Betting Terms Explained

People who have been playing in bookmakers for many years have developed their own “slang”. They often use terms in rates that are incomprehensible to the average person. For example, hearing the words “handicap”, “total”, “underdog”, an unprepared person is unlikely to understand what these words mean. In the explanatory dictionary, we will give a brief definition of the terms most commonly found in the world of betting. We hope that our dictionary will help you in the shortest possible time to find answers to your questions.

If you do not know how the concepts of betting are deciphered, then making money on the game will be difficult. A person will see the terms of bets at the bookmaker and simply won’t understand how to participate in the bet. As a result, he will be disappointed and will not even try to win money by abandoning betting forever.

However, all the terms in sports betting are not as complex as they seem at first glance. We will tell you what the basic concepts mean and in what situations they can be used.

The betting terms you will want to master first will be the terms related to odds and placing bets. They are some of the most common terms and will also keep you from being confused by the bookmakers. Once you have mastered some of these terms you can move on to the more advanced and colorful bits of betting terminology.


  • Accumulator (Multiple, Parlay). Where more than one bet is combined, and success is dependent on all selections winning. Most popular in football betting (football accumulator tips)
  • Action. Any kind of bet.
  • Added game. A game not part of the Las Vegas regular rotation. A bookmaker may offer odds after a request from a bettor.
  • AET. Football abbreviation for ‘After Extra Time’, the additional time played if the game ends in a tie.
  • Alternate lines. Derivatives of standard betting markets. Examples include Alternate Handicaps or Alternate Totals which offer higher or lower spread or totals with odds changing accordingly.
  • American odds. Odds expression indicating return relative to 100 unit base figure. Whenever there is a minus (-) you lay that amount to win $100, where there is a plus (+) you win that amount for every $100 you bet.
  • Ante-post (see also Future, Outright betting). Early market offered in advance of the definitive list of participants.
  • Arb. Abbreviation for arbitrage.
  • Arbitrage (see also Hedging)Backing all selections within a market, across several bookmakers, to exploit the price discrepancies and guarantee a positive return.
  • Asian Handicap. Two-way market that uses a point/goal Handicap to alter perceived bias between two competing teams and also eliminates the possibility of a draw.
  • Against The Spread (ATS) . ATS is betting on a selection that is giving away points/goals and opposing the perceived logic of the spread.

  • Banker (see also Lock). Strongly favored selection around which multiple bets are often built.
  • Bar. This shows what the lowest odds of horses not mentioned in the betting prediction are likely to be – ’50-1 bar’ means those not quoted are 50-1 or bigger.
  • Beard. Third-party bettor used to conceal the true identity of the real bettor.
  • Best-price percentage. The inherent advantage a bookmaker holds within a given market.
  • Bet (see also Wager). Risk money on the outcome of an event with the return proportionate to the perceived likelihood as measured by odds.
  • Betting exchange. A betting site that doesn’t accept bets, but instead matches backers (those betting on odds) with layers (those offering the odds) taking a commission on the winning bets.
  • Betting strategy. A systemic approach to placing bets designed to generate an edge for the bettor over the bookmaker or house.
  • Binary betting (see also Fixed-odds betting, Spread betting). A combination of spread and fixed-odds betting with only two outcomes 0 or 100, with the bet struck against a bid or offer somewhere between the two, for an agreed unit stake.
  • Board price. The price available to bettors from bookmakers who operate trackside at horse or greyhound racing.
  • Bonus. Incentives issued to active and new players by bookmakers.
  • Bonus-chasing. Opening new accounts for the sole purpose of exploiting the bonus offers.
  • Book/Bookie (see also Sportsbook). Abbreviation for Bookmaker. A company that offers players to bet and win money.
  • Buy points (see also Sell points). Accepting inferior odds in exchange for an increased point spread advantage.

  • Canadian line. A combination of Points Spread and Money Line in hockey.
  • Chalk (see also Favourite, Jolly). The option in any given betting market considered most likely to win as measured by the implied probability of the odds.
  • Circled game. A game in which the bet limits are capped at modest levels. Usually occurs when markets are first displayed; in added games; Specials; in reaction to bad weather, injuries or suspect betting patterns; halves of games.
  • Closing line. The last available odds offered before a market closes. Bettors who “beat the closing line” have placed a bet offering a superior return to the final odds offered; consistently beating the closing line is a sign of a successful bettor.
  • Closing odds. The last available odds offered before a market closes. Bettors who “beat the closing odds” have placed a bet offering a superior return to the final odds offered; consistently beating the closing odds is a sign of a successful bettor.
  • Co-favourite. Where three or more selections are priced as favourite.
  • Commission (see also Juice, Margin, Vigorish). The cost of placing a bet calculated by summing the implied probability and subtracting from 100, the measure of a fair market. In relation to Exchange betting, commission is the charge applied to winning bets, applied as a %.
  • Correct score. Soccer bet where the bettor predicts correct final score of the game.
  • Cover. When a favorite wins by more than the required number of points in a Handicap/Spread bet.

