Glossary of Sports Betting Terms

Accumulator – The same thing as a parlay. An accumulator consists of multiple bets that all must hit in order for you to win. If one bet loses, the entire accumulator loses. Bettors in the U.K. usually use “accumulator” while U.S. bettors typically use “parlay.”

Action – A wager on a game. If you bet on a game, you might say “I have action on it.”

Against the spread (ATS) Betting on a game with the spread instead of straight-up/moneyline.

Alternate lines – Lines offered on games other than the current line. For example, if the Eagles are -6.5 points, alternate lines may include Eagles -10 and Eagles +3.5.

American odds – Lines that are displayed as either a + or – number as opposed to decimal odds or fractional odds. Favorites in American odds are displayed as negative numbers (ex: -150 means bet $150 to win $100) while underdogs are displayed as positive numbers (ex: +120 means bet $100 to win $120). Learn how to read betting odds here.

Arbitrage – A method of betting that involves placing multiple bets on the same game at different lines in order to increase the chances of or guarantee a profit. This typically happens when you place a bet and then the line moves or if two different sportsbooks have very different lines. Learn more with our Arbitrage Betting Guide or Arbitrage Betting Calculator.

Backdoor cover – When a team comes back and covers the point spread late in a game. This often happens in games when one team has already essentially secured the victory and the other team covers the spread in “garbage time.”

Bankroll – How much money you have to bet with.

Betting exchange – A type of betting in which people are betting against each other as opposed to against a sportsbook. The exchange takes a cut of winnings in order to generate a profit.

Book – Short for sportsbook. Somewhere you can go to place sports bets.

Buying points – When you take an alternate line that gives you a higher chance of winning in exchange for a lower payout. For example, if the Cardinals are +2.5 at -110, you might decide to “buy” the half-point so you get the Cardinals +3 at -130.

Contrarian – A bet that goes against the public consensus. “Contrarian bettors” do this type of betting often.

Cover – When an underdog covers the point spread. For example, if the Bears are +6.5 and lose by only 4, they covered the 6.5-point spread

Closing line – The line of a game right when it begins.

Closing line value – When you place a wager before game time and the line closes (see above) at a number that is worse than what you took. For example, if you got the Lakers at -6 and the line closes at Lakers -8, you would have “closing line value.”

Decimal odds – When odds are displayed as decimals instead of in American style or as fractions (“Fractional”). European sportsbooks typically use decimal odds. The number shown is your total return (if you win) including how much you bet. For example, if the odds are 3.0, you would receive $3 if you bet $1. If the odds are 1.9, you would receive $1.9 if you bet $1. Learn how to read betting odds here.

Dog – Short for “underdog.” The team that is not favored in a game.

Draw – Another name for a push. When the final score of a game is equal to the spread. For example, if the spread is the Suns +6 and the Suns lose by exactly 6 points, it would be a draw and you would receive your money wagered back.

Even money ­– A bet where the odds are exactly 1 to 1 (ex: +100, 1/1, 2.0).

Expected value – A calculation that shows whether a wager should win or lose over time. You need to place bets that have a positive expected value to win long term in sports betting.

Exposure – How much a bettor or sportsbook can lose in a game. For example, if you have $200 wagered on a game, your exposure is $200.

Exotic bet – Bets other than spread bets, total bets, moneyline bets, or futures bets. These types of bets are often less common and are often called prop bets.

Field – All of the teams other than the one listed on the other side of the bet. For example, there may be a special bet where you can choose between taking the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl or any other team (“the field”) to win. These types of bets are typically offered when there is an overwhelming favorite or favorites.

Fractional odds – Odds displayed as fractions instead of American or Decimal. A bet of $1 to win $10 would be displayed as 10/1 while a bet of $10 to win $1 would be displayed as 1/10. Learn how to read betting odds here.

Futures – Bets based on who will win an event in the future—most often championships. For example, you may place a futures bet on the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl next year before the season even begins or midway through the season.

Grand Salami – A special type of bet that most often includes the total number of goals (hockey) or runs (baseball) that will be scored by all teams playing during that day.

Handicapper – Someone who predicts the results of games as a way to decide on who to bet on. These people will most often place a bet when their predicted lines show value as to what sportsbooks (often referred to as “Vegas” in this case) are offering.

Handle – The total amount of money a sportsbook takes in wagers over a period of time regardless of how much they profit. The amount they profit is called revenue.

Head-to-head bets – A bet in which you are choosing which of two contestants will perform better—especially when they are a part of a larger field. For example, you may choose who will place better between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, regardless of how they place relative to everyone else.

Hedge – When you bet the other side of a wager you have already placed, most often to guarantee a profit or cut your losses. For example, if you have a 4-leg parlay and only need the Eagles to win versus the Saints, you may “hedge” your initial bet by placing a bet on the Saints to guarantee some winnings (though you reduce the total possible amount you could win). Learn more with our Hedge Betting Calculator.

Hook – A half-point in a point spread. For example, a line of +3.5 or -3.5 has the “hook.”

Juice – What sportsbooks charge in order to take your wagers. For example, instead of offering you a spread bet at even money (+100), they will typically give it to you at (-110). The juice is what makes it hard to win long term with sports betting. Assuming you place all -110 bets, you will have to win 52.4% to just break even.

Key numbers – Typically used in football, these are the most common margins of victory and total scores of games. In football, for example, 3 and 7 are key numbers when referring to spreads and 44 is a key number when referring to the total since.

