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Betting Terms

September 3, 2018

Learn the meaning of common betting terms:


Action – This is a general term for the amount of bets placed on a side, game or sporting event.

ATS (Against the Spread) – This refers to betting on one side of the point spread. ATS is the acronym commonly used for Against The Spread.

Bad Beat – A tough loss that looked like it would be a victory. It usually takes a bad turn near the end of the game.

Beard – Someone who places bets but is looking to conceal their identity. Often times it is someone who is a sharp and wants to remain anonymous.

Book – This is short form for the term “sportsbook,” which is a company that takes bets on sporting events and various other things.

Bookmaker/Bookie – Similar to a sportsbook, this is a group or individual that takes bets on a sporting event. However, this is usually done in person versus online and is deemed less safe.

Buy Points – This gives the better the opportunity to pay a small fee to move the point spread in their favor. While it costs more, it allows them to increase their chances of winning.

Chalk – This term refers to the entity or team that is favored to win the event.

Circled Game – A circled game is one where there is lower limits to due various factors (injuries, weather, reality show).

Cover – This is when a side wins against the spread. If they fall within the margin and beat the point spread, that’s called covering.

Dime – A $1,000 bet.

Dime Line – When a betting line has “juice” or “vig” at 10 percent.

Dog – This is short form for the term underdog, which is the team expected to lose.

Edge – The perceived advantage a sports bettor has before wagering.

Even Money – A bet without “juice” or “vig” associated with it. In other words, if you bet $100, you’ll win $100.

Favorite – The team or individual expected to win a sporting event based on the point spread or moneyline.

Futures – This is a type of bet that focuses on a future event. Some examples is betting on a team to win a championship early in the season, regular season win totals and odds to win the division.

Handicapping – This is the process of researching, analyzing and predicting a sports betting event. Those who do this type of evaluation before betting are known as handicappers, or are handicapping the game.

Hedging – This is the process of betting on the opposite side of a current wager you have. For example, if bet on a team to win but then bet their opponent to win as well. There is a strategy involved with this, which could help you cut your losses or make a small profit.

Hook – A synonym for a half-point.

Juice – This is the commission that the sportsbook earns on bets wagered. Also known as the ‘vig’.

Laying the Points – When you bet the favorite against the spread.

Limit – This refers to the betting limits for a given bet. Each sportsbook has different limits for different events.

Lines – A synonym for betting odds, which can refer to a point spread, moneyline or totals.

Linemaker – An individual – often part of a team – that sets the betting line and then manages it as the action comes in.

Listed Pitchers – When you list pitchers in baseball, that means that they both must start for your bet to take place. If the listed pitcher doesn’t start, then your bet is void.

Lock – A term used to describe a projected easy winner or large favorite.

Longshot – A longshort refers to a team or side that is considered unlikely to win. In other words, they are a large underdog.

Moneyline – This is a type of bet which focuses on the straight-up winner of an event. No point spread or margin of victory is involved.

Nickel – A $500 bet. Also sometimes referred to as “nickel” bet in slang terms.

Nickel Line – A betting line in which the “juice” or “vig” is 5 percent.

No Action – This is when a bet is cancelled and the stake is returned to the bettor. There could be a number of reasons for this, such as the actual event being canceled as well or the match failing to reach specific benchmarks. For example, a rain-shortened baseball game that only played five innings.

Off the Board – When is a game is off the board, it unavailable for betting due to certain circumstances. One example could be that there is a key injury impacting the game.

Over – This is when the combined total score of the two sides goes above the set total for the game.

Over/Under – A number set by the odds makers that projects the combined final score of both sides. The bettor can then choose whether a game will go over or under that number.

Parlay – A type of wager where multiple options are selected. Each of those options must win in order for the parlay to win. The payout is multiplied, so the payout is bigger in a parlay, even though the risk is greater as well.

Pick’em – When a game is a Pick ‘em, it means that there is no favorite or underdog. Both sides are perceived virtually equal, so the point spread is basically zero or a non-factor.

Point Spread – A margin of victory. The odds makers will determine a point spread where the favorite has to win by more than that amount while the underdog can lose by less than that amount, or win the game outright and still cover. It’s a handicap that evens out the matchup via a points margin.

Puckline – This is a point spread in hockey that is always set at 1.5 goals. You can either bet on one team to win by more than 1.5 (two goals or more) or bet a team with +1.5, which means they can lose by one goal or win the game, and you’d win that side of the bet.

Prop Bet – A type of wager that focuses on various other activities, stats or happenings during an event not solely focused on who is winning or losing. For example: total rushing yards by a player, how many points will be scored by a player in an NBA game or whether an interception will be thrown.

Push – This is a tie and the stake is returned to the bettor. An example of when this might happen could be if the point spread lands on a whole number – say -7 instead of -7.5 or -6.5 – and the game is decided by exactly seven points.

Runline – A point spread of -1.5 or +1.5 in a baseball game. This mean you can either bet a team to win by 1.5 or you can get a team with 1.5 runs.

Sharp – A professional or smart bettor who is well-researched and well-informed.

Side – The team or entity you are siding with or betting in.

Spread – This is short form for the term “point spread.”

Straight Bet – Just a basic bet on one team or side.

Square – An inexperienced, uneducated bettor.

Steam – A fast change in the betting line, usually because of sharp action.

Taking the Points – When you’re betting the underdog on the point spread.

Teaser – This is a parlay where you’re allowed to move the points in your favor. In return, you get a lower payout.

Total – The combined final score of the game/event.

Under – When combined final score by the two teams or entities involved finishes below the total posted by the odds makers.

Underdog – The team that is not expected to win – or is deemed as having a smaller chance of winning than the favorite.

Vigorish – This is a synonym for juice, which is the commission the sportsbook takes.

Wiseguy – Another term to describe a “sharp” or “smart” bettor. Often times, this is a professional who is well-informed and knowledgeable.


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