  • Decimal odds. An odds expression (sometimes referred to as European odds) where the odds are shown in decimal format.
  • Dime. Slang term for a $1000 sports bet.
  • Dog. Abbreviation of underdog; an outsider, that is, an athlete or a team whose chances of winning are rated lower than the rest.
  • Double action. A bet which is conditional on the success of a preceding bet.
  • Double bet. Where a bettor plays twice the amount of a usual bet, normally in reaction to a perceived ‘good thing’. Also known as “double pop” or “doubling up”.
  • Double result. A conditional bet that combines the result at half-time with the result at full-time.
  • Double-header. Two high-profile games played close to each other on the same day.
  • Draw (see also Push, Tie). When the contest ends with no winner or loser.
  • Drift. When odds lengthen, implying a decreased likelihood of the event occurring; odds are said to have drifted or are “on the drift”.

  • Each-way. A bet that comprises two independent bets, one for the selection winning and one for the selection placing e.g 2nd or 3rd. Place conditions vary in relation to the number of participants. Mostly commonly, but not exclusively, used in horse and greyhound racing.
  • Edge. Betting advantage either gained by consistently exploiting a bookmaker’s margins or derived from proprietary knowledge.
  • Elo ratings. Invented by Hungarian-born American master level chess player and physics professor Arpad Elo. A way of comparing the skill levels of players in competitor-versus-competitor games.
  • Even money. A bet which returns exactly what is staked, represented as odds of 1/1, 2.0 or +100.
  • Exotic (see also Special, Proposition). Any bet other than a straight bet or a Multiple.
  • Expected goals. The number of goals a team (or teams) would expect to score in a match. This is determined by assigning a value to shots on goal, the number of shots, shot location, the in-game situation and the proximity of opposition defenders.
  • Expected value. The amount a player can expect to win or lose if they were to place a bet on the same odds many times over, calculated through a simple equation multiplying your probability of winning with the amount you could win per bet, and subtracting the probability of losing multiplied by the amount lost per bet.
  • Exposure. Potential losses to which a sportsbook or bettor is exposed to in a given market or bet.

  • Favourite (see also Chalk, Jolly). The selection that the markets sees as the most probable winner of a given event. The quoted odds reflect the extent to which the choice is favoured.
  • First half bet (see also Second half, Quarter bet). A bet on the outcome of the first half of a game only.
  • First/last goal scorer. A bet on the specific scorer of the first or the last goal/try in a given game.
  • Fixed-odds betting (see also Binary betting, Spread betting). The type of betting offered by traditional bookmakers with odds fixed at the time the bet is struck, as opposed to other formats where odds/return is fluid.
  • Fractional odds. Odds expression (most commonly used in the UK) which presents odds in a fractional format.
  • Future (see also Ante-post, Proposition, Special). Odds for the winner of a specific future event often posted far in advance of it occurring. Examples include the EPL winner, Super Bowl, the World Series, the Stanley Cup, or the NBA Championship this is called a Future bet.

  • Grand Salami. Betting on the grand total of goals scored in all the listed games of the day within a specific league e.g. EPL as an Over/Under. 

  • Half time bet (see also First half bet). A bet on the result of the first half of a game only.
  • Half-ball handicap. A Handicap which is 0.5 of a goal or point.
  • Handicap. A numerical figure set by the bookmaker to counter the perceived bias in abilities of opponents – this provides more balanced odds.
  • Handicapper. Someone who uses maths based rating systems to forecast outcomes on sporting events and place bets accordingly.
  • Handicapping. Forecasting the outcome of sporting events using maths based rating systems and placing bets accordingly.
  • Handle. The total volume of bets on an event taken by a bookmaker.
  • Hedging (see also Arbitrage). Betting on both sides of a market, or several selections within a market, to exploit the advantage of price discrepancies, or limit losses. For more information, read our guide on how to hedge a bet for guaranteed profit.
  • Holding your own. Neither winning nor losing, just breaking even.
  • Home field advantage. Often abbreviated to HFA, refers to the perceived advantages enjoyed by the home team.

