Sports Betting Glossary and sports gambling terms
Action means bets. Having action means having a bet.
Action has a special meaning for baseball bets: Its means the bet counts even if there is a change in starting pitchers. If there is a pitcher change accompanied by an odds change, the action bettor will receive the new odds. The default is that the listed pitchers must start; to have action no matter who pitches, you must specify action when you make your bet.
- Advantage Player
An advantage player is a bettor who is willing to make a bet only if the bet is perceived as yielding a positive EV.
- Against the Spread
There are two common ways of betting sides: the moneyline and against the spread. To bet against the spread is to make a wager that will be decided by adding points to one team or the other after the game is played.
- Air Move
When a sportsbook changes the line on a game in response to other books’ changing the line, that line change is described as an air move. The opposite of an air move is changing the line in response to bets received.
An angle is a decision rule for making bets, Unfortunately, most published angles are the result of data mining, and fail to predict results of future games.
To arbitrage is to make a combination of bets such that if one bet loses another wins. There is an implication of having an edge, at no or low risk. Arbitrage can also be used as a noun. Hedge has a similar meaning, but does not carry the implication of having an edge.
ATS is the acronym for against the spread.
To be barred from betting at a sportsbook is to be told that no more bets will be accepted from you.
A beard is a person who makes sports bets for someone else; that someone else is usually a skillful handicapper.
- Betting Exchange
A betting exchange is a form of betting available on the internet. You and another person can bet on anything you wish at whatever odds you agree upon. The winner will pay a commission to the internet sportsbook.
A bettor is an individual who makes bets. This text assumes that bettors will be making a sports bets against a book.
A board is the list of bets available in a sportsbook. In the old days, all books had actual boards on which clerks would write the latest odds. Nowadays most suck boards have been replaced by electronic displays that are updated by computer, but they are still called “boards.”
- Bonus Hustler
To offshore sportsbooks, a bonus hustler is someone who has opened an account for the express purpose of obtaining bonuses, and who does no intend to gamble.
- Book, Bookmaker
A book or bookmaker is a person or company that accepts bets against the lines created by linesmakers.
The dictionary says bookie is the same thing as bookmaker, but Nevado’s legal sportsbooks don’t call themselves bookies. Bookies carries the implication of illegality.
To a sports bettor, a buck is a bet size. For a bet on a dog, a buck is $100. for a bet on a favorite, a buck is whatever amount of money must be risked to win $100.
To bet chalk is to bet the favorite
To cherrypick is to bet only those games on which you think you have an edge.
When a game is circled, the maximum bet on that game is lower than normal. The circling generally is due to uncertainty of some sort, perhaps the weather or an injury to a key player.
- Correlated, Correlation
Correlation is the degree to which the results of two bets are related. Zero correlation means the results are not related at all. Correlated is the adjective form, and correlation is a noun. An example of two bets that are correlated is the Giants to lead at the half and the Giants to win the game. Sportsbooks do not like to write correlated parlays.
To cover is to beat the spread. For example, if Detroit is favored by 7 and wins the game by more than 7, Detroit is said to have “covered.” If Detroit losed that game or wins by less than 7, it failed to cover.If the underdog wins, or loses the game but by less than the spread, the dog is said to have covered.
- Data Mining
Data mining is derogatory. It means sorting through a huge volume of data, extracting decision rules that seem to favor one team over another, but without regard to whether or not there is any cause-and-effect relationship. Data mining is the sports-betting equivalent of sitting a huge number of monkeys down at keyboards, and then reporting on the monkeys who happened to type actual words.
A dime is a bet to win $1000.
Dog is short for “underdog.” If the better team wins the game, the dog is the team that loses. The opposite of the dog is the favorite.
A dollar is a bet to win $100.
- Early line
The early line is the first line posted for a game.
Having an edge means having the best of it. If you make only bets on which you have an edge, you will win and you will lose but in the long haul your winnings will overwhelm your losses.
- Even money
Even money means you risk a dollar to win a dollar. Even money is also expressed as EV or as PK. It could be, but is not, expressed as -100 or +100.
Exotic bets are the same thing as prop bets.
To fade a bet is to accept it, as in the sportsbook fades your action.
