Before any bettor begins their journey online, it’s imperative they get to grips with the seemingly endless list of gambling terms and general sports betting terms. We will trawl through the complete glossary of sports betting terminology and provide explanations for their meaning, as well as offering some delving deeper into the specifics of things like betting odds meaning, Major Leagues and events, and colloquial gambling terminology. From flat bets to pk in betting, we’ll cover all the everything our readers need to know to get them started betting online.
Major Sports Leagues and Events
Golden Boot Awards
Golden Boot awards are offered in a variety of different sports. Though, generally speaking, they are awarded in soccer. The award is given to players who manage to score the most goals in a particular season.
The National Basketball League is the biggest basketball league in the world and one of the most profitable major sports leagues on the planet. The competition boasts teams from across the US, as well as in Canada.
Major League Baseball has been around for well over a half-century now and continues to draw in millions of fans and viewers each year. The competition features teams from the US and Canada and is concluded with the World Series each year.
Major League Soccer is the newest major American sports league, founded in 1993. Soccer remains the most popular sport on the planet and fans from across the world follow the MLS, as it offers a unique collection of players from North and Latin America, as well as old European league veterans.
There is no league like the National Hockey League, with players from across the world traveling to spend their careers there. With a number of teams in Canada, as well as the US, the competition to make it to the season finale, the Stanley Cup, competition in the NHL is fierce.
The National Football League is the biggest major American league and features teams from across the US. With the largest revenue out of all major leagues, the NFL never disappoints. It’s concluded each year with the Super Bowl.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is the collective name for all major sports leagues. The NCAAB (basketball) and the NCAAF (football) are two of the most popular.
March Madness is one of the most exciting markets to wager on each year. The event is entirely related to college basketball and draws in millions of bettors from across the US, as they attempt to predict a winner.
The Hart Memorial Trophy is an award given out annually to the MVP (most valuable player) of the NHL. The trophy was donated by David Hart, the father of Cecil Hart, an NHL hall of Famer and former longtime head coach of the Montreal Canadiens.
Similarly to the Hart Trophy, the Vezina Trophy is awarded annually and is given to the goaltender MVP. The General Managers (GM) at the end of each season vote who this will be.
Otherwise known as the NHL best defender award, this NHL trophy is for the best player that season, demonstrating the most skill as a defender.
This award is given to the rookie first-year NHL players who performed the best that season. The first NHL president was Frank Calder, which is why this trophy is named as such.
Ted Lindsay Award
The Ted Lindsay Award is another name for the MVP award handed out at the end of each season in the NHL. Ted Lindsay was a former player, as such the award was named after him as an act of respect.
Vince Lombardi Trophy
The Vince Lombardi trophy is named after the famous NFL coach who saw great success during his days in charge. This award is therefore gifted to the best coach throughout the football season..
The Stanley Cup is the most prestigious trophy in all of the NHL, with the team performing the best throughout the regular season and postseason picking up the award. The NHL Finals sees a head-to-head best of 5 series end with one Stanley Cup winner.
Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy
While in the NHL the winners of the postseason are awarded the Stanley Cup, the NBA team that triumphs in the basketball postseason are awarded the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
The Rose Bowl is a major sports stadium in Pasadena, California, which annually hosts the oldest bowl game in college ball. It usually takes place on January 1st and draws in thousands of spectators each year.
There are quite a few Triple Crowns. But, the US version of the Triple Crown is made up of the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes, and the Preakness Stakes. If somehow a horse wins all three of those races, they are awarded the Triple Crown!
The Grand National
The Grand National is one of the most famous horse races in the world, alongside the Kentucky Derby and the Royal Ascot. The race takes place annually at Aintree Racecourse in Merseyside, England.
Between the end of one season and the start of the next, major leagues in the US hold Drafts to decide which players will be selected for major teams. The Drafts provide a very popular market for bettors as they offer great betting opportunities. Drafts take place in the NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB, with the youngest major league the MLS looking to adopt a Draft system in the coming years.