  • If bet. Multiple bets which are conditional on a sequence of outcomes.
  • In-play betting (see also Live-betting). Betting on an event that is in progress. Regular betting markets close once the event starts, in-betting odds reflect the progress of the event in real time.

  • Joint favourite. One of two selections priced as favourite.
  • Jolly (see also Favourite, Chalk). A different term for the favourite in the market, UK slang.
  • Juice (see also Commission, Margin, Vigorish). The implied cost of placing a bet set by the bookmaker. Bookmakers inflate the perceived likelihood of an event – as represented in their odds – suggesting it is more likely than underlying probability.

  • Kelly Criterion (see also Staking method). Popular staking method which suggests that stake should be proportional to the perceived edge.

  • Landing on three/seven. Phrase used to describe the most statistically common final-score differential in NFL.
  • Laying the points. Backing the favourite on the Points Spread and therefore accepting the points Handicap.
  • Layoff. Where a bookmaker reduces liability by covering a bet at another bookmaker; or where an individual bettor reduces risk, limits losses or locks in a profit by backing both sides of a market, or several selections within a market.
  • Limit. Maximum bet amount allowed.
  • Line (see also Price, Odds). Another word for odds (most common in North America). A list of all bets on which the bookmaker offers to bet.
  • Linemaker (see also Oddsmaker). Person responsible for setting the lines/odds at a bookmaker.
  • Listed pitchers. A baseball bet conditional on the named pitchers starting the game, otherwise void.
  • Live-betting (see also In-play betting). Betting on an event that is in progress. Regular betting markets close once the event starts, live-betting odds reflect the progress of the event in real time.
  • Lock (see also Banker). Selection which is considered especially likely to occur; often the cornerstone of a Multiple bet.
  • Longshot. A selection with long odds (very low probability) suggesting it an unlikely to winner, but offering a proportionately high return.

  • Margin (see also Commission, Juice, Vigorish). The implied cost of placing a bet set by the bookmaker. Bookmakers inflate the perceived likelihood of an event – as represented in their odds – suggesting it is more likely than underlying probability.
  • Match bet. A bet that focuses on the performance of two variables against each other within an event (e.g. which of two horses will finish first).
  • Middle. A situation where you win on both sides of the same bet by exploiting odds/points movements/discrepancies over time.
  • Money Line. A bet on the outcome. One of three basic bet types.
  • Multiple (see also Accumulator, Parlay). Where more than one bet is combined, and success is dependent on all selections winning.
  • MVP. Bets placed on an individual player to be the Most Valuable Player over a season or series throughout a competition (typically basketball and the NBA).

  • Nap. Term used to denote a tipster’s most confident selection.
  • No action. A bet which for whatever reason is voided, resulting in no win/loss.
  • Non-runner. Selection that will not participate in any given event.
  • Novelty bet (see also Special). A bet on an event which cannot be easily assessed in common handicapping terms, and is offered for its novelty value (e.g. Winner of a reality TV show).

  • Odds (see also Line, Price). A representation of the perceived frequency of an event derived from the underlying probability which enables betting.
  • Odds format. Different international conventions that have been developed to represent odds. Read more.
  • Odds on favourite. A horse, team, or individual where the odds imply a chance of greater than 50%.
  • Oddsmaker (see also Linemaker). Person responsible for setting the lines/odds at a bookmaker.
  • Off the board. A game on which the bookmaker will not accept bets.
  • Outright betting (see also Ante-post, Future, Special). Placing a bet on the winner of an entire competition, instead of a single match (e.g. the World Cup or the EPL).
  • Over. Bet on whether the total of any given variable will be over the mark set by a bookmaker. One of three basic bet types.
  • Overbroke. Term to describe when the betting percentage of a market is less than 100% and therefore providing an advantage to the bettor and the opposite to the bookmaker.
  • Overround. Term to describe when the betting percentage of a market is above 100% and therefore providing an advantage to the bookmaker and the opposite to the bettor.

