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Sports Betting 101
What’s the difference between a bookmaker and an oddsmaker? Why did I only win $90.90 on my $100 bet? The WagerTalk team has put together a comprehensive list of sports betting terms and definitions. Enjoy this three-part Sports Betting 101 series that was originally aired on WagerTalk’s YouTube page. Got a question that we didn’t cover? Give us a shout on Twitter and we’ll answer it!
Added Game – A game that was not originally part of the rotation schedule. It could be the a makeup game of a previously-scheduled contest or a game from a conference or league that is not consistently offered.
ATS (Against the Spread) – Betting with a point spread. You’re either laying points while betting on the favorite, or taking points while betting on the underdog.
Backdoor Cover – When the point spread is determined by a score or event at the end of the game. It is most-commonly used when an underdog earns a late score to get themselves within the point spread.
Bankroll – Funds that you have allocated for the sole purpose of wagering.
Bookmaker – The person responsible for managing the betting lines and betting limits.
Buying Points – Sacrificing juice/vig in order to get a better number on a point spread. Instead of laying the traditional -110 on a side, bettors can lay -120, -130, etc. in order to get a more favorable point spread.
Chalk – The favorite in a contest. Chalk usually refers to a fairly easy-to-predict outcome.
Closing Line – What the point spread was when the game kicked off. Advanced bettors often grade their success based on the line that they got, versus what the closing line was.
Circled Game – A contest that has the attention of bookmakers because of an unknown factor. They could be waiting on an injury update, a potential trade, or unexpected change to the starting lineup. Circled games often have lower betting limits.
Cover – A point spread victory. Either the favorite has won by enough points to cover the spread, or the underdog has stayed within the number.
Dime – Slang term for a $1,000 wager.
Dog – Short for “underdog.” The team that is not favored to win the contest, and the one receiving points on the point spread or plus-money on the moneyline.
Edge – A perceived advantage that a bettor can earn over the bookmaker. Or vice versa.
Even Money – A bet with no juice or vig on either side. If the bettor risks $100 and wins, they will profit $100 and collect $200.
Favorite – The team that is projected to win the game, and the one that is giving up points on the point spread.
First-Half Bet – Making a wager on what the score will be at halftime. Most bookmakers offer first half betting options in basketball, football and baseball (known as a first-five bet).
Future – Betting on a long-term event. Future wagers can be team-related, such as winning a division, conference, or league championship. Or, they could be for an individual to win an MVP award, lead the league in home runs, etc.
Grand Salami – A bet synonymous with hockey and baseball where bettors can wager on the total points scored in that day’s games. In hockey, bettors can choose whether the total goals in that day’s contest will go over or under the grand salami number. In baseball, bettors can wager on how many total runs will be scored on the day.
Handle – The total amount of money that the sports book has taken in for a given event or time period.
Hedging – Placing a bet on the opposite side of your original wager for the purpose of cutting your losses, or guaranteeing a profit.
Hook – The half-point attached to point spreads, which can make the difference between a winning wager and a losing one. If you bet on an underdog at +3.5 and they lose the game by three points, you won your bet “by the hook.” Conversely, if you bet on a favorite -7.5 and they only win by seven points, you lost “by the hook.”
House – Slang term for the bookmaker and staff behind-the-counter.
Juice – The tax from the bookmaker for taking your bet. When making an individual bet on a football or basketball game, most sports books set the juice at -110. That means that you need to lay $110 to win $100 (collect $210). You need to lay $11 to win $10 (collect $21).
Key Numbers – The most common margin of victories, usually referenced when betting on football. The most common margin of victory in football is by three points or seven points. Therefor, bettors and oddsmakers pay keen attention when looking at point spreads around those key numbers.
Lay the Points – Betting on the favorite with the point spread and giving up points to the underdog.
Limit – The highest amount of money the bookmaker is willing to take on a given event.
Line – Slang term for the point spread or odds.
Live Betting – Making wagers while the game or event is going on (i.e. betting on a golf tournament in the middle of a round, or betting on a basketball game in the second quarter).
Longshot – An underdog that is unlikely to win, but is perhaps still worthy of a small bet.
