Betting 101: Terms You Need to Know

Sports Betting Glossary

Action  A wager of any type.  

Against the Spread (ATS) – Refers to taking or laying points (aka the spread) as opposed to taking a game straight up.  

Arb – Finding discrepancies in a line where you can guarantee profit by betting both sides of the game.   

Bankroll – The available funds you have to bet with.  

Bankroll Management – The act of planning and sticking to a betting strategy to limit exposure. Bookmaker – A person who creates betting markets and takes bets.  

Buying Points – Paying an additional fee to add or subtract from the point spread or total In order to make the odds more favorable to you, the bettor.  

Chalk – The favorite in a game, laying the vig – i.e (-110).  

Cover The Spread – When the favorite wins by more points than what the odds makers set the line at.  

Contrarian – A bet made on the opposite side of the majority.   

Dime – $1,000 Bet, Increments of a $1,000 – “I dropped 2 dimes on the Sox game”.  

Dog – Abbreviated for Underdog. This is the team bookmakers expect to be on the losing side of a game.   

Draw – Also known as a push. If a game falls exactly on the spread, there is no winner and bettors will receive their money back.  

Even Money – A bet where you are not paying any vigorish (i.e. +100).  

Extra Game – Not origunally priced, but added closer to the start time of the game. Usually limits are much lower than regular games.  

Favorite – The team the oddsmakers expect will win the game.  

Future –  Also known as an Outright Market. This is simple as it sounds – a bet that’s made for a future event – I.e Betting on who wins the NFL MVP or Super Bowl in August or picking a March Madness winner in December.   

Hedging – Placing bets on the opposite side after you have already placed a wager on one side. This can be used to either limit your losses, or guarantee a profit.  

Hook – The half point oddsmakers add to the line of key numbers in spread sports. 3 is a key number, the hook would be the half point added to the spread, -3.5. Often bettors but half a point in order to not get “hooked”, which means losing because of that half point added onto the spread. “Let me buy the hook” , pay an additional fee to get rid of that half point.    

Juice – The tax that sportsbooks add into the price offered to the bettor. For example: (-110) on both sides of a spread or total as the price – that .10c tax for every dollar you risk is the juice associated to the wager. In both spread and moneyline sports the juice is built in to what you the bettor have as an option to bet on. There is juice built in on any and every bet the sportsbook offers or they wouldn’t offer it.  

Key Numbers – This represents the most common margins of defeat, and is used frequently in football where many games end with one team winning by a multiple of three or seven.  

Lay The Points – Betting on the favorite and doing so for them to cover the spread. For example: Patriots are -3.5 against the Dolphins and I will lay the points, expecting the Patriots to win by 4 or more.   

Limit – The most money you can bet on a market.  

Lines – A different way to say the spread and odds.  

Middle – Betting both sides and having the chance to win both bets by the game ending between the two numbers you have. For example: LA Lakers +7 (-110) and in game you bet the LA Clippers ML (-110) when they’re losing in the 3rd quarter. The middle in this example is the Clippers winning the game, but winning by less than 7 – you will win both bets. You hit the middle.   

Moneyline – In sports like baseball, soccer and hockey, there are so few runs/goals scored that it doesn’t make sense to only offer a spread. Instead, these sports offer a moneyline in which you bet on whether or not a specific team is going to win straight-up.  

Mush – Someone who loses more often than they win.  

Nickel – A bet increment of $500, “I bet a nickel on 4 games today”   

Over/Under – AKA the Total. The combined points / runs / goals / etc. set by the oddsmaker. The bettor can take Over or the Under the set amount.   

Parlay – When a bettor makes multiple bets (at least two) and ties them together, you need multiple events to all win for greater payouts.   

Past Post – Betting on an event that has already started, but the oddsmakers behind the counter haven’t taken the pre game bet offering down off the board yet.   

Pick ‘Em  When the oddsmakers think the game is 50/50 they set it with 0 point spread – often you’ll see it listed as ‘PK’ short for Pick.   

Prop Bet – A bet on something other than the outcome of a game. Common prop bets include an over/under on points scored, passing yards, or strikeouts by an individual player.  

Push – When a contest ends without a winner. In a moneyline sport this happens if the game ended in a tie. In a spread sport, this happens if the favorite wins by the exact spread.  

The ‘Public’ – What your average guy is betting on, “The Public’s all over the Yankees today”   

Reverse-Line Movement –  Reverse line movement in sports betting is when a line moves away from the side receiving the majority of bets. An example would be the Patriots falling from -7 to -6 despite attracting 75% of spread bets. Or, in a moneyline sport, if the Yankees moved from -180 to -170 while receiving 70% of bets.  

Run Line – In moneyline sports like baseball or hockey, you can take the equivalent of a spread    – the run/puck line. This alternative allows you to add runs for the underdog, or subtract them from the favorite. This means that a favorite has to win by at least two runs for you to win your bet, while an underdog could either lose by one run or win straight-up to win the bet. The benefit of this is that you can bet more lucrative lines on favorites, but because baseball and hockey are such low-scoring games, this can be a risky proposition.  

Sharp – Someone who makes and moves betting markets based on their respected wager.  

Steam – A sudden, drastic and uniform line movement across the entire sports betting marketplace.  

Steam Chaser – Someone who stares at the betting board and bets on the premise that oddsmakers are moving the lines one way because respected money is coming in, the steam chaser will blindly follow the price change in the market.   

Take The Points – Betting on the underdog and taking the points against the spread, expecting to lose by less points than the oddsmaker gives you.   

Teaser – A combined wager that bettors use in order to buy points in 2 games. It’s similar to a parlay in that you need to win both to cash the bet, but you get a set amount of points for making the combination to give yourself a better chance to win. If the Jets are -7 and the Bills are +4.5 you can do a 6 point teaser in order to get the Jets -1 and the Bills +10.5.