Your guide to the most common sports betting terms, with examples

Betting Terms- Anyone unfamiliar with placing wagers will soon realise there is a language to betting, a good grasp of which is needed when visiting a bookmakers’ website. Likewise if you’re on the bookmakers’ app, in a bookmaker’s shop or placing a bet at a live race or event you need to know the vocabulary in order to proceed in an informed way.

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The main terms used in betting can be learned in a matter of a few minutes and they will come on handy for years, as they come up time and time again. So if you want to know your evens from your handicaps then you are in the right place.

Most common Betting Terms for betting at the best Bookmakers. It's important to know these Betting Terms in order to win

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The A-Z of Betting Terms

Across the Card

What is across the card? 

This term refers to the act of placing wagers simultaneously at separate meetings.

All in play or not

What does all in play or not mean?

When you hear the phrase ‘All in play or not’ – abbreviated to ‘All in’ – it refers to markets where the prices are set, whether or not the selection takes part in the race. The odds ‘include’ the possibility of the selection not taking part, so if your pick is a non-runner you lose the bet.

All Out

What is all out?

Phrase used to describe a greyhound, horse or indeed a player/team pushing at the maximum for the result.

All Weather 

What does all weather mean?

All weather racing takes place at racetracks which have an artificial surface, suitable for racing all year round, no matter the weather. Within reason of course. Racing could still be called off in gale force winds. Venues such as Lingfield and Wolverhampton are all weather. 

Also Ran

What’s an also ran?

In Horse Racing all the runners who participated but finish outside the ‘places’ which pay out are described as also rans.

Ante Post

What does Ante Post mean?

This is an important term to understand. Ante Post prices are offered well in advance of a race. You can seek Ante Post odds for a horse to win the next Grand National months ahead of time and you might get a better price, but you run the risk of your selection losing form or getting injured and not taking part. Here you are going ‘All in’ on an Ante Post market, so you could lose the bet if your selection does not finally take part in the event.

At the Post

What does at the post mean?

The race is about to begin and all the horses are ‘At the Post’, meaning on the starting line/point.

Back

What does back mean?

Place a wager on or bet on a selection to get a predicted result.

Banker

What is a banker?

A safe bet. A very strong favourite. Bettors often include a banker in a multiple or combination bet to strengthen their hand.

Betting Exchange

What is a betting exchange?

Betfair is an example of a betting exchange. It is a peer-to-peer network where bettors can offer each other wagers, so customers of betting exchanges bet between themselves. 

BIR or BIP

What is BIR or BIP?

Betting In Running (BIR) or Betting In Play (BIP) refer to Live Betting where participants bet during the course of a race, match or event.

Betting W/O

What does betting W/O mean?

This means ‘betting without’. You can place a bet on a horse to win a race without the favourite included in the results. So, if the horse you back comes second behind the favourite you’ve won the bet.

Bookie

What is a bookie?

Short for bookmaker, the person or company licensed to offer odds and accept bets from bettors.

BTTS

What does BTTS mean?

Both teams to score. A bet on both teams in a match to score at least one goal each.

Century

What is a century?

Also sometimes called a ton, a century in betting terms means one hundred pounds sterling (£100 GBP).

Colt

What is a colt?

A male horse which is less then five years old. At five it becomes a Stallion.

Dam

What is a dam?

A horse’s female parent. The male parent is a sire.

Dead Heat

What is a dead heat?

Where an event is tied. Two (or more) selections finish level.

Decimal Odds

What are decimal odds?

Typically the format used to express odds in Europe. The decimal odds equivalent of the fractional odds price 3/1 is 4.00, for example. The decimal odds ‘include’ the stake and potential profit. A successful £10 bet at 3/1 or 4.00 returns £40.

Evens

What does evens mean?

1/1 odds, which would be 2.00 in the decimal format. A £1 stake at evens would return £2.

Favourite

What is the favourite?

The selection (horse, greyhound, player or teams) with the shortest odds for the win. The most fancied winner. 

FGS / FPTS

What does FGS mean?

Abbreviation for First Goalscorer.