Live betting – When you place a wager on a game that is in progress.

Lock – People say they have a “lock” when they have a bet that they are very sure will win. Hint: there is typically no such thing as a “lock” when it comes to sports betting.

Middle – When you have two bets placed on a single game that both have a chance of winning if it ends in a certain way. For example, if the Eagles and Cowboys are playing, and you bet on the Eagles -6.5 points and the Cowboys +10.5 points, you would win both bets if the Eagles won by 7, 8, 9, or 10.

Moneyline – A wager in which you choose the winner of a game without a point spread. Sometimes referred to as betting a team “straight up.” Learn more in our Moneyline Betting Guide.

Off the board – A game or wager that is no longer offered by the sportsbook. This typically happens when there is uncertainty surrounding whether key players will play or what the weather will be like.

Opening line – The first line offered on a game by a sportsbook.

Over/Under – Another name for the Total. This type of wager allows you to choose whether the total points/runs/goals scored will be higher or lower than a set number (the “total”).

Parlays – When you combine multiple bets into one in exchange for a higher payout. All bets included in the parlay (“legs”) must hit in order for you to win. Since all legs have to hit in order for you to win, you receive a much higher payout than you would by just betting each leg individually. You can calculate your parlay payout based on the odds of each leg with our Parlay Calculator.

Pick ‘em – When the spread of a game is 0. For example, if there is no favorite/underdog in an NFL game, it may be called a pick ‘em (often abbreviated to PK).

Power ranking – An order of all the teams in a league from best to worst. Handicappers often use power rankings as a way to predict lines and find value in bets.

Prop bets – Short for “proposition bets.” These are bets that aren’t on the outcome of the game—pretty much anything other than spread bets, moneyline bets, and total bets.

Player props – Bets on specific players such as total passing yards, number of strikeouts thrown, or first touchdown scorer.

Game props – Bets on the game as a whole, not individual players. Examples include the total offensive yards, total turnovers, or the number of players walked in a game.

Public betting percentage – The percentage of wagers placed on one side of a game. For example, if 60% of the public placed a wager on the Eagles +6.5 while only 40% wagered on the Cowboys -6.5, the Eagles public betting percentage would be 60%.

Puck line – A goal spread of +1.5 or -1.5 in a hockey game—an alternative betting option to the moneyline. This is usually offered as opposed to a spread since hockey is so low scoring and because of the frequency of open-net goals at the end of games.

Push – When the result of a game falls right on the spread and neither side wins. For example, if the Sixers are +6 points and lose by exactly 6 points, the bet would push and bettors would get their money back. Learn more in our Push Betting Guide.

Real-time odds – Odds on a game that is still in progress. These typically update in real-time.

Reverse line movement – When the line moves in the opposite direction of the public betting percentage. For example, if 70% of the bets are on the Heat -6 points but the line moves to Heat -5 points (an easier spread to cover), this is reverse line movement. This would indicate that professional bettors (often referred to as “sharp money”) are placing large wagers on the opposite side, causing the sportsbook to move the odds against the public betting percentage.

Reverse teasers/Pleaser – A parlay in which the spreads or totals of games are harder to hit. These provide higher payouts because of the difficulty. Learn more about pleasers/reverse teasers.

Run line – The spread of a baseball game that is always +1.5 or -1.5.

Same game parlay – A type of parlay that allows you to combine sides (spread or moneyline), totals, and props from the same game in a single parlay. See all sportsbooks that offer same game parlays.

Sharp – A person who is very good at sports betting—often professional sports bettors—that has a long track record of winning.

Sharp money – When sharp bettors (see above) wager a lot of money on one side of a game, this is called sharp money. Sharp money may often cause sportsbooks to move lines.

Spread – The amount a team must win by or lose less than by in order to win a bet. For example, the Eagles -6.5 means that the Eagles must win by 7 points or more for the bet to win. Learn more with our spread betting guide.

Square – The opposite of a sharp bettor. Most often these are recreational bettors that will lose over the long term.

Steam – A large line movement in a game because of large wagers placed. You may choose to “chase steam” and bet in the direction that the line moved or “fade steam” and bet against it.

Straight bets – When you place a single wager on the spread, total, or moneyline of a game.

Straight up – This is the same thing as moneyline. When you choose the winner of a game with no point spread.

Teaser – A teaser in which the lines are moved in your favor in exchange for a lower payout. For example, NFL teasers often move the lines 6 points in your favor.

Total bets – Bets placed on whether the final score of a game will be over or under a set number (the “total”). Learn more in our Over/Under (Totals) Betting Guide.

Underdog – The team that is not favored to win.

Unit – The standard amount you bet on a game. Most bettors online will show the units they’ve won or lost as opposed to the total dollar amount.

Vig/vigorish – Also called the juice. This is how much a sportsbook charges to take your bets. For example, bets that have a 50% chance of winning will often have odds of -110 instead of +100 because the vig is included. The vig is what makes it hard to win long term with sports betting. Assuming you place all -110 bets, you will have to win 52.4% to just break even.

Dave Rathmanner

Dave Rathmanner is the Founder & CEO of Odds Assist. After struggling to find helpful sports betting resources and honest reviews when he first started betting, he decided to create the site he always wished he had. Dave has been betting on sports since NJ legalized it in 2018 and regularly analyzes sportsbooks to find the best options for bettors. Aside from creating new content for OA readers, Dave is also passionate about researching betting markets, creating models, and developing profitable betting strategies.