Sports Betting Terminology

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While sports gambling seems simple to outsiders, anyone with any experience in the industry speaks a language that is quite unique. There’s a variety of terms that the layman doesn’t understand. Let’s take a look at the linguistic nuances of the sports gambling realm.

Introductory Sports Gambling Terms

A sports handicapper is an individual who tries to predict the results of sports events. He usually attempts to predict the victor and/or the team that covers the spread (defined below). Professional sports handicappers typically perform hours of research before making a wager.

A “book” is the shortened version of sportsbook. A book accepts wagers on the results of sports events including horse races and sometimes other competitions that don’t involve athletics. A bookmaker is someone who establishes the odds on a sporting event and accepts wagers on those competitions. A “ticket” is the paper printout produced at a sportsbook window that represents the gambler’s wager. If his wager wins, he returns to the betting window with his ticket to receive his winnings.

Some sports gamblers use the term “beard” to refer to a friend or family member who places a wager on an event in order to keep the identity of the gambler a secret. Sports gamblers often refer to a “bad beat” when they lose a wager that looked like a sure thing during the course of the competition.

Favorites & Underdogs

A “dog” refers to the team that is an underdog in a game. A “dog player” is a sports gambler who predominately wagers on the underdog to either cover the point spread or win the game. A favorite refers to the team that is favored to win the game.

Sports gamblers commonly use the term “chalk” to refer to the sports team that is favored to win the competition. A chalk player is someone who typically bets on the favorite instead of the underdog. Sometimes chalk players are called chalk eaters.

Wager Amounts

Sports gamblers who bet “half a dollar” bet fifty dollars. Those who bet a “dollar” or a “buck” are betting one hundred dollars. Those who wager a “dime” are wagering one thousand dollars. A dime line refers to a game’s betting line where the juice is ten percent. The juice refers to the amount of commission that the bookie makes on a wager. Gamblers who make a “double bet” are raising the stakes to bet two times as much as they usually do. A “nickel” wager is a bet of five hundred dollars. A “nickel line” refers to a sports wager with juice of five percent.

Types Of Wagers

A money line refers to a wager where the gambler bets on a sports team to merely win the game. The margin of victory does not matter on a money line bet. If a gambler “lays the price”, he is betting the money line. When two teams are evenly matched and neither is favored, it is considered to be an “even money” wager.

A parlay is a wager that is multifaceted. The gambler must get all the bets on his parlay ticket correct in order to win the parlay wager. Parlay wagers involve a minimum of two selections and can go upwards of ten or more. If the gambler succeeds in getting all of his parlay selections correct, the payout is often very large as the odds of each game are multiplied by one another. A “teaser” is a wager on two or more sports teams in which the spread is moved a bit to favor the gambler. A teaser bet requires that all of the selections be correct in order for the gambler to win.

When a sports gambler wagers on anything but a moneyline, spread (defined below) or parlay, it is typically referred to as an “exotic” bet or a proposition bet. The Super Bowl usually has a hundred or so proposition bets where gamblers can wager on things like the coin toss (heads or tails), what type of score will be the first of the game and how many receptions an individual player will have.

“Action” means to place a wager on a baseball team to win the game either outright or by a run line (defined below) regardless of who the starting pitchers are. Action can also have a broader meaning, as it is used to refer to the existence of a wager on a sporting event.

First half bets are available for sports gamblers who desire to wager on the outcome of a game’s first half instead of the game’s final outcome. A half time bet is a bet placed on the outcome of the second half of a game.

A grand salami refers to the total number of goals scored in an entire day’s slate of hockey games. Sports gamblers can choose either the over or the under for this total.
An over / under bet refers to the total number of points scored in a game. Sports gamblers can choose whether the combined scores of the competing teams will be over or under this amount.

To “hedge” a bet means to wager on the team that a gambler has already bet against. One typically hedges his bet if there is late breaking news of an injury to a player on the team that he originally wagered on. The hedging of his original wager allows him to lose less money in case that team loses the match.

Futures bets refer to wagers that can be made on divisional, conference or championship victories. They can also refer to the number of games that a team wins in a regular season and also individual statistical categories like the most home runs hit in a regular season.

The Spread

A spread means the number of points that one team is favored by over another team. To cover the spread means that a team has beaten the point spread estimate by at least half a point. A push occurs when a team wins or loses a game by exactly the amount of the point spread. When a push occurs, the gambler receives his original wager back.

Against the spread, commonly referred to as ATS, is a term typically used by experienced sports gamblers and statisticians to refer to wagers that involve a point spread as opposed to a money line. It can also mean a wager on a team to cover a spread instead of a wager on the favorite to win the game by more than the spread. A “run line” means that a gambler is betting on a baseball team to win or lose a baseball game by more than one run. This is baseball’s equivalent of a spread.

When a sports gambler “lays the points”, it refers to him betting on the team that is favored to win the game by more than the point spread. For example, if a team is favored by 2.5 points and the gambler lays the points, he wagers on the team to win the competition by 3 points or more.

Sports gamblers can “buy points” when they would like to add a point or more to the point spread in favor of either the underdog or the favorite. This reduces the payout of the wager but provides a sort of insurance policy in case the team that they bet on fails to beat out the original point spread by a half a point or a point. The more points that a sports gambler buys, the lower his payout is. When a sports gambler buys the “hook”, he buys half a point. For example, a team favored by 7 points can be reduced to a 6.5 point favorite if the gambler buys the hook.

Sports Gambling Terms Unique To Sportsbooks

When there are crucial injuries to key players that will impact the outcome of a game, it becomes a “circled game”. A circled game’s maximum wagering limits are typically lowered, the betting choices can be restricted and the match can even be “taken off the board” if there is a lack of clarity regarding the health of impact players. When a game is “taken off the board”, it means that no gamblers are allowed to wager on it until there is more certainty regarding the health and playing status of important players.

A “handle” refers to the aggregate number of dollars wagered on a sporting event or a group of sporting events. There is a “limit” that bookmakers set on sporting events. This means there is a maximum amount of money that the bookmaker will accept on the game before changing the odds to reduce the payout. When the sports gambling public tends to wager on one specific team, the sportsbook has high “exposure”. This refers to the amount of money that the sportsbook will lose on the result of a certain game. Sometimes sportsbooks will decide to bet a “layoff”. This means that they have decided to place wagers with other sportsbooks to cut down on their own liability in case the team that the majority of the gambling public sides with wins the game.

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