Sports Betting Terms: Glossary for How to Bet Online

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BetMGM @ Feb 16, 2023, 12:44 PM

As the legalization of online sports betting sweeps the United States, it’s never been easier to bet online. If you’re new to online sports betting and are wondering how to bet on sports online, you’ll be happy to know BetMGM makes the process easy and seamless so you can access the best online sportsbook and enjoy sporting action both on and off the field. 

That being said, it’s recommended you familiarize yourself with sports betting terms, as you’re bound to come across these when placing  your wager. Knowing what each term means can help you maximize your betting experience.

As you place your bets at the sportsbook, here’s a helpful guide to sports betting terms to give you the best online betting experience.


To have action on a sporting event means you’ve placed a bet on the game.

Against the Spread

The spread is the margin by which one team or player is favored in one event. If you’re betting against the spread, you’re betting one side covers the spread.

American Odds

American sports betting odds, those used by BetMGM, are displayed as plus or minus odds, e.g., +400 or -130. Plus odds represent the amount you’d win on a $100 bet ($400, not including stake, for +400 odds) while minus odds represent the amount you’d wager to profit $100 ($130 with -130 odds.)


Most commonly used in horse racing betting, an antepost bet – also written as ante-post or ante post – is placed before the betting market has opened for a particular event.

Backdoor Cover

The Kansas City Chiefs, a 9-point home favorite, led the Dallas Cowboys by 13 points in the final minute when Dak Prescott connected with Amari Cooper on a 60-yard busted-coverage touchdown with one second remaining. The Cowboys lost the game by 6 points but, as a 9-point underdog, covered the spread. That’s a backdoor cover.

Bad Beat

If you held a Chiefs (-9) ticket, the Cowboys’ meaningless touchdown was a bad beat, i.e., a lost bet that appeared to be a guaranteed winner.


Your bankroll is the amount of money set aside, whether in a bank account or BetMGM account, for online sports betting. Bankroll management is critical in practicing responsible gambling.

Bet Slip

A bet slip is the electronic (in online betting) or physical (at a sportsbook) ticket that includes your bet(s) placed.


At BetMGM, you can earn betting bonuses in a variety of ways. From a welcome offer bonus to promotional bonuses for placing and/or winning a particular wager, there are several types of bonuses.

Buy Points

Buying points allows you to improve the spread of a bet in exchange for reduced odds. Perhaps you bought 1.5 points on the Green Bay Packers’ spread – moving it from -3.5  to -3 – in exchange for a reduction in odds from -110 to -130.

Cash Out

Occasionally, BetMGM customers have the opportunity to Cash Out a bet and receive a portion or all of the stake and winnings before the event is complete. If you use Cash Out, the bet is settled, and the bettor no longer has a stake in the event.


If you bet the chalk, you’re betting the favorite (typically a heavy favorite..)

Cross Sport Parlay

Cross Sport Parlays are BetMGM’s pre-packaged parlays built of single bets from multiple sports with higher parlay odds than built manually.

One Cross Sport Parlay, for example, might include the money lines for the New York Yankees (-150) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (-180) and be offered at +180.

Decimal Odds

The most popular type of odds outside the United States, decimal odds are displayed as the return, including stake for every $1 wagered. If the decimal odds are 1.5 – the equivalent of -200 in American odds – you’d receive $1.50 back on a $1 bet.


A wager of exactly $1,000.


A domesticated carnivorous mammal that typically has a long snout, an acute sense of smell, non-retractable claws and a barking, howling or whining voice. It’s also short for underdog.

Double Chance

Double chance betting is available for events with three possible outcomes, i.e., win for Team A, win for Team B or draw. With a double chance bet, you bet on two outcomes, e.g., Chelsea wins (vs. Liverpool) or draws.

Edit My Bet

Similar to Cash Out, BetMGM’s Edit My Bet allows you to rethink after your bet is placed. Also only available under select circumstances, you can add a selection, swap a selection, remove a selection and/or increase your stake before the event(s) on which you bet is completed.

Even Money

A wager with odds of +100 (or -100.) meaning your profit will equal your stake, e.g., a $100 bet to win $200 (including stake.)


Fading is betting against someone. If you fade your friend’s weekly NFL picks, you’re deliberately betting against them by placing wagers opposite of his. You could also fade the Baltimore Orioles by betting against the Orioles.

