Betting Terms

Starting bettors learn many of the most common betting terms such as “spread”, “moneyline” and “Over/Under” fairly quickly. But as they continue to hone their craft, they learn more about other bet types and key phrases. At, we provide an advanced betting term glossary that takes an in-depth look at online betting terms with which all bettors should be familiar.

Action vs. No Action – When a wager is “action”, it is live and valid, while a wager with “no action” is not live and the bettor will be refunded their original wager. Events that are postponed or canceled are graded no action, as are wagers that required a specific pitcher to start if that pitcher does not start.

Arbitrage Betting – Arbitrage betting is betting both sides of an event with favorable odds to secure a guaranteed profit. For example, if Book 1 has the game at Team A -125 / Team B +105 and Book 2 has Team A +110 / Team B -130, an “arb” bettor would bet both Team A +110 and Team B +105 and make a profit regardless of the outcome of the game.

Bet Limit – A bet limit limits the amount a bettor can bet on certain events. Some limits are set based on the wager (such as less popular sports or proposition bets), while others are set based on the bettor (if a bettor is too consistently successful overall or at a specific type of wager).

Correlated Parlay – Correlated parlays are illegal parlays that attempt to select two legs that directly correlate to one another. Examples of correlated parlays include selecting a team to win both the first half and the full game, or the first five innings and the full game. Sportsbooks will not allow correlated parlays.

Futures – Futures are bets on an event taking place in the sometimes distant future, such as betting on a team to win the championship during the regular season, or before the season even starts. Future odds consistently change throughout the year as it becomes clearer which teams are championship contenders and which aren’t. The best value on future bets often comes from “surprise” teams that went off at longshot odds.

Hedging – When a bettor hedges his bet, he is betting against his original side to either secure a sure profit or minimize losses. For example, if a bettor bet $100 to win $1000 on a three team parlay and the first two legs hit, the might consider hedging by betting a few hundred against their third leg. While this strategy cuts into potential profit (if the third leg went on to win), it does make the wager a sure winner.

If Win – Bettors can select multiple events that they like and create a string of bets that will only continue as long as the previous bet is a win. For example, a bettor may select the New York Jets -6.0 as their first leg and the Oakland Raiders +4.0 as their second leg. They are betting a selected amount on the Jets to win, and IF THEY WIN, part or all of their original wager and profit will be bet on the Raiders. Once one leg loses, all action stops.

Juice – Also known as vigorish, the juice is the commission that the sportsbook earns on each wager. In common -110 wagers in which the bettor must lay $110 to win $100, the juice is that extra $10. To overcome the juice on standard -110 wagers, bettors must hit 53% or better. Believe it or not, that 3% is the difference between winning and losing.

Line Moves – Sportsbooks do their best to balance action to avoid too much risk on one side by moving lines based on betting action. If Team A opens at -3.5 and bettors are betting on Team A much more than Team B, the sportsbook can move the line to Team A -4.0 / Team B +4.0 to try and attract action on Team B’s side.

Parlays – A parlay is a bet in which multiple events are selected and all events must win in order for the parlay to pay off. Each event is known as a “leg” of the parlay. The parlay becomes harder to hit and pays more lucratively with each leg that is added. Some bettors attempt 10+ leg parlays in search of huge payouts.

Prop Bets – Short for proposition bets, prop bets cover a wide range of wagers that include action on specific players and statistics. Many books offer props such as which team or player will score first, over/under on individual player yards or points, and many more. For bettors that are more comfortable dealing with player performances than picking winners, prop bets are a welcome alternative.

Reverse Line Movement – Bettors that monitor how the public is betting on a game look for rare occurrences where the line moves towards the public instead of against it, known as reverse line movement. The theory is that if books are trying to entice more action on an already popular side, there is probably a good reason to like the other side.

Round Robin – A round robin is a series of small parlays created from the selection of three or four teams. If a bettor selects Teams A, B, and C for their round robin, they will be betting parlays AB, AC, and BC. Unlike a three-team parlay which would lose the entire wager if one leg lost, the round robin will return some money if two of three legs win.

Semi-Correlated Parlay – Semi-correlated parlays are legal parlays that select two legs that are not directly correlated (making them legal), but have correlation in the bettor’s mind. For example, if a bettor plans on betting a great defensive team against a great offensive team, he may consider parlaying his defensive team with the UNDER, since he is counting on the tempo being controlled by the defense.

Sharps vs. Squares – In the sports betting industry, smart, calculated, winning sports bettors are known as sharps, while amateurs without much handicapping or money management skills are known as squares. Squares generally don’t think about managing money, and love betting seemingly obvious favorites and overs, eventually going broke. Sharps handicap thoroughly, shop for the best lines, and turn profits long term.

Steam Plays – Sportsbooks are constantly on the look out for these bets as they can beat the bookie with them. It is a concept of watching movement in lines whereas a bettor puts significant amount of money on a particular wager and moves the line because of the bet. The line movement would then allow the bettor to place a bet at another sportsbook where the lines have yet to move. A person must be “in the know” to make steam bets and inherently steam bettors can also trick the book by pretending to place steam bets, then betting larger on the other side.

System Betting – Bettors that follow a (usually mathematics-based) system to make all of their wagers. For example, a bettor may plug in both team’s records and their strength of schedule, and if their system computes a discrepancy they find adequate, they will bet the game.

Teasers – Like a parlay, but the point spreads on each event are adjusted to favor the bettor in exchange for a lower payout. For example, a 4-point teaser selecting Team A +3.5 and Team B -10.0 would give the player Team A +7.5 and Team B -6.0. Teasers vary in both point value and how many legs are added, with payouts adjusted accordingly.

Three-Way Bet – A three-way bet is a bet in which you can wager on whether an event will be a win, loss, or draw. This is the standard format for betting soccer, and usually applies to only the 90 minutes of regulation, not extra time. Three-way betting sometimes confuses American bettors who are used to just betting football, baseball, basketball, and hockey, where overtime factors into their wagers.

Unit – A unit is a set base amount that a bettor uses to measure their wagers. While units mean different things to different bettors, a unit is generally a bettor’s standard bet size, and is between 1-5% of their bankroll. Bettors may risk just half a unit on less confident wagers, or up to two or three units on plays they feel very strongly about.

Value – Value relates to getting a good deal for your money. A fair line on a fair coin flip would be +100/+100, since heads and tails are both 50-50; so any wager of +101 or better would have value. Generally speaking, if a bettor has a wager on a line that is more favorable than the closing line, many consider that wager to have value.