Sports betting in the USA is becoming increasingly popular. With more states passing legislation, there are a huge number of would-be bettors looking to get in on the action.
By familiarising yourself with sports betting terms, you give yourself a much better chance of reading odds successfully.
Common US Sports Betting Terms
Below, we’ve listed the meanings for the most common sports betting terms. Let’s get started!
Action: Another phrase for placing a bet on any event. For example, ‘I’ve had some action on the Packers against the Patriots today’.
Against The Spread: Otherwise known as ATS, betting against the spread is betting on the underdog in the point spread.
Betting Line: Another way of describing the odds given. Usually, a betting line is the odds on a team/player to win or lose.
Bookmaker: The operator/sportsbook who takes or accepts wagers.
Buying Points: By ‘buying’ points, you can move the spread in your favor. Note, though, that some sportsbooks require extra in the way of stake for this. Others will decrease the amount you could win.
Cover: A cover bet, usually known as a Full Cover bet is a wager that consists of a number of selections. A Round Robin is a common example of this. With a Round Robin bet, you can place multiple parlays in one single bet. These can be difficult to win: the more lines you add, the bigger the risk. However, if you win, your profits could be much greater than placing a standard single bet.
Futures: A bet on an outcome in an event taking place in the future. For example, betting on the winner of the Super Bowl or who will be the top goalscorer in the MLS.
Hook: Used to allow for a winner on selected markets, typically the Over/Under or Points Spread markets. For example, you could see in the 76ers v Raptors game odds on over 90 points to be scored. Most sportsbooks add a .5 to the total, so in this case, 90.5. This is known as a hook.
In-Play: Known as live betting, an in-play bet is placed as the game or event is occurring. During a live game, odds can fluctuate massively. Successful in-play betting is a skill in itself.
Laying The Points: Where you place a bet on the favorite where a Points Spread is involved.
Moneyline: One of the most simple bets you can place, this where you pick a team or player to win. Let’s say the Steelers are playing the Patriots. You could see odds like this:
- Steelers: +150
- Patriots: -120
The plus sign indicates that the Steelers are the underdogs, with the minus sign showing the Patriots are the favorites to win. If you think the Steelers will prove victorious, the odds show how much you need to stake to win $100. So, place $150 on the Steelers to win and you’d win $250, $100 profit.
For minus odds, the amount displays how much you would win if you placed $100. So, if you place a $100 bet on the Patriots and they win, you’d come away with $120.
Odds: A sports betting term for betting lines. Also known as the price. Make sure you know how to read odds.
Over/Under: One of the most popular markets to bet on, the over/under market allows to bet higher or lower a specified number of points or goals. For example, we want to bet on the Philadelphia Union against New York City. We might see over/under odds like this:
- Total Goals 2.5:
- Over: – 140
- Under: +100
So, if we’re expecting goals, we might place a bet on over 2.5 goals at odds of -140. Or, if we think this will be a tight, low scoring game, we could place a bet on under 2.5 goals at odds of +100.
The over/under market is available on a range of sports, including basketball, baseball, football and ice hockey.
Parlays: A bet where you can include multiple lines in one single bet. So, we might think the Steelers, the Packers, the Lions, and the Chargers will all win their NFL games. We can include all selections in one bet. However, if one side loses, the whole bet is lost.
Some Full Cover bets allow for one line to lose, albeit at a reduction of the odds or winnings. With a standard Parlay bet, all selections must win.
Pick ‘em: This refers to a game or match where no favorite exists. To ‘pick’em’ is to simply decide on the winner between the two teams or players.
Prop Bets: Also known as a Proposition bet. These types of bets focus on events that can happen during a game, rather than the winner or points spread markets. For example, you can bet on the first team to score in a soccer game, how many touchdowns a particular NFL side might make or how many points will be scored in the first quarter of an NBA game.
Point Spread: One of the most popular ways to bet on sports. The easiest way to describe the point spread is to say it’s the margin of victory. In Europe, it’s known as the handicap.
Let’s return to our Steelers v Patriots example. We might see the point spread odds like this:
- Steelers +1.5: -110
- Patriots -1.5: -110
What does this mean? Well, the point spread gives a hypothetical advantage or handicap to one side. In our example, the Steelers have been given a 1.5 point advantage. So, if we bet on these odds, we will win our bet so long as the Steelers don’t lose by more than 1.5 points.
For the Patriots, the bookmaker has given them a 1.5 point handicap. If we bet on these odds, the Patriots need to win by more than 1.5 points for our bet to be successful.
Push: A bet that doesn’t win or lose. Returning to our 76ers v Raptors example, let’s say we place a bet on the 76ers against the Raptors. We bet on the 76ers -2, meaning that we win our bet if the 76ers win or don’t lose by more than two points. If the Raptors win 50-48, we don’t win or lose, and we have our stake returned.
Teaser: Similar to a parlay, a teaser is where you bet on point spreads or totals, as well as move the line in your favor. Sportsbooks combine the two into one bet.
Vig/Juice: This refers to the commission the sportsbook takes on each bet.
Now Start Betting (Responsibly)
So, there we have it. A rundown of the most common sports betting terms which we hope will help you make successful choices when you place wagers. If you are new to the betting scene, we recommend you start off slowly. In addition, it could be a good idea to utilize the most simple markets, such as Moneyline, to get a good idea of how betting works.
If you then decide to bet on more exotic markets, make sure you understand exactly how they work. Make more profit in these markets. Note, a great deal of risk comes with this. Approach betting in a sensible manner, keep track of your bets and do your sports betting terms research before you stake any funds!