  • Parlay (see also Multiple, Accumulator). Where more than one bet is combined, the odds accumulated and success is dependent on all selections winning.
  • Payout. The return on a winning bet.
  • Pick ’em. When there is a zero Handicap and neither team is favoured. Also called a “pick” in sports betting terms.
  • Points Spread. The measure of perceived difference in the abilities of participants in a given event as illustrated in the Handicap/Spread market. The favourite is always indicated by a minus sign and the underdog by a plus sign. For betting purposes, the outcome of the game is determined by taking the actual game score and finding the difference between the scores of the two teams playing (called the points spread or just the “spread”).
  • Post time. Scheduled start time.
  • Power-ranking. System of ratings based on historical data which is used by bettors for predictive purposes.
  • Price (see also Odds, Line). Another term for odds, line or points spread.
  • Prop (Proposition) bet (see also Novelty bet, Special). A derivative bet on events within a match or game (e.g. first goal scorer, or time of first yellow card).
  • Public money. The influence of bets from recreational punters normally on the favourite, and struck close to post time.
  • Push (see also Draw, Tie). When the contest ends with no winner or loser for betting purposes and stakes are refunded.

  • Quarter bet (see also First half, Second half bet). A bet on the outcome of one specific quarter of a game only.

  • Rag. UK slang for longshot or outsider.
  • Reload bonus. A bonus that re-applies when account holders deposit fresh funds.
  • Rotation number. A numbering system used by Las Vegas to order bets, often used by bookmakers to assign unique IDs to markets.
  • Round Robin. A specific type of Multiple bet combining three selections in a 10 combination bet; three doubles, one treble and three up-and-down single stakes about pairs.
  • Run line. The Spread/Handicap applied specifically to baseball and relating to the number of runs in the game.

  • Scalping. Exploiting price/bonus discrepancies between various bookmakers for profit.
  • Second half bet (see also First half, Quarter bet). A bet on the outcome of the second half of a game only.
  • Sell (points) (see also Buy points). Decreasing a point spread advantage in exchange for increased odds.
  • Sharp. A sophisticated or professional bettor.
  • SP. Abbreviation for “starting price”, which is the official odds returned in UK horse racing/greyhound racing.
  • Special (see also Future, Novelty bet, Outright betting). Any bet outside of the three basic types or their derivatives (Money Line/1×2, Handicap/Spread, Total).
  • Split-ball handicap. Where a Handicap bet is split into two separate bets one at each handicap level provided by the bookmaker, whether it is on Asian Handicaps or Totals etc.
  • Sportsbook (see also Book). Another name for a Bookmaker.
  • Spread (see also Handicap). The predicted scoring differential between two opponents as quoted by a bookmaker.
  • Spread betting. An alternative to fixed odds betting where a Spread is offered on the outcome of an event and a bettor decides whether the outcome will be higher or lower. The loss or return is the multiple of their unit stake X the difference between the result and the Spread taken.
  • Square. A betting novice or amateur.
  • Stake. The amount of money a bettor risks on a specific bet.
  • Staking method. Method of calculating the appropriate amount of money to place on a bet for consistent profit making as part of a betting strategy.
  • Steam. When odds move rapidly due to a large volume of bets over a short period of time. Most “steam games” do not necessarily reflect objective circumstances, but can often reflect herd instinct or inherent biases toward favoured teams.
  • Straight bet. A bet on the outcome of one of the three basic bet types.

  • Taking the points. Betting on the underdog and receiving the advantage of the positive Point Spread.
  • Teaser. A special type of sports parlay which offers adjusted point spreads or totals for the constituent bets. The cost of the adjusted Spreads/Totals (Teasing) is reflected in the odds
  • Ticket. A sports bet, historically confirmed by a physical ticket, but still applied to online bets.
  • Tie (see also Draw, Push). A bet in which no money is lost nor won because there wasn’t a positive outcome for the purposes of the bet.
  • Tip. A betting prediction provided by someone with perceived knowledge of the event/competitors.
  • Tipster. Someone who provides tips.
  • Tissue price. Guide price which is only a very tentative guesstimate and likely to quickly change.
  • Total. The combined amount of runs, points or goals scored by both teams during the game. One of the three basic bet types. Bets can be placed on whether the Total will be higher or lower than the number set by the bookmaker.
  • Totals bet. Where the bettor speculates that the total score by both teams/players in a game will be more or less than the level posted by the bookmaker.
  • Tout. Someone who sells betting tips.
  • True odds. The true reflection of the underlying probability of an event to which a bookmaker will add their margin.

  • Under. Bet on whether the total of any given variable will be under the mark set by the bookmaker.
  • Underdog. An outsider, chances of winning are rated lower than the rest.

  • Value. An event that is more likely than bookmakers think.
  • Vigorish (see also Commission, Margin, Juice). North American term for the implied charge that a bookmaker adds for taking bets on any given market, traditionally 10% for Money Line, Points Spread and Totals.

  • Wager (see also Bet). A form of placing money on odds offered by a bookmaker.
  • Wise guy. A well-informed or knowledgeable handicapper or bettor.