Sports Betting Terms

All you need to know about sports betting terms

Introduction to Sports Betting Terms

Upon entering the sports wagering realm, it is vitally important to gain an understanding of the main terms that are prevalent throughout the industry. Knowledge of the terms below will provide a solid base of information for sports bettors and will help an individual understand nuances of different types of wagers. The ability to discuss sports wagering utilizing the verbiage below will enhance any individuals’ conversations surrounding sports betting with others.


The term action is in reference to a person having monetary interest in the outcome of a certain game or event. When an individual has action on the outcome of a sporting event, this is another way of saying that they have wagered on the event in some fashion. Some types of bets will have a “No Action” option, where the sportsbook will cancel a wager if a certain circumstance comes into play. No Action stipulations are common in MLB and are often dependent on if the listed pitcher actually starts the game. For example, if Max Scherzer (the best pitcher in the sport) is scheduled to start a game for the Nationals, the sportsbook’s lines and odds are reflective of that. The sportsbook will often have a No Action stipulation built in which will cancel all bets if Max Scherzer does not in fact pitch (reasons include late scratch due to injury or sickness, among others).

Against the Spread (ATS)

This betting term is used in conjunction with point spread wagers, however more often in a reflective or results-based connotation. When a bettor comments about their ATS record, they are discussing their win-loss record in Point Spread wagers. The term ATS and Point Spread can be used interchangeably. Read the full description of Point Spread wagers.

Arbitrage Betting

Arbitrage betting (arb) is a complex style of wagering where a bettor attempts to gain an advantage due to sportsbooks having differing opinions on mutually exclusive outcomes of events. The goal of arbitrage betting is to make a profit regardless of the outcome of the event. This can occur when mutually exclusive outcomes that cover all possible outcomes of an event contain odds that result in the implied probabilities of all outcomes sum to less than 100%, or 1. If conditions are right, a bettor can theoretically spread bets across different bookmakers to cover all outcomes without exposing themselves to the possibility of a monetary loss. The process takes a good amount of mathematical skills, practice, and bankroll. Typically, arb betting does not show large return on investment, and works on the margins. This type of betting is generally looked down upon by sportsbooks, and many bookmakers will restrict or shut down accounts that they can prove are engaging in this type of behavior.

Asian Handicap

An Asian Handicap is a form of point spread wagering. In a sport where a draw is fairly common such as Soccer, an Asian Handicap reduces the available bet types from three to two, eliminating the draw option and balancing the two teams via a point spread or “line”. For soccer, Asian handicaps start at a quarter of a goal but can be seen as high as three or four goals if one team is majorly outclassed in ability. When taking into account the Asian Handicap as well as the Over/Under total for the game, this handicap fundamentally predicts the forecasted final score of the match.


A bet is the act of placing a monetary wager on an outcome of a game, event, or an event within a game or event. The bet is placed with a bookmaker who provides the odds on said wager.

Betting line

Line betting is a type of bet where the betting line is being adjusted for a team by setting a margin to make the game equal i.e giving the teams an equal chance making the odds even on both sides. Also known as the Point Spread. How the Betting Line works


A bookmaker is defined as the person or persons who create/calculate the odds and lines on games and events, collect wagers on the events, and pay out winnings to successful bettors.

Buying points

The act of buying points in sports betting allows for the option of moving the betting line, or point spread in your favor in exchange for lesser odds. This act can also be taken on game totals for over/under game total wagering as well. Buying points is popular in NFL wagering when point spreads are around the 3- and 7-point thresholds, as those are the most popular score discrepancy outcomes. For example, if betting on an underdog who sits at +3 at -110, you can often buy a half-point to move the spread to +3.5 and sacrifice odds to -120 or -125, depending on your bookmaker. This can be done for favorites as well, for example moving from -3 to -2.5 for an NFL game to ensure a successful wager and not a push should the game end with a 3-point discrepancy.

Closing line

The closing line is defined as the line offered when bets are closed by the bookmaker. A successful bettor will consistently find what is called “Closing Line Value” or CLV, which refers to the value of a bet made versus the closing line. A bettor who consistently finds CLV should realize long-term success.


The cover is a result on a betting line, or point-spread wager. For the favorite to “cover” the line (spread), they must win by more than the line (spread) amount. For an underdog to “cover” the line (spread), they must win outright, or lose by less than the line (spread) amount.

Futures Bet/Ante-Post

Amongst the more popular wager types amongst casual bettors, futures wagering involves predicting long-term results of a season, whether it be choosing the team to win the Super Bowl, a team to win its Division, or a player to win a major season-long award. The draw of futures bets are the long odds payoffs that come with predicting the correct Super Bowl winning team, or the correct player to earn the MVP award, well before the results are known. Futures bets are most common before the season begins but can be made daily up through the entirely of the season – with odds changing daily based on the on-field results of the players and teams involved. Ante-post betting is another term for futures betting, commonly used in horse racing referring to odds posted at least a day before a race occurs.

