Sports Betting Terms: A-Z Glossary of Betting Terms

Sports betting is a popular pastime in Canada, and as with any form of betting, it comes with its own set of terminology. Understanding these terms is essential for anyone looking to get into sports betting, whether you're a seasoned pro or a beginner.

In this guide, we'll go over some of the most popular sports betting terms for Canadians.

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Sports Betting Glossary

Sports betting terms

From "odds" to "handicaps" and "juice," there are many terms that you'll need to understand if you want to be successful in sports betting. To help you get started, we have compiled a glossary of the most important sports betting terms commonly used in Canada.

Action

When talking about betting, the word “action” refers to any type of bet or wager that is being placed on any sporting event. A bet is referred to as “in action” while the event the bet was made on is currently in progress.

Against the Spread

When the term “against the spread” is used in a sports betting context it refers to a bet on the point spread, which is a wager that a bettor can make on how many points/goals/runs a team will either win or lose by in a given game.

ATS betting is popular because it adds an extra layer of complexity and strategy to sports betting. It also provides a way for bettors to potentially win even if they don't correctly predict the outcome of a game.

However, it's important to note that betting ATS can be challenging and requires a solid understanding of the point spread and the teams or players involved in the game.

Arbitrage Betting

Arbitrage isn’t as common a sports betting term as some of the others in this glossary, but it’s definitely a concept worth understanding if you’re a sports bettor.

Bettors using this strategy are basically shopping around to different sportsbooks to find minor differences in odds that they can take advantage of by betting on all possible outcomes. The terms “sure betting” and “matched betting” also refer to this practice.

Arbitrage betting is one of the more low-risk betting concepts you’ll come across, but it also requires bettors to have a deep understanding of what they're betting on as well as quick reactions when they find the odds they’re looking for.

American Odds

Odds can be displayed in several different ways, but the most common you’ll come across in Canada and the United States are the American odds.

Favorites are identified by a negative “-” symbol and underdogs are identified by a positive “+”. The number next to the - refers to how much a bettor needs to put down to win $100 and the number next to the + refers to how much you can win on a $100 bet.

Ante-Post

Also commonly referred to as a “Futures” bet, this type of wager is made well in advance of the conclusion of the event the bet was made on. Common types of ante-post bets are made during or before a season on who will win the championship at the end of that campaign.

Bankroll

The bankroll is a very important but underrated part of sports betting. A bankroll is how much money a bettor has put aside for betting purposes and allows bettors not to overbet or chase losses, thereby creating safer and more responsible betting conditions.

Bookmaker

A bookmaker in sports betting is a person or organization that sets the odds and accepts bets on various sporting events. Bookmakers, also known as "bookies," make a profit by collecting a commission, or "vig," on the losing bets.

Chalk

Chalk refers to a team or player that is heavily favored to win a game or event.

Dog

A slang term used to refer to the underdog or the team or player that is not favored to win a game or event.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are a popular odds format used in sports betting to display the odds of a particular event or game. Unlike American odds, decimal odds show the total amount a bettor will receive for a successful $1 wager, including their original stake.

Future

A future bet is a wager placed on the outcome of an event that will occur at a later date. Future bets are typically made on major events, such as championship games or tournaments, before the season or event begins.

For example, a bettor might place a future bet on a team to win the Super Bowl before the start of the NFL season. Future bets offer the potential for a high payout, but they also carry a higher level of risk since they are based on events that have yet to occur.

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are a popular odds format used in sports betting, particularly in the UK and Ireland. They show the potential profit a bettor could make on a winning bet, relative to their stake.

The odds are displayed as fractions, with the first number indicating the potential profit and the second number indicating the stake required.

For example, odds of 5/1 mean that a bettor could potentially win 5 units of currency for every 1 unit of currency they bet. Alternatively, if the odds are 1/5, a bettor would need to bet 5 units of currency to potentially win 1 unit of currency.

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Hedging

Hedging is a very common sports betting strategy where a bettor will bet on both outcomes of an event so as to minimize losses. This is common when a bettor has made a large bet on one outcome and they want to reduce their risk on that bet.

Hook

A "hook" is a half-point added to a betting line to prevent a push or tie. For example, if a point spread is set at -7, a hook would be added to create a new line of -7.5 or +6.5.

This forces bettors to choose between one team or the other, rather than allowing for a potential tie, which would result in a push and a refund of the bet. Hooks are commonly used in football and basketball betting, where games often have narrow margins of victory.

Handle

The handle is a term used to describe the total amount of money wagered on a particular event or in a particular sportsbook. The handle is important to sportsbooks because it represents their total revenue from betting.

Bettors who are able to track the handle can gain insight into which games or events are drawing the most betting action.

Handicap

A way of leveling the playing field between two teams with different abilities or performances. The sportsbook will assign a point spread, run line, or puck line to the favored team, requiring them to win by a certain number of points or goals to cover the spread and be considered the winner. 

In-Play Betting

In-play betting, also known as live betting, is a form of sports betting that allows bettors to place wagers on a game or event after it has already started.

Grand Salami

Grand Salami refers to a type of bet that is placed on the total number of goals or runs scored in all games taking place on a given day in a particular league or competition.