Sports Gambling Glossary
Added games are simply more games added to the schedule by popular demand. Often they replace events that have been canceled, but added games can occur for a variety of reasons.
A popular sports betting term and often referred to as just “extra time,” especially in sports like soccer. AET is an acronym for “Added Extra Time” and refers to the extra time added at the end of a soccer game, which is brought about by injuries or incidents during the regular time.
Alternative or alt-lines provide bettors with the opportunity to raise or lower the match odds with the relevant price change. A bet to show an interest in a different betting line than the mainstream lines offered.
American odds are all based on a unit of 100, they refer to the alternatives to decimal or fraction odds. A plus (+) sign indicates the underdogs, and a negative (-) represents the favorites. In straight betting terms, American odds are only really applicable for US bettors. While in other countries, bettors work with fractional and decimal betting odds.
Also known as futures, these are risky bets that are made well in advance of the event taking place. A very common bet wager in sports betting.
Short for Arbitrage.
It’s a betting strategy employed that takes advantage of slight discrepancies between the odds at various bookmakers. This strategy involves a bettor wagering on both sides of an event, at different bookies, guaranteeing a return regardless of the outcome.
Similar to spread betting in some ways, Asian Handicapping offers from a quarter to multiple goals. Generally linked to soccer, but not exclusively, this betting market doesn’t allow for ties.
An acronym commonly used for “Against the Spread”. Betting Against the Spread means betting for the underdog in accordance with the lines offered at the sportsbook.
They are safe bets around which parlays are often built. Used in parlays, Bankers are the bedrock of bet. Having a banker with a few other riskier bets is a common thing to see on a players’ bet slip.
The Best-price percentage is the percentage chance of winning. Meaning a match with even odds stands at a 50% best-price percentage.
Actual or promotional money (free bets) used to make wagers.
Betting exchanges are websites where bettors can wager against other bettors rather than against the bookmaker. Betting exchanges make money by taking commissions on bets placed.
Fairly self-explanatory. Betting strategies are applied all the time by gamblers, as they employ various techniques, statistical analysis, and superstitions to create a plan they often stick to.
Bonuses and promotions are regularly offered by major sportsbook providers and act as an incentive for bettors to play with their book, or reload (reinvest) funds using certain payment methods.
Any website or mobile app that offers betting markets on certain sports markets; horse racing is a racebook, sports betting is a sportsbook.
A very popular and common term in the gambling world, the bookie is short for Bookmaker, which is the same as a Linemaker. Bookies set the prices at a sportsbook.
Combinations of moneyline and against-the-spread bets, a betting line that is commonly offered in ice hockey.
Another term, although not so common in the US, for the favorite in any game or event.
Closing lines are the final odds that are posted before lines close. They rarely look the same as opening lines, unless the event has had no interference from outside leading up to the event.
Often seen in futures and ante betting, co-favorites are when two or more teams priced at the same odds.
This is the money bookmakers take to stay in business. Also, see juice or vigorish.
These are wagers used by bettors to predict the exact score at the end of a game. A risky bet, unless the bettor has a tip or is more sure of something.
Often used by bettors as a shorthand way of saying “covering the spread,” which is a term we will cover below.
Another odd type, something we see more in UK betting markets than anywhere else. Smaller odds (1.5 opposed to 7.0) represent the favorites.
It refers to wagers placed at (-110) where the juice is 10% of the wager. A dime is also a slang term for wagers worth $10, $100, or $1000.
Dog is a short way of saying underdog. Underdog refers to the party least likely to win involved in the wager.
A Double Action is muli-wager bet. These bets require bets to be won, tied, or pushed for the next bets to be considered.
A bet placed on two wagers. The winnings from the first are rolled over to the second bet. Like parlays, you must win both to win the double bet.
Common across most sports, these wagers bet on the winner at halftime and at the end of the game. An example of this would be if the Lakers are winning at half time and The Mavs were winning at full time.
Doubleheaders are two games played on the same day between the same two teams. These mainly happen in baseball.
