Sports Betting Slang

Sports betting often carries special lingo and unless you the bettor are specifically dialed into that language, you or anybody that might happen to be listening to any given conversation might find themselves lost. Although there is not a formal way of speaking with a sports gambler specifically, there are certain key vocabulary words that only sports gamblers would use and that only they themselves would know. The list is long and it’s reasonably fascinating. Look at some of the popular phrases and verbiage that we have discovered and look at the direct meaning. Nobody is saying that you must speak this way to sound like a gambler, however, knowing some of the more familiar phrases might certainly go a long way towards understanding the next sportsbook conversation that you have.  

ATS: This one is the easier one on the list and probably the most recognized. “Against the Spread” it indicates a team record against the point spread.

Bad Beat: Often used when referring to poker, a bad beat is when you should have won but something out of the bettor’s control came up in the waning moments of the game and changed the expected outcome. In poker, a bad beat is when the expected winner suddenly loses in the last second on the river.

Beard: Someone betting on another’s behalf, a runner or someone hired to place a bet. 

Book: The sportsbook or bookmaker that you may specifically be using as a place to make your bets. 

Bookie: A person who accepts bets and puts up the money for the bets, whether legally or illegally. 

Buying Points: When the bookmaker allows the bettor to alter the point spread with the ability to buy points off a set point spread. What bookmakers allow certainly varies but a great example is the half point. Gamblers do not like to lay a half point such as 3 ½ so, they will buy this spread or any spread with a ½ point line—the will buy the ½ point to (in this example) -3. This usually costs .10 cents on the dollar. Instead of -110, the juice would now be -120.

Chalk: The favorite. Some folks are chalk bettors only.

Circle Game: A game with special circumstances due to injury, weather or any other specific situation. The limits in these games are lowered.

Dime: Jargon for a $1,000 bet. If you bet “five dimes,” that means a $5,000 wager.

Dog: Underdog.

Dollar: Slang for a $100 bet. Usually used with bookies; if you bet “five dollars,” that means a $500 wager.

Edge: An advantage. Bettors feel they have an advantage over the house when they see lines set in a certain manner that cast doubt. 

Even Money: When the odds on the game are +100 or -100. You win exactly the amount you bet plus your original wager back.

Exotic: Any wager other than a straight bet or parlay; can also be called a “prop” or “proposition wager.”

Favorite: The expected winner of an advertised game or event. 

Fixed: A participant in a game who alters the result of that game or match to a completely or partially predetermined result. The participant did not play honestly or fairly because of undue outside influence.

Futures Bets: A long-term wager that typically relates to a team’s season-long success. Common futures bets include betting a team to win a championship at the outset of a season, or betting whether the team will win or lose more games than a set line at the start of the season.

Halftime bet: A bet made after the first half ended and before the second half begins (football and basketball primarily). The oddsmaker generally starts with half of the game side/total and adjusts based on what happened in the first half.

Handicapper: A person trying to predict the winners of an event.

Hedging: Betting the opposing side of your original bet, to either ensure some profit or minimize potential loss. This is typically done with futures bets but can also be done on individual games with halftime bets or in-game wagering.

High Roller: A high-stakes gambler.

Hook: A half-point. If a team is a 7.5-point favorite, it is said to be “laying seven and a hook.”

In-game wagering: A service offered by books in which bettors can place multiple bets in real time, as the game is occurring.

Juice: The commission the bookie or bookmaker takes. Standard is 10 percent. Also called the “Vig/Vigorish.”

Limit: The maximum bet taken by a book. If a book has a $10,000 limit, it’ll take that bet but the book will then decide whether it’s going to adjust the line before the bettor can bet again.

Lock: A guaranteed win in the eyes of the person who made the wager.

Middle: When a line moves, a bettor can try to “middle” a wager and win both sides with minimal risk. Suppose a bettor bets one team as a 2.5-point favorite, then the line moves to 3.5 points. She can then bet the opposite team at 3.5 and hope the favorite wins by three points. She would then win both sides of the bet.

Money Line: A bet in which your team only needs to win. The point spread is replaced by odds.

Nickel: Jargon for a $500 bet. Usually used with bookies betting “a nickel,” that means a $500 wager.

Oddsmaker: The person who sets the odds. Some people use it synonymous with “bookmaker” and often the same person will perform the role at a given book, but it can be separate if the oddsmaker is just setting the lines for the people who will eventually book the bets.

Off the board: When a book or bookie has taken a bet down and is no longer accepting action or wagers on the game. This can happen if there is a late injury or some uncertainty regarding who will be participating.

Over/Under: A term that can be used to describe the total combined points in a game (the Ravens-Steelers over/under is 40 points) or the number of games a team will win in a season (the Broncos’ over/under win total is 11.5). Also used in prop bets.

Parlay: A wager in which multiple teams are bet, either against the spread or on the money line. For the wager to win (or payout), all of them must cover/win. The more teams you bet, the greater the odds.

Pick ‘Em: A game with no favorite or underdog. The point spread is zero, and the winner of the game is also the spread winner.

Point Spread: The number of points by which the supposed better team is favored over the underdog.

Prop: A special or exotic wager that’s not normally on the betting board, such as which team will score first or how many yards a player will gain. Sometimes called a “game within a game.” These are especially popular on major events, with the Super Bowl being the ultimate prop betting event.
Push- When a result lands on the betting number and all wagers are refunded. For example, a 3-point favorite wins by exactly three points. 

Runner: Someone who makes bets for another person (aka “beard”).

Sharp: A professional, sophisticated sports bettor.

Spread: Short for point spread.

Square: A casual gambler. Someone who typically isn’t using sophisticated reasoning to make a wager.

Steam: When a line is moving unusually fast. It can be a result of a group or syndicate of bettors all getting their bets in at the same time. It can also occur when a respected handicapper gives a bet his followers all jump on or based on people reacting to news such as an injury or weather conditions.

Straight Up: The expected outright winner of the money line in an event or game, not contingent on the point spread.

Teaser: Betting multiple teams and adjusting the point spread in all the games in the bettor’s favor. All games must be picked correctly to win the wager.

Total: The perceived expected point, run or goal total in a game. For example, in a football game, if the total is 41 points, bettors can bet “over” or “under” on that perceived total.

Underdog: The team that is expected to lose. 

Vigorish: The commission the bookie or bookmaker charges also called the “juice.” The typical number is 10 percent.

Wiseguy: A professional bettor. Another term for a “sharp.”

The terminology above is some of the many ways of explaining sports betting jargon or better known as slang. Now you know and the next time you make your way to a Las Vegas sportsbook or any offshore book in any part of the world; you will now understand the spoken lingo.