moneyline betting

Football Betting Terminology

Call it a legend, call it a glossary, call it a terminology guide – whatever you want to call it, you should know the terms used in betting circles so you don’t get lost or confused when placing a football bet. (Learn more in our How To Bet section.)

Sports Betting Terminology – Legend

Accumulator bet – same as a parlay bet when you bet several games on the same ticket and need all the games to win in order to win your bet.

Against the Spread or ATS – a betting result where the point spread is involved – win or lose against the spread. You will also see this connected with a team’s record, if they are 10-4 ATS on the season indicates they have covered the spread 10 times and failed to cover 4 times.

Bad Beat – In real life, this is known as bad luck, where you do everything right but still end up losing. The ‘bad beat’ is a betting victory that gets snatched away by misfortune or at the last minute. If you bet an NBA team to cover an 8-point spread and the other team heaves up a meaningless shot from half as the buzzer sounds and it goes in, that can be a bad beat if the score was supposed to be 100-90 (a victory for you) now turns into a 100-93 score) a loss for you. Ironically, this known as ‘Great Handicapping’ if that 50-foot shot goes in and it helps you win your bet….

Beard – Term popularized in Vegas where (usually) a professional bettor will hire someone else to discreetly bet on their behalf. Why conceal an identity? Some sportsbooks don’t want action from professional bettors who are good at their craft, so they ban or limit the pro or ‘sharp’ bettors.

Book – Same as sportsbook, a business that books action on sporting events.

Bookmaker – A group or individual that takes bets on sports or other events. Not the same as an oddsmaker, who sets the odds. An oddsmaker would work for a bookmaker, although in some smaller operations they can be the same person.

Buy Points – Bettors can pay an extra percentage or fee to move a line a half-point or more if he believes that small change gives him the edge he needs to win a bet. Not all sportsbooks will offer this.

Chalk – A favored team is known as the chalk.

Circled Game – A game on the betting menu where the sportsbook limits its action or the size of bets, pending information on injuries, weather or factors that may change before game time.

Cover – If you win your point spread bet, you have covered the spread. You have a ‘cover’ in that game, congratulations.

Dime – A $1,000 wager is known as a ‘dime bet.’

Dime Line – Betting line where the book’s commission (or juice or ‘vig’) is 10 per cent. There are also nickel lines at 5 per cent juice. A typical NFL bet is -5.5, -110. This means you bet $110 for a chance to win $100 (the $10 ‘vig’ stays with the book if you lose, you get that $10 back + your winnings if you win.

Dog – Short for underdog, the team oddsmakers give less of a chance of winning.

Fade – Means to bet against a team or a situation or a handicapper. If the Cowboys have lost six straight ATS and they had a terrible week of practice and their QB has the flu, you might want to fade them. Same as your favorite handicapper if he just lost 12 straight bets. Time to fade (bet the other way).

Favorite – The team or player expected to win is the favorite or ‘chalk’. Also the ‘fave.’

Futures – Betting on outcomes at some point in the future, typically this is odds to win the Super Bowl or odds to win the college football national championship.

Handicapping – Doing your homework, your research, studying the teams to try to determine the right way to place a bet. You can do this research yourself or some people pay professional handicappers to do research and make picks for them.

Hedge – As in the stock market, betting on the other side of a wager to minimize your losses or possibly to guarantee yourself a small profit based on the odds. This is also known as middling and is NOT a casual or recreational thing to do at the sportsbook.

Hook – Half-a-point on a point spread. If the spread is -7, you add a ‘hook’ and its -7.5.

Juice – Commission that the sportsbook takes for booking the bet, also called the ‘vig’ this is how the sportsbook makes a living. Well, that and the fact too many people in the betting public don’t do enough handicapping so they make the wrong picks.

Lay Points – Betting the favorite by giving up points against the spread or ATS. If the Giants are -3, you are laying three points. If the Eagles are underdogs to the Giants, you are ‘taking the points’ by betting the underdog.

Line – Odds, known as the line or betting line.

Moneyline – Popular in baseball and hockey betting where the low scores make point spread unworkable, it’s a simple wager to pick one team or the other with no point spread involved.

Nickel – A $500 wager or “nickel” bet.

