If you’re new to sports betting—which most Texans will be once sportsbooks are legalized in the state—you’ll discover a lot of new lingo to learn.
Here are some of the most common sports betting terms you’ll need to know to place some bets, do proper research and make the most out of online sportsbooks in Texas.
Glossary of sports betting terms
Accumulator: This is a series of bets in a single wager, similar to a parlay. All of the bets must win for the bet to pay out. If even one loses, then the whole bet loses.
Alternate Lines: Some sportsbooks offer different point spreads that allow you to choose which odds you’re interested in betting. Each will have a different payout because of the option to choose instead of the standard game lines offered at all sportsbooks.
American Odds: These are the odds at North American sportsbooks. They have negative (such as -400) or positive (+325) odds. Negative numbers indicate a favorite outcome for a bet. Positive odds indicate the underdog. These odds determine how much a payout size.
Arbitrage: This is a betting strategy in which the bettor wagers on all potential outcomes for a single game or event. This guarantees a profit and reduces potential losses. Most bettors use multiple sportsbooks to make these kinds of bets.
Backdoor Cover: This describes a team that doesn’t cover the spread until late in the game.
Banker: In the United States, this is known as a round-robin bet. This term is used by European bettors and focuses on parlay-style bets with multiple teams.
Bankroll: This refers to the amount of money a person spends on betting alone.
Beard: When a person bets on behalf of an anonymous individual, they are known as “a beard.”
Betting Exchange: Instead of betting against a sportsbook, bettors can wager against one another in a “betting exchange.”
Betting Unit: This is a bettor’s average wager size. Everyone has a different betting unit based on their bankroll. Some might have a betting unit of $20, while more adventurous bettors could go much, much higher into the $10,000 range (or more).
Bonus: These are offered by sportsbooks to incentivize sign-ups. Some sportsbooks also offer sign up or promotion bonuses to existing customers in various forms.
Chalk: This refers to a team or individual expected to win with little trouble.
Circle Game: When betting limits are lower than usual, sportsbooks “circle” a game. There are various reasons betting limits might be down, such as injuries, weather, and trades.
Closing Line: This is the point spread at the start of a game.
Consensus: In sports betting, consensus refers to the most popular team bet or odds available for a particular game.
Contrarian: This bettor wagers against the current trends, usually because there is value on the less-popular side of the bet.
Dead Heat: This is one way to refer to a tie in sports betting. Check your sportsbook’s terms and conditions to see its rules for a tie or dead heat.
Decimal Odds: Also known as European odds, decimal odds are a simple calculation of your wager size multiplied by the odds. They are considered by many to be less confusing than US odds.
Dime Line: When moneyline odds payouts are “10” different between the money laid on the favorite and the money paid by the underdog, it is known as a “10 cent” difference or a dime line.
Dog: Another term for the underdog—the side of the bet that isn’t expected to win.
Double Chance: This is primarily a soccer-focused term used in European sportsbooks: when a bettor is given the opportunity — such as betting on two of the three possible outcomes of a soccer game (win, loss, or tie) — for two ways to win a bet.
Double Pop: In the United States, this is known as “doubling up.” It refers to a bettor wagering twice the typical amount. This particular phrase is found in European betting.
Early Cashout: Some sportsbooks allow bettors to settle a bet before the event ends. While this won’t lead to maximum profit, it does act as a guardrail against total losses.
Edge: This is the advantage that the bettor or the sportsbook has over the other.
Even Money: This bet will pay the same as the money being risked. You’ll see this as a -100 or a +100 in American odds.
Exacta: Horse racing term for picking the horses that finish first and second. You sometimes will find this in other sports, but very rarely.
Exotic Wager: These are non-traditional bets, often prop bets that you’ll find listed with popular events, such as the Super Bowl.
Expected Value: A bettor uses expected value to determine if a wager will win or lose in the long haul. The goal is to have a positive expected value over any period of time.
Exposure: This refers to the dollar value a sportsbook could potentially lose for a specific game or event.
First Half: This is a bet that can be made for any sport that has two halves, such as football, basketball or soccer.
Fixed Odds: Once a bet is finalized, the odds are set and can no longer change, which makes them fixed odds.
Flat Betting: This is a betting strategy in which a bettor wagers with a single dollar amount and doesn’t change that amount based on any other factors. Those who use this strategy often use either a fixed dollar amount or a percentage of their existing bankroll.
