When you sign-up through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more >

Gambling Glossary: Sports Betting Slang and Terminology

Written by: Richard Janvrin
Updated May 18, 2023
10 min read

Best Bonus in Your State

🔥 Claimed by 130 people this week!



Get a No Sweat First Bet up to $1,500 in Bonus Bets

21+ | T&Cs apply

Like all gambling culture, sports betting has a deep lexicon of slang and special vocabulary. For beginners, listening to hard-core gamblers using sports betting lingo can be like hearing a completely different language.

If you’re new to the betting on sports and find the terminology a bit intimidating, don’t worry. We’ve compiled a comprehensive archive of even the most obscure sports betting words and terms.

Knowing the language is about more than just fitting in and sounding cool, however.

If you want the best chance of winning big, it’s really important to do your homework and fully understand all your betting options. And it’s very hard to do that without mastering the gambling lingo.

Keep reading for the alphabetized list in our betting glossary and you’ll be walking the walk and talking the talk in no time.


Slang for a bookmaker.


Another name for a parlay wager in which multiple bets are bundled together. All bets included in the accumulator must-win for the overall bet to win. Gamblers love this kind of bet because it offers huge payouts.

Across the Board

In horse racing, betting across the board refers to placing equal bets on a horse to win, place and show.


Having money riding on a bet.


UK slang for the commission or “tax” levied by the bookmaker.

Also Ran

An athlete, horse, or car that doesn’t finish first, second, third, or fourth.

Alternate Lines

Some casinos offer adjusted spreads, totals, and handicaps with a corresponding change in the bet’s money odds.

American Odds

A style of expressing money odds most commonly used in the US. Odds are expressed with a number preceded by a minus sign (favorite) or a plus sign (underdog). The numbers tell you how much you will win relative to how much you bet. Odds of -150, for example, mean you must wager $150 to win $100 in profit. If you bet on the underdog at +150, on the other hand, you will win $150 in profit for every $100 you bet.

For more on that check out our guide on “How to read American Odds“.


Pieces of information or other factors that influence the outcome of a game or a player’s performance. Gamblers who use extra information to get an edge are using “angles.”


The odds posted the day before an event. Usually, the gambler gets better odds but must risk losing their bet entirely if the selection withdraws from the event or is unable to participate.


Arbitrage is a clever betting strategy that takes advantage of different betting lines at different sportsbooks. By identifying a gap in the lines it’s possible to bet on both sides and guarantee yourself a profit. Arbitrage is similar to “betting the middle” when a casino’s line moves. Click here for a guide to arbitrage and betting the middle.


A team’s “against the spread” record refers to how many times it’s beaten the point spread. A team that’s 3-2 ATS has beat the point spread three times and failed to beat it twice.


Backdoor Cover

When a team is trailing the point spread by scores enough points late in the game to cover the spread.


Someone who is bankrolling a gambler from behind the scenes.

Bad Beat

A poker term that means losing when you’re the heavy favorite to win, sports gamblers also use the phrase bad beat. In sports, it usually means that something happened unexpectedly late in the game to cause you to lose your bet, such as a late turnover touchdown in football.


Someone who places a wager on behalf of someone else.

Betting the Limit

Wagering the maximum amount allowed by the casino or sportsbook.

Betting Ring

An organized group of professional gamblers working together. Also called a syndicate.

Betting Line

The odds or point spread on a game or event.


A special offer or promotion offered by a sportsbook where they give potential customers a free bet or bonus cash in order to entice them to sign up. Bonuses can also be given to existing customers.


A slang word for bookmaker or sportsbook. Book can refer to an individual person or a venue or establishment that offers sports gambling.

Take a look at which are the best online sportsbooks in the US.


A person who takes bets. Bookie usually refers to an illegal bookmaker.


Slang for $100.


Going broke, bankrupt, losing your bankroll.

Buying Points

Sometimes gamblers are allowed to change the lines and odds set by the sportsbook. Buying points refers to a gambler changing the point spread on his bet. In order to buy points in favor of the team he’s betting on, a gambler must accept worse odds on the bet’s payout.

