Every Single Betting Term Explained with Examples

Every Single Betting Term Explained with Examples

If you are new to the world of betting or have only dipped a proverbial toe in the gambling pool, then you will undoubtedly have noticed the various terms and phrases that are batted about.

It’s easy to get a little lost in all the jargon. You may be feeling that you will never get to grips with this new language. Don’t panic – we’re here to help!  With this simple A to Z glossary of terms, you now have your very own betting dictionary to get you through.

Betting Terms A to Z

Use the search function (Ctrl + F) to find any specific term you’re interested in.


Kentucky Derby Favorites and Lineup 2016

Accumulator – Also known as a parlay, an accumulator bet is a series of bets with multiple outcomes. You place one bet, and if you win, the payout becomes the wager on the next event (or fold), and so on. The winnings can be substantial, but the risk is also higher. You need all folds to win in order to receive any payout.

Against the Spread (ATS) – First of all, to fully understand this term, scroll on down to point spread and then come back. Now that you know what the spread is, betting against the spread basically refers to a bet which will be decided by adding the point spread after the game is played.

For example, take the current odds for the NFL Thanksgiving Game between Vikings +2.5 and Lions -2.5. If the final score is Vikings 20, Lions 22, the Vikings may have lost the game, but they win against the spread.

How?  Well, 20 + 2.5 = 22.5; that’s more than the 22 points scored by Lions. Therefore, the Vikings have won against the spread.


Banker – This can have two meanings. Firstly, it can refer to a red-hot favorite: a bet that is considered a sure thing. The term is also used in the same way as accumulator: The banker is a selection of bets that must all win in order to receive a payout.

Bookmaker – The establishment that offers odds and receiving wagers on sporting events. Check out our previous article that explains what bookmakers do and how they do it.

Bonuses – Many bookmakers offer a variety of incentives in the form of bonuses for signing up with them, either for loyalty or for bets of certain amounts.

Buck – A bet of $100, also known as a dollar bet.


Chalk – The favorite team, athlete, horse or outcome.

Chalk Player – Someone who only bets on the favorite.

Cover – To “cover the spread” is when a team wins (or loses) with the required number of points, according to the point spread.


Dime Bet – A bet of $1000

Dollar Bet – A bet of $100

Drift – If you have been watching the odds before a game, you may have seen changes in the odds offered. If the odds lengthen (get bigger) on a competitor, they are said to have “drifted” or “be on the drift”.

This often happens when there has been little interest in the particular team and it is a way for the bookmakers to ensure interest and a profit. See also lines.



Each Way Bet – Two separate bets on the same wager: A winner and a placement. For example, if you were to bet on a horse, you pick it to win OR for the horse to be placed within the top 3.

The odds given on the win are always higher than those given for the placement bet.  Yu might bet $5 on the horse to win at 10/1 odds, and $5 for the horse to be in the top 3 and 1/4 odds.

If your horse doesn’t win, but still is placed in the top three, you lose the bet at 10/1, but will receive a return on placement. Your payout will be determined by whether the horse finished second or third. Click here for more info on each way betting.

Edge – The bettor’s or punter’s advantage on a bet.

Exotic – Any wager other than a straight bet or parlay. They are also referred to as prop bets (see the definition for more details).

Exposure – The maximum amount of money a bookmaker stands to lose on a game.


Favorite – The team, athlete or outcome considered most likely to win.

Fold – A selection in an accumulator bet. For example, a six-fold accumulator consists of one bet involving six selections in different events.

Futures – The odds offered on a team to win an event before the event itself takes place: for example, odds given early in the season on a team’s chances to win the championship.


Goliath – Like the name suggests, this is a large and difficult bet. It consists of 247 bets involving 8 selections in different events.


Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo celebrate after winning Game 4 in baseball's National League Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Chicago. The Cubs won 6-4.
Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo celebrate after winning Game 4 in baseball’s National League Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Chicago. The Cubs won 6-4.

Handicap – See point spread

Heinz – Just like the sauce, a Heinz bet consists of 57 ingredients, or bets in this case. It involves six selections in different events, including 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 fourfolds, 6 fivefolds and an accumulator. A minimum of two of your selections must be successful to get a return.


