Glossary of key sports betting terms
LeBron James has been a popular futures bet to win NBA MVP in past seasons. Photo by Mark J. Terrill/AP.

There's a lot of lingo that gets thrown around in the sports betting world and it can be overwhelming to people who aren't familiar with it.

You may be familiar with some of the jargon, but perhaps there are certain terms that get floated around that you've never heard of. Don't worry: we are here to help.

It never hurts to brush up on your sports betting linguistics whether you're a sharp or square (see below for definitions).

Here are the need-to-know sports betting terms you should make yourself familiar with.

Glossary of key sports betting terms

Action: A bettor will have action on a game when they've placed a bet on it.

Against the spread (ATS): Betting a game with a point spread. If you bet the Bills to cover a 4.5-point spread, you are betting Buffalo against the spread.

Alternative line/total: Sportsbooks will offer other lines aside from the featured point spread and game total. If a football game total is set at 45.5 points, you can wager on alternate totals such as 48.5 or 42.5.

Bankroll: The amount of money you have in your sports betting account. If you create an account with NorthStar Bets and deposit $100, you have a $100 bankroll.

Cash out: Accepting an offer from a sportsbook for a bet that hasn't reached a final result.

Chalk: The overwhelmingly popular pick for a sporting event.

Closing line: The line for an event when the sportsbook stops accepting bets at the time of the event's start.

Cover: Refers to the result of a successful point spread bet. If the Raptors are 6.5-point underdogs but only lose by four points, they cover the point spread.

Even money: When odds are set at +100. There is no juice on this bet, so you would earn double what you wagered if your ticket was successful.

Favourite: The team or player/athlete that is favoured to win. They will have a minus sign (-) before their moneyline odds (-125, for example) and/or point spread (-4.5).

Futures: A bet which requires a longer period of time to determine the result. League champions, MVPs, and other awards are common types of futures bets.

Handicap: The point spread number. Whatever the number is set at, whether it's 3, 3.5, 7.5, 10.5, and so on, is the handicap.

Handle: The amount of money wagered by bettors at a sportsbook on a certain event.

Hedge: Most commonly done with parlay or future bets, a hedge is when you bet the opposite side of your original wager. If you bet on a six-game NFL parlay and the first five legs of the wager won, you could bet on the opposing team to hedge your bet.

Hook: Refers to the .5 listed with most point spreads. If you bet the Bills -3.5 on the point spread, the half point is the hook. A bettor gets hooked in this instance if Buffalo only wins by three points.

Implied probability: The likelihood of a bet winning based on the odds for the event. For example, a bet with +100 odds has a 50% implied probability.

In-game betting: Bets that are placed once the game has already started. This can be on the moneyline, point spread, over/under, and props. Also known as live betting.

Juice/vig: The cut the sportsbook takes for using their services. Winning a bet on a $100 wager at -110 odds would net you $90. The difference is the tax you pay to the operator.

Laying the points: Betting on the favourite to win. If you back the Raptors to cover a 6.5-point spread as favourites, you are laying the points with Toronto.

Moneyline: A type of bet where you wager on the winner of the game. Each team gets assigned its own set of odds and a successful moneyline wager involves backing the team that wins.

Opening line: The line for an event when it's first listed at a sportsbook.

Over: A bet that requires a player, team, or game to score or accumulate more than the listed total.

Over/under: Known as O/U for short and also the total. Sportsbooks set a total number of combined points two teams will score in a game and bettors have the option to pick whether the clubs will go over or under that number. It's also used when betting on player props. Player props give you the option to bet the over or under on a player's production in popular categories, such as points, yards thrown, and rebounds.

Parlay: A wager that consists of two or more bets tied to one ticket. All outcomes of the parlay have to be correct in order for the bet to be a winner.

Pick’em: When neither team is favoured on the point spread.

Point spread: A number established by sportsbooks that a team has to cover. For a spread of -7.5, which you would see in sports like the NFL and NBA, the (-) indicates the favourite and means the team would have to win by eight points or more. The underdog spread would be +7.5 and that team could cover by either winning outright or losing by seven or fewer points.

Props: Bets that aren't tied to the outcome of a contest but rather specific events that occur during a game. Player props allow you to wager on individual production, such as the over/under on how many points or yards a player will accumulate in a contest. Game props allow you to make bets on a number of different events, such as the highest-scoring period in a hockey game.

Puck line: The standard handicap set for NHL betting, which is usually 1.5 goals. That means you can either bet on a favourite to cover the puck line at -1.5 or back the underdog at +1.5. This is hockey's version of the point spread.

Push: When a bet results in a tie. If you bet the Raptors to cover a 4-point spread and they win by exactly four points, that is a push.

Run lineThe standard handicap set for MLB betting, which is usually 1.5 runs. That means you can either bet on a favourite to cover the run line at -1.5 or back the underdog at +1.5. This is baseball's version of the point spread.

If the Toronto Blue Jays are favoured by 1.5 runs and win a ballgame by two runs, they will cover the run line. Photo by Jon Blacker/The Canadian Press.

Sharp: Considered to be a smart and successful sports bettor. Oftentimes, a sharp bettor will be on the opposite side of a popular bet.

Sportsbook: The operator that you place bets with, deposit funds with, and collect winnings from. NorthStar Bets is an example of an online sportsbook.

Square: A casual bettor who wagers on the public or popular side of a bet.

Straight up/SU: Refers to the winner of a match. A straight-up bet doesn't involve betting on a point spread.

Taking the points: Betting on the underdog. If you back the Bills to cover a 3.5-point spread as an underdog, you are taking the points with Buffalo.

Teaser: Buying points from a sportsbook for a parlay. Sportsbooks typically award six points for a football teaser and four for basketball, but there must be at least two legs to the bet.

Total: See over/under.

Under: A bet that requires a player, team, or game to score or accumulate less than the listed total.

Underdog: The team or player/athlete that is expected to lose. The underdog will have a plus (+) sign before their moneyline odds and/or point spread.

Unit: Refers to the base amount of money you place on a wager. If your base wager is $100, that would be one unit.

Wager: A bet.

NorthStar Bets editorial Insiders have no influence, direct or otherwise, over the setting of odds advertised on our platforms.