Find our guide on “Buying Points on the Spread“.


Canadian Line

A combination of the point spread and the money line in hockey.

Chalk or Chalk Bettors

Chalk is a slang word for the team or player that’s the favorite to win. Chalk bettors are people who always bet on the favorite and never the underdog.

Circled Game

Sometimes you’ll see games with a red box around them on a sportsbook’s betting board. This means the game is subject to reduced betting limits. Usually, casinos and sportsbooks circle games when key players are injured because it casts uncertainty on their betting lines.

Closing Line

The official betting line set on a game or event before it begins.

Consensus Pick

Consensus pick refers to how the betting public as a group have placed their bets on a game. Some bettors use a strategy that suggests betting against the consensus pick because the majority of people are usually wrong.


Someone who is thought to be bad luck.

Cover (Cover the Spread)

A team is said to “cover the spread” if it wins by more than the point spread set by the sportsbook. The favorite team covers by winning the game by more than the spread while the underdog covers the spread by winning the game outright or losing by less than the point spread. Check out our NFL picks against the spread for the best football bets every week.


Data Mining

The practice of analyzing a large number of statistics in the hopes of discovering information that can help predict outcomes and performance.


Someone with a gambling problem. Also used affectionately to describe someone with a lot of gamble.


Slang for $1,000.

Dime Line

A betting line with a vig of 10%


Short for underdog. The team that is predicted to lose.

Check out also: “Should You Bet on the Public Underdog?

Dog Player

A gambler who usually bets on the underdog.


Slang for $100. If you bet five dollars it means you’re betting $500.

Double Action

A bet that only plays if another connected bet that precedes it wins, ties or gets canceled.

Double Sawbuck

Slang for $20.

Dual Forecast

A bet used in horse and motor racing whereby three racers are selected. To win the best the gambler must successfully predict two of the selection’s finishing positions.



The advantage, real or perceived, that the gambler or the casino has on winning a bet. Winning sports bettors look for inaccurate lines and odds where they believe they can gain an edge.

Even Money

Bets that have a roughly 50 percent chance of winning and pay out 1 to 1 are said to be “even money” bets.


A special category of proposition bets that rely on specific outcomes other than which team wins the game.


The total amount of money a sportsbook or casino stands to lose on a game or event.



The player or team that is deemed more likely to win.

Fifty Cents

Slang for $50.


The amount owed either by or two a gambler or sportsbook.


A game is said to be fixed if the outcome has been determined or influenced by unfair factors. A boxer who agreed to take a dive, for example, is “fixing” the match.

Futures Bet

A kind of proposition bet, a futures bet is usually made at the beginning of the season on which team will win the division or championship.

We answer “What Are Futures Bets?” and also keep you updated with the latest NFL futures odds and news.


Halftime Bet

Most commonly found in basketball and football, halftime bets are made after the first half has ended but before the second half has begun. The bookmaker adjusts the original point spreads, lines, and odds based on what happened in the first half of the game.


Someone who predicts the odds of which team will win. Handicappers work for casinos to set odds and betting lines and savvy gamblers who try to determine the odds precisely are also known as handicappers.


The total amount of money wagered on a game or event with a specific casino or sportsbook.


Betting against your original bet in order to moderate your risk or guarantee a profit. Hedging is usually associated with futures bets but can also apply to live betting, also called in-game betting.

High Roller

Someone who makes lots of big bets.


Half a point in a point spread. If a team is favored by a 5.5 point spread they’re known as laying “five and a hook.”


In-Game Betting

Many online sportsbooks allow you to make bets live while the game is in progress. Also called Live Betting, in-game bets are exciting and allow savvy gamblers to pick up edges since the lines are being set by the casino on the fly. Click here for our guide to live and in-game betting. 

Live betting sites are even better when accessed from your mobile as you can see the odds in real-time as you sit on the sofa watching the game. Have a look at the best sports betting apps out there.



Another name for the commission on bets charged by the casino or sportsbook.