Field

What is the field?

All the other runners / selections in a market (race / tournament etc) excluding the named favourite(s).

Fillie

What is a fillie?   

A female horse will be called a Mare once it reaches five years of age, before which it is called a Fillie. 

First Past the Post 

What does first past the post mean?

The selection which is first to cross the finish line in a race. The winner. 

Form

What does form mean?

The performance history of an athlete, player, horse, greyhound or team. The level at which the selection usually performs or has recently performed. Used by bookmakers to set prices and by bettors to assess odds and make selections. 

FPTS

What does FPTS mean?

Abbreviation for First Player To Score.

Fractional Odds

What are fractional odds?

The standard way of writing odds in the UK. Fractional odds allow you to calculate your potential profit not including your stake. A successful bet at 6/1 with a £2 stake earns you £12, plus you get the stake back, so your ‘returns’ are £14 in that case.

Full Time

What does full time mean?

When you back a team to win a match it is a full-time result bet. Bets in football are settled at the end of 90 minutes plus stoppage time and as standard they do not include results achieved in extra time or on penalties (unless otherwise stated).

Going

What does going mean?

How the state of the ground / surface is described in horse racing. The going is good or hard or soft and so on. Different horses suit different conditions so this is crucial to prices.

Grand

What is a grand?

A grand is one thousand pounds sterling (£1,000 GBP).

Handicap Race

What is a handicap race?

Common in horse racing, handicap races see horses carry different weights in order to encourage closer competition. Better horses carry heavier weights. In other sports such as football or darts you can bet on teams or players to get results with handicaps included in the odds. So you can bet on a team to win by more than two goals or a darts player to win by more than two legs, for example.

IBAS

Who is IBAS?

Disputes between customers and bookmakers can be referred to the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS) to be resolved.

Lines

What does lines mean in betting?

Odds and handicap values offered by bookmakers to customers.

Longshot

What is a longshot?

A selection with long odds to win. A unfancied horse, an underdog or an outsider in a race or competition can be called a longshot.

Maiden

What is a maiden?

A rather elegant term to describe a horse which is yet to taste victory in a race.

Monkey

What is a monkey?

Slang for five hundred pounds sterling (£500 GBP).

Nailed On

What does nailed on mean?

If a selection is regarded as almost certain to win it will be referred to as ‘nailed on’. Similar terms are a ‘sure thing’ and a ‘certainty’.

Non-Runner

What is a non-runner?

A selection which finally does not participate in a race or competition for which it was entered. If your selection is ‘non-runner no bet’ (NRNB) your stake is returned to you. 

Odds

What are odds?

The price available on a selection for a bet from a bookmaker. When you see the term odds against it means that the price is higher than evens (2/1, 5/2 etc) so a successful bet would win you more than the stake you put down. Odds on, meanwhile, are when the odds are shorter than evens (10/11, 1/2, etc), so your bet has a good chance of being successful but you would make a profit smaller than your stake.

On The Nose

What does on the nose mean?

Betting on a horse to ‘win only’, as opposed to backing it each way. Each way means you back the horse to win AND to finish in the paid places (usually 2nd to 4th depending on the type of race) and your stake is split on those two bets. So with each way you put less money on the win, unless you double your stake. On the nose all your stake goes on the win.

Picks

What are picks in betting?

Tips given by experts (tipsters) on selections they believe have a good chance of winning or getting results.

Places

What does places mean?

When a selection ‘places’ it finishes within the positions that are stated to pay out in the place terms of the race. A small number of runners might mean only the first two finishers place, whereas in a big field down to fifth or sixth might be considered a place finish.

Pony

What is a pony?

Another colloquialism for a sum of money. This time it is 25 pounds sterling (£25 GBP).

Price

What does betting price mean?

The odds a bookmaker offers bettors on a selection.

Punter

What is a punter?

A customer or bettor. The person placing the bet with the bookmaker.

Return 

What does retuen mean in betting?

Profit + returned stake in a successful wager.

Score 

What is a score?

Twenty pounds sterling (£20 GBP). 

