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18 Most Common Sports Betting Terms Every Beginner Should Know

Date Posted: April 12, 2019

Online sports betting is not all about betting on who you think will win a match. It encompasses various betting types which may involve placing wagers on a team that you think will reach a certain number of points at the end of the game or a team that will have a certain point difference versus the opponent.

Since there are many betting options/types that sportsbooks offer, you may be left clueless as to how you can go about wagering to win. This is why you need to familiarize yourself first with at least the most common online sports betting terms used by punters and bookies. Now, know the terms below by heart to set yourself apart from sportsbook dummies. Each term comes with an example of how the word/phrase can be used in a sentence.


Common Sports Betting Terms


  • Action – any bet placed on an event.

“Are you planning on having some action on the upcoming NBA finals?”


  • Bad beat – an unexpected losing bet.

“It was a bad beat. Who would’ve thought the underdog, who had 5 straight losses, would win this time?”


  • Book/bookie – short for sportsbook, esp. an online sportsbook.

“Some bookies offer entertainment and esports betting.”


  • Chalk – the player/team favored to win, also known as the favorite.

“The Lakers were the chalk, but the Cavaliers won nonetheless.”


  • Dime ­– a bet amounting to $1,000.

“I wagered a dime on the losing team, so my $1,000 is gone!”


  • Even money – a bet with 50-50 odds of winning.

“My money got doubled after winning on an even money bet.”


  • Handicapper – one who predicts the results of a sporting event, usually based on research.

“Most handicappers want to make the most out of what they researched about the playing teams, so they place bets on who they predict will win the match.”


  • High roller – a bettor that places big bets.

“Being a high roller, I never placed a bet that’s below $20,000.”


  • Hook – a half point.

“Since the team I bet on is a 6.5-point favorite, they need to win by at least six points and a hook against the underdog.”


  • Juice/vig/vigorish – The commission a sportsbook earns from bets.

“If I were you, I’d do sports betting on an online sportsbook that imposes lower juice.”


  • Moneyline – a bet that wins when the player/team wagered on wins the match and loses when the player/team wagered on loses the match.

“Beginners usually just go for moneyline bets as these bets just rely on which team is gonna win.”


  • Odds – the likelihood an event is to occur.

“A player that gets injured in the middle of a game will definitely suffer from a decline in odds of winning.”


  • Over/under – a bet based on whether the total number of points scored by the two teams after their game will be over or under a certain number of points set by the bookmaker.

“William Hill set the over/under at 40. I bet on the over, but I lost since the total number of points at the end of the game is 39.”


  • Parlay – a bet involving the selection of two or more outcomes; when one of the guessed outcomes is lost, the entire bet is lost.

“The more outcomes you select when placing parlay bets, the bigger your winnings will be.”


  • Point spread – the difference in points between the favored team and the underdog as predicted by the sportsbook.

“CloudBet set the point spread for the next El Clasico match at 4 in favor of Barcelona.”


  • Proposition/prop bet – a special bet based on the occurrence or the non-occurrence of an event during a game, usually not directly affecting the final outcome of the game.

“One of the most common prop bets opened by sportsbooks to bettors is ‘Which of the two teams is going to score first?’”


  • Sharp – a highly experienced or professional sports bettor.

“Don’t call yourself a sharp when you don’t even know what a prop bet is.”


  • Underdog – the player/team expected to be defeated after the game.

“Osaka was the underdog, but she managed to defeat Williams who has always been a chalk.”


Knowing the set of common sports betting terms above by heart will not make you an instant sharp but will take you steps ahead of any sportsbook dummy. Perhaps now you are ready to face a bookie and have some action? Go, find out the odds set for the next teams to play, and see if the chalk will indeed take down the underdog based on the point spread!