Laying Points

When you bet the favorite and give up points via the spread, it’s known as laying points. This is the opposite of “taking points”.

Laying the Odds

When you make a moneyline bet on the favored team you must accept worse money odds, known as laying the odds. This is the opposite of “taking odds”.


When a sportsbook makes its own bets with another casino or sportsbook in order to moderate its own risk.


The amount the casino or sportsbook will let you bet.

Listed Pitchers

A bet on baseball that only plays if both of the scheduled starting pitchers end up starting the game. If one or both don’t start, the bet is canceled.


A wager that’s such a big favorite it’s thought to be a guaranteed winner.

Teaser (Two-Team Teaser)

Teasers allow you to combine your bets on more than one game and even adjust the point spreads in favor of the teams you want to win. The downside is that both your teams have to win for you to win the teaser, and if you do adjust the spreads you’ll have to accept a lower payout if you do win.

Total (Points Total)

The combined total points of both teams when the game finishes. Gamblers use the points total to make over/under bets.


A bet that is unlikely to win but has a big payout.



Another name for a sucker. Someone who is inexperienced at gambling and ready to be taken advantage of.

Middle (Betting the Middle)

When the line on a game moves, gamblers are presented with an interesting opportunity which is called “betting the middle”. For example, if you placed a bet on one team as a 3.5 point favorite and the line was moved to 2.5 points, you could bet on the other team and potentially win both bets if the favorite wins by three points. It’s a great opportunity because even if the favorite doesn’t win by three points, you’re guaranteed to win one of your bets.

Money Line

Betting the money line just means betting on which team will win the game outright. Instead of using a point spread to handicap the superior team, the casino offers different payouts (odds) on each team. Our daily best MLB bets often feature money line wagers. Click here for our guide to money line betting.

Moving the Line

The same as buying points, this refers to when a gambler can trade better money odds for an extra half-point on the spread.

Take a look at our guide on moving the line.



A special golf bet that includes wagers on the front nine, the back nine and the entire match.


Slang for $500. Betting a nickel means betting $500.

Nickel Line

A bet that has a 5 percent commission (vig).

No Action

A bet that is canceled for any reason with the wager being fully refunded.

NRFI (no run first inning)

A popular bet in baseball where you are betting on no runs being scored in the first innings. Check out our best NRFI bets today.



The chances of winning assigned to each team by a casino or sportsbook, often represented by the different payouts you get for winning bets.

Off the Board

When a casino or sportsbook removes a betting line or option shortly before the game begins. This is often done because of injuries to key players or other uncertainty around the game.

Outlaw Line

The earliest line set for a game or event which is only open to an exclusive group of gamblers.


A popular sports bet, over/under refers to betting on how many combined total points both teams will score. The casino sets the line and you have the option of betting that the score will be higher (over) or lower (under). Click here for our guide to betting over/under totals.



These are special bets that include two or more different wagers, usually on multiple games. For a parlay bet to win, all the individual bets included in it must win. Gamblers love parlays because even though they’re less likely to win, they offer huge payouts.

Feel free to use our own parlay calculator for your bets.

Pick ‘em

A game where the two teams are thought to be evenly matched and there’s no point spread.


Pressing your bet means betting more than your normal amount. It can also refer to a second bet that is initiated partway through a game or event. In golf, for example, you may wager on the front nine and then “press” your bet which means continuing it on the back nine as well. This is particularly common when betting a Nassau in golf.


Another name for the odds or point spread.

Prop Bets (Proposition Bets)

Special bets that are about really specific things not connected to the game’s ultimate winner. Props are especially popular in the Superbowl but they’re becoming more and more common during major sports’ regular-season games. Props could be on anything from which team will score the first point to who will win the coin toss. Particularly interesting props are sometimes known as exotics. Check out our best MLB prop bets today.

Click here for our guide to prop bets.

Puckline (Puck Line)

In hockey, the puckline combines a 1.5 point spread with moneyline-style odds. For example if you saw the Toronto Maple Leafs listed at -1.5/+120 that means for a bet on the Leafs to win, they must win the game by at least two points. The second number refers to the money odds and means you’ll win $100 in profit for every $120 you bet.


