Sports Betting Vocab to Make you Look like a Pro

Sports betting appears straightforward until you come across terms like “odds,” “handle” and “lines.” Sure, you don’t have to know the meanings behind popular betting terms to win a football or basketball bet.

If you can predict the winner of a football game between England and Italy, you stand to win money. That said, learning sports betting jargon can make you a better punter. Below is a list of sports betting terms you should know in 2022:


 A sportsbook is a company that provides betting odds for different sports games. In other words, a sportsbook is a betting website or app. It’s also known as a bookmaker, a bookie or odds maker.

As a gambler, it is in your best interest to find a reliable online betting app. This way, you will have an opportunity to bet on your favorite sports and leagues. What’s more, you will get competitive odds and bonuses.


Odds show you the implied probability of a team or athlete to win a specific competition. Depending on the betting site, you can find odds expressed as decimals, fractions or American style.

  • Decimal Odds

Decimals odds show you the expected returns from a match if you bet $1. Let’s say Barcelona (1.50) has a game against Arsenal (2.5). If you bet $1 on Barcelona to win, you will receive a profit of $1.5. If you back Arsenal with a dollar, you will win $2.5. In both cases, the stake is returned.

  • Fractional Odds

Many British bookmakers use fractions to express odds. As a result, fractional odds are also known as British odds. That said, fractional odds are no different from their decimal counterparts. If a horse has 3/1 odds of winning, it means you win $3 for every $1 you bet.

  • American Odds

America/Las Vegas odds describe your potential profits if you bet $100 on the underdog or favorite. Favorites tend to have odds preceded by a negative (-) sign. Underdogs have odds preceded by a positive (+) sign.

For example, Kamaru Usman (-115) has a fight against Leon Edwards (+140). Here, Kamaru is the favorite. You would need to bet $115 on Usman to win $100. On the other hand, betting $100 on Edwards will earn you $150.


In North America, an accumulator bet is referred to as a parlay. This bet is an accumulation of two or more wagers into the same betting slip. This magnifies your potential profits even while using a small betting amount.

For example, you can accumulate four NFL matches into one bet:

  • Seahawks vs Broncos
  • Vikings vs Packers
  • Cardinals vs Chiefs
  • Cowboys vs Buccaneers

Betting on the Buccaneers to beat the Cowboys might earn you $135 if you spend $100 on the betting ticket. But if you accumulate all of the four matches mentioned above, your $100 stake could easily turn into a $3000 profit.


A betting handle describes the total amount of money wagered in a sports match, league or entire year. This term commonly appears on sports media networks. For example, ESPN reported that New Jersey recorded a betting handle of over $10 billion in 2021.

Point Spread/Handicap

In the usual style, American and British sportsbooks have different terms for the same thing. In the US, a game’s margin of victory is called a point spread. In the UK and Europe, it is called a handicap.

Spread betting is particularly popular in the US. That’s because it provides significantly more profits than outright/money line bets. Let’s say team USA basketball team has odds (1.20) to beat Argentina (3.0). The profits are minimal.

However, the US has odds (1.80) to beat Argentina (5.0) by 7+ points. Now, you stand to win a lot more money.

Favorite and Underdog

These two terms are fairly self-explanatory. Favorite means the team favored to win by bookmakers. The underdog is the team sportsbooks and fans expect to lose.

Let’s say first ranked heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury has a match against Deontay Wilder, a man he has knocked out in the past. Fury would be the favorite while Wilder would be the underdog in this situation.

It is essential to know the underdog and favorite in every match. In doing so, you can decide whether to back the favorite or take a bigger risk by siding with the underdog.

Under/Over (Totals)

Total bets describe the combined scores of the two teams or athletes in a game. Usually, bookmakers permit you to bet on whether the teams will combine for under or over a specific number of points.

As an example, the Golden State Warriors might have a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. A totals bet can challenge you to predict whether the two teams will combine for under/over 190 points.


A player’s bankroll is the money deposited into a betting account. It increases every time you win or top up your account. It also decreases with every loss or withdrawal.

A bankroll is often confused with handle and stake. As already mentioned, a handle is the total amount of money gambled in a match, league or country. On the other hand, stake refers to the specific amount of money you wager in a match.

You might have a $200 bankroll in your account. But you could stake only $20 in a specific MMA fight.


A bonus is a free bet. Bonuses come in different shapes and forms. There’s the stake not returned bonus. Here, you get a stake, say $5 to bet on a specific match. If you win, you keep the profits but not the stake.

Another type of a free bet is a qualifying free bet. With this offer, you need to place a bet using your own money. After that, you receive a free bet from the house.

The most popular betting bonus is the first deposit offer. It matches your first deposit 100% to 400% up to a specific amount. That said, choose a sportsbook with multiple bonus types. Importantly, ensure it has fair terms.

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