You’ll also hear this called a push in sports betting. It represents any match that ended in a tie. The original stakes are returned.
A drift represents a steady and gradual growth of odds.
Bookies regularly offer each-way bets in order to spread the risk for bettors. A win bet and a place bet constitute an Each-way bet. An example of this would be a horse to win and another horse to place in third.
An edge is a common term, also used in everyday vocabulary, meaning to have a slight advantage over another.
Even Money is when a wager returns the same amount as the original wager. The bettor may win or lose the same amount as the original risk. Not a good bet.
Often referred to as prop bets or special bets, exotic bets are often a wager geared towards being more entertaining. They are normally unrelated to the outcome of a particular event or game.
Expected goals, or other scoring systems, represent the number of goals that are predicted to occur in a half or throughout an entire game.
An expected value is something that can be calculated or estimated by bettors and represents the amount a bettor expects to win across a wager or variety of wagers.
One of the most common phrases in gambling vocabulary. The favorite is the team or individual most likely to win – the opposite of an underdog.
First half bet
A fairly self-explanatory type of wager. The bet is on who or which team will likely be ahead during the first half of a particular match or event.
This type of wager is very common and is based on the first/last person to score in a particular match or competition.
Fixed-odds means whenever you bet, the bet won’t change as the date of the game or event approaches. The closing line will not change after your bet.
Yet another type of odds used to calculate probabilities of bets coming in. Often used in racebooks. When compared with American odds, fractional odds displaying 2/1 is the same as +200.
Another very common betting market. Futures odds come with a higher level of risk, as there is a much longer time between the bet being paid out than a normal bet made with the event live or approaching in the coming days. Typically seen as a high risk bet.
Wagers that are set at half points represent half-ball handicaps. An example of this could be in Champions League football and a bettor predicts Bayern Munich to win 3.5, meaning the over-under lands on 3 or 4, depending on which way the bet goes.
Handicaps are used to level out odds. A handicap ensures the odds are attractive to bettors as they produce a competitive element for both sides of a bet, where possible.
A handicapper is a person who sets, bets on, or predicts a handicap.
Something that is embedded in betting, handicapping is by definition predicting the odds to even a game.
The handle represents the maximum a bookmaker will accept on a particular wager, a kind of total betting limit.
Often employed as a betting strategy, hedging your bets refers to betting on the opposite side of the original wager to ensure the bettor wins.
Home field advantage
Having the home advantage, simply means the team is playing at their stadium, ground, or their usual playing field. The advantage of doing this can sway odds in that team’s favor.
Otherwise known as multi-wager bets, they rely on a variety of wagers to win in order to proceed through the bet. These often come about when a knockout tournament is involved.
Commonly known as Live Betting, in-play betting refers to the use of apps or through a desktop site to create wagers on a particular game or event as it’s happening. This has become increasingly popular in the betting industry.
A Joint favorite is when at least two units such as players or teams are seen as equally likely to succeed.
Juice refers to the commission bookmakers take-off of winning bets. It is also known as “vig” or vigorish.
John Kelly is famous within the gambling world, as he was the creator of a formula employed by bettors to try and maximise the value of their bets through statistical predictions.
Landing on three/seven
This is the most common score differential seen in football.
Sportsbooks always set the limits. They are in place to limit the maximum and minimum each player can stake on any bet.
Bets that are handicapped to make both sides equal.
This is the same as an oddsmaker and refers to the person/employee that creates the odds for a bookmaker.
As we mentioned already, Live-betting is much the same as in-play betting and refers to the ability for bettors to wager on games or events as they’re happening.
An uncommon term used to describe a bet that is certain to come in. A certi bet.
A longshot is as it is in general English vocabulary. It refers to someone betting on an underdog. A high-risk high reward bet, with a low probability of success.
A margin refers to two separate things; one is a point spread and the other is the oddsmakers commission on a match.
A match bet is any bet on a wager with two sides in a head-to-head match-up.