A gambler. Punter often implies the bettor is a recreational gambler and not a professional.


Another name for a tie. In sports betting it can happen when the favorite wins by exactly the spread. All bets are refunded.


Risk-Free bet

This term refers to when a registrant signs up with a sportsbook and places their first bet. The first bet is risk-free because if they lose then they will be credited with the amount they wagered to their account to be bet in the future with the sportsbook.


A person who makes a bet on behalf of someone else. Also called a beard.

Runline (Run Line)

A -1.5/+1.5 point spread used in baseball that’s combined with money odds.



Slang for $10.


A professional gambler.


Another way to say point spread.


An inexperienced, recreational gambler.


Slang for when a betting line is moving up because lots of bets are being made on it. Sometimes this happens when an organized group of professionals are taking advantage of a weak line but it can also happen when most of the general public is betting the same way.


Slang for a sportsbook or casino that offers sports gambling.

Straight Up Winner

A straight up bet means you just need the team to win the game outright as opposed to covering a point spread. Straight up usually refers to betting the money line.


A bad and/or inexperienced gambler who makes poor betting decisions.


An organized group of professional gamblers working together, also called a ring.


Taking Points (Taking the Points)

The opposite of laying points, taking points means you’re betting on the underdog and you get a margin of points in the point spread your team can lose by.

Taking the Price (Taking Odds)

The opposite of laying the price or laying the odds. Taking odds means your betting on the underdog and accepting favorable money odds.

Teaser (Two-Team Teaser)

Teasers allow you to combine your bets on more than one game and even adjust the point spreads in favor of the teams you want to win. The downside is that both your teams have to win for you to win the teaser, and if you do adjust the spreads you’ll have to accept a lower payout if you do win.


A bet or wager.

Total (Points Total)

The combined total points of both teams when the game finishes. Gamblers use the points total to make over/under bets.

Analyzing past statistics to try to predict future outcomes.



The team that is predicted to lose the game.



Your equity or edge on a bet. Usually used to refer to particularly good lines or odds.

Vig (Vigorish)

Also called “juice” the vig refers to the commission on bets charged by the casino or sportsbook.



Another name for a bet.

Best Bonus in Your State

🔥 Claimed by 130 people this week!



Get a No Sweat First Bet up to $1,500 in Bonus Bets

21+ | T&Cs apply

More Useful Betting Guides

Image for Richard Janvrin


Richard Janvrin

550 Articles

After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in Journalism, Richard Janvrin has been covering iGaming and sports betting since December 2018. Richard has covered betting at Bleacher Report, Gambling.com, The Game Day, Forbes, and more.

More info on Richard Janvrin
We've been featured on:
espn logo
reuters logo
cbs-news logo
forbes logo
entrepreneur logo
entrepreneur logo
We only list licensed sportsbooks

© Rebel Penguin ApS 2024 (a subsidiary of Gaming Innovation Group Inc.)

We support responsible gambling. 21+ Only. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-Gambler.

WSN.com is run by iGaming Cloud Inc (a Gaming Innovation Group Subsidiary) and is registered with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) under affiliate vendor ID 89744, with the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) under certificate of registration number SWR-000148, approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board as a gaming service provider, under certificate registration number 117656-1, possesses a Vendor Minor sports betting license from the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (account number 94414163), granted a vendor registration number VR007603-20-001 by the Michigan Gaming Control Board, an interim Sports Wagering Supplier license, under license number SWS 066, issued by the West Virginia Lottery Commission, a sports betting vendor registration, under registration number #100400, issued by the Director of Gaming Licensing and Investigations of the Virginia Lottery to operate in the State of Virginia, and a Vendor Registration issued by the Sports Wagering Committee of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation.

Advertising disclosure: WSN contains links to online retailers on its website. When people click on our affiliate links and make purchases, WSN earns a commission from our partners, including ESPN and various sportsbooks.