Betting Glossary 101

ATS (Against the spread) One of the most popular types of sports betting is betting “against the point spread” (also known as ATS). The point spread is a total number the bookmakers set with the intention of evening the playing field between two teams. Setting a spread gives a reason for bettors to bet on either side of the game. When betting against the spread there is a “favorite” and an “underdog.” The  favorite to win the game is considered the better team and listed with a minus (-) sign. The underdog is the team not expected to win the game and is listed with a plus (+) sign. To win your bet by betting on the – point favorite, your team needs to win the game by more than the point spread. To win your bet betting on the + money underdog your team needs to either lose by LESS points than the spread, or to win the game outright. If the score ends equal to the spread the wager is considered a “push.” If your wager is considered a push it will be voided and your wager will be returned.

Bookie, Bookmaker, House, Sportsbook, etcA bookie, bookmaker, house, or sportsbook is the person or entity who facilitates gambling most commonly on sports or a casino. A bookie, bookmaker, house, or sportsbook is someone who sets the odds, accepts the bets, and pays out winnings.

Buying PointsWhen betting against the spread certain bookmakers allow you to “buy points.” Buying points lets you alter the point spread in your favor of the team you want to wager on. If offered, the sportsbook charges you in exchange for moving the line in your favor. Usually, it costs an extra 10 cents for each half point you buy. If the spread is -3 for -110, buying points allows you to buy the spread to -2.5 for -120. If the spread is +3 for -110, buying points allows you to buy the spread to +3.5 for -120. Usually, after getting to the -170 range, buying points will cost more than an extra 10 cents and will continue to go up the further you buy or sell the line. 

ChalkThe favorite and often the team that the most money is on. 

Circled gameA game where the betting action is limited. Usually these are games that have some level of uncertainty about them still such as injuries, bad weather, starting lineups, etc. When a game is “circled” you will normally see a “C” next to them. These games are usually limited to the amounts you can place on them or they won’t be able to be included in parlays or teasers. Normally the status will change once the variables which were up in the air are made clear.

Closing LineNormally when lines are set, they tend to move up and down based on betting activity.  The “closing line” is what the line ended at once it came off the board (meaning once the game starts).

Cover“Cover” is a way to describe winning a bet against the spread. If your side wins the “against the spread” bet, it means your team covered the spread. 

EdgeFinding an “edge” in sports betting is the ability to find bets that have a higher probability of winning than the odds you receive imply. An “edge” is a belief you have an advantage on the sportsbook.

Even MoneyAn “even money bet” is when you are risking exactly the same amount as you are winning. An even money line is +/-100

Expected Value (EV)  Expected value (EV) in betting is the measure of what a bettor can expect to win or lose per bet placed on the same odds over a repeated time. Positive expected value (+EV) implies profit over time, while a negative value (-EV) implies a loss over time. The goal is to identify betting value with every bet they make.

ExposureThe total amount you have wagered on a given position. 

FavoriteThe team who is expected to win the game.  

GambleRisking money on the outcome of a game.

Handicapper or CapperA handicapper is normally referred to as someone who is an expert in analyzing data and making +EV predictions on the outcome of games. 

HedgingA term to describe a strategy used to mitigate risk. It is normally placing wagers on the other side of the initial bet to try to middle a bet, reduce your risk/exposure, or guarantee profit regardless of outcome.  

HookRefers to a half point. 

VigThe Vig, also known as juice, is the cost to play that wager.

Laying the PointsWhen you are ‘laying the points,’ you are betting on a favorite against the spread.

Laying the PriceWhen you are ‘laying the price,’ you are betting on the favorite against the money line.

LimitThe limit is the max amount of wagering allowed. 

LineThe line is the current odds on that wager.

Line MovementThe change in the odds from the release of the line to the start of the game. 

LinemakerThe person or people who set the odds.

LongshotAn underdog that has a very unlikely chance of winning.

MiddleBetting a ‘middle’ means to bet on opposing sides of a wager at different lines. Using line movement, a bettor may place two wagers on opposite sides at different spreads to try and “middle” the outcome. When ‘middling’ you are trying to win both wagers.

Money Line (written as “ML”) The cost of a play to win outright without a spread. 

No actionA bet where no money is exchanged and your original wager is refunded. A bet may be considered no answer for reasons such as weather postponement, the minimum requirements of the bet not being met, or a specific player being scratched before the game. 

Odds – Odds are listed as the implied probability of the outcome for a wager. They indicate how much money you could win or have to risk betting on that outcome.

Off the boardA bet that has been removed from the list of bettable games, either due to uncertainty about player availability or the game has already started. 

Opening Line The first line posted for a specific game. Lines often move up or down after they open. This is the very first line and chance you have to place a wager on that game. 

Over BetBetting that the outcome will be over the oddsmakers posted total.  

Pick ’em or PKWhen neither team is favored and the spread is 0. When a spread is a pick ‘em you are betting on that team to win outright.

Point spread or SpreadThe designated line to level the playing field between two opponents that a team needs to win or lose by. 

The PublicReferred to as the standard group of bettors placing wagers on a game.  

PushWhen the outcome of the game results in a tie for your wager. How a push is graded will depend on your type of wager. 

Sides – In sports betting, sides are when you bet on either team to win. Sides are considered the different teams playing each other.  

Single actionAn “if bet” in sports gambling that is processed only if the preceding bet wins.

SportsbookAn establishment that accepts sports bets. 

SteamStrong line movements in one direction or the other. Normally this is related to overreactions to news or information but can also indicate where a large group or syndicate is placing their money. 

Straight betBetting on just one team. Not an “exotic” wager. 

Ticketa receipt verifying your wager. 

Ticket Window, Cashier Window, The WindowThe place you go to cash your tickets and place your bets.

TotalThe total represents the total points scored between both teams, set by the oddsmakers, and the bettor will either take an “over” or “under” bet. 

UnderBetting that the outcome will be below the oddsmakers posted total.  

UnderdogThe team forecasted to lose.

Unita measurement of wagering based on your bankroll. Here, each handicapper uses their own method of unit wagering. Please click here to understand each handicappers 

ValueGetting an edge on the current line.  If I bet the Cavs to win the championship at +1500 odds and that line eventually moves to +500 then I have 1000 pts of “value” on my bet.  In certain situations people will actually pay you a fair amount to purchase your bet from you if you have a ticket with a lot of value.  The more value you have on a line or wager, the more options you have to hedge and control your financial outcome.

Vig –  see “Juice.”

WagerA bet. 


Slang Terms:

DimeThe wagering amount considered to be $1,000.  

DogShort for underdog. 

DollarThe wagering amount considered to be $100.

Exotic Exotic bets are bets outside of the standard point spread, money line, run line, puck line or parlay type bets. 

Fifty Cents or Half DollarThe wagering amount considered to be $50.  

Getting DownExecuting the bet. “I got down a dime on Duke.” 

NickelThe wagering amount considered to be $500.

PressTo scale up your bet size. Often people will take the winnings from one game and “press it” on the next game doubling their bet size.

RunnerSomeone who often serves as a middleman between the bettor and the book.

SharpAn expert or specialist who normally finds edges on specific contests.  

WhaleA player wagering an extremely large amount of money.

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