Moneyline bets are the most popular wager in sports betting. A simple wager. One bet on which individual or team they expect to win or lose. Not based on other aspects of the game, such as score.
A multiple, or multi bet is any bet that has multiple wagers within it. They are also known as parlays, combos, or accumulators. Below are some examples of multis:
- Double: One parlay on two different sides.
- Treble: One parlay on three different sides.
- Trixie: Four bets on three sides: Three doubles and one treble.
- Patent: Seven bets on three sides: Three doubles, three singles and one treble.
- Yankie: Eleven bets on four sides: Sic doubles, four trebles, and one four-bet parlay.
- Lucky 15: Fifteen bets on four sides: Six doubles, four trebles, four singles, and a four-bet parlay
- Lucky 31: Thirty-one bets on five sides: five singles, ten doubles, ten trebles, one five-bet parlay, and five four-side parlays
Common in all major American sports leagues, an MVP stands for Most Valuable Player.
A bet seen as a certain winner, like a lock. The best bet to win on any match or event.
When a bet has been pulled from the betting market.
The balance of advantage on a bet. Odds determine the risk versus reward for bettors.
We’ve discussed the three types of odds already, but to remind you we have American, Decimal and Fractional odds to choose from.
Odds on favorite
The side that is most likely to win.
Much like a linemaker. The person who decides what the odds will be, with some of the best normally coming out of Las Vegas.
Off the board
When a bet is yet to be posted. Sudden changes to the weather or injuries to players can drastically affect the odds, with bookmakers placing the odds on OTD.
A type of ante or futures bet. Outright bets make a prediction as to the overall outcome of a competition, league, tournament, etc…
An over bet is based on the value set by the oddsmakers, the over is betting on the result to go over the set value.
An assessment made of the markets when they are in favor of the bettors, opposed to the bookmakers – as is normal.
Overround is when the markets are in favor of the bookmakers, rather than the bettors.
The bookmakers will fix a certain figure. From this figure, bettors can wager over or under and the bet will be decided on the resulting score.
The same as a multibet, when a combination of bets are made into a single wager.
This is the amount a bettor wins on a bet, including the original stake placed.
A Pick ‘em is a betting market where the odds are the same on both sides.
A figure oddsmakers decide to represent the gap between the winning and losing teams.
This is the term used to define the time horses and greyhounds are set to begin the race.
Power Rankings are common in major American league sports. They are ranking based on a variety of different statistics, based on current form and overall performance.
The price is a figure based on odds and potential rewards. It’s the amount it costs to play a particular bet.
Prop (proposition) bet
We touched on this before, but prop (proposition) bets are very popular and represent bets that aren’t associated with the outcome of the game. Instead, prop bets focus on more entertaining markets to add value to the viewing experience of a game or event.
The puck line is the number of goals that an underdog must stay within or a favorite must win by to cash a winning ticket.
What is a push bet? A push is when a bet is tied or drawn, or lands on the spread. This is when the money is given back to the bettor with no loss or gain in funds.
Quarter bet (see first half, second half bet)
Sports that involve quarters, such as ice hockey, will allow for quarter bets on the first , second, third, and final quarter.
This is when someone adds additional funds to their bookmaker account.
This is something you often see in Las Vegas, which is when the bookmaker assigns a number to a bettor.
This is another type of parlay bet which is based on three legs or more than covers all wagers.
A run line is a handicap, against-the-spread baseball wagering option. The figure is normally set at 1.5 runs at the start of a game. You may see it changing on live betting markets.
Scalping is an exercise where bettors switch between various sportsbooks in order to take advantage of all the bonus offerings available at each.
Sell is when a bet is received as being too high. Over the odds. One to avoid.
This is a person within the betting community that is considered to know the game well and invests a good amount of time into gambling. From this they gain experience and know-how other rookie bettors don’t possess.
The SP or starting price represents the opening odds for greyhound and horse races.
We discussed them before as prop bets, which represent the same thing, a different kind of betting market differing from standard lines such as money lines and parlays.
