Sports Betting Vocabulary

Getting into sports betting for a beginner can be difficult. You need to worry about the money that you are betting with and about which sports you should focus on. There are a large multitude of things you need to understand before trying to make bets on sports, at least with real money. The most important thing is to first learn the basics. Here I list terms and explanations that are the most important things that a player who is just starting to make bets on sports needs to know.

Reading the odds: This is arguably the first thing that a new bettor should know how to do. There are currently three different ways of displaying odds for bets. There are British, European and American way. American odds are obviously what you will use the most in the United States and are quite simple to understand. We will focus on American style odds here. The other types are explained in the school of betting section. 

American odds are written out with a plus or minus in front of a number. If the number has a plus in front, that means for every correctly placed $100 you wager you will return this number.

For example: Baltimore Orioles (+220); you bet $100 and you return $220 if the Orioles win. Betting $50 would return $110 and so on. Typically, a plus sign indicates an underdog in the game. This A negative sign in front of the odds means that you need to bet that amount in order to win $100. This is used for favored teams. For example: New York Yankees (-360); So, if you were to bet $360 on the Yankees and they win, you would receive $100 in return. $180 returns $50 and so on.

Bookmaker: A bookmaker is the person who is offering bets for you to wager on. This can be a single person, a group of people, or even a company such as a casino. Bookmakers can have offices or take bets solely online. Always make sure that the bookmaker you are using is legally registered.

Push: this is when the bet is essentially a draw and you neither win nor lose. This happens because the bet falls directly on the spread. Often, this will end with you getting refunded what you bet. Some bookmakers will include decimals in their spreads to eliminate the possibility of a push.

Spread: This is a margin of points that either team must either win or lose by in order for you to win your bet. Sometimes known as an equalizer or a handicap, the spread will be placed in an effort to equalize the differences in quality between the teams for the game. 

If the New England Patriots are playing a weaker team, they may be given a spread of -7 for example. This means that the Patriots must win by more than seven so that you can win a bet with them. The easiest way to figure out the result is to subtract the seven from the Patriots after the game ends. If they still win with seven subtracted, you will win your bet.

Prop bet: A bet on anything other than just the outcome of the game. There are a lot of betting options available, and although the outcome is the most popular, everyone needs to find the type of bets that work well for them. These bets have a wide range and can include number of strikeouts, touchdowns thrown, totals bets, who will score first etc. 

Futures Bet: This is a bet made quite a while before the result will be known. Common futures bets include betting on the champion of a specific league before the season even starts. However, depending on the league and bookmaker there can be a lot available, such as betting on who will win individual awards like Rookie of the Year, MVP, etc. 

Parlay: A parlay is not for the faint of heart, but is exciting, nonetheless. Making a parlay bet means that in order for you to win your bet, more than one thing must happen. You can pick as many options as you want. The more options you need the riskier the bet but the odds you receive will also be higher. If even one of the outcomes in your parlay bet fails to come true, then your whole wager will be lost. 

Total bet (over/under): This is a great type of bet for a game where you understand the potential of both teams playing. Or for when you can quickly pick up the flow of a game. For a player to win a total bet, he must correctly determine whether the final number of one statistic will be higher or lower than the number the bookmaker gives.

So, for example, if the bookmaker’s number is 187 for a Knicks- Lakers game and you bet over, then the combined score of both teams at the end of the game needs to be higher than 187 for you to win. The most common statistic used is the score, but totals can be used for many statistics including total number of corner kicks, free throws, interceptions, etc.