In-Play and Live Betting

In-Play, In-Game, or Live betting allows bettors to wager on events that are ongoing. Read more about Live Betting

Laying the Points

Laying the points is a term used by bettors who back a favorite in an event which includes a line or point spread. A bettor is “laying the points” with the favorite because hypothetically the bettor is giving the points to the underdog and therefore starts the game at a disadvantage to the level of the line or point spread of the event. The inverse of this, “taking the points”, is used for underdog bettors in an event including a line or point spread.


Martingale is a type of wagering system where a bettor simply doubles their wager amount after a loss. This system is often implemented more in casino table games such as Blackjack and Roulette, but sports bettors use this as well. There are many reasons for the fallacy of this wagering system, with the most obvious being that the bettor’s expected value remains zero (or less depending on odds) because the probability that the bettor will win are exactly mitigated by the probability that the bettor will lose, and any juice or odds added to the betting equation tilt the expected value below zero.

Middle or Middling

When playing the middle you play different sides of the same game which gives you multiple winning opportunities. Middling can reduce your risk but also increase your potential winnings when placing multiple bets on a game, for example when actively live betting, middling can be a very strong and successful strategy.

Moneyline Bet (ML)

A bet on the Moneyline represents a bet on a specific team to win. Moneyline Bet Explained


Betting odds reflect not the probability that an outcome will occur but are the ratio of payoff to wagering stake. An example of odds interpreted for an actual event are shown in the Moneyline portion of this article.

Outright bet

An outright bet is a wager made not on the outcome of a particular event, but of a tournament or season. Outright bets contain longer odds due to the lower chances to have a successful wager. Outright bets are similar to futures bets.


Over/Under bets, or Game Total bets, include a line for the total number of points expected to be scored in a game, and the bettor will wager whether the total score for both teams will be over or under that total. For example, a Redskins at Patriots game total is set at 47.5 points. A bettor could either wager on the over or under for that total. As bets are accepted on this bet type, the game total and odds will move concurrent with the level of money being wagered on each side (over/under) of the contest, making game total betting (like others) a very fluid market depending on when you place a wager. For example, the game total betting profile might look similar to the below for this Redskins/Patriots game, and then change based on wagers received.

Redskins at Patriots Over 47.5 (-115)

Redskins at Patriots Under 47.5 (-105)

Over Under Betting Explained

Parlay Bets

Parlay bets are defined as multiple bets within the same wager, where all bets have to hit in order for a successful wager to be graded. Parlay bets provide bettors with higher payouts in exchange for longer odds of a successful wager. For example, if a parlay bet is made on the Patriots point spread in their game against the Redskins, plus the Cowboys point spread in their game against the Eagles, both the Patriots and the Cowboys must cover their respective point spreads in order to be paid out on that wager. If one of the two teams do not cover their point spread, the wager is a loss. An important note on parlay bets in NFL (as with other sports): most sportsbooks will not allow parlays that include correlated bets, such as parlaying a team’s ML with their team total. Parlay Bet Explained

Player Props

Rapidly growing in popularity, player proposition bets are an excellent way to substantiate other wagers within the same event. For many players in each game, sportsbooks will over/under propositions for major statistical categories for bettors to wager on the performance within that game. For NFL, these statistical categories include touchdowns, yardage, receptions, among others. Bettors can wager if certain players will hit the posted lines for any of the statistical categories.

Prop Bets Explained

Point Spread

The point spread is a term used for the betting line, most popular for betting on NFL and NBA. A point spread is a way for sportsbooks to even out the odds between to uneven team. Point Spread explained.


A push occurs in sports wagering when there is a tie against the betting line, or point spread. The wager will be returned to your account as if the wager had not been placed. Many bettors attempt to wager at half-points or buy points to avoid pushes.


A place where players can place bets and wager money on sports events is called a sportsbook, bookmaker, bookie or racebook.

Sports Betting

Sports Betting is a form of gambling where players wager on sports events such as the Super Bowl. Sports betting online takes places at a sportsbook who offers odds to bet on. Sports Betting has been around for centuries and is popular across the world. Read more about sports betting.


A steam move in the sports betting industry is defined as when there is a swift and large change in a line or odds as a result of heavy wagering action on one side of an event. Steam moves are caused by professional bettors who are well-respected by bookmakers, and casual bettors are known to follow steam moves on events as they occur.


A teaser is a type of gambling wager that allows a bettor to combine two or more bets into one wager. A teaser bet allows the bettor to move the point spreads for the two or more games, where both bets must hit, and the payout is reduced due to the allowance to change the point spreads. For example, a two-team 6-point teaser might look like the following – both bets must win to be paid out:

Patriots -9.5 TEASED TO -3.5, plus Cowboys -7.5 TEASED to -1.5 (-110)

Read the Teaser Bets Guide 


The underdog, or weaker betting side, will be given points in a betting line or point spread, and will be listed with a plus sign for moneyline wagers.

Vigorish (Vig)/Juice

The terms vig/juice refer to the amount of fee or commission received by the bookmaker in order to take a wager. The vig changes based on the type of bet, the odds on the event, among other variables.

Void bet

Bets can be voided, or No Action, for many reasons. This means that your wager will be returned to you.