Fading the Public

Tying in with the definition above, fading the public means to back or rally behind a less popular option. This typically means betting on a team or player that most of the public doesn’t support.


The favored team, player or other group/entity in odds.

First Half Bet

As the term suggests, this is a reference to a bet placed in the first half of a game.

Fixed Odds

Fixed-odds betting – which is the case for nearly every type of online sports betting – means the odds are locked at the time of the bet. The spread on a Boston Celtics versus Atlanta Hawks game might move from Celtics -3 to -2.5 after you place a bet on the Celtics. That change doesn’t affect your bet, which is locked at the time at which you placed it.


If a sportsbook doesn’t list odds for every team or player for an event, the unlisted players might be grouped into the field. If you bet on the field, you’re getting every unlisted team or player.

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are given in fractional form, e.g., 5/1 or 7/2, to represent the amount won (numerator) over the amount wagered (denominator), not including the stake. If you wager $1 on 5/1 odds, the potential payout is $6, including stake.

Futures Bet

A futures bet is any bet placed on an event, award, or another occurrence in the future. The most popular futures bets are placed on events like who will win the upcoming Super Bowl or NBA Finals.

Grand Salami

A type of over/under total bet, a grand salami is most often the total number of goals or runs scored throughout an entire day of hockey or baseball games.


Another name for spread betting, handicap betting is the process of oddsmakers evening an event by placing a spread on it.


The amount of money the sportsbook receives in bets. It’s most often referenced for a particular event or team but can be broken into time period, location and an infinite number of other areas.


Hedge betting is a risk management tactic in which a bettor places a wager on the opposite side of an earlier wager. For example, a bettor places a Super Bowl futures bet on the Kansas City Chiefs. Six months later, if the Chiefs are in the Super Bowl, the bettor might bet against them Bills to guarantee a win, either from the futures bet or the single bet.


Another word for half of a point. If a team is a 5.5-point favorite, they’re favored by five and the hook.


Avid live bettors will likely have a good understanding of in-play, a bet made once a game has started. This may be when a bettor hasn’t quite decided on who to wager on before the game starts or if a bettor has a change of heart and wants to back somebody else or another team based on the starting position and chances of winning once a game has started.


Another name for odds, the juice is the price you pay to place a bet. If you’re taking the Tampa Bay Lightning puck line (-1.5) at -190, you’re laying 190 in juice.

Key Numbers

Key numbers are the most common numbers and/or margins of victory in a certain sport. Some bettors use variations of key numbers (e.g., three and seven in football) to identify betting value.

Laying the Points

If you’re laying the points, you’re betting on the favorite against the spread. If you bet on the Seattle Seahawks (-8), you’re laying 8 points on the Seahawks.

Line Betting

Another word for spread or point spread betting.

Lion’s Boost

A popular promotion at BetMGM, the Lion’s Boost is an odds boost for a particular bet. Perhaps the odds of Patrick Mahomes throwing at least three touchdowns is +120. With a Lion’s Boost, the odds increase to +180 at no cost to the customer.

Listed Pitchers

If you place a baseball bet with a Listed Pitcher(s) caveat, the bet is only active if one or both of the listed starting pitchers throw the first pitch of the game. If there isn’t Listed Pitcher(s,), the bet has action regardless of one or both starting pitchers.

Live Sports Betting

When the game starts, pre-game odds are locked, and live sports betting opens. Available for thousands of events each year, including every game in the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, live betting allows you to place in-game wagers on a variety of odds.


It’s considered a lock if you believe a bet is an easy winner and turns out exactly as you think it will.

Long Shot

Any bet placed on an outcome that carries long odds (e.g., +10,000) and is deemed highly unlikely.

Minus Odds

As noted above in American Odds, if a minus (-) sign precedes odds, they’re minus odds (e.g., -300.)

Money Line

The most simple type of sports bet, a money line – also written as moneyline or simply ML – is a bet on the winner. Each money line bet is accompanied by odds (e.g., -200,) which reflect the potential payout if you win (e.g., $150 on a $100 bet with -200 odds.)


A wager of exactly $500.

Odds Boost

While not blessed with the sexiness of its cousin, the Lion’s Boost, an odds boost is the same concept: a free boost to your odds.

Off the Board

If the sportsbook stops taking wagers on odds – typically after a notable injury or trade rumors – those odds are off the board.