Nickel Line – Betting line where the “juice” or “vig” is five per cent. Some professional or sharp books will offer nickel lines or ‘reduced juice’ to their best clients.

No Action – Bets that get cancelled for some reason – bettors get their money back.

Off the Board or OTB – A game or match that is not available for betting at the moment for some reason. This can be uncertainty over a player injury, it can relate to weather. In baseball games at Wrigley Field (notorious for extreme wind), the total is often OTB early in the day until weather forecasters know if the wind is blowing in (could be lots of home runs) or blowing in (maybe lower-scoring game).

OVER – Bet result when the combined points/goals/runs scored by two teams goes above the posted total. If the hockey game’s total is 5.5 and the game ends 6-2, the eight goals makes that bet an OVER.

OVER/UNDER – A bet on combined points/goals/runs scored by both teams. As above, the over/under was 5.5 goals. In football, this ranges from the mid-30s to the mid-50s depending on the teams involved. In college football, where defense is often an afterthought, you can have over/unders in the 70s and 80s.

Parlay – A multiple bet ticket where you bet on several games. The payouts are good for parlays because the risk is higher. Many sharp bettors will bet two-team parlays while taking two huge favorites to win. You need both games to hit for the bet to be successful.

Pick’em or PK – A game where the oddsmaker feel each team or player has an equal chance to win. Neither is a favorite, it’s a toss-up, even odds or a coin toss or a pick’em game.

Point Spread – Or line or spread, oddsmakers sets the number of points that the favorite needs to surpass in order to win the bet. The underdog gets those points.

Puckline – Or Canadian line, is the same as runline in baseball. Usually a point spread of -1.5 or +1.5 goals is added, along with moneyline values for the favorite and underdog. You might see:
Flyers -1.5, +140
Bruins +1.5, -160
This means you bet the Flyers to win by two or more goals and you earn a tempting +140 payout ($14 profit for every $10 you wager). On the Bruins, you need to pay -160 (only $10 in profit for every $16 you risk) but the Bruins can lose the game by one goal and you still win your puckline bet.

Prop Bet – Or exotic, it’s a bet on an outcome within a game not the overall result. Who will score the game’s first TD is a prop. Will the Super Bowl coin toss be heads or tails is a prop.

Push – This is basically a tie, where bettors get their money back. If you bet the Raiders -6 and they win 20-14, your bet is a push.

Runline – Baseball bet that operates the same way as hockey’s puckline (see Puckline above and substitute baseball team names and the word ‘runs’ and you get the idea).

Sharp – Sometimes indicates a professional bettor but sometimes just means an educated, savvy or smart bettor who bets with discipline and consistency. Sportsbooks don’t like these people, they prefer recreational or square bettors who just want betting action on their favorite team and don’t care what the odds say.

Side – A ‘side’ bet is just picking side of the matchup, picking one team to win.

Spread – Abbreviated point spread.

Straight Bet – Single wager on a team.

Square – The aforementioned recreational or newby bettor, who typically follows the public hype and opinion of games. Sharps usually make a good living betting against squares.
Steam – A late burst of wagering action before game time, often by professional bettors who wait until the line moves into their preferred range, then they move in with a lot of money trying to profit.

Take the Points – When you bet an underdog, you are taking the points – if the Chargers are +6, you are betting the Chargers plus the points in hopes of winning your bet ATS.

Teaser – A parlay with a twist, where the point spreads on two games are adjusted or ‘teased’ to favor the bettor. An example is teasing the -7 line on the Patriots up to -10 and moving the dog line on the Browns from +3 or +6. Hopefully this allows you to hit both spreads and win your teaser bet.

Total – Over-Under value, the total number of points, goals, runs scored in a game – you bet OVER or UNDER that number.

UNDER – As above, if you bet UNDER 44.5 in the Bills-Dolphins game and the game finishes 21-13, you win your UNDER bet because 34 is less than 44.5. You lose your UNDER bet if the game ends 31-17 for 48 total points. More on over under betting.

Underdog – Team or player judged to be less likely to win the game.

Vigorish – Means the bookmaker’s commission for handling the bet, as above, also known as ‘juice’ or ‘vig.’