Betting Slang - The Most Common Terms in American Sports Betting

What does it mean to cover the spread? Or to push on a wager? Gathering around the sports bar or while checking out an online sportsbook, you will likely hear some phrases you have never heard before. 

Bet slang has its own vocabulary which describes the various outcomes and nuances of everyday sports betting. Learning these terms and phrases will not only help you to better understand the game, but also to be looked at like a true professional, and not someone who just placed their first wager yesterday. 

Let’s go through some bet slang that you are bound to hear repeated often in the American sports betting scene, along with their meanings and ways to use them.

Need to Know Betting Slang for American Sports Betting

Action - This starts us out with one of the most common phrases in bet slang. This simply means that you have made a wager on a particular event. If someone has action on a game, that means they have placed a real-money wager. - (“I got action on this game”).

American Odds - The odds that will be used on all United States sportsbooks. There are three different odds formats, with American odds often considered the most difficult. 

Bankroll - This the total sum of money in the player’s account to be used for betting. 

Book/s - bet slang short for a bookmaker, more commonly known in America as a sportsbook. Can refer to either in-person or online sportsbooks. - (“Check the books and see what the odds are on New England”).

Consensus Pick - the outcome most favored by public bettors, or the outcome the highest percentage of bettors wagered on. 

Cover the Spread - referring to the favorite in a spread bet, who needs to win the game by a certain number of points for your bet to win. (If the spread is +7.5, the team needs to win by at least eight points to cover the spread).

Dime - Bet slang for a $1,000 wager. two dimes = $2,000, three dimes = $3,000, etc. - (“Put me down for two dimes on Philly tonight”).

Favorite - The opponent in a competition who is generally agreed to have the better chance to win. Betting on the favorite will bring a lower payout but a larger chance to win.

Handicapper - Usually an expert who predicts different bet outcomes for games.

Hedging a Bet - An attempt to make a profit or minimize losses in the case of a losing wager. This is done by betting on opposite lines of the original bet. 

Hook - Betting slang for half a point, used for spread and over/under bets.

Juice/Vig/Margin - the percentage of each bet that the sportsbook keeps as profit. A good margin percentage is 5% or under, with 10% or over considered poor. 

Live Bet - This is where a bet is placed during the game, not before like on normal bets. Most online sportsbooks today will have live betting sections. 

Lock - A pick that is considered to be 100% correct in the eyes of the bettor. (“The Red Wings are a lock for tonight’s game”)

Moneyline - The most common and easiest bet to make. In order to win a moneyline, the athlete or team you bet on must win the competition. 

Mush - A gambling term for a bettor who is considered to be bad luck. (Famously heard often in the 1993 movie ‘A Bronx Tale’)

Nickel - Bet slang for half of a dime, or a $500 wager.

Opening Line - The first point spread set by sportsbooks for a game. The point spread represents the perceived differences in quality between two teams or opponents. 

Parlay Bet - a type of wager that includes multiple bet selections, instead of only one. The payouts are much higher, but if one selection loses so does the entire parlay. 

Push - when a bet ties or draws against the sportsbook, which occasionally happens with spread or totals bets. Most of these numbers have (.5) added to them to avoid a push. (If the spread is -7, and the final score difference is seven, then the bet is a push and the stake will often be returned).

Puckline - The common spread and totals numbers for hockey games which are set at 1.5 for each. 

Round Robin Bet - Both a type of bet and a betting strategy. Round robins work by making several parlay bets, each containing the same variation of bet selections. 

Runline - The common spread and totals numbers for baseball games, which are set at 1.5 each. 

Sharp Bettor/Money - Considered to be a professional at sports betting. These types of players are known by sportsbooks and can have betting limits imposed on them. 

Stake - The dollar amount wagered on a particular bet is known as the player’s stake. 

Underdog - The perceived weaker team/athlete in a competition, who is naturally expected to lose. (“Seton Hall is a massive underdog going up against Syracuse tonight”).

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