Selection

What is a betting selection?

The athlete, player, team, individual, greyhound, horse, etc, that the punter has their bet on.

Stake

What is a betting stake?

The amount being put down or placed by the bettor on the bet. Stake units refer to the value of each part of the stake in a multiple bet. 

Starting Price (SP)

What is the starting price?

The final odds on a selection at the point the race starts.

Tips

What are betting tips?

Also referred to as picks, these are predictions shared with the public, or indeed paying punters in some instances, by betting experts. These experts are also called tipsters.

Tote bets

What are Tote bets?

Bets based on a pool, or combined fund of bettors’ stakes. Estimated returns or dividends for successful bets are available beforehand, but the actual amounts to be paid out are only finalised after the race when all the money has been put in.

Winnings

What are winnings?

The amount earned from a successful bet (profit) on top of the returned stake.

X

What does X mean?

Stands for a draw in a 1×2 bet such as those on full time results football matches. 1 = home win, X = draw, 2 = away win.

Bet Types (Betting Terms)

There are many different types of horse racing bets that you can choose from. The number of options make wagering on the horses more enjoyable to horse racing fans, although the range in bet types and even just the name of some bets can seem confusing to a beginner.

However, the objective of each bet type remains the same, money is placed on a horse or horses to finish in a specified position and if the outcome is what you predicted then you win. The amount of winnings depends how much was staked and the odds the bet was taken at. 

Punters that are new to horse racing will usually stick to the most basic bet types. These bets usually involve making just one selection.

What is a single bet?(Betting Terms)

Amongst the most common and most simple bet types, a ‘Single’ consists of backing one selection, whether that’s for the next race or backing a horse antepost for an upcoming festival.

There might be a horse that you think will perform well but aren’t confident it will finish first. In this situation you can back the horse to place.

What is a place bet? (Betting Terms)

A ‘Place’ bet is another simple betting option, and in this situation, you’re backing a selection to achieve a position within the places, often the first 3, though some races have differing place terms.

By making a place bet there is a greater chance that you will be successful however the odds for a horse to place are lower and therefore the pay out will be less than if you had backed the horse to win.

Punters could also choose a bet type which gives them the opportunity of a large pay out from a win bet and the security of a place bet.

What is each way bet?

An ‘Each-way’ bet is made up of two components, a win bet and a place bet, which means that if your selection wins the race, you are paid out on both, though should your horse only finish in the places, you will still receive a return at the place terms.

As you become better at picking winning horses then you may want to try a more complex bet.

What is a Straight Forecast?

Slightly more challenging, a ‘Straight Forecast’ requires you to s

What is a Reversed Forecast?

Similar to a straight forecast, a ‘Reversed Forecast’ consists of two selections which you believe will finish in first and second, but it does not matter in which order they place, just as long as they occupy the first two places. This bet has two elements, and as such, a £1 Reverse Forecast would be a total stake of £2.

If you like two different horses but can’t decide between them, the Reversed Forecast gives you more security and is more likely to result in a winning bet. To increase your chances of success even more you can choose more than one selection for first and second place.

What is a Combination Forecast?

The aim of the ‘Combination Forecast’ bet is to have two selections occupying first and second in a race, but with this bet you have more than two selections, and as such the stake is increased. Here you may have 3 or more selections and will need two of them to fill the first two places, in any given order.

Forecast bets are more challenging but the potential returns are also greater. For the chance to see even more value from your bet you can also select which horses will finish in the first three places in the race.

What is a Tricast?

A ‘Tricast’ bet is where you attempt to pick out the first, second and third in a specified race, with the three selections finishing exactly in the order that you state when placing the bet.

What is a Combination Tricast?

In a ‘Combination Tricast’ you are attempting to successfully pick the 1-2-3 in a selected race, but the three selections you have picked can finish in any order, just as long as they all occupy a position within the first three places in the race.

As well as betting on more than one runner in a race you can also select horses from different events. For example you could back one horse in a race at Doncaster and one in at a race at Ascot.

What is a Multiple bet?

