Glossary of Key Sports Betting Terms

Glossary of Key Sports Betting Terms

There’s a lot of terms used in the sports betting space, and it can be overwhelming to people who aren’t familiar with it. Here are some definitions to help you familiarize yourself with some of the terms.

Here are the need-to-know sports betting terms you should make yourself familiar with.


Action: A bettor will have action on a game when they’ve placed a bet on it.

Against the spread (ATS): Betting a game with a point spread. If you bet the Bills to cover a 4.5-point spread as favourites, they’ll need to win by at least five points for your bet to be a winner.

Alternative line/totalSportsbooks will offer other lines aside from the featured point spread and game total. If a football game total is set at 45.5 points, you might be able to wager on alternate totals such as 48.5 or 42.5.

Backdoor cover: When a team comes from behind late in a game to cover the spread.

Bad beat: An unfortunate loss to a bet that appeared destined to win. If you bet on the Bills to cover as -7.5 favourites, and the opposition kicks a last-second field goal to lose by seven that would be considered a bad beat.

Bankroll: The amount of money you have in your sports betting account. If you create an account with NorthStar Bets and deposit $100, you’ll have a $100 bankroll.

Cash out: Accepting an offer from a sportsbook for a bet that hasn’t reached a final result. By cashing out, you’re settling the bet early.

Chalk: The overwhelmingly popular pick for a sporting event.

Closing line: The line for an event when the sportsbook stops accepting bets (generally at the start time of the event).

Closing line value (CLV): The value of a bet relative to the closing line. If you bet on the Bills to win at -115, and the line closes later at -155, you’d have some positive CLV.

CoverRefers to the result of a successful point spread bet. If the Raptors are 6.5-point underdogs but only lose by four points, they covered the point spread.

Even money: When odds are set at +100. “Even” money means even odds (i.e., 50/50), so you’ll earn double what you wager if your ticket is successful.

Favourite: The team or player/athlete that is favoured to win. They will have a minus sign (-) before their moneyline odds (-125, for example) and/or point spread (-4.5).

FuturesA bet that requires a longer period of time to determine the result. League champions, division titles and MVP awards are common types of futures bets.

Handicap: The point spread number. Whatever the number is set at, whether it’s 3.5, 7.5, 10.5, and so on, is the number of points that a favourite is expected to win by.

Handle: The amount of money wagered by bettors on a certain event.

Hedge: Most commonly done with parlays or future bets, a hedge is when you bet the opposite side of your original wager. If you bet on a six-game NFL parlay and the first five legs of the wager win, you could bet on the opposing team of the final leg to hedge your bet.

Hook: Refers to the .5 listed with most point spreads. If you bet the Bills -3.5 on the point spread, the half point is the hook. A bettor gets hooked in this instance if Buffalo only wins by three points (because that extra half-point cost them against the spread).

Implied probabilityThe likelihood of a bet winning based on the odds for the event. For example, a bet with +100 odds has a 50% implied probability.

In-game betting: Bets that are placed once the game has already started. This can be on the moneyline, point spread, over/under, props, etc. Also known as live betting.

Juice/vig: The cut the sportsbook takes for using their services. Winning a bet on a $100 wager at -110 odds would net you $90. That’s a 10% vig, which can be thought of as a sort of tax you pay to the operator.

Laying the pointsBetting on the favourite to win. If you back the Raptors to cover a 6.5-point spread as favourites, you are laying the points with Toronto.

Live odds: The odds of a game that is in progress. Live odds can drastically fluctuate based on what happens at any given moment.

Long shot: A bet that has a low chance of winning.

Middle: When a bettor has action on both sides of a game and can win both bets. For example, if you bet over 45.5 points and under 55.5 points, any total from 46 to 55 would win both bets.

Moneyline: A type of bet where you wager on the winner of the game. Each team is assigned its own set of odds, and a successful moneyline wager involves backing the team that wins.

Off the board: When an event’s betting markets are unavailable to wager on. This typically occurs when injury news is released or after a match has started.

Opening line: The line for an event when it’s first listed at a sportsbook.

Over: A bet that requires a player, team, or game to score or accumulate more than the listed total.

Over/under: Known as O/U for short, as well as the total. Sportsbooks determine the number of projected combined points for a game, and bettors decide whether the clubs will go over or under that total. It’s also used when betting on player props. Player props give you the option to bet the over or under on categories such as points, receiving yards, shots on goal, and rebounds.

Parlay: A wager that consists of two or more bets tied to one ticket. All outcomes of the parlay have to win in order for the bet to be a winner.

Pick’em: When neither team is favoured on the point spread.

Point spread: A number established by sportsbooks that a team has to cover. For a spread of -7.5, which you would see in sports like the NFL and NBA, the (-) indicates the favourite and means the team would have to win by eight points or more. The underdog spread would be +7.5, and that team could cover by either winning outright or losing by seven or fewer points.

Props: Bets that aren’t tied to the outcome of a contest but rather specific events that occur during a game. Player props allow you to wager on individual production, such as the total points or yards a player will accumulate in a contest. Game props allow you to make bets on a number of different events, such as the highest-scoring period in a hockey game.

Puck line: The standard handicap set for NHL betting, which is usually 1.5 goals. That means you can either bet on a favourite to cover the puck line at -1.5 or back the underdog at +1.5. This is hockey’s version of the point spread.

Push: When a bet results in a tie. If you bet the Raptors to cover a 4-point spread and they win by exactly four points, that is a push. Your initial wager will be reimbursed.

Run line: The standard handicap set for MLB betting, which is usually 1.5 runs. That means you can either bet on a favourite to cover the run line at -1.5 or back the underdog at +1.5. This is baseball’s version of the point spread.

Same-game parlay: Combining two or more wagers from a single event into one bet.

Sharp: Considered to be a smart and successful sports bettor.

Sportsbook: The operator that you place bets with, deposit funds with, and collect winnings from. NorthStar Bets is an example of an online sportsbook.

Square: A casual bettor who wagers on the public or popular side of a bet.

Straight up/SU: Refers to the winner of a match. A straight-up bet is placed on an outright winner and doesn’t involve a point spread.

Sweat: A bet that comes down to the last second or final play.

Taking the points: Betting on the underdog. If you back the Bills to cover a +3.5 spread, you are taking the points with Buffalo.

Teaser: Buying points from a sportsbook for a parlay. Sportsbooks typically award six points for a football teaser and four for basketball, but there must be at least two legs to the bet. If the Raptors are +4 underdogs, you can add them to a teaser at +8 (with greater juice).

Total: See over/under.

Under: A bet that requires a player, team, or game to score/accumulate less than the listed total.

Underdog: The team or player/athlete that is expected to lose. The underdog will have a plus (+) sign before their moneyline odds and/or point spread.

Unit: Refers to the base amount of money you place on a wager. If your base wager is $100, that would be one unit.

Wager: A bet.




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