The US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018 left every state free to legalize sports betting. Almost half have done so, including the likes of New York, Mississippi and Illinois, and if you don’t already live in a state where sports betting is legal, chances are you will sooner rather than later.
However, the world of sports betting can be complicated for rookies as there’s so much jargon to get your head around. That’s why we’ve put together this glossary of common sports betting terms so you can walk into a bookmakers for the first time with no qualms.
A moneyline bet means you wager on one of the teams to win a game. Commonly used for sports like baseball, football and boxing, the moneyline itself is the three-digit number next to a team’s name that indicates how much you’d win for every $100 staked. The favorites have a minus sign preceding their name, while the underdogs have a plus sign before theirs, as shown in this baseball example given by LiveAbout:
Chicago Cubs +170
Los Angeles Dodgers -130
Here, you’d win $170 for every $100 spent on the Chicago Cubs, while you’d bag $100 for every $130 wagered on the LA Dodgers The larger potential winnings for gambling on the Cubs shows that they’re the underdogs.
You might also see a point spread next to the moneyline, which is typically a single-digit number. Here, the minus sign before a team’s name again shows that they’re the favorites, while the plus sign demonstrates that a team is the underdogs The point spread helps give you an almost even chance of winning a bet even if one team is clearly superior.
San Francisco 49ers +1.5
Kansas City Chiefs -1.5
In the above example given by sports betting publication The Lines, the Chiefs would need to win by two points or more for a bet on them to come through. Or if you bet on the 49ers, they’d have to either win the game or lose by less than two points or you to profit.
A common wager in baseball and hockey is to take the ‘run line’ (or the ‘puck line’ in hockey). This is a modified version of the point spread and again involves you wagering on the number of goals/runs a team score/make. For example, instead of betting on the Boston Red Sox at -170 to win straight up, you can bet on them at -1.5 runs with -110 odds. For this wager to come through, you’d just need them to win by two runs or more. Here, the chances of you winning are increased but with lower returns.
A parlay is where multiple wagers are combined, the odds are accumulated, and winning depends on every bet coming through. This can be based on a number of games in one sport or spread across different ones. For instance, you could combine bets on Anthony Joshua to win his next fight, LA Lakers to beat their next NBA opponents and Green Bay Packers to triumph in their next NFL fixture. The more bets you put on, the greater the winnings you stand to make, such as in this parlay example given by sports betting company Sports Intel. Here, a 2-group parlay pays 2.6:1; a 3-group one pays 4:1; a 4-group parlay gives 10:1 and so on and so forth. However, these can be harder to win as one defeat means your whole parlay fails.
This is a type of sports parlay that allows you to adjust the points spread to your liking in return for lower potential returns. For instance, if you put the Kansas City Chiefs, the Broncos and the Steelers on a six-point teaser, their respective -8, +2 and -7 point spreads would improve by six to -2, +8 and -1, increasing the odds of you winning the bet.
Otherwise known as the ‘total’, this is where you bet on the combined points, runs or goals of both teams rather than gambling on one team specifically. So, say you bet under 9.5 in the New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox game and the final score is 6-3, this gives a total of nine runs so you would win. This type of bet is commonly applied to all team sports and also used to predict how many rounds there will be in a fight.