A ‘Multiple’ bet is simply a bet that consists of more than one selection, often with the horses all required to win, though you can also back an each-way multiple or a place multiple.

What is a Double bet?

The objective of a ‘Double’ bet is to successfully pick out two winning selections across two different events but on the same bet and stake, and in this case, you require both selections to win to achieve a return.

What is a Treble bet?

A ‘Treble’ bet involves three selections on one bet, picked from three different events, and the bettor requires all three outcomes to be achieved to profit from the bet.

What is an Accumulator?

An ‘Accumulator’ bet involves more than one selection on one bet, often with four or more, which basically requires all selections to win. The stake and return from the first selection rolls on to the next, until the final bet is settled. Of course, a losing selection results in the accumulator being settled as losing bet.

Some bettors prefer to have a combination of different bet types.

What is a Trixie?

A ‘Trixie’ bets consist of four bets from three selections and include three doubles and one treble. To gain a return from this bet type, the bettor must successfully pick two winners, though three winners will see each of the four bets within the Trixie settled as winners

What is a Patent bet?

Similar to the Trixie bet, a ‘Patent’ also contains three selections, though this bet type has seven bets within it, due to it including three singles. In this bet you have three singles, three doubles and a treble, meaning just one winner is needed to lock-in a return.

What is a Yankee bet?

The ‘Yankee’ consists of four selections, with 11 individual bets across those picks, included in this. In this bet you will have six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold accumulator, meaning the bettor requires a minimum of two winning selections to gain a return.

What is a Canadian bet?

A ‘Canadian’ or sometimes referred to as a Super Yankee, requires the bettor to pick 5 selections, and across those selections there are 26 bets. As such a 10p Canadian would cost £2.60 as an overall stake, and would consist of 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 four-fold accumulators and 1 five-fold accumulator.

What is a Heinz bet?

The ‘Heinz’ bet includes 57 bets across six selections. The bets which make up this multiple bet are as follows; 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 four-fold accumulators, 6 five-fold accumulators and 1 six-fold accumulator. Therefore, a 10p Heinz would result in a total stake of £5.70.

What is a Super Heinz bet?

The ‘Super Heinz’ bet requires the bettor to pick 7 selections, which results in total of 120 bets overall. The 120 bets within the Super Heinz are; 21 doubles, 35 trebles, 35 four-fold accumulators, 21 five-fold accumulators, 7 six-selection accumulators and 1 seven-fold accumulator.

What is a Goliath bet?

Within the ‘Goliath’ bet, there is a total of 247 bets, across a range of eight selections. The Goliath bet includes the following; 28 double bets, 56 treble bets, 70 four-fold accumulators, 56 five-fold accumulators, 28 six-fold accumulators, 8 seven-fold accumulators and 1 eight-selection accumulator.

What is a Lucky 15?

The ‘Lucky 15’ is a popular multiple bet, which involves  4 selections, with 15 individual bets across those. The Lucky 15 is made up of; 4 singles, 6 doubles, 4 trebles and 1 four-fold accumulator, and therefore the bettor requires just one winning selection to achieve a return.

What is a Lucky 31?

A ‘Lucky 31’ is made up from 5 selections, and across those selections there are 31 bets. A £1 Canadian would cost £31 as a total stake, and consists of 5 singles, 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 four-fold accumulators and 1 five-fold accumulator.

What is a Lucky 63?

As expected, the ‘Lucky 63’ bet includes 63 bets across 6 selections. The bets which make up this multiple bet are as follows; 6 singles, 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 four-fold accumulators, 6 five-fold accumulators and 1 six-fold accumulator. One winning selection in this bet type would lock-in a return, whilst 6 winners would lead to a generous return, as all 63 bets involved would be settled as winners.

What is an Alphabet?

Named after the alphabet due to the number of bets it contains, an ‘Alphabet’ bet includes 26 individual bets across 6 selections. This bet type consists 2 Patents (which make up 14 bets), 1 Yankee (a further 11 bets) and a six-fold accumulator (1 bet).

What is a Round Robin?

