Sports betting terms & glossary


An accumulator is a bet with a single stake on four selections or more multiplied together, all of which have to win to generate a return. Also known as a parlay. In horse racing betting, each way accumulators are very popular. This means each selection only needs to place to generate a payout.

  • Across the board:

A combination wager in three parts on one horse in US racing; we bet on the win, place and show for your chosen runner.

  • Action:

A general term to describe betting involvement in a sporting event; if we have action, we have financial interest in the outcome.

  • All-in:

Usually used in poker to describe staking all your remaining chips on a single hand. Also refers to betting in an event where no refunds are allowed.

  • Arbitrage:

Betting on an event with more than one bookmaker where the variation in odds they offer means that a return is guaranteed.


  • Backed:

Describes a contender that has been supported by a large number of wagers. When we have wagered on an outcome, we have backed it.

  • Banker:

A general term for a contender who is seen as certain to win; also, the selection in an accumulator that we are most confident will succeed.

  • Bar price:

The price used to refer to all contestants in an event that are not specifically quoted. “Ten to one bar” means all other runners are 10/1 (+1000) or longer.

  • Bettor:

A person who bets, either regularly or in a specific instance.

  • Book:

General term for a sportsbook; an individual or organization that compiles odds on an event and accepts bets on it. Also, the odds on a particular event.

  • Bookie:

Slang term for a bookmaker or sportsbook.

An individual or organization that offers odds on a sporting event and accepts bets on it. Bets were traditionally recorded in a book, hence the term.

  • Buy price:

In spread betting, the upper limit of a spread at which we buy, as opposed to selling at the lower limit.


  • Canadian:

A multiple bet with five selections that covers all 26 combinations. Also known as a Super Yankee. At least two must win for us to get a return.

  • Chalk / chalk player:

A slang term to describe a bettor who habitually bets only on favorites. The “chalk” is a slang term for the favorite.

  • Circled game:

An event in which the number of markets available is strictly limited, either because of injuries to key players, bad weather or rumors of foul play.

  • Combination bet:

A general term for a multiple bet in which all combinations are covered; we have to stake separately on each of those combinations.

  • Correlated parlay:

Two or more wagers where the outcome of one affects the other; for example, betting on the points spread in the first half and the match as a whole.

  • Cover - What does cover mean in betting?

To beat the spread. If we wager on a favorite who wins by more than the margin of the spread, we have “covered the spread”.


  • Dead heat:

The result of a horse race where two runners cannot be separated at the finish line, even by a photograph.

  • Dividend:

In pool betting, a fixed sum that is declared by the pool that will be returned for every $1 wagered on that outcome.

  • Double:

A single bet on two outcomes, with the winnings from the first rolling on to the second selection. Both must win for the bet to collect.

  • Doubling up:

A betting strategy under which we double our stake each time we back a loser, until we pick a winner again.

  • Draw:

The result of a sports event in which both sides record the same number of goals or points. Also the process by which horses’ starting gates are decided.

  • Drift:

The process by which the odds on a contender in a sporting event become longer. The opposite of shortening.

  • Dutch:

Dutching is the strategy of betting on more than one outcome or contender in the same event in the hope of increasing our chances of a winner.


  • Each-way:

Essentially two bets in which we back a runner/player to: finish first and/or in a place (usually 2nd to 3rd). We have to double or halve our stake to cover both bets.

  • Even money:

A betting price that rates the chance of a particular outcome at exactly 50-50. If we back a winner at this price our profit is the same amount that we staked.

  • Exotic:

Generic description of bets such as trifectas and jackpots where we can wager on multiple races and one runner or more in each.


  • Favorite:

The contestant in an event with the best chance of winning and, therefore, the shortest odds.

  • Field:

Any of a group of contenders not specifically quoted in the odds. “Ten to one the field” means all unnamed runners are that price or longer. Similar to Bar.

  • Fixed odds:

The traditional method of betting whereby a wager is staked at a particular price and the payout is at that price, regardless of later fluctuations.

  • Flag:

A particularly complex combination wager on four selections that involves 23 bets on all possible straight-up bets/singles, two-parlays/doubles, three-bet parlays/trebles and a four-timer.

  • Fold:

Term to describe the number of bets in a parlay (accumulator), such as four-fold and five-fold. Also, the act of discarding our hand during a game of poker.

  • Forecast:

A bet that invites us to select the first two or three finishers in a race, either in a specific order or in any sequence.

