Guide to Sports Betting Terms

Reviewing common betting terms prepares you to enter the exciting arena of online sports betting. When you know the terms commonly using by sports betting websites, you’ll be able to pick up how the wagering works quickly. Remember to review all rules for each individual gaming site in case they have alternative betting guidelines and interpret common betting terms differently.

Buy Points

Sports gambling websites often give bettors the opportunity to buy points. You pay a set rate to move the point spread in your favor. Another option for gaming sites is to adjust the odds based on how you change the point spread.

Fixed Odds

Fixed odds are the most straight forward type of bet. A set of odds is listed for each competitor in a particular sporting match. You choose the winner and the purse for the bet is determined by the odds. For instance, if you win a bet on a competitor with 5-1 odds, your earnings will be $5 for every $1 bet placed. This type of betting is found more frequently in individual events that can’t use a point spread like boxing.


Handicapping involves researching the competitors in a sporting event in order to make an educated guess on who will win the match. Handicapping could involve looking at past scoring trends, evaluating performance during certain fielding conditions and studying each player’s statistics. Handicappers are available online to provide advice to individuals looking to place sports bets.

In-Play Betting

In-play betting is a fairly new addition to online sports betting. It permits live real-time betting as play action unfolds through a sporting telecast. The point spreads are changed at different intervals based on each team’s performance. For instance, a favorite that isn’t playing well during the opening period may find their point spread changed and the underdog becomes the favored team. In-play betting can increase your chances of winnings since you’ll likely have a better idea of outcome once game play commences.


Another name for the linemaker is an oddsmaker. For sport wagering, a linemaker is enlisted to set the odds for each competition. Linemakers will handicap teams and players to give their educated guess on who will be the favorite to win for each event. You must beat these odds in order to win a bet.

Money Line

Money lines are offered as an alternative to point spreads. Instead of traditionally formatted odds being displayed for each team or competitor, the odds are given in the form of money. Plus and minus signs are used to distinguish what it would take for the bettor to take home a hundred dollars. Plus signs are given to the favorite while minus signs are used on the underdogs. As an example, on a team with a money line of +150, you bet $150 to win a hundred dollars on the favorite. For an underdog with a money line of -120, you make $120 for every hundred dollar wager.

Opening Line

In sports betting, an opening line is the initial set of odds released for a specific competition. Opening lines will likely change as the time of the event grows closer. The term line is used to describe the current odds or point spreads given on the sporting competition. A future can be posted as well. This refers to odds posted in advance of a major sporting competition.


Parlay refers to a multi-faceted wager. You need to make a minimum of two bets to participate in a parlay. Different point spreads, money lines, games and sports can be used during a parlay bet. In order to win a parlay, you must choose the winner correctly for each one of your selections. A single loss results in your parlay wager losing. For each selection you guess correctly, your winnings are reinvested in the next bet. Large winnings can result from a parlay bet.

Point Spread

Point spreads are the equalizer in sports wagering. When a point spread is created, a certain number of points are given to the underdog team to even out the playing field. The underdog refers to the suspected loser of a sporting competition. With a point spread, the negative value applies to the favorite while the positive value is used to designate the underdog. The favorite is the competitor most likely to win the game. As an example, if you choose a team with a point spread of -4, they must win by more than four points for you to win the wager. A selected team with a point spread of +3 must lose by less than three points for the bet to be successful.  Linemakers use handicapping tools to determine the point spreads for competing teams.


When a bet ends in a push, it is also called a tie. This occurs when the final score is the same value as the point spread. When a wager ends in a push, the bettor typically receives a refund. Linemakers can use a half point spread system to prevent ties from occurring. Since a full point is used to win a game, a half point spread will always produce a winner. A half point added to a sporting event spread is often referred to as a hook.


A teaser is a type of parlay bet where you gamble on two or more teams or sporting events. As with a parlay, all of your selections must be correct in order to receive a payout. The central different of a teaser is you can adjust the point spread in your favor to increase your chances of winning. Odds in teasers are usually worse than the ones given in parlay betting. If a tie occurs, your teaser bet is likely to be refunded.


Vigorish is also referred to as juice in sports gambling. This is a form of tax imposed by bookmakers for each wager made through their organization. Vigorish is used to cover operating fees of the gambling organization. This commission is occasionally waived as a strategy to entice new gamblers to place bets with their organization.

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