A ‘Round Robin’ bet is made up of 10 individual bets across 3 selections, these are as follows; 3 Doubles, 1 Treble and 3 Single Stakes About that combine in to 2 bets each.

What is a Flag bet?

A ‘Flag’ bet is made up from 4 selections, combining the maximum variation of Doubles, Trebles and a Four-Fold Accumulator with Single Stakes About Bets across 4 selections. Within the ‘Flag’ bet there are 23 individual bets, and just 1 winner is needed in order to gain a return.

What is a Super Flag bet?

Made up from 5 selections, a ‘Super Flag’ bet contains the maximum variation of Doubles, Trebles, Four-Fold and Five-Fold Accumulator Bets with Single Stakes About Bets across 5 selections. Within this bet type, there are 46 individual bets, so a £1 Super Flag would result in a total stake of £46.

Betting Terms

To be successful at horse racing it’s important to know the most common betting terms. This will help you read odds and race card’s whilst giving you pointers so you can determine a betting strategy that gives you a greater chance of making a profit.    

What is Arbitrage? 

In betting terms, ‘Arbitrage’ is a process in which you bet to cover every possible outcome of an event but doing so in a way that locks in profit regardless of the eventual outcome. Betting across multiple betting providers is crucial to this concept.

What is In-Play Betting? 

Simply put, ‘In-play Betting’ is a process by which you place a bet once an event, race or match has already begun. In-play prices are likely to change quickly and often and will usually differ from the starting price.

What is Spread Betting? 

Spread Betting’ involves betting on multiple selections within the same event, thereby enhancing your chances of a return with several outcomes covered.

What is Matched Betting? 

The term ‘Matched Betting’ defines the process when two bettors (backers and layers) agree on a stake and the subsequent liability of a bet. The back bettor, who is betting on an outcome to happen, will be notified when their bet has matched, with this bet type often linked to an exchange platform like the Betfair Exchange.

What is SP? 

The term ‘SP’ is short for Industry Start Price, which is basically the odds which a horse is priced up at the exact moment that the race begins. The SP is an average of prices from across the betting industry.

What is BSP? 

‘BSP’ stands for Betfair Start Price and is simply the price that a horse is priced up at the exact moment that a race begins on the Betfair Exchange. The BSP often differs from the Industry SP, is usually a higher and better price, thereby benefiting the punter.

What is Dutching? 

Dutching’ is a betting technique whereby you have more than one selection within an event, with the ambition of gaining the same level of profit from each of the selections, and therefore the bettor will have to stake accordingly to achieve this.

What is Hedging Your Bets?  

The term ‘Hedging Your Bets’ or Hedge Betting, basically involves placing multiple bets on the same market, taking advantage of variations in the market. This technique almost acts as an insurance mechanism when done correctly, and can eliminate the chance of losing, with the bettor able to guarantee a return before the event has finished.

What is Cash Out?

A quick and easy to use tool, ‘Cash Out’ is a function which is available with most betting providers and allows the bettor to take a profit before an event has completed. In addition, Cash Out allows you to take a loss in running, for example if you think your selection will no longer win the race, you can take a loss on your selection, but at least get part of your stake back.

What is Overround?

Overround’ can be simply defined as the practice of factoring in the profit margin implemented by bookmakers and is best displayed as a percentage. The level of Overround differs across betting providers, markets and events.

What is Scalping? 

Scalping’ is a betting technique that relies on taking advantage of small, short-term price variations and changes on a betting exchange, such as the Betfair Exchange, to make small but frequent gains across various markets.

What is a Lay Bet?(Betting Terms)

The term ‘Lay Betting’ defines the process of using a betting exchange, such as the Betfair Exchange, where the punter believes a selection will not win or place in an event and will therefore offer odds on that event not happening. The offered lay odds will then be matched with a bettor who believes that event will happen (known as the backer) who is happy with the odds that have been offered.

What is a Back to Lay Betting?(Betting Terms)

Back-to-Lay betting’ is a betting technique whereby the bettor will place a bet on a selection at high odds and look to lay that same selection at a lower price on the Betfair Exchange or another exchange platform, thereby locking in a profit regardless of whether the selection actually wins the contest or not. 

