Sports Betting Terminology and Slang

Written by: Cliff Spiller , Online Casino and Game Expert

Sports betting terms are many, and it’s important to familiarize yourself with them if you want to be a step ahead. We recommend you bookmark this page and visit it whenever you need a quick refresh.



Slang used in the United Kingdom to describe the betting tax. This is sometimes referred to as beeswax.


A mistake by sportsbooks that allows you to wager on every single outcome in a sport or event and make a profit.

Asian Handicap

A type of spread bet where a half point is added to the line because the chance of a draw is high in that particular sport.



When you support a particular team by placing a wager on them, you back them to win. This can also be called backing.

Bad Beat

Losing on a bet that was all but a certainty is considered a bad beat.


A slang term that is used when a bet is expected by everyone to be a winner.


The amount of cash that a person has set aside for sports betting is known as their bankroll.


A person who places bets for another person who doesn’t want to be associated with sports betting.


A cash wager on the outcome of a particular event.


A person who places a bet on sports. Also referred to as a punter in some parts of the world.

Betting Exchange

A marketplace where people and bookmakers can retrieve odds on various sports and events in order to lay bets or make a wager.


A company or person that is licensed by the country or state they operate in to accept wagers on sports. Sometimes also called a bookie. This is a term used in the United Kingdom and Australia. In the United States, it’s called a sportsbook.


A $100 bet.



The favorite is known as chalk. A chalk player is a bettor who always just bets on the favorite.

Combination Bet

A selection of the first and second teams or people to finish that way in any order. This is also called a quinella.

Circle Game

Sometimes wagering limits are lowered due to extenuating circumstances. The game is then known as a circle game when this happens.

Closing Line

A sportsbook’s final line before betting is closed due to the game starting.


An amount of cash that is given to you by a bookmaker to make bets. If you win, you’ll just receive the winnings. If you lose you’ll have to pay back the original bet.


Dead Heat Rule

If a result ends up as a draw and that result was not available to be wagered on initially, then there will be a rule in place to pay out winnings at a certain rate. This can vary between sportsbooks.


The total payout for a winning bet is known as a dividend. This dividend includes the amount won and the initial bet.

Dime Bet

A $1000 bet.


The underdog in a sporting game or event is the team or person that is not likely to win.

Draw No Bet

In this type of bet, you receive your money back if the game ends in a draw. It’s a popular bet in soccer because so many games end in a draw in that sport.


Covering a number of competitors in an event while ensuring you’ll be in profit if any of them win.


European Handicap

This is another type of spread bet; however, only total points are used. So the bet can result in a push if the handicap pushes the loser up or down to equal points of the winner.

Even Money

A bet that pays out at 1 to 1 is even money.


A bet on the first two places in a sport or event in the correct order.



A complete list of all competitors in a particular sporting event. Usually, this will be associated with golf, horse racing, snow sports, and athletics.

Fixed Odd Bets

In this bet type, the odds are fixed and won’t change after the bet has taken place. You’ll know your payout based on the amount you wagered and the fixed odds at that particular time.


A change of the odds listed on a tote board.


The number of outcomes contained within a parlay bet.


A record of a participant’s recent results in sporting events.

Futures Bet

A wager placed on a long-term result, such as who will win the super bowl before the season starts. This is also known as an ante-post bet.



Slang for $1000.


Halftime Bet

A wager made at halftime in a sport. The odds will be updated to reflect the game situation and how teams or people are performing.

Half Ball

A bet in soccer where you win if your team wins or the game is a draw.


A disadvantage or advantage for a team. This is used in spread and line bets.

Hedging Your Bets

Making separate bets which are in favor of the outcome against your main bet to provide you with some insurance if your main bet fails. In general, hedging your bets is not a good idea unless you have a lot of money on the line in a futures bet or something similar.


In The Red

A term to describe an outcome that is odds on favorite to happen and results in a win for those that have wagered on it.



This is slang used by bookmakers for the favorite.


The interest charged by illegal bookmakers on money that is owed to them by gamblers. Also sometimes refer to the extra amount you have to bet in a wager. When you bet 110 to win 100 some players call the extra 10 juice.



This is a bet on an outcome not occurring in a sporting event. You could lay a bet that a team won’t win a game throughout the season, so you’re backing all the other teams that will compete against them.

Confusingly, lay can also refer to the act of putting the bet on something, you lay the bet in favor of an outcome occurring.


A bet made by a bookmaker with another bookmaker to reduce the risk of the bets he or she has sold.


When a team or person’s odds increase, they have lengthened. This means people have stopped wagering as much on them. This is sometimes also referred to as odds drifting.


