win.
Special bets: types of bets similar to props and exotic wagers. These are added to competitions beyond the moneyline, game total, and spread betting options.
Spread betting: this betting type is based on taking or laying points when wagering on a competition. The spread serves as a handicap between two opponents.
Square: synonymous with recreational player; this is the opposite of a sharp.
Stake: the sum a bettor risks losing with each bet placed.
Straight bet: a simple, individual bet placed on the moneyline, spread, or the game total.
Steam: volatile odds, usually due to significant betting action from sharps.
Super Heinz: a multiple bet, with 120 wagers, across 7 selections.
Super Yankee: a multiple bet, with 26 wagers, across 5 selections.
Teaser odds: lines that are moved up or down by bookies to tease bettors and generate more wagers.
Tipster: an individual that sells or gives away betting advice for sporting events.
Tout: the same as tipster, a person offering picks for free or asking for money in return.
Three-way odds: betting options with three sides: win, lose, and draw.
Two-way odds: betting options that have two sides: win or lose.
Under: a betting market that focuses on the game total. If the bet is under a certain value, then cappers expect the result to be lower than the
Underdog: the team with the slightest chance to win.
Vig / Vigorish: the bookie’s commission.
Void bet: a bet cancelled. The bettors receive the amount staked.
Wager: a bet.
Welch: not paying off a losing bet.
Whale: a high-roller.
Wise guy: another term for a sharp person who places smart bets.
Yankee: a multiple bet with 11 wagers across 4 selections.
Horse race betting is one of the first forms of betting that the world experienced, so the practice has taken a long time to develop its vocabulary. Many of the terms used decades ago are still in sports betting jargon.
Across the board: one of the sports betting terms specific to horse racing. Across the board is defined as placing three separate bets on the same horse to win, place and show. Depending on how the horse does, the punter can win all bets or some of them. The bettor receives the win, place, and show payoffs if the horse comes first. If it comes second, they only get place and show. The bettor receives the show payoff if the horse gets third place.
Ante-post: sports betting lingo used on horse and greyhound races. The ante-post defines bets posted before the competition’s betting markets have opened, usually the day before the race. A risk punters need to be aware of is that, if the wagering horse doesn’t compete in the race, the bet will be forfeited instead of returned.
Each-way: another horse racing term, each-way bets enable punters to split their wagers on two outcomes: whether the horse comes first or second. If the horse wins the competition, both bets are considered winners, but only one bet pays off if the horse comes second.
Non-runner: a sports betting term used when a horse is withdrawn from the race.
Non-runner no bet: a betting promotion that enables bettors to get their money back if the horse they supported withdraws from the race.
Post time: the scheduled start time of a horse race. The time describes the moment when horses are at the starting gate.
Quinella bet: a betting market popular with horse and greyhound bettors, where the capper needs to guess the first two finishers of the competition, no matter their position.
To make it in this industry, you must feel comfortable with the main betting competitions. OddsMatrix enables you to offer statistics and live and pre-match odds on the most-watched events on the planet, focusing on international tournaments and leagues, such as Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, National Football League, and National Hockey League.
CPF betting: betting on College Football Playoffs.
MLB: Major League Baseball is the world’s most renowned and watched baseball league. Its teams are based in the United States and Canada.
MLS: Major League Soccer is North America’s soccer league that brings together United States and Canadian teams.
NBA: National Basketball Association, the world’s top-ranked basketball league. NBA teams are also from the United States and Canada.
NFL: National Football League, the world’s most famous American football league, organizes games in the United States.
NHL: National Hockey League.
When it comes to money, bettors have their ways with words, using uncommon associations. If you hear someone say they will have a monkey on the chalk, don’t worry, it’s still money they are putting in.
Dime: betting lingo for a $1,000 bet. A four-dime bet is a $4,000 wager.
Dollar: maybe unexpectedly, a dollar sometimes refers to a $100 wager. In this context, for bookies, betting “4 dollars” might mean betting $400.
Monkey: a £500 bet. The term is used in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
Nickel: a $500 wager.
Pony: a £25 wager.
Now that you are familiar with the sports betting vocabulary and know how your clients talk, it is time to go one step further and ensure you also deliver value through your sportsbook offering. This means providing engaging, entertaining experiences that your customers will trust and talk about.
The OddsMatrix time-tested sports data feeds and API solutions help you do just that, by delivering accurate, real-time betting odds, scores, and settlements.
Contact us, and let’s discuss how we can help you develop your sports betting business.