Sports Betting Strategies Logo ROW

15 Essential Sports Betting Terms You Need to Know

06/11/2024 by Andrew Davis
Sports Betting Terms

Sports betting can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but the terminology can often feel like a foreign language to newcomers. Whether you’re a seasoned bettor or just starting out, understanding the sport betting terms is crucial.

Let’s break down 15 essential sports betting terms to help you navigate the world of wagering with confidence.

Key Sports Betting Terms Explained

1. Moneyline

The moneyline is one of the simplest and most popular forms of betting. It focuses on which team or player will win a game or event. When you see a moneyline bet, you’ll notice positive and negative numbers.

A negative number (e.g., -150) indicates the favorite, while a positive number (e.g., +130) signifies the underdog. Simply put, if you bet on the favorite, you’ll need to risk more money to win less, while betting on the underdog gives you a chance to win more with a smaller risk.

2. Point Spread

Point spread betting levels the playing field between two teams, making the game more interesting to bet on. The favorite must win by a certain number of points (the spread) for the bet to pay off.

Conversely, the underdog can lose by fewer points than the spread or win outright for the bet to be successful. This type of bet is prevalent in sports like football and basketball.

3. Over/Under (Total)

In an over/under bet, you wager on the total number of points, runs, or goals scored in a game. The sportsbook sets a line, and you bet on whether the actual total will be over or under that number. For instance, if the over/under for a basketball game is set at 200 points, you would bet on whether the combined score of both teams will be more or less than 200.

4. Parlay

A parlay bet combines multiple individual bets into one. To win a parlay, all individual bets (legs) must win. Parlays can be more lucrative due to the increased risk, as the payout is higher than placing each bet separately. However, the difficulty lies in needing every single bet to hit.

5. Teaser

A teaser bet is similar to a parlay but allows you to adjust the point spread or total to your favor. In exchange for these adjustments, the payout is lower than a traditional parlay. Teasers are common in football and basketball betting.

6. Futures Bet

Futures bets are long-term wagers placed on events that will happen down the road, such as who will win the next Super Bowl or NBA championship. These bets are typically placed before the season starts and can offer substantial payouts if you make a correct prediction early on.

7. Prop Bet (Proposition Bet)

Prop bets focus on specific events within a game that don’t necessarily affect the final outcome. Examples include betting on which player will score first, how many touchdowns a quarterback will throw, or whether there will be a safety in the game. Prop bets are a fun way to engage with the game beyond the basic outcomes.

8. Live Betting

Live betting, also known as in-play betting, allows you to place bets during the game as it unfolds. This dynamic form of betting provides opportunities to take advantage of the changing odds and situations within the game. For strategies on live betting tactics, you can check out our detailed guide.

9. Push

A push occurs when a bet ends in a tie, meaning no one wins or loses. For instance, if you bet on a team with a -3 point spread and they win by exactly 3 points, the bet is a push, and your original wager is returned. Pushes are common in point spread and over/under bets.

10. Juice (Vig)

Juice, or vigorish, is the commission that sportsbooks take on bets. It’s typically factored into the odds to ensure the sportsbook makes a profit regardless of the outcome. For example, in a standard bet, you might see odds of -110 on both sides, meaning you need to bet $110 to win $100. The extra $10 is the juice.

11. Handle

The handle refers to the total amount of money wagered on a particular event or over a period of time. A large handle indicates a high volume of betting activity, which can influence the odds and lines set by sportsbooks.

12. Bankroll

Your bankroll is the total amount of money you have set aside specifically for betting. Managing your bankroll effectively is crucial for long-term success in sports betting. It’s important to only bet what you can afford to lose and to stick to a strategy to avoid going broke.

13. Line Movement

Line movement occurs when the odds or point spread for a game changes after the initial line is set. This can happen due to various factors, including injuries, weather conditions, or heavy betting on one side. Tracking line movement can give you insights into where the smart money is going and help you make more informed bets.

14. Betting Units

Betting units are a way to standardize the size of your bets relative to your bankroll. Instead of betting a fixed dollar amount, you bet a percentage of your bankroll, known as a unit. This approach helps manage risk and maintain consistency in your betting strategy.

For example, if your bankroll is $1,000 and one unit is 1% of your bankroll, each unit would be $10.

15. Sports Betting Odds Calculator

sports betting odds calculator is a valuable tool for bettors. It helps you understand potential payouts for different types of bets and odds formats (e.g., American, decimal, fractional). Using an odds calculator can simplify the process of determining your possible winnings and aid in making informed betting decisions.


Understanding these sports betting terms is the first step toward becoming a more knowledgeable and confident bettor. Whether you’re calculating your potential winnings with a sports betting odds calculator or exploring live betting tactics, having a grasp of the lingo will enhance your betting experience.

So next time you place a bet, you’ll know exactly what’s at stake and how to make the most of your wagers.

Your author

Picture of Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis

Sports Betting strategy expert with 14+ years of industry experience. Articles featured in ESPN, Fox News, CNN, Yahoo News & many more. Father of two kids and one dog.