The collection of odds that sports books are offering on games.

Live Bet

A wager on a sport or event that has already commenced is known as a live bet. It can also be referred to as an in-play bet, or an in the run bet.


A certain winner is known as a lock.

Long Shot

An outcome that is considered unlikely to happen, and as such, the payout will be much higher if it does. This is associated with the term long odds also.


Margin Bet

In this wager, you select how much one team will beat another team by. You can either choose above or below a certain amount, ranges, or a specific amount.


A person who is bad luck and shouldn’t be associated with while betting.



A $500 bet is known as a nickel bet.


Off the Board

A sport or event that a sportsbook is not accepting bets on.

Over / Under

In this wager, you make a bet on whether the total score of two teams combined will be over or under a certain pre-determined amount.



A bet on multiple outcomes in different sports or games that occur in chronological order. Each bet leads into the next one, provided it’s a winning bet. If one bet loses, then the whole parlay is over and loses.

This gives you the opportunity to link up many bets and keep rolling them into each other so as to get a larger payout if you pick everything correctly. This is also referred to as multi-bet, accumulator, or all up bet.

Pari-Mutuel Betting

In this type of betting all wagers placed on a particular sport or event are placed in a large pool. The house or sportsbook will remove a percentage of the pool as their take and the rest remains to be shared by those who end up winning.


A bet on someone or something in sport finishing in the top 3, or sometimes the top 4 depending on the sportsbook.

Proposition Bet

This is a bet type which is focussed on an outcome in sport, other than who wins and who loses. It’s also known as an exotic bet as the types that are available are numerous and seem to get stranger and stranger.

You can bet on first goal scorers, player statistics, who’s winning at half time, and much more.


A slang term for a person that gambles. This is most commonly used in Australia and the United Kingdom. In the United States, the term bettor is used.


Another term that is used to describe a tie or draw, and also to describe a situation where no money changes hands.



The amount you win on a bet is the return.



Someone who bets on the same sport or event with different sportsbooks to try and turn a profit no matter what the result is.


The opposite of lengthened, when odds shorten it means the outcome is now popular amongst those wagering on the event or sport.

Sports Betting

Sports betting is the act of making a wager on a particular outcome in a sport in order to make money.

Sports Book

A company that operates sports betting as they’re licensed by the state or country to do so. These can be both bricks and mortars establishments as a stand-alone premise, or in a casino, and they can also be online.

Many sportsbooks are now a mix of both, they have online betting and store fronts or space in casinos to make bets too. There are also Online Casino Sportsbooks where you can play games and place bets on sports.

Spread Bet

In a spread bet each team or outcome receives either an advantage or disadvantage to their score in order to even the game up and provide similar odds for both outcomes.

In a game where two teams play each other, the favorite will have to win by more than a certain amount, and if they don’t a bet on the other team will be a winner, even though the team lost.

This bet is also commonly called a line bet, although in that circumstance the line is fixed by the sports book. You can also change the spread to whatever you like at some books, and the odds will change with it.

Single Bet

When you make a wager on a single outcome occurring in sport, it’s known as a single bet.


Betting methodologies that use complex mathematics and formulas to determine how to bet on a range of outcomes in order to be profitable in the long run. Although it’s possible to be successful doing this, it’s also very difficult.

Straight Bet

A wager on a winner and that’s all.


The Edge

A sportsbook profit margin that they make off players after all winning bets are paid out. This is determined by how they set the odds in the first place and how much action they can generate on each side of a bet.


A multi-bet where the spreads are altered to be in your favor in every game.


Advice or selections on who or what will win or do well in a sport or event.

Total Bet

A wager on the total score of the two teams or all competitors combined. Generally, you’ll choose a total range which will give you a higher chance of winning at lower odds. If you choose an exact amount on the total bet the payout will be much higher.


A system of betting where a pool is generated and odds are determined by popularity. The house will take a percentage out of the pool and the rest is set aside to pay out winners as per how much has been wagered and what the resultant odds are for all possible outcomes. The term tote is short for totalizator.


A wager made on the top three in an event. These must be picked in correct order for the bet to be a winner. You can also put on a box trifecta bet, in this bet, the order of the top three doesn’t matter.



A team, person, or thing that is unlikely to win and has long odds. This is also known as just a dog.



When you don’t pay off a gambling debt, it’s a welch.

Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller Online Casino and Game Expert

Cliff Spiller is a casino industry expert who enjoys writing relatable content and game guides for both beginners and experts. He's a history buff, poker player, and huge Dallas Cowboys fan.

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