Two handicapped bets on a single wager that have differing values is otherwise known as a split-ball handicap.
Sportsbook (general term)
This is another name for a bookmaker. Associated with sports rather than casino games or racebook odds. A place where odds are posted, bets are accepted and money is made.
Sportsbook (at a casino or other offline venue)
This is thought of as a benchmark value used by all bookmakers, the number of points at the end of a game.
In order to make a spread bet, you place a bet for or against the spread set by the bookie.
A stake is the amount of money you put on a bet. Sometimes known as the risk, it’s the amount you wager on any given bet.
A staking method is a strategy, which allows bettors to budget their bankroll (total fuds) so that not too much is spent in one sitting.
A straight bet is just a single bet. Opposed to say a multi/parlay bet or an accumulator.
A teaser bet is a kind of parlay bet where the odds moved slightly in your favor.
When a bettor has made their selection of bets, they will see a ticket appear on their account. This is where the bookmaker lists all bets from the selection.
A match is when a game or event ends with an even score, also known as a draw.
Often passed on from sharps and tipping sites, a tip is when information or insights are shared about a particular bet.
Tipsters are the people that offer bets to gamblers.
A totals bet is made based on the accumulative score by one team, or in some cases both teams.
A tout is a professional bettor who offers tips, often for a small fee.
We touched on the over/under before. An under simply represents any wager that ends beneath the set value assigned by the oddsmakers, which is the opposite of an over bet.
The underdog is the team or individual who is considered the least likely to win the game or event. The opposite of a favorite.
The commission added to bets by oddsmakers, otherwise known as “vig”.
Also referred to as a bet, the wager is the game or event they’re betting on.
Have a specific betting question, or looking for an answer when it comes to your sportsbook? You’ll find it all here in our easy to read Sportsbook FAQ guide. We cover everything from withdrawal times to the types of wagers you can place.
What is a “welcome bonus”?
A “welcome bonus” is a deal designed to attract new users to a sportsbook. Such bonuses typically provide new users with “free bets” or a monetary bonus relative to the size of their first deposit. They come with a ton of fine-print and stipulations, however, so don’t expect a bunch of free cash, no strings attached.
Welcome bonuses are only available once. In order to make the most of yours, read our guide on sportsbook bonuses here.
Is online betting safe?
Every sportsbook that MTS rates has years of experience in the business reliably protects bettors’ sensitive information. Each has a solid track record of paying out money owed. Every sportsbook is also licensed with a remote gaming license in its jurisdiction, which adds a layer of protection for bettors. In the very rare instance that an issue arises, you can bring your grievance to the commission directly.
Do I have to input my bank information to create an account, or can I just pay with a credit card when placing my bet?
Possible deposit methods vary by which sportsbook you sign up with. This includes which country you are betting from. Each book should have at least one deposit option that doesn’t require providing your bank information. Examples of this are Bitcoin, eWallets or prepaid credit cards. However, if sharing personal information is not something you want to do, know that you will be required to submit some personal identification in order to create an account, plus a billing address if you ever want to withdraw funds.
You can find more details on signing up and potential deposit methods here.
What do the odds mean? How do I know what my bet will pay out?
There are three different ways sports odds are listed/displayed, and you can learn how to read each of them here. The good news is, reading odds isn’t necessary to find what an event will pay out. Every sports-betting site will show you the potential winnings of a bet when you fill out your betslip. You can enter any wager amount, and it will automatically calculate what the return on that bet would be. If you don’t like that bet, simply remove it from your betslip. You can play around with a betslip at most sites even if you aren’t logged into an account. This makes it allows you cto get a feel for how the odds work.
Can I change my bet after it’s been placed?
Once a bet has been placed it cannot be canceled by the bettor. However, a few sportsbooks do offer an “edit bet” option which allows you to add, remove or swap out selections from a wager you’ve already placed. You won’t be able to alter the amount you have wagered, though, so be very careful when filling out your betslip. One typo could result in betting more or less than you intended.