A fan is somebody who bets on a team because he likes the team. To a fan, the spread is an umimportant detail.
The favorite is the team that is more likely to win. If there are a large number of contestants, suck as in a golf tournament, the top few contestants can all be referred to as favorites. The opposite of the favorite is dog.
Betting on golf tournaments and other sports events that have a large number of entrants often allows for a bet on the field. The field is the group of all the entrants not listed with their own odds. The field can contain a large number of entrants, but typically each entrant has only a tiny chance of actually winning the event. If an entrant had a good chance of winning, he or she would not be lumped into the field.
- Final Margin
The final margin is the final score of the favorite and the the final score of the dog. If the dog won, the final margin is negative. The final margin can be compared to the line to see which team won for betting purposes.
- Final Total
The final total is the sum of the two final scores in a game. If San Francisco wins 35-14, then the final total is 49.
- Front running
Front running is watching betting lines via computer, and betting in the direction of line moves at a sportsbook that shows the old number.
Futures are bets that will be decided by multiple contests, or by a contest that is more than about a week away. An example of a futures bet is a wager on wether the Yankees will win more than 92 games in the upcoming season.
To handicap is to assign a probability to the likelihood of winning a contest or series of contests. A person who handicaps is a handicapper.
Handle is a word used by bookmakers to describe the total amount of money wagered. Handle usually refers to total bets over multiple games, whereas action usually refers to total bets on one game.
When managers of sportsbooks speak of hanging a line, they mean posting it for all to see and bet into.
To hedge is to make a combination of bets such that if one bet loses another wins. Hedging is usually done fore defensive purposes, such as betting to lock in a profit after winning the first eleven games on a twelve-team parlay. Hedge can be used as a noun or a verb. Hedge does not carry the implication of having and edge.
When a line on a football or basketball game includes a half point, the half point is called a hook.
Hoops means basketball. An alternative to saying you are betting on basketball games is to say you are betting hoops. An alternate expression is baskets.
- House Edge
The house edge is another name for the vig.
Juice is another word for vig.
You are said to be laying odds if the amount of money you are risking is more than what you will win if the game goes your way. You are said to be laying points if the spread takes points away from your team. If you are laying points or laying odds, you are betting the favorite. The opposite of laying is taking.
A leach is someone who watches a computer for line moves, and when he sees one he quickly bets the appropriate team at an offshore sportsbook that has not yet moved the line. That activity is called front running.
The line is the spread and terms of a bet. If the terms are standard, e.g. -110, then the line is the spread.
A linesmaker is a person who creates lines and totals for bookmakers.
- Maverick line
When a sportsbook creates its own line on a game and that line is different from the line carried by other sportsbooks, that independent line is called a maverick line.
To have a middle is to have bets on competing teams and for there to be at least one possible outcome that results in winning both bets, Middle applies to bets on totals as well bets on sides.
- Money line
When you bet the money line, the winner of the game is the winner of th bet. Betting the money line is one of two common ways of betting on a side to win; the other common method of betting a side is against the spread.
A nickel is a bet to win $500. A big nickel is a bet to win $5000.
If a game if off, the sportsbook is no longer writing bets on it. Perhaps the game has already started, or perhaps there is major uncertainty as to the weather conditions or an injury to a key player.
- Off the board
To make parlay or teaser bets on games listed on the board is called betting off the board. Sometimes you have two ways to bet the same combination of teams: off the board and on parlay cards. Before betting one of them, check to see if the other offers better odds or a better spread.
- Opening line
The opening line is the earliest line posted for a given sports event.
When a syndicate bets so much money on one game that the line moves, the originator is the first person to bet that game for that syndicate.
To bet over is to bet that the final total will exceed the total posted for betting purposes.
A parlay is a bet involving two or more events. You can also use the word as a verb; to parlay is to use the proceeds from one bet as the wager on another bet. You can parlay sides and totals. You can mix sports in a single parlay. All you teams must win for your parlay to win. One loser and the parlay is lost. A push on one game generally causes your parlay to convert to a parlay with one fewer game; for example a three-team parlay with two wins and a push would be paid as a two-team parlay.
