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What is Chalk in Sports Betting?

by January 15, 2022
Memphis vs. Florida Atlantic: 2023 NCAA Tournament Odds, Preview & Predictions

As we continue through this series of sports betting education, I am sure that we have all heard of betting the chalk when it comes to sports betting. The “chalk” is the betting favorite in any matchup. However, people usually use this phrase when there is a team that is favored significantly over their opponent.

There is a certain terminology among sports bettors about many different concepts within, and while some are more straightforward than others, the vast majority of them have roots to days well before we had the betting experience we have today.

Check out all of our Sports Betting 101: Strategy Tips & Advice >>

How did it get the name “chalk”?

This comes from a time long before the advanced betting technology that we have when oddsmakers would present the games and the corresponding lines on a chalkboard. The line that would be written in on the chalkboard would only be that of the favorite. In point spread betting, it was known that the underdog was getting that same number of points, even though they didn’t write the number. This phrase started in horse racing, as did most things sports, and by the time the race came around, the favorite’s name would be covered in chalk dust from repeated action as the majority of bets came on the favorite back then.

How does this relate to betting today?

College basketball may be the sport with the biggest amount of chalk, as there are powerhouse teams that are built with the top prospects in the nation. There are also teams at lowly funded schools who travel to these team’s arenas to try and make some funding, in exchange for preparing these teams for conference play. All of these teams fit under the umbrella of Division I. Often times there are favorites with spreads larger than -20, and money lines listed all the way up above -10000. These teams also all come together in March for the NCAA Tournament.

The difference with betting nowadays is that as it has gained popularity, people have their own strategies to try and make money consistently. While betting favorites win more often than not, there are people who look for underdogs to cover the spread, and even win outright.

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Whether you’re new to sports betting or a betting pro, our Sports Betting Strategy and Advice page is for you. You can get started with our 101 section — including 10 Sports Betting Tips for Beginners — or head to more advanced strategy — like Key Numbers When Betting Against the Spread — to learn more.

Josh Weil is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @Josh_Weil.

Bet Types, Betting 101, How-To