Bettors place a wager on whether the total number of goals or runs scored in all games will be over or under a specific number set by the bookmaker.

The Grand Salami bet is often available in hockey and baseball, and it offers the opportunity to bet on multiple games at once.

Juice

Juice, which is also known as a “vig” or “vigorish” is basically the service fee or commission that sportsbooks charge to bettors for placing a bet. The vig is the reason that basic bets are set at -110 odds instead of even +100 odds.

Lines

Betting lines refer to the betting odds or point spreads that are set by a bookmaker for a particular game or event.

Moneyline

The moneyline is another common betting term that refers to a straight-up bet on the outcome of a game.

Instead of betting on the point spread, you're simply betting on which team will win the game. The odds for each team are expressed as a negative or positive number, depending on the perceived strength of the team.

For example, if the Toronto Raptors are playing the New York Knicks and the moneyline odds are -200 for the Raptors and +180 for the Knicks, this means you'd have to bet $200 on the Raptors to win $100, while a $100 bet on the Knicks would win you $180.

Over/Under

The over/under, also called the total, is a betting term used to bet on the total number of goals/points/runs scored in a game. The sportsbook sets a number, and you bet on whether the actual total will be over or under that number.

For instance, if you’re betting on a game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens and the sportsbook has set the goal total at 6.5, you would be betting on whether you think the teams will combine to score over or under that number. A bet on the under wins with six or fewer goals, while a bet on the over wins with seven or more in this example.

Odds

The probability of an event occurring in sports betting. They indicate the potential payout to a bettor if they correctly predict the outcome of a particular event or game. Odds can be displayed in various formats, including American, decimal, and fractional.

Parlay

The parlay bet is fast becoming one of the most popular types of sports bets thanks to the endless offers and marketing sportsbooks have rolled out surrounding them. Also referred to as an accumulator, a parlay is a wager where several bets are rolled into one combined bet.

Parlays are the toughest way to win money consistently while sports betting because every leg of your parlay needs to be successful for your parlay to win.

This is the definition of a high-risk, high-reward proposition, as parlays allow for bettors to cobble together bets whose combined odds are usually very high, thereby resulting in very high payouts if they win. However, those higher odds mean that your bet is also a lot more unlikely to payout.

Pick 'Em

Pick 'Em refers to a betting situation in which there is no clear favorite or underdog. In a Pick 'Em situation, both teams or players have an equal chance of winning, and there is no point spread or handicap involved.

Prop Bet

A "Prop Bet" or a proposition bet is a wager on a specific event or occurrence within a game or match. Prop bets can be related to the game itself, such as the outcome of the coin toss in a football game, or they can be related to individual player performances, such as how many yards a quarterback will throw for in a game

Point Spread

The point spread is a betting term used to even out the betting odds for a game. Essentially, it's a way of handicapping a team to make the outcome more uncertain.

For example, let's say the Toronto Maple Leafs are playing the Montreal Canadiens. The point spread (referred to as the puck line in hockey) for the game will be -1.5 for the Maple Leafs and +1.5 for the Canadiens.

This means that if you bet on the Maple Leafs, they must win the game by two or more goals for you to win the bet. If you bet on the Canadiens, they can lose by one goal and you still win the bet.

Push

A "Push" occurs when the final result of a game or match ends in a tie according to the point spread or over/under total set by the sportsbook. When a push happens, the bettor neither wins nor loses their bet, and the money is typically returned to the bettor

Run Line

This term is used exclusively when betting on baseball and is basically baseball’s version of a point spread. However, unlike point spreads, the run line is almost always set at -1.5 and +1.5 because of the fact that runs are much harder to come by in baseball than points are in football or basketball.

The run line being at 1.5 means that the underdog needs to lose by no more than one run or win the game for a run line bet on them to hit and it also means that the favorite needs to win by two or more runs for a run line bet on them to be successful.

Betting on the Run Line allows bettors to potentially increase their payout if they believe a favored team will win by more than one run, or to minimize their risk if they bet on an underdog team to lose by no more than one run. 

Teaser

A teaser is a type of parlay bet where the point spread or over/under for each game is adjusted in the bettor's favor.

For example, if the Toronto Raptors are -5.5 favorites against the Boston Celtics and the over/under for the game is set at 220, a teaser might adjust the point spread to -2.5 for the Raptors and the over/under to 215.

Teasers generally pay out less than parlay bets, but they also offer a greater chance of winning.

Steam

Steam is a betting term that refers to a sudden and significant change in the betting line or odds. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as a key player getting injured or a sudden influx of money on one side of a bet.

Bettors who are able to identify steam early can often take advantage of favorable betting lines before the sportsbook adjusts them.

Stake

The amount of money that a bettor puts down on a bet in the hopes of winning a profit.

Wager

Another term for a bet or a gamble.

Conclusion

Sports betting has been experiencing an explosion of popularity in Canada in recent years and is a great way to add a little extra excitement to the sports viewing experience. While it can be a lot of fun, it’s also important to remember to play within your limits, because overbetting and chasing losses can lead to major financial problems.

Like anything in life, understanding and knowledge are crucial to having a healthy and successful relationship with sports betting, and our glossary of sports betting terms should help with that immensely whether you’re just getting into sports betting as a beginner or you’re a grisled sports betting veteran.