Sports Betting Terms And Meanings
Whatever your areas of interest, there are few (if any) that do not contain some form of subject-specific terminology or jargon and sports betting is no exception to that. If you are familiar with other types of gambling, some of the terms may already be familiar to you. Others are fairly self-explanatory, but there are sure to be a few requiring a little more exploration and understanding.
To participate successfully in the sports betting market there is some information which is critical and some less so. In an ideal world, learning everything about sports betting before even placing your first wager would be the optimum. However, reality suggests this is highly unlikely to be practical or achievable, certainly in the short-term or for those eager to make a start.
Being familiar with words and phrases that you will frequently encounter when you start to investigate sportsbooks for the first time and understanding them will give you a valuable grounding in the subject and hopefully preclude any frantic ‘Googling’. The glossary of terms below is far from exhaustive and is just intended to provide a brief introduction, so you may find it beneficial to collate a more comprehensive version in due course.
In this guide, you will learn:
- Why you need to understand the terminology
- The meaning of some of the most-used terms
- Examples of situations they may apply to
Bookie is the abbreviated term for a bookmaker, most often referred to as a ‘sportsbook’ when directly related to online sports betting.
Also referred to as ‘capping’, this term relates to a specific game or match where betting is limited. Examples where games are ‘circled’ are one-off charity contests, fixtures added to an existing series, those taking place in poor weather conditions and occasionally where unusual wagering patterns are apparent.
The closing line represents the last odds available before betting finishes. It is a practice of some bettors to ‘beat the closing line’ by placing a wager at higher odds than those quoted at closing.
A consensus pick is similar to a favourite but defined by a percentage rather than the odds set. Determined by a panel of experts using data from a varied selection of sportsbooks, the consensus reflects the opinions of the public in terms of bets placed.
A wager put at ‘even money’ means that winnings will only equate to the original value of the bet. If you were to place a £10 bet, you would only win £10 (plus your stake returned).
Often described as an ‘exotic’ bet, this is any wager not defined as either a ‘single’ or a ‘multiple’ bet. This category includes futures, specials and props.
The favourite, also known colloquially as the ‘Jolly’ or ‘Chalk’ is the selection most-favoured by the betting market. The status reflects the low odds available for that particular selection.
A term usually defined by the addition of ‘odds’ or ‘price’. This term relates to a specific type of bet where the odds remain fixed to the time of the wager; this is in contrast to exotic bets where the odds remain variable up to and beyond the closing line.
Sometimes described as an ‘ante-post’ wager, a ‘futures’ bet relates to the specific outcome of a sporting event which is not imminent. Very high fixed odds are usually offered by sportsbooks when selections are first available, which will reduce as the event draws closer and more bets laid.
A halftime bet is made at the start of a contest and relates specifically to the score/event at the halfway point.
When related to the sports betting market, hedging means placing wagers on more than one outcome. This ploy is often used to exploit discrepancies between sportsbooks odds and to limit losses. An extreme version where all available selections are backed (usually via a range of sportsbooks) to guarantee a win is known as ‘Arbitrage’.
A high roller is a gambler who places unusually high wagers. This term is more usually related to casino players and its origin stems originally from the game of Craps, which involves rolling dice and wagering on the outcome.
This practice can also be referred to as ‘live-betting’ or ‘in-play’ betting. Not all sportsbooks offer this type of wager as it relates to bets placed in ‘real time’, during the progress of a contest.
Moneyline used as a noun refers to the US system of displaying odds. A negative number indicates the favourite, while the positive suggests the less likely option.
A Money-line (modifier) is a single wager placed to predict a win or loss. In this type of bet, there is no spread; this is depicted by fixed odds instead.
The oddsmaker sometimes referred to as ‘linemaker’ is the individual, or group, which determines the odds for any specific outcome of a sporting event. Odds are defined by them using various types of information including current form, odds at other sportsbooks, betting history etc.
Off The Board
This term relates to a game or contest on which the sportsbook is not taking bets, or which terminates wagers on a specific outcome.
This type of bet is often offered by sportsbooks, most commonly for team games like football or basketball and concerned with total points accrued by both teams. The sportsbook presents an initial value, with wagers placed as to whether the outcome will be over or under that value.
A ‘pick ‘em’ is often referred to just as a ‘pick’ in sports betting parlay. It applies to a situation where there is nothing to choose between opponents and requires a simple decision between choices. In this situation, bettors will often back both options with two sportsbooks to ensure a win.
Spread betting is an alternative to betting on the odds of a win/lose outcome. The bettor must decide whether the result will be higher or lower than the ‘spread’ on offer with the sportsbook; with payout or loss determined by multiplying the initial stake by the difference in the outcome
Also described as a ‘special’ or ‘novelty’ bet, a proposition bet is most commonly known within sports betting as a ‘prop’. A prop is a type of derivative wager directly related to events within a sporting contest, rather than the overall outcome e.g. a specific number of goals scored in the first half of a football game, the round in which a boxing match may end etc.
In sportsbook terms, the ‘spread’ offered relates to a wager based on predicted differentials within a sporting contest, usually a team game. For instance, this could represent the difference in points between opposing rugby teams.
A ‘straight (up)’ bet is one that is placed purely on the win/lose result of a game or contest, regardless of the score or spread.
Often referred to as a ‘tipster’, a tout is usually an individual who provides sporting tips in return for remuneration. Alternatively, a tout service (aka ‘pick service’) is a business offering tips by subscription, provided by a group of experts in a particular sporting field.
Jeff is a professional gambler. His forte is spending all his time looking for winning odds and games. He specialises in racing and football betting on everything from race winners to corners awarded and believes in the systems he’s developed over the years. Learn more.