- Parlay card
A parlay card is a set of sides, totals, and prop bets printed on a special card. The numbers on the parlay card apply only to bets on the card, and might be different from bets listed on the board. Typically you must select at least three items if you want to make a bet on a parlay card.
A pick is a bet recommended by a handicapper.
- Pick ‘em
Pick ‘em can mean two things. It can mean the same thing as even money. It also can mean the spread is zero, as in “Giants is pick ‘em against the Ravens this weekend.”
PK is an abbreviation for pick ‘em.
If an employee of a sportsbooks calls you a player, the implication is that you are a big bettor. Being called a player is not a compliment, but its not as derogatory as being called a sucker.
- Points, point spread
Points and point spread are alternate terms for spread.
- Power ratings
Power ratings are numbers that handicappers assign to teams to estimate how likely one team is to beat the other or by how many points.
- Prop bet
When a major sporting events come along, some linesmakers let their imaginations run wild as they offer an interesting menu of bets, such as which player will score first.
A public means unsophisticated bettors. Their bets are call public money. The public includes fans and squares and people who make a bet just to make a game more exciting.
- Puck line
The ice hockey version of betting against the spread is the puck line. On games in which one team is a big favorite, the puck line typically adds 1.5 goals to one or subtracts 1.5 goals from the other team.
A punter is a bettor, specifically a bettor who takes on sportsbooks or racebooks. The term can be but is rarely used to refer to participants in casino games.
A push is a tie against the spread. Generally you get your money back on pushes.
- Reverse teaser
A reverse teaser is a parlay in which each team gives up points compared to the normal spread.
ROI is the acronym for return on investment.
- Run line
The baseball version of betting against the spread is the run line. On games in which one team is a big favorite, the run line typically adds 1.5 runs to one team or subtracts 1.5 runs from the other team.
This word has several meanings. One use is to bet both sides on the money line in such a way as to guarantee profit. For example, if New York is playing Chicago and you bet New York -140 and Chicago +155, you have a 15 cent scalp. Another use of scalp is to describe what a bookie might do if he thinks a line is going to move. Suppose a bookie takes a bet on Dallas -6 from a sharp, and predicts that other bookie soon will be calling to also place bets on Dallas. If the bookie immediately bets Dallas -6 with other bookies and simultaneously changes the line at which he accepts bets to Dallas -7, he is said to be scalping.
- Sharp, sharpie
A sharp is what sportsbooks call an advantage player. Sharp can also be used as an adjective. If someone calls you a sharp bettor, smile; you have received a compliment.
To bet a side is to bet on one team against the spread. Another meaning of side is to have bets on both opposing teams such that there is at least one score that will give you a win on one bet and a push on the other.
- Smart money
Smart money is money wagered by shaprs.
When a line is called soft, the implication is that not many sharp bettors have looked at it. Sharp bettors making big bets tend to move lines to the point where it is difficult for other bettors to make a bet with an advantage.
A spread is a number set by a sportsbook to allow betting at 10:11 on each of two teams. The spread is also called the line or the points.
A square is a sucker who has read the sports sectin of the local newspaper. The implication is of being informed, but using the same information in the same way as everybody else does.
- Straight up
Since bets against the spread are common, you need two ways to describe which team won a game. You need to distinguish between which team actually won the game and which team won against the spread. Sometimes they are the same team and sometimes they are not. Winning straight up means winning without regards to the spread.
A sucker is a bettor who will make bad-EV bets without realizing how bad the bets are.
A syndicate is a group of people making a joint effort to win money betting sports.
The total is a number set by a sportsbook for total points to be scored by both teams during a game. You can bet that the final total will exceed the total 9called the “over”) or that the final total will be less than the total (called the “under”). Betting overs or unders is referred to as betting totals.
A tout is someone who sells picks. The connotation is of someone who has no ability to pick winners but sells that ability anyway.
To bet the under is to bet that the final total will fall short of the total.
- Vig or vigorish
Sportsbook generally don’t give suckers a positive expectation bet, or even a break-even bet. The vig or vigorish is the sportsbook built-in edge over bettors. The vig is what you must overcome if you are going to win money betting on sports.
A wiseguy is a successful and well established sports bettor.