If you’re really desperate to get out of a wager, you can use the “cash out” feature. The sportsbook will let you cash out your bet before the event has taken place. However, the cash-out amount will be less than your initial stake.
How much should a beginning bettor wager?
This really is a matter of personal preference. First wagers should be based on how much money you have available at your disposal and how much risk you are open to. The biggest thing to remember when gambling is that it is for entertainment purposes. So, never bet more than you can afford to lose.
How do I find out if my bet won?
Winnings will be credited to your account within minutes of a game concluding. So, typically, finding out if you won is as easy as checking to see if your account balance increased. You can also see a recent history of bets you’ve placed in your betting history. Checking that will also show if the wager in question won or lost. Some sportsbooks will offer to email you alerts when a bet you have placed wins.
What is a spread?
Not all sports teams are equal. So, to counteract that imbalance and create “even” matchups, sportsbooks set a spread. The spread is a number of points the favored team has to win by. The spread allows you to get better odds when betting on a dominant team like the New England Patriots or Golden State Warriors, but now those teams may have to win by a certain number of points (say, 10) for your bet to cash. Point spreads are most common in basketball and football, and you can learn all about spread betting here.
What does it mean to “bet the over”?
For any game in which you can bet on a winner, you can also bet on the total number of points scored. Called “game total” betting, sportsbooks will set a number at the total (like 42.5 for an NFL game) and you can bet over or under. If the number of points exceeds the total, the over wins.
Total bets are also a popular way to present props, like: “How many points will LeBron James score in Game 1 of the NBA Finals: over/under 29.5.”
Whenever you hear someone say they “have the over,” they are expecting a higher number for an event than bookmakers have set. The over is a far more popular bet for beginners since you are cheering for scoring, rather than the absence of scoring. But the under is often the best play, so be sure you think critically.
Is there a minimum amount of money that I always have to have in my account, or can I just put money in when I want to place a bet?
As we cover in our walkthrough of making a deposit, each sportsbook will have a minimum amount of money you are required to deposit for each transaction. This is based on which payment method you choose. However, there is no minimum for how much money you need to have in your account at one time. Your account won’t be shut down if you have a balance of zero dollars. If you choose to withdraw all your money after football season, and keep your account empty until next NFL season, you can do that.
If I win, how do I get paid?
Whether you’ve won, lost, or are just tired of playing, you can withdraw your funds at any time. However, this does not extend to your bonus funds. Your options for withdrawal will differ based on what country you are in and what sportsbook you’ve chosen. We have a full walkthrough of how to withdraw funds here.
Why was my bet ruled “no action”?
Sportsbooks void bets if an event fails to meet certain standards set beforehand. For example, while a football game doesn’t have to be played in full, it may have to go at least 55 minutes before wagers against the spread have action. If a game is canceled or postponed before that mark, games will be called no action. Consequently, bets will be returned in full. Read your sportsbook’s rules before betting to know when and why they will rule a game no action. Policies will vary by website.
What is the best sport to bet?
It all depends on your preferences. In the U.S., no sport is more popular to wager on than NFL football. However, because of its popularity, it is also the toughest sport to find any value in. Professional bettors frequently jump on point spreads and game totals they think are too high or low.
Instead of worrying about which sports offer the most value, start by betting the sports you are most interested in. Sports betting is always best when you actually enjoy and know a lot about what event you’re betting on. Even though kickboxing might not offer a ton of betting options, if that’s the sport you’re really in to, you should start by wagering on that.
We have guides to some of the major sports here: NFL Football, MLB Baseball, NBA Basketball, NHL Hockey, and MMA/Boxing.
Can I make wagers on non-sports too?
This is something you will have to take into consideration when selecting a sportsbook. Beyond horse racing and casino options, some of the sportsbooks we rate have extensive offerings for politics and entertainment betting. You can wager on elections around the world, who will win the Oscars, and even some reality shows like Dancing with the Stars and Big Brother.
These types of bets aren’t guaranteed to be available though, so if political betting interests you, be sure to check that a sportsbook offers it before signing up.