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The Odds Factory’s Sports Betting Glossary

Sports Betting Glossary

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With the spread of legalized sports betting in the United States, many of you might be wagering for the first time. To bring you up to speed and make sure you know the lingo, the staff here at The Odds Factory have put together a glossary for Sports Betting 101.


Action: If you have a bet on a horse race, game, or two cockroaches running up a wall you have “action.” A wise man once told me “The only thing worse than having losing action, is having no action”.

Against the Spread (ATS): This is a team’s record against the point spread.

Bailout: When someone bets big trying to make up for lost money. Historically, this is a very bad move that has led to excessive drinking, lost homes, and the occasional broken bone.

Betting Line AKA “The Line”: This is who is the favorite, who is the underdog, and what the point spread is. For example, “The line on the Bengals versus the Jets is Bengals minus-six.” This means if you bet the Bengals you give 6 points and if bet the Jets you get 6 points.

Bookmaker AKA “Bookie” AKA “The Book”: The person who accepts your wager, be it legally in a casino or mobile, or on a street corner with a guy named Stacks.

C-note: A hundred dollar bet “I’ll take North Carolina minus-11 for a C-note”.

“Chicken bone in the throat”: When something weird or unexpected happens to make you lose a bet. In eating and in betting (including sports betting) you don’t want to catch a chicken bone in the throat.

Cover: It’s what you want your team to do. Let’s say you bet The Bears plus-8½ points against the Chiefs. The Bears may lose the actual game by 3 points 23- 20, but because you’re getting  8½ points, you win 28½ -23 and your team “covers”.


Dog AKA Underdog AKA The Dog: A team getting points on the point spread. If you take the Cowboys plus-7, or get odds on the money line Nishikori at 6-1 against Federer, you’re betting on “The Dog.”

Dime: Betting 1000 dollars. “I’ll take the Pistons minus-2 for a dime”

Favorite AKA “The Fav”: A team giving points on the point spread. If you take the Browns -4, or give odds on Federer at 1-6 against Nishikori, you’re betting on the favorite.

Futures: Odds for long term bets. The Chargers at 14-1 to win the Super Bowl. Tiger to win a major in 2020 at 5-1.

In-play: Short term bets that take place during a game. Half-time bets. Quarter bets. Player to score next basket. The odds are constantly changing for these bets throughout the game. Not a wise place to begin your betting career.

Juice AKA “The Vig” AKA “The Vigorish”: The amount the bookie takes as a commission. When you bet a game, you bet 11 to make 10. Which means if you lose, you lose 11 dollars and if you win, you win 10 dollars. That extra dollar is the Juice, or The Vig, or The Vigorish, and it grows incrementally as you bet more.

Laying the points: This what you do when you bet the favorite, “I’ll take the Lakers and lay the 5 and a half”.

Lock: A bet in which someone is absolutely sure they are going to win “It’s a lock”. I had an Uncle Jackie that always said “Locks are for bagels and doors, not games”.

Linesmaker AKA Oddsmaker: The person who sets the line.

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Moneyline: No points involved, you’re just picking the winner of the game. You can take the favorite where you wager more to win less: “I’ll take The Cardinals minus-160 to win 100 against the Dodgers.” Or the underdog where you bet less to win more “I’ll take Iowa plus-250 to win 100 over Ohio State.”

“The Mush”: A person that always loses. You never want them betting on the same side as you. It’s good to have a Mush in your life – just ask them who they like in a game and go the other way.

Nickel: Betting 500 dollars on a game. “I’ll take the Warriors for a nickel minus-11”.

Odds: The point-spread or moneyline for a bet.

Off the Board AKA “Off”: When something out of the blue happens, like an injury or a suspension, the bookie then takes the game “off the board” until they can get some clarity on the situation.

Over/Under AKA “The Total”: Your betting on the total number of points scored in the game. For instance, if the “over/under” in the Falcons-Saints game is 48 and the game ends 28-24 for a total of 52, everybody that bet the Under loses and everyone that bet the Over wins.


Pick’em: A game in which there is no favorite or underdog and both teams seem evenly matched.

Point Spread AKA “The Spread”: The number of points you give or get in a specific game. Favorites give points, underdogs get points.

Proposition Bet AKA “Prop”: Exotic wagers often associated with the Super Bowl. I.E. “Who will win the coin toss?” “Which player will catch the first pass?” “How long will the halftime show last?”

Push: In sports betting, when a game lands on a tie against the spread and all bets are refunded. For example, when a team is favored to win by 3 and wins the game 23-20, it’s a push.

Press: When you bet more than you normally do on a game, you’re “pressing the action.” Rule of thumb: press when you’re hot, not when you’re cold.

Runner: A person who places bets for someone else.

Sharp: Smart sophisticated bettors who semi-consistently beat the bookies. Big proponents of analytics and inside info.

Steam: When one side in an upcoming game is getting hit with an endless series of bets.

Square: A casual or unsophisticated bettor.

Teaser: A bet on two or more teams in which you get extra points, but have to win all the bets to win. For example, if you tease the Patriots -7 against the Bills and the Redskins +5 against the Steelers, you change the odds to Patriots -1 and Redskins +11. You get 6 extra points in each game, but you need to win both games to win the bet. If one or both of those bets lose, you lose. Bookies love people that bet teasers.

Wager: A bet.

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