Middle – Middling occurs when betting on the favorite AND the underdog at different point spreads both win. Group A bets on the favorite at -2.5 and two days later when the spread is up to 3.5, Group B swoops in to take the underdog at +3.5. If the game ends 17-14, both groups have just won.
Money Line – Betting on the moneyline means you’re just picking the winner of the game, with no point spread or other factors involved. Since there is no point spread involved, betting on the favorite requires you to bet more to win a desired amount on the moneyline. Conversely, betting on an underdog on the moneyline will earn a larger profit.
Nickel – Slang term for a $500 wager.
Oddsmaker – The person responsible for setting the opening lines for an event.
Off-the-Board – The bookmaker has decided to suspend wagering on an event. Pulling a game off the board can be done because of injury news, a significant roster move, or another event.
Opening Line – The first line that’s available for bettors to place a wager.
Over-Under – Also known as the total. Wagering on the “over” or the “under” in regards to how many combined points will be scored in the contest.
Parlay – A parlay is a multi-wager bet that requires all of the legs to win in order for you to cash your ticket. The more teams you include, the more money you can potentially win.
Pick Em’ – A game between two evenly-matched teams where there is no point spread. Bettors are simply tasked with picking a winner.
Point Spread – The point spread is the great equalizer. Betting on the favorite with the point spread requires that team to win the contest by a certain amount of points. Betting on the underdog with the point spread will allow that team to lose the contest, as long as it’s not by more than the posted number.
Prop Bet – Side bets that can be made in addition to a standard point spread or over-under bet, such as a player’s point total.
Puck Line – Hockey’s version of the point spread. When betting on the puck line, the favorite is always -1.5 on the spread with the underdog at +1.5. Betting on the favorite requires your team to win its game by two or more goals. Conversely, betting on the underdog at +1.5 means that your team can lose by one goal, and your ticket will still cash.
Push – Your wager ended in a tie. If you bet on a 7-point favorite and they won the game by seven, you’re getting your initial wager back. If you bet on the game going over 40 points and it finished 23-17, you’re getting your initial wager back.
Reverse Line Movement – When the majority of money is wagered on Team A, but the point spread moves in favor of Team B. Reverse line movement can be an indicator that sharp money prefers a particular side in a matchup.
ROI (Return on Investment) – A measurement of a bettor’s performance by calculating their net profit versus the cost associated with their wagers.
Round Robin – A series of concurrent parlays on the same ticket. By structuring your parlays in a round robin format, the bettor can lose one (or more) leg and still be profitable depending on the ticket.
Run Line – Baseball’s version of the point spread. When betting on the run line, the favorite is always -1.5 on the spread with the underdog at +1.5. Betting on the favorite requires your team to win its game by two or more runs. Conversely, betting on the underdog at +1.5 means that your team can lose by one run, and your ticket will still cash.
Runner – A person who makes bets on behalf of another person or group.
Sharp – A professional, often full-time, sports bettor that has shown the ability to win over a large sample size.
Square – A recreational bettor that does not attract the attention of the bookmaker.
Steam Move – A sudden influx of money and bets on a particular side of a contest.
Straight Bet – Slang term for betting on the money line. The bettor is just looking to pick a winner with no point spreads involved.
Taking the Points – Betting on the underdog with the point spread.
Teaser – A teaser is a special kind of parlay where the bettor gets assistance on the point spread for a decreased payout. The most common football teaser is a 6-point, two-team teaser. The bettor selects two teams, and gets six points added or subtracted from each of their point spreads. Each leg of the teaser has to hit in order for the ticket to cash
Ticket – The betting slip that you receive after placing a wager with the details of your bet.
Total – Wagering on the “over” or the “under” in regards to how many total points will be scored in the contest between both teams.
Underdog – The team that is not favored to win the contest, and the one receiving points on the point spread or plus-money on the moneyline.
Units – The unit of measure by which serious bettors monitor their success. Instead of using wins and losses or dollars wagered, units are a standard way of measuring how profitable a bettor has been.
Vigorish (or Vig) – Proper term for “the juice.” It’s the charge for making your bet (aka how the sports books keep their lights on).
Wise Guy – Similar to a sharp, a wise guy always tries to stay one step ahead of the bookmaker. They seek any information or edge that they can find.
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