What is Lay to Back Betting?

Another betting technique can be identifies in ‘Lay-to-Back betting’, wherby the bettor will lokk to lay a selection on an Exchange platform at an agreed set of odds, before then backing the same selection in play or closer to the event starting at a higher price. The variation in odds will result in a profit secured before the event is completed. 

What is Asian Handicap Betting? (Betting Terms)

Asian Handicap Betting‘ is a form of sports betting which is very popular across Football markets. The Handicap element means that one team receives a “virtual advantage”, effectively leading the game by a differing amount(s) before the event kicks-off, and therefore often results in more enticing odds as opposed to standard home-draw-away prices.

Sports Betting Term and Glossary

Action – A bet or wager.

Against the spread – The result of a game including the point spread.

Bad Beat – A bet that looks like the bettor is going to win but doesn’t.

Book (Sportsbook) – A place where someone can bet on the outcome of sporting events.

Buck – A $100 bet.

Chalk – The favorite in a game.

Consensus  – Percentage of the betting public on each side of a game. Some bettors will bet against the “public money” (whichever team more bettors have placed their bets on).

Cover – The betting outcome on a point spread bet. For a favorite to cover, it must win by a number higher than the spread. An underdog can cover by losing by a number less than the spread or by winning the game outright.

Dime – A $1,000 bet.

Dollar – A $100 bet.

Edge – The advantage a bettor has before a bet is placed.

Even (Even Money) – A $100 bet to win $100 .

Favorite – A team favored to win a game.

Future bets – A bet on events that will happen further in the future, like who will win a division or who will win a championship well in advance.

Handle – The total amount of money wagered on a game.

Handicapping – Researching sports statistics to pick winners.

Hedging – Betting opposite of a previous bet to guarantee winning at least a small amount of money.

Hook – A half-point in the spread

In-game wagers – Bets made after a game started.

Juice – A commission books win on each bet.

Limit – The maximum allowed wager on a single bet.

Lock – A large favorite.

Long Shot – A large underdog.

Moneyline bet – A bet made if a team will win or lose outright with no point spread.

Nickel – A $500 bet.

No Action – A game that is no longer taking bets and all wagers are refunded.

Oddsmaker (Linemaker) – Someone who sets the opening line on a game.

Off the Board – A game bettors can not wager on.

Over – The combined score of two teams is more than what the sportsbook set.

Parlay – A a bet that combines multiple games for a higher payout. The more games, the higher the risk but the greater the payout. In order for the parlay to win, each game must win or push (tie). If any of the games lose, the entire wager loses.

Pick’em – A game with no favorite or underdog.

Point spread – Margin of victory set by oddsmakers to attract bets action on both the favorite and the underdog. A favorite must win by a number higher than the point spread to cover the spread. An underdog can cover by losing by a number less than the spread or by winning the game outright.

Puckline – Hockey has a point spread of -1.5 for the favorite and +1.5 for the underdog.

Proposition bets (prop) – A bet on anything that is not directly tied to the outcome of the game. For example, it can be the first team or the first player to score in a game.

Push – When neither team covers the spread (the actual margin of victory lands exactly on the spread), no one wins the bet and all wagers are refunded.

Runline – Baseball has a point spread of -1.5 for the favorite and +1.5 for the underdog.

Sharp (Wiseguy) – A professional sports bettor.

Steam – A quick change on a line due to heavy wagering.

Taking the points – Betting an underdog against the spread.

Teaser – Similar to spreads, teasers are favored towards the bettor but have a lower payout.

Total bet (over/under) A bet on the combined number of points scored by both teams in a game, including overtime/extra innings.

Under – The combined score of two teams is less than what the sportsbook set.

Underdog (dog) – A team not favored to win a game.

Wager – A get placed at a sportsbook.

Karina Peterson
More than 15 years in the gambling industry, working for the big players in the affiliation market. I won't name them, you know them. Also I enjoy seeing a new project taking life and expanding like this one.