Sports Betting Dictionary

DictionaryBefore you start combing through online bookmakers and gambling articles, it’s wise to learn the proper terminology. Only then can you truly understand what’s being discussed, and this can make a major difference when it comes time to put money on the line. </>

In order to assist you, I’ve compiled this sport betting glossary with some of the most common words and phrases. Once you’ve read and digested it, you’ll be able to talk shop like an old pro.

Across the Board – Betting on a horse to win, place, and show.

Arbitrage Bets – A technique where a bettor places a wager on each possible outcome with various sportsbooks. By taking advantage of the differing odds from one book to the next, the gambler hopes to generate a profit regardless of the result of the game.

Bookmaker – Also known as a “bookie,” this is an individual who accepts wagers on various sporting events.

Buck – Gambling shorthand for $100.

Buying Points – When a bettor pays extra money in order to adjust the point spread in his or her favor.

Canadian Line – Sometimes used in hockey, this is a combination of the money line and point spread.

Chalk – The favorite to win in any competition.

Covering the Spread – Winning a wager against the point spread. When a favored team “covers the spread,” they have won by a large enough margin to overcome the point reduction imposed by the spread.

Dime – Betting shorthand for $1,000.

Dollar – Gambling shorthand for $100.

Even Money – A wager that doesn’t include vigorish or odds.

Fifty Cents – Another way to say $50.

First Half Bet – A wager that only applies to the first half of a sporting event.

Futures – Betting on something weeks or months in advance. A common example is wagering on the winner of the Super Bowl prior to the start of the NFL season.

Half-a-Dollar – Another term for $50.

Juice – Also known as the “vigorish,” this is the commission that a bookie makes for accepting a wager.

Limit – The maximum that can be wagered on a single game before the bookmaker decides to alter the points or odds.

Money Line – A wager where no point spread is involved. A +150 team is an underdog that pays $150 on a $100 wager. A -150 team is a favorite that requires a $150 wager in order to win $100.

Nickel – Another way to say $500.

Oddsmaker – The person who creates the betting lines used by bookies.

Off the Board – A sporting event that isn’t being offered by a bookmaker.

Parlay Bets – A wager on two or more teams. If the first wager is a winner, then the initial bet is put towards the following wager. In order to collect money from a parlay bet, all picks must be correct. These wagers are difficult, but they offer a large payout.

Point Spread Bets – Wagers in which the favorite team has their final score reduced, while the underdog team sees an increase. The adjusted final score of a team determines whether the bettor wins or loses.

Prop Bets – Bets that challenge the customer to predict the outcome of some future event such as a political election, playoff series, or even the first player to catch a touchdown pass in a specific game.

Push – A bet that ends without a winner or loser.

Reduced Juice Bets – When a sportsbook offers a lower commission fee on wagers. This is sometimes offset by worse odds on one team (usually the favorite).

Runline – Often used in baseball wagers in place of the moneyline.

Sharp – A knowledgeable gambler who doesn’t make careless mistakes and often earns a decent income from sports betting.

Spread – A shortened form of “point spread.”

Steam – A line that moves rapidly in one direction with great momentum. This is frequently seen in championship boxing matches, where the general public turns out to place their money on a popular fighter.

Store – A location where sports wagers (legal or otherwise) can be made.

Straight Bet – A bet on a single horse, team, or athlete.

Teaser Bets – A wager on two or more teams where the line for each has been moved to favor the bettor. In order to win a teaser, the gambler must get each choice right.

Totals Bet – Also known as the “Over/Under,” this form of wager challenges the bettor to predict whether the combined score of two teams will be higher (over) or lower (under) than a number determined by the oddsmaker.

Tout – A person or service that sells picks on upcoming games.

Underdog – Also known as a “dog,” this is the team that’s considered most likely to lose an athletic competition.

Vigorish – Also known as “cut,” “take,” “vig,” or “juice,” this is the fee a bookie charges for accepting wagers.

Jim Beviglia
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About Jim Beviglia
Jim Beviglia has been a gambling writer at since 2018. During that time, he’s written just about every type of article related to gambling, including reviews of betting sites, guides to popular casino games, betting tips on both casino and sports betting, sports and casino blog posts, and game picks. In addition to online gambling, one of Jim’s other major interests is music. He has been doing freelance work for various music sites and magazines for two decades. Among his outlets past and present are American Songwriter, VinylMePlease, Treble, and The Bluegrass Situation. Jim has also written five books on music that were published by Rowman & Littlefield.