Fractional Odds: These odds are typically found in Britain and Ireland and are always listed as a fraction, such as 1/4. In US sportsbooks, that would equal a line of -400.
Handicapper: This is a bettor who researches and predicts the winning team or individual in a sporting event.
Handle: This term defines the dollar amount a sportsbook takes from wagers.
Hedge: A betting strategy that allows bettors to potentially guarantee profit from a bet or reduce their liability and potential loss.
Home Field: The location where the home team plays its games.
Hook: Many point spreads or totals are listed with a half of a point, such as a 2.5-point spread between NBA teams. That half-point is known as the hook.
Joint Favorite: Usually found in European and British sportsbooks, this means there are two favorites for a single event.
Layoff: Sometimes a bookmaker places a bet with a different sportsbook to reduce the liability of losing wagers. This is known as a layoff.
Listed Pitcher: This baseball bet is active only when the listed starting pitcher throws out the first pitch in the game.
Live Betting: This allows bettors to wager on games or events while they are underway. This is also called in game betting.
Lock: An expected easy winner.
Margin: This is a bet where the bettor picks a team to win by a specific number of points regardless of the point spread.
Martingale System: A betting strategy that requires the bettor to double the amount of their next wager following a loss. This is also used outside of sports betting, such as in cards at a casino table.
Middle/Middling: A bet that plays different sides of the same game to give bettors more than one chance to win.
Matched Bet: Bettors can get matched bets as part of a bonus, allowing free wagers to boost potential profits.
Nickel: A nickel is a $500 wager. A $1,000 bet is known as a “dime.”
Novelty Bet: This bet type is popular in Europe and other regions, though not so much in the US. These wagers are for non-sports events offered in a sportsbook, such as Academy Award winners.
Odds-on Favorite: When one side of the wager is heavily favored to win, they’re the odds-on favorite.
Off the Board: Sometimes sportsbooks will stop taking wagers on an event, so they take the odds off the betting board. This typically happens due to an injury creating uncertainty.
Public Betting Percentage: This indicates the percentage of all bets placed by the general betting public.
Puck Line: This is a point spread based on goals in a hockey game. This is usually set a 1.5, though there can be some variation.
Push: When a point spread ends exactly on the predicted number from the sportsbook, it’s a push. Since there is no winner, the bettor receives their money back.
Player Props: These wagers focus on a single player accomplishing something during a game.
Power Ranking: This is also known as a “power rating” and creates a ranking score for each team from which the oddsmakers base a point spread. Veteran bettors use these to create their point spreads, compare them with sportsbooks and find the best lines to their advantage.
Reduced Juice: Sportsbooks sometimes lower the vig on an event, such as going from -115 to -110. This “reduced juice” allows a bettor to take home more money if their bet is successful.
Reverse Line Movement: Often, lines move in the same direction as most of the wagered money. However, sometimes a line or a spread will move away from the money coming in.
ROI: An acronym for Return On Investment.
Round Robin: When a bettor makes multiple parlay bets simultaneously, it is known as a round robin.
Run Line: This is baseball’s version of the point spread. It focuses on the number of runs scored in a game.
Runner: This is someone who makes wagers on behalf of another individual. They are also called “beards.”
Sharp Money: Large-value bets made by professional bettors. Not all large wagers are considered sharp, however.
Square: A casual sports bettor, or a bettor who does it strictly as a hobby.
Steam: When notable money comes in on a game, some sportsbooks will adjust odds to reflect that. Some bettors “chase steam” when they believe the money is telling them something they didn’t previously know.
Straight Up: A team wins or loses in pure game terms (no point spread).
Take the Points: This is when a bettor backs the underdog in a spread bet.
Take the Price: When a bettor takes the price on a game offered by a sportsbook—usually a moneyline bet on the underdog.
Tissue Price: Initial odds released by a sportsbook.
TKO: Acronym for a technical knockout in boxing or other combat sports. In other words, the ref stops the fight.
Totals: This bet type is also known as the over/under. Bettors choose if they believe the total number of points in a game will be over or under the sportsbook’s prediction.
Tout: This is an individual who sells sports betting picks.
True Odds: These are the odds of an event happening—the most accurate point spread or moneyline.
Wire-to-Wire: Wire-to-wire bets are popular in basketball over all other sports in the US. They focus on whether a team will lead in every quarter of a game or in a specific number of quarters.