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Sports Betting Glossary

by September 26, 2018

To say that there is a fair amount of slang and jargon that surrounds the world of sports betting would be a massive understatement. No matter how casual of a sports fan you are, it is really useful to understand what these words and phrases mean. It is more likely than not that you will run into someone who wagers on sports and throws around at least some of the following terminology. We have created a sports betting glossary to better assist you.

Action: When you have a bet of any kind on a specific game.

“I have action on this game.”

Against the Spread: If a team is 3-2 ATS, it means they have a 3-2 record against the point spread. They have covered in three games and did not cover in two games.

“New England was 11-5 ATS in the 2017 season.”

Backdoor Cover: Speaking from experience, losing a bet via a backdoor cover is one of the worst ways to lose a particular bet, and one of the most stressful ways to win one. It is when a team scores points at the very end of the game to cover the spread unexpectedly.

“Green Bay covered the spread via a backdoor cover when they completed a hail-mary touchdown as time expired.”

Bad beat: Losing a bet that you should have won. It is used more commonly at the end of the game when the betting result is decided in the final minutes. Side-note: If you wager on the NCAA Tournament, there will never be a worse bad beat than Northern Iowa blowing a 12-point lead in the final 35 seconds against Texas A&M in 2016.

“Golden State was covering the spread until the final possession when Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler chucked up a meaningless half-court shot that went in as time expired. I had Golden State, such a bad beat.”

Book: Short for sportsbook or bookmaker.

“I am shopping around for the best book to use.”

Bookie: A person who accepts bets illegally and charges more vig than most normal sportsbooks.

“I have to pay my bookie today because I lost money wagering on the NFL this weekend.”

Buying points: Buying points is a phrase that every NFL bettor should know. Some sportsbooks allow their customers to alter the set line which results in an adjustment of the odds. For example, if the Cardinals 2.5 point (-110) underdogs to the Seahawks, you could buy an additional half point to make them 3 point underdogs instead. The catch is that the line will likely shift from -110 to -130, which means you will be taking on a greater risk.

“I bought a half-point on the Cardinals game because I think they will lose by less than a field goal.”

Chalk: The most popular side in a particular game. People who typically bet the favorite are branded as ‘chalk bettors’, which normally isn’t a compliment.

“Most people seem to be gravitating towards the chalk.”

Cover: The betting result on a point-spread wager. For the favorite to cover, it has to win by more than the spread; an underdog covers by losing less than the spread or simply winning the game outright.

The Falcons covered the six-point spread against the Saints.”

Even money: A line that is +100. You put up $5 to win $5.

“The Vikings were even money against the Packers.”

Exotic: Any wager other than a bet against the spread or parlay. It is more commonly referred to as a ‘prop bet.’ An example of an exotic would be: How many yards will Tom Brady throw for against the Texans in Week 1?

“I opted to bet some of the exotics rather than against the spread.”

Futures bet: A long-term wager that typically plays out over the course of the season. Betting on a particular team to win the Super Bowl before the season starts would be classified as a ‘futures bet’.

“I placed a small futures bet wager on the Cleveland Browns to win the Super Bowl this season.”

Half-time bet: A popular wager made in the NFL, and it is exactly what it seems like. A wager made during half-time. The results in the second-half are the only thing that matters when you wager this.

Handicapper: A person trying to predict what side is going to win and what isn’t. Side-note: Most people who claim to be ‘handicappers’ are not as good as they might seem.

“I have spent hours trying to handicap the Week 1 matchup between Philadelphia and Atlanta.”

Handle: The amount of money taken by a sportsbook or bookie on a particular event. Some events, like the Super Bowl, feature a larger handle than most due to its popularity.

“The handle on the Super Bowl this season is the largest we have ever seen.”

In-game wagering: Considered the next big thing amongst the sports betting community, it is exactly what it seems. Being ability to gamble on a result while the event is live. The odds shift on nearly every play or possession.

“I placed a wager in-game on the Packers +14 when they were trailing the Cowboys by two touchdowns in the second quarter.”

Juice: The commission the bookie or bookmaker takes. Also known as vig, or vigorish. Standard rate charged is 10 percent but varies from place-to-place.

“The sportsbooks in New Jersey charge a higher juice than the sportsbooks in Las Vegas.”

Money-line: The easiest bet one can make. You pick one team to win and that’s it.

“I placed a money-line wager on the Jaguars to upset the Patriots in the AFC Championship game last season.”

Mush: Probably do not need to be a sports bettor to know what this is. Someone who considers themself to be bad luck.

“I bet on the Ravens to beat the Browns and they lost. I am such a mush.”

Off-the-board: When a book or bookmaker doesn’t allow you to bet on a particular game. This happens frequently across the NFL when there is uncertainty surrounding who the starting quarterback might be for a particular team.

“Aaron Rodgers’ availability is in question for Sunday so bookmakers took Green Bay’s game off-the-board until there is more clarity on the situation.”

Over/Under: A wager that is determined by how many total points are scored in a particular game. This type of bet has gained popularity in the past 10 years.

“I took the over in the Patriots-Raiders game. The total was set at 51.5 points.”

Parlay: A wager in which multiple teams are bet and the only way to win is if each particular team included in the wager covers their spread. The payouts can be huge, but the odds are stacked against you.

“I placed a three-team parlay for NFL Week 1 including the Jaguars, Patriots and Steelers.”

Pick ‘em: Also seen as ‘PK’, it means that each side is essentially equal. There is no favorite or underdog. In this scenario, picking the outright winner of the game is also the same as picking the spread winner.

“The game is a pick ‘em.”

Point Spread: The number of points by which a team is either favored by or an underdog by. If you are the favorite, you will need to win by more than their allotted point spread to cover. The underdog needs to lose by less than their allotted point spread to cover.

“The point spread heavily favors Philadelphia.”

Push: This happens more than you would think when betting on the NFL. It is when a team is favored by exactly three points and ends up winning by that amount. In this scenario, no side wins and the bettor receives a refund on their original wager.

“I took Los Angeles +3 but they lost by a field goal exactly so I pushed.”

Sharp: A professional sports bettor. These guys wager on sports for a living and have access to information through advanced technology that most of the general public does not. They typically wager large sums of money and can alter a line with a single bet if enough money is at-stake.

“He is one of the sharpest bettors I have ever met.”

Square: The exact opposite of a sharp. A casual gambler. Someone who wants action on a game but does not have an elaborate reason for choosing one side or the other. As much as you hate to admit it, you are probably a square bettor.

“This is shaping up to be a classic sharps vs. squares matchup. Squares are on one side, sharps are on the other.”

Teaser: Betting multiple teams and adjusting to the point spread in a significant manner to give yourself more of an advantage. All legs of this wager need to hit in order to claim a win, just like a parlay.

“I have a six-point teaser going for NFL Week 1 including the Patriots, Jaguars and Steelers.”

Tout: A person or group of so-called ‘experts’ who either sell picks or give away picks on games. Most touts are typically not worth the down payment.

“I purchased three weeks worth of plays from a tout service that I found online.”

Vig: Same definition as ‘juice’. This is the more politically correct phrase.

“I like the Packers in Week 1 but the vig is higher than normal.”

Wiseguy: A synonym for ‘sharp bettor’.

“Wiseguys love the Browns in NFL Week 1 at home against Pittsburgh.”

Shane Davies is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Shane, check out his archive.