SportsBook 101: The Glossary

Las Vegas Hilton SportsBook Whether the NCAA or the NFL want to admit it, sportsbook wagering on football is enormously popular. The wagering lines on these games have become so accepted that major sports media outlets like ESPN, Fox Sports, USA Today and nationally syndicated radio shows refer to the line constantly.  I am sure that while out tailgating you have overheard a fellow tailgater mentioning that day’s NCAA Football Odds as it pertains to his own team or just a game he likes. But the language that sports bettors use can be as confusing to those uninitiated as a non-coffee drinker finds the way people order a latte at Starbucks baffling. So for those of you that would like to be in the know and don’t want to look like you are clueless in the parking lot when it comes to sports wagering, here is a crash course. Consider this your SportsBook 101 vocabulary lesson.

ACTION – A wager of any kind

AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS) – Used primarily by experienced sports wagerers, ATS refers to how a particular team performs in regards to the assigned point spread. Normally used to spot trends, ATS statistics can point out a team that loses games on the field regularly but typically covers the spread in sportsbooks.

BOOKMAKER – An establishment or person that accepts wagers on sports or horses. Bookie is slang for bookmaker.

CHALK – The team that is the favorite to win and is giving up points in order to cover the spread. The slang term originated when old school bookmakers would write the games on a blackboard and the team giving the points would have the number of points given written in chalk beside the name.

COVER – When a favorite wins by more than the spread or when the underdog loses by less than the spread. If a money-line is used then the outright winner is said to have covered.

DOG – Slang term for underdog. A team that is expected to lose.

EVEN MONEY – The risk and win are the same. Wagering $1 to win $1.

FAVORITE – The team or contestant that is favored to win or cover. Also see Chalk.

GETTING DOWN – Making a bet.

HANDICAPPER – A person who makes selections based on past performances.

HEDGING – Placing wagers on the opposite side in order to reduce losses or to insure a win.

JUICE – Slang term for a bookmaker’s commission. See also vigorish or vig.

LAYING THE POINTS, GIVING THE POINTS – Wagering on the favorite.

LINE – Line or price or odds on a contest. For example, the Steelers are the favorite to win the game by 3 points. The line on the game is 3.

LINEMAKER – A person who makes the line, price or odds on a contest.

LONGSHOT – A team or contestant given a small chance to win in the wagering.

MONEY-LINE – A weighted amount of money is used to make both contestants attractive. The line might be -200 on the favorite and +180 on the underdog. Meaning the bettor must put up $200 to win $100 on the favorite or wager $100 to win $180 on the underdog.

ODDS – The price of what a contestant is paying.

OFF THE BOARD – A game on which the bookmaker does not except action.

OVER/UNDER – A wager on the number of points, goals, runs etc. for both teams combined. The bettor is wagering on whether this total will go over or under this number. Also used in boxing, over or under number of rounds.

PARLAY – A single wager on two or more games. All games on the parlay must cover the spread for the ticket to be considered a winner and paid.

PAYOUT – The total winnings plus the original wager.

PICK OR PICK’EM – A contest where neither side is favored.

PLEASER – A wager where multiple choices are made but the point-spread is re-adjusted against the bettor. To compensate for the less favorable lines, higher odds are offered. A pleaser is the opposite of a teaser.

POINT SPREAD – Also called spread, line or odds. The handicap that the favorite gives to the underdog for wagering purposes.

PROPS/PROPOSITIONS – A creative wager other than a side, total or run-line.

PUSH – A tie; usually all wagers are returned to the player. Sometimes a push is counted as a loss, mainly in teasers.

SPREAD – An abbreviated term for point spread.

STRAIGHT BET OR WAGER – A wager on just one team.

STRAIGHT UP – Describes a team or contestant in regards to their ability to win regardless of the point spread. Used primarily for those who prefer to bet the money-line.

TEASER – A wager involving two or more teams where the point spread is adjusted in the bettor’s favor. The opposite of a pleaser.

UNDERDOG – A contestant whose odds suggest a low chance of winning.

VIG – Juice or commission

So next time you are in the parking lot and you overhear someone say, “I got down on the chalk hoping they would cover the low spread. I laid the points and then the line moved to a pick’em. Even though they covered, the juice my book charged almost killed my action.”

Make sure to check back next month for some more SportsBook 101 when we’ll share how sportsbooks make money no matter if you win or lose, why a line will sometimes move up or down and how sportsbook set the opening lines on games.