Anyone can place a bet, but not everyone is a sports betting expert. In fact, there’s a big difference between casually placing that annual bet on the Grand National and really knowing how sports betting works.
To maximise your chance of winning (and just to increase your enjoyment when you’re betting), it’s helpful to understand some of the technical terms used in the industry.
If you’re new to sports betting then this glossary will prove invaluable. Hopefully, after reading it, you’ll feel less intimidated by the slightly obscure vocabulary that’s sometimes used by the pros. (That extra bit of self-confidence goes a long way!)
If you’re an old hand then some of the terms here should already be familiar to you. However, there might be one or two that you’ve not come across before.
Remember to bookmark this page too for easy access. That way it’s quicker to refer back to whenever you come across a term you’re unsure about.
Accumulator: A single wager that consists of a series of bets on multiple outcomes. To win, all outcomes must be successful.
Against the spread: A type of bet that’s not always about the winning team—you try to determine which team will cover the spread.
Ante Post: A bet that’s placed in advance. (It could even be years in advance of a competition.) This comes from horse racing and the thing to always remember is that it’s the prefix “ante” meaning “before” and not “anti” meaning “against”.
Bankroll: The money you have available to bet with. (Traditionally, this was literally your roll of bank notes.)
Beard: Someone who places a bet, usually an acquaintance, in order to hide the identity of the real better.
Bookie/Bookmaker: An individual or a company with a license to take bets on an event from customers.
Canadian: AKA a “Super Yankee”. This is a type of wager that involves 26 bets on five selections. (10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 fourfolds and 1 fivefold.) 2 selections, minimum, must be successful to get a return.
Chalk: Another way of describing the favourite in any given game or competition.
Circled Game: A game in which the betting activity is limited by the bookmaker. (This is generally used for American sports.)
Clean sheet: When a team makes it through an entire game with conceding any goals or points.
Double: A single bet that actually involves two selections. In order to win, both must be successful.
Draw No Bet: If your team draws instead of winning, you get your stake back.
Drift: If odds are lengthening then they are said to be “on the drift” or might just be described as “drifting”.
Each way: A type of bet that is effectively split in half. One half is placed on a win and the other half is placed on the team or competitor achieving a high position.
Edge: The advantage the punter/better has in a bet.
Evens: When odds are exactly 1:1. Also “even money”.
Exposure: The money that a bookmaker could potentially lose in a game or competition.
Favourite: The team or competitor that is most likely to win.
Field: Used to refer to all the competitors in a particular event.
Fixed Odds: Odds are fixed when they are agreed at the time of placing the wager and do not change after that point.
Form: Refers to how well or badly a team has been playing recently.
Gam Care: The national centre for advice and information about gambling and gambling addiction in the UK. (You can find a link to the Gam Care website at the bottom of this page here at Gambling Metropolis.)
Goliath: 247 bets that involve 8 selections in different events. (28 doubles, 56 trebles, 70 fourfolds, 28 sixfolds, 8 sevenfolds and an accumulator.) In order to get a return, at least 2 of your selections must be successful.
Half time bet: Any bet that is placed on the half time result.
Handicap: A way for bookmakers to level the playing field in order to make betting on an event or a competition more appealing. The weaker competitor or team is given an advantage.
Hedge: Hedging your bet means placing a bet on the opposite outcome of your original bet. It is a way of cutting losses or guaranteeing winnings.
Heinz: A wager involving 57 bets on six selections. (15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 fourfolds, 6 fivefolds and 1 sixfold). For a return, at least 2 selections must be successful.
IBAS: Independent Betting Adjudication Service. The UK’s organisation for resolving disputes between bookies and punters.
Juice: The term for the commission charged by bookmakers.
Lay: Laying a bet is simply when a bookmaker takes a bet.
Line: The odds or point spread offered on an event or competition.
Lock: Any bet that is considered a certainty. (Mainly used in American sports betting.)
Longshot: AKA “outsider”—a competitor or team that is unlikely to win and subsequently has long odds.
Match betting: Betting on a match between two teams.
Monkey: Slang term for £500 sometimes used by bookies.
Multiples: A bet that involves more than one selection. An alternative term for accumulators.
No action: A bet in which no money is either lost or won.
Nickel: A US term for a $500 bet.
Non-runner: A horse that doesn’t run in a race due to unforeseen circumstances. Bookmakers will often offer your stake back if this happens.
Odds: The odds are what tell you how much a successful wager will return.
Odds Against: Odds longer than evens
Odds on: Odds shorter than evens.
Outsider: A competitor that is unlikely to win. (The opposite of a favourite.)
Parlay: Another word for an accumulator. Generally used in the USA.
Picks: Bets that are recommended. Sometimes these are also referred to as tips.
Pony: A quick term for £25.
Price: Another way to refer to the odds.
Return: The money you win on a successful wager.
Runner: A person who places bets on someone else’s behalf.
Sharp: A professional gambler
Single: A wager on just one selection.
Stake: How much money you place on a wager.
Tic-tac: The special kind of sign language traditionally used by bookies on race courses.
Ton: Slang term for £100
Treble: A single bet made up of three selections in which all must be successful for a win.
Underdog: The competitor in any competition that is expected to lose.
Value bet: A bet in which the odds are better than the mathematical chance of winning.
Wiseguy: A very well-informed better.
Yankee: 11 bets involving 4 selections in different events. (6 doubles, 4 trebles, 1 accumulator.) At least 2 selections must be successful for a return.
So that concludes our handy sports betting glossary. Finally, we wish you good luck with all your online sports betting. (Oh, and if you enjoyed this, remember that there are plenty more useful articles in our guide section that you might also be interested in.)