  • Full cover:

Any multiple bet that enables us to cover all the combinations of a number of selections, such as a Yankee or a Heinz.

  • Futures:

Bets on events taking place some time in the future; particularly used to describe long-term season wagers such as championship or conference winners.


  • Goliath:

A massive full-cover wager on eight selections. When you add all the combinations together you have a grand total of 247 bets.

  • Grand salami:

A single over/under bet on the total number of points or goals scored, usually in baseball or ice hockey, in all the matches on a single day.


  • Handicap:

A method by which runners in a horse race are weighted to give all the same chance; a bet where the sportsbook gives one contender a start to even the odds.

  • Hedging:

Hedging is placing a bet on the other side of our original bet to limit our potential losses.

  • Heinz:

A full-cover multiple wager on six selections that involves 57 combination bets; it’s named after the Heinz company’s famous “57 varieties” advertising slogan.


  • Index betting:

Also known as spread betting, this involves buying at the top end of a spread set by a sportsbook, or selling at the lower.


  • Joint favorites:

The term used when two contenders in a race/event are both rated as having the equal-best chance out of all the runners/competitors/teams.

  • Juice:

Slang term for the cut, or margin, that a sportsbook takes out of every betting market. Also known as the vig, or vigorish.


  • Lay a bet:

The action of a sportsbook in striking a bet with a bettor; a method also used by exchange bettors when they believe a runner/competitor/team will not win.

  • Lengthen:

The opposite of shorten. What happens to the odds of a selection when it becomes less fancied to win; similar to drifting.

  • Lock:

Description of a bet that is considered absolutely certain to win. A bet even more certain than a lock is known as a mortal lock.

  • Long odds:

A description of the odds that are quoted on a selection which has very little chance of succeeding in a race/event.

  • Long shot:

A selection that is considered to have an extremely small chance of winning a particular event and will, therefore, start at long odds.

  • Lucky 15 / 31 / 63:

A series of combination wagers that also include the straight up (single) bets on – in this particular case – a Yankee, Canadian and Heinz respectively.


  • Margin:

A sportsbook’s profit on a market. The difference between 100 per cent and the total percentage probability of all the odds quoted on an event.

This is a two-way market in which we pick the winner of an event (three-way for sports that include a tie, such as soccer). Also the term for the betting format used in this context.

  • Multiple:

Any bet that includes more than one selection. This includes a wide range of wagers, including parlays/accumulators and full-cover bets.


  • Nap:

A tipster’s most confident selection. The name originates from the French card game ‘Napoleon’, whereby a ‘Nap’ is the best hand you can be dealt.


  • Odds:

The numbers that display the probability of a particular outcome and that determine how much we win if our selection is correct.

  • Odds against:

Describes the price for a selection that stands to win us more money than our stake.

  • Odds on:

Describes the price for a selection that will win us less money than our stake; of course, we will still get our stake returned if we win.

  • Off the board:

A term, often shown as OTB, that demonstrates a sportsbook is not taking bets on that event at this time.

  • On the nose:

A bet to win, rather than an each-way or place bet. Believed to derive from boxing, where the nose is the target.

  • Outsiders:

Contenders in a race or match that have only a small, or outside, chance of winning.

  • Overlay:

The situation in which a sportsbook offers odds on a particular outcome that are too long for it to be able to make a profit.

Also known as a totals bet. We decide if a particular outcome, such as points scored in a game, will be over or under the number set by the sportsbook.


A bet in which we combine several outcomes with a single stake. Also known as an ‘accumulator’ in the UK and Ireland, a ‘multiple’ in Europe and a ‘multi-bet’ in Australasia.

  • Patent:

A multiple bet of seven wagers on three selections; three straight up bets (singles), three two-bet parlays (doubles) and a three-bet parlay (treble).

  • Picks:

Slang term for selections.

  • PK or pick:

Also known as “pick ‘em”, a term describing a match in which the teams are so closely matched that their odds to win are identical.

  • Place:

A bet on a selection to finish in the first three or four in a race/event; the odds will be smaller than for a win bet.

The margin, set by a sportsbook, by which the outsider starts ahead, and by which the favorite has to win for you to “cover the spread”.

  • Price:

Another term for the odds on a particular selection in an event.

  • Push:

The outcome when neither the bettor nor the sportsbook wins on a particular wager. The bet is refunded when a ‘push’ occurs.


