Sports Betting Glossary
Accumulator – A multiple bet, sometimes called a “parlay.” Very common in football and racing, though available for other sports as well. This is a combination bet that involves the outcomes of two or more games. All wagers combined to form an accumulator or parlay must pay off in order for the wager itself to pay off.
Across the Board – A phrase mostly-used in horse racing to refer to a specific type of wager. In the case of horse racing, it is a short-odds bet that a horse will win first, second, or third place.
Action – The term used to refer to any sort of valid bet. Bets can be invalidated by different things, mostly the premature end of games due to inclement weather. In baseball, for example, action is invalid if the game doesn’t get to the bottom of the fourth inning. Most books only validate soccer wagers if the match lasts past the 70th minute. And so on.
Ajax – A slang term derived from UK gamblers that stands for juice, or “betting tax.” It’s a bit of Cockney rhyming slang that’s caught on somewhat in other parts of the world.
ATS – Short for Against the Spread. The phrase “against the spread” refers to the result of point spread-based contests. This slang term can also refer to the act of “taking points” (see below) rather than with the spread, also known as “laying points.”
Backdoor – Often times used when referring to a team that covers the game at the last minute. For instance, if you have a team +10 points and they are losing by 20 all game. But in the final 2 minutes they score 12 consecutive points including a buzzer beater three pointer to cover the spread. This is called a “backdoor” cover.
Bankroll – This refers to the amount of money a sports bettor is playing with. Not the individual amount of each bet, but the total amount of money a given person has to alot to betting on sports.
Bettor – A term for a sports gambler, also sometimes simply a “player.”
Book – Short for “sportsbook.” This refers to any business that takes wagers on the eventual outcome of sporting events.
Bookmaker – Obviously, this is a person who works at a “book” (see above). A bookmaker (or “oddsmaker”) is any individual licensed to take wagers on the outcome of sporting events to their customers.
Buy – This word refers to buying “points” (see below). To “buy points” is to pay a larger fee in order to earn an additional half a point (sometimes more) in the favor of their wager on a bet that’s based on a point spread.
Chalk – The favored athlete, team, or wager. A “straight chalk” pick is, thus, a pick based entirely on popular opinion.
Correlated Parlay – This is an example of an exotic form of accumulator wager. (See “accumulator” above.) A correlated bet is any in which one event is tied to the positive outcome of another.
For example, the LA Lakers leading at halftime AND the LA Lakers winning the game. The first wager has to win in order for the odds of the second wager to increase. The increase in likelihood of the second bet if the first bet goes through makes the odds for the entire proposition shorter, more affordable, and more conservative.
Cover – This means “to beat the point spread.” To cover the point spread means for a team or athlete to win a game by the number of points required by that spread.
Exotic – Any form of bet that’s not a straight wager or accumulator. Sometimes called props or propositions (see below).
Grand Salami – Exclusive to NHL betting, The Grand Salami is a wager placed on the grand total of goals scored in every hockey game on the ticket for a single day. This is an Over/Under wager, allowing bets on either side.
First Half Bet / Half Time Bet – Wagers in some sports can be placed on either the first or second half result only.
Handicapping – A broad phrase referring to any and all attempts to pick or predict a sporting event’s outcome. Both bookmakers and bettors do their own handicapping, some combination of research and insight as well as considerations about past performance and recent history.
Hook – When a player “buys the hook” in sports betting, they are typically buying a half point to get a slightly better line on a game. For instance, if the line for the NFL game is Bears -6.5 — some would “buy the hook” and make it Bears -6.
Juice – Money in the form of a commission earned by a bookmaker.
Lengthen / Shorten – This refers to changes in the odds, either making them longer or shorter.
Lines – Simply another word for odds.
Moneyline – A type of wager that does not involve a point spread. The moneyline contains a wealth of information about the teams in a contest, including the favorite, the underdog, and how much money can be won or lost based on wager size. Think of it as an “all-in-one” wagering format, without the use of a point spread. Popular in baseball and many other American sports.
Nickel – An example of betting money slang. In sports betting, a “dime” is $1,000, so naturally a “nickel” is $500, a “penny” is $100, etc.
Over/Under – A type of wager on the combined total of points or goals scored by both teams in a game. A wager that the points/goals will exceed the book’s number is called “taking the over,” while the opposite is called “taking the under.”
Parlay – See “accumulator” above.
Point Spread – A type of handicap used by bookmakers to create wagering opportunities. A point spread is established by bookmakers to literally handicap the favored team. The favored team must win by the number specified in the spread for a wager on the favored team to pay off.
Prop (or Proposition) Bet – Another word for “exotic” bets (see above).
Price – Slang term for any odds particularly the point spread.
Puckline – A different sort of point spread used specifically to address the “goals” scored in hockey. For instance, instead of just winning the game, a team would have to win by 1.5 goals to cover the Puckline bet.
Push – This occurs when a game ends without a clear winner or loser. Wagers are returned to the bettors and the book takes nothing.
Runline – A different sort of point spread used specifically to address the “runs” scored in pro baseball.
Sharp – The smartest gamblers in the business, often betting professionally. Sharps have a heavy influence on odds released by major sportsbooks.
Spread – An abbreviation of the phrase “point spread.”
Square – The opposite of a sharp, a square is a total sport betting amateur.
Teaser – This type of wager requires a bet on two or more teams, like an accumulator, except that teaser bets allow the player to take away or add points from a given spread to improve their chances of winning. This is done in exchange for slightly reduced odds. An exotic form of parlay
Tie – See “Push” above.
Tilt – When a sports bettor loses several bets in a row and starts making bad bets for large amounts they are “on tilt”. Meaning they have had enough of losing and are taking desperate measures to get a win.
Totals Bet – A type of wager based on speculation over the total score of both sides of a contest. See “Over/Under” above.
Tout – These are individuals who make a living giving sports betting advice. They are often professional handicappers or former employees of sportsbooks.
Vigorish – Usually shortened to “vig,” vigorish refers to the amount of commission the bookmaker earns.