In-Play Betting – Bets that can be made when the game is already in progress, often used in soccer games. This is an exciting form of betting, as the odds constantly change during play depending on performance and positioning of the team and players. You can place bets on factors such as who will score the next goal or take the next corner.


Juice – The commission earned by the bookmaker.  See also vigorish and over-round.


Laying the Points – When you bet on the favorite against the spread.

Lines – Lines are essentially the odds set by bookmakers, effectively bringing two teams to an equal betting field. That means they can have equal interest from bettors in either side of a bet.

The lines (odds offered, such as handicaps or point spread) can fluctuate for a variety of reasons, and these changes affect how much you are set to win on your bet. Don’t forget to check out our article explaining how to take advantage of line movement.


Moneyline Bets – This is a straight bet on who you think is going to win a game, no matter the final points or score margins. Moneyline bets are shown as a plus or minus in front of a number: for example, Team A -150 or Team B +150. The minus symbol indicates the favorite to win, while the positive shows who the underdog is.



Nickel Bet – No, it’s not a dodgy rock band – it’s a $500 bet.

No Action – You’ll see this when a bet is cancelled and the stake is returned to the bettor. There are many reasons a ‘no action’ can happen. One common factor is that the game has been rained out, so all bets are canceled and returned.


Odds – This is an essential term in betting. The odds are the calculated probability of an event taking place. In gambling terms, they aren’t a true representation of probability, but rather show the ratio between the amount placed on a bet and the payout.

There are different types of odds, for example moneyline, point spreads and over/under bets, all of which are explained here.

Over/Under – Also known as totals, this is a bet on the total combined score in a game.  It doesn’t matter who wins or loses in the game: winning or losing the bet depends on the total of the combined points from each team.

Over-Round – The built-in commission on odds offered. This is the profit margin for the bookmaker, also known as the juice, vig or vigorish.



Parlay – See accumlator.

Payout – The amount of money you are set to receive on winning a bet.

Point Spread – Also called the handicap, a point spread is a method of bringing two unequal opponents to a level playing field in an attempt to generate equal interest in both sides.

With point spread odds, you’ll see that the favorite (or chalk) will have a -7, and the underdog will be +7. So in your bet, the chalk has to win the game by more than 7 points, while to win a bet on the underdog, they must lose by less than 7 points. Basically, the point spread refers to the points that the teams must win by or lose by.

Prop Bet – (Also exotic) A prop bet is a special wager offered by a bookmaker on a wide range of topics aside from the outcome of a game or who will score. Prop bets can be unique and sometimes a little wacky.

For example, you could bet on the color of Beyoncé’s shoes for the Super Bowl half-time show, or how many buffalo wings will be sold. Prop bets are a way for bookmakers to generate more action. However, a number of sharp bettors love prop betting, as it’s another great way to earn some extra cash.

Punter – Another term for bettor.

Push – A tie or draw, teams with an equal final score.


Quinella – A horse racing betting term, in which the bettor picks the runners that will finish first and second, regardless of order.


Runline – A form of baseball betting that allows you to bet on a team to win by 1.5, or bet on a team with 1.5 runs.


Sharp Bettor – A term for someone who is a well-educated and possibly professional bettor.

Square – An uneducated or inexperienced bettor, the opposite of a sharp bettor.


Teaser A bet that combines bets from two different games.  Mostly seen in basketball and football bets.

Tips – Selections of who to bet on, as recommended by experts.

Total – See over/under


Underdog – The team considered most likely to lose, also referred to as “the dog” for short. 


Vig, Vigorish – See also juice and over-round


Wiseguy – another term for those professional sharp players.


Yankee– A multiple bet consisting of 11 bets (6 doubles, 4 trebles and 1 4-fold) on 4 selections in different events.

 And Here Ends the Betting Term Lesson

You have reached the end of your betting dictionary. Now that you’ve mastered the lingo, you’re good to go.

If you want to make the most from your bet, then consider which strategy you’re going to use. For more betting tips and strategies, check out our article “Which Betting Strategy is the Most Profitable?

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Having worked in the marketing department at two online sports betting sites, John brings his love of sports to serve BigOnSports as chief writer. He will be researching and writing about the sports betting community to improve your experience as a sports bettor.