  • Quinella:

A bet in which we have to pick two runners to finish first or second in either order. It’s a pool bet, so our winnings depend on the dividend declared.


  • Return:

The amount that we receive from the sportsbook on a successful bet.

  • Rounder:

A bet on three selections in which we stake on each to win and also on “any-to-come” two-bet parlays (doubles) that are activated only when one selection wins.

  • Round robin:

A complicated wager closely related to a patent. It involves 10 bets on three selections; three two-bet parlays (doubles), a straight up bet (single) and six any-to-come – also known as up-and-down doubles.


  • Shorten:

The opposite of lengthen; what happens to odds when a lot of money is staked on an outcome, leading the sportsbook to contract the price.

  • Single:

The simplest bet you can have. One stake on one outcome, such as the winner of a race or match.

  • Single states about:

A bet on two selections in different events; a return on each single is used to fund another single on the other selection.

  • Six dollar combine:

A bet on US horse racing that entails a $2 wager across the board – on the win, place and show.

  • Smart money:

Term for the cash invested by people or teams seen as being particularly knowledgeable about betting or the event in question.

The sportsbook sets a spread – such as the total number of goals scored in a soccer match – and you buy at the top, or sell at the bottom.

The range of an outcome – such as the number of points in a basketball game – set by a sportsbook for the purpose of handicap, over/under, or spread betting.

  • Steam:

A “steam move” happens when odds change suddenly when a lot of money is wagered on one particular result. Some bettors try to “chase steam”.

  • Super Yankee:

Also known as a Canadian, a combination wager on five selections that includes 26 bets – 10 two-bet parlays (doubles), 10 three-bet parlays (trebles), five four-bet parlays (four-folds) and one five-bet parlay (five-fold).

  • Sure thing:

Describes a selection that is seen as an absolute certainty by the people who wager on it. Similar to a Mortal Lock.

  • System:

“System bet” is a generic term for combinations such as a Trixie, Yankee or Heinz. Also a term for bettors who have a “system” for making selections in a particular sport.


  • Take:

Another term for the profit made by a sportsbook; also called juice, the margin, the cut, the house edge or the vig.

  • Taking:

This happens in spread or handicap betting. When the outsider is given their virtual advantage by the sportsbook, they are “taking points” from the other contender.

  • Teaser:

Similar to a parlay in that we combine wagers on more than one event; with a teaser, we can adjust the point spreads in exchange for a smaller return.

  • Tip:

Selection made by people or organizations with a perceived expertise in a particular sport or event; also used to describe any betting selection.

Also known as over/unders, a bet where we choose whether the total times something happens in a match is more or fewer than the number set by a sportsbook.

  • Tote:

Generic term for pool betting on sports, derived from totalisator; winnings are dictated by dividends declared by the organization running the pools.

  • Treble:

A single bet on three events. In the US, a three-bet parlay. The winnings from each roll on to the next selection. All three must win for the wager to be successful.

  • Trixie - What is a trixie?

A combination bet on three selections that comprizes of four bets; three two-bet parlays (doubles) and a three-bet parlay (treble). At least two must win for us to get a return.

  • True odds:

The real, mathematical probability of something happening.


The outsider in a sporting event, especially a two-sided contest such as a football or basketball match; the contender less expected to win.

  • Union Jack:

A complicated wager on nine selections in eight three-bet parlays (trebles); the selections are placed in a 3x3 grid – the one at the center should be your most confident pick.


  • Value:

The concept that suggests a bet has been struck at a price that is longer than the actual probability of it succeeding.

  • Vigorish (Vig):

Originally, the cut taken by a sportsbook from a bettor’s winnings; now generally used as a synonym for the margin, juice, cut or take.


  • Win:

To succeed in a sporting event; also, to be successful in wagering on its outcome.

  • Win only:

A bet on our selection to finish first, rather than in a place; also known as the Moneyline, or On The Nose.

  • Winning margin:

The number of points, goals or lengths by which a contender or team triumphs; important in the context of over/unders, handicaps and spread betting.

  • Wire to wire betting:

Wire to wire betting is involves backing a team to be leading a game at the end of each quarter. In the event of the given selection not leading at the end of any of the four quarters, the bet is as a loser.


  • Yankee - What is a yankee?

A yankee is a full-cover combination wager on four selections, comprising 11 bets; six two-bet parlays (doubles), four three-bet parlays (trebles) and one four-bet parlay (four-fold).