The sports betting glossary provides a list of terms and phrases that are used in the sports betting industry. This terminology is used throughout our site. If we left something out, then don’t hesitate to shoot us a message here so that we can add the term.
Sports Betting Terms and Glossary
Arbitrage: A risk free combination of bets where the bettor is guaranteed a profit. Example: Getting the away team money line at +102 and the home team money line at +100 in the same game. Also called scalping.
Backdoor Cover: When the actual outcome of the game is out of question, but a team scores late and changes the outcome of a bet.
Beard: Someone that places a bet for another individual who wishes to remain anonymous.
Chalk: Betting the favorite.
Dime Line: A line where there is only a 10-cent difference in price of the bet. Example: New York Yankees Money Line -150 vs. Houston Astros Money Line +140. Commonly seen in Major League Baseball.
Fade: Generally means to bet against a certain team or handicapper.
Follow: Generally means to bet with a certain team or handicapper.
Handle: The total amount of money bet.
Hedge: Placing a bet that is opposite to one’s original bet. Usually used to guarantee a small profit instead of taking a chance at a big profit.
Hold: The % of the total handle that the sportsbook would win if the action were perfectly balanced. Also called the vig, sportsbook hold, juice, margin.
Implied Margin: The % of the handle the consensus books would keep from the bettor if the bettor took the price from multiple sportsbooks. We go into much further detail about this with Advantage Betting Using Implied Margin.
Juice: See Hold.
Kelly Criterion: A popular money and management strategy that is used by sharp bettors.
Line Shopping: Checking odds at a variety of sportsbooks to find the best price on a side.
Margin: See Hold.
Middling: Betting opposite sides of the same bet in hopes that the middle hits for a big payout. Example: Betting +3.5 on an away team and -2.5 on the home team of an NFL game. The bettor will win both bets if the home team wins by 3. If the home team doesn’t win by three, then they only lose the juice.
Parlay: Placing multiple bets with a single ticket in which all must win for the ticket to win. This is a way to make big money with a small bet. Payout multipliers will increase as the number of games in the parlay increase.
Pick ’em: No favorite or underdog. Both teams are equally favored to win the contest.
Scalping: See Arbitrage.
Sharp Bettor: A very smart bettor who is respected by the bookmaker because of their skill. Also called wiseguys, sharps, professional bettor.
Square Bettor: A casual gambler. This group typically places bets on heavily televised games and loves favorites and overs.
Steam Move: A quick and uniform line move across every sportsbook. Usually caused by an injury or deep-pocketed sharp bettor. Learn more about steam moves here.
Tout: Someone who sells their picks to the public to make a profit (usually a fraud).
Vig: See Hold.
Wiseguy: See Sharp Bettor.