One Game Parlay

BetMGM’s One Game Parlay combines single bets from one game into one parlay and offers it to customers with a parlay odds boost. It’s a low-risk, high-reward opportunity for bigger and quicker payouts.


Also known as over/under totals or simply totals, over/under is a bet on the total number of points, goals, passing yards or anything else that’s quantifiable within an event or season.


A parlay is a single wager composed of multiple wagers. At BetMGM, you can create your own parlay by adding several bets to your bet slip and placing one wager, selecting a pre-package parlay like a Cross Sport Parlay or placing one bet on a One Game Parlay.

Parlay Insurance

Occasionally offered as a promotion, parlay insurance protects against devastation. If you hit on the first four legs of a five-leg parlay but miss on the fifth leg, parlay insurance could refund your betting stake.

Parlay Plus

Parlay Plus is an odds boost for parlays. A promotion available for select customers, Parlay Plus delivers an odds boost if you add a certain number of games to one parlay. Suddenly, your four-leg parlay with +1,000 odds is boosted to +1,600 odds.


The amount of money you win on a bet as determined by the stake and odds.

Pick ‘Em

Also called a pick or denoted as PK, a pick ‘em occurs when neither side is favored in an event. In a pick’em NFL bet, for example, there would be no spread, and the spread odds would be the same as the money line odds.

Plus Odds

Also noted above in American Odds, if a plus (+) precedes odds, they’re plus odds (e.g., +150).


At BetMGM, sports betting promotions start with your first deposit and never end. There are hundreds of promotions – from a welcome bonus or Bonus Bet to sweepstakes toor trivia challenge – for dozens of sports throughout the year.

Prop Bet

A prop bet, more formally known as a proposition bet, is placed on a specific occurrence within one event. Anything from rushing yards for Christian McCaffrey to Super Bowl coin flip odds is considered a prop bet.

Public Money

How is the public betting? Public money is the amount of money placed on a certain side of the odds. If the Atlanta Falcons receive 60 percent of the spread handle against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the public money is on the Falcons.

Puck Line

The hockey betting version of a spread.


In betting terms, a puppy is slang for “the underdog” or an overlooked contender, one that many believe is unlikely to win.


A push occurs when neither the bettor nor the sportsbook wins a bet. If the Las Vegas Raiders are favored by 7 points and win by 7 points, it’s a push. If the Raiders and Denver Broncos’ over/under was 47 and the final score was 27–20, it’s a push. If the Broncos’ win total was 8 and they finish 8 – 10, it’s a push.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Much like in business, the ROI can be used as a performance measure to evaluate the efficiency of a bet. The higher the ROI, the better. If you place a wager for a certain amount, you’ll want to win and end up with a certain percentage more than your initial bet – that’s the ROI. This is a key metric that bettors can use to determine where and in whom to invest their time, efforts and money.

Reverse Line Movement

If the odds move in the opposite direction of the public tickets, it’s a reverse line movement. For example, the Chicago Bulls are earning 75 percent of the spread tickets, but the spread is moving toward the Detroit Pistons.

Round Robin

Round Robin is a type of parlay betting that allows you to make multiple parlay bets simultaneously. You could, for example, take three NBA spreads – Knicks -4.5, Lakers -6, Nuggets +4 – and make three parlay bets with each combination: Knicks and Lakers, Knicks and Nuggets, Lakers and Nuggets, and Knicks, Lakers, and Nuggets.

Run Line

The baseball betting version of a spread.

Sharp Money

Money bet by sharp bettors, i.e., professional and/or highly successful bettors who wager and win large amounts of money.


The spread is the margin by which one team or player is favored in one event.

Starting Price

The starting price odds, most often referenced in horse racing, are the fixed odds at the event’s start.

Taking the Points

The opposite of laying the points, if you’re taking the points, you’re betting on the underdog against the spread. If you bet on the Los Angeles Chargers (+8,) you’re laying 8 points on the Chargers.

Ticket Count

A sibling of handle and public money, the ticket count is the number (or share) of bets (i.e., tickets) placed on an event, team, etc.

Two Way

If there are only two outcomes of a bet, it’s a two-way bet. Most often used in tennis betting, a two-way bet means you’re taking one of two sides.


If you don’t know what an underdog is…


A tool for bankroll management, a unit refers to the size of a bet to remain consistent with your wagering in accordance with your confidence level. If your unit value is $50, a high-confidence bet might earn three units, whereas a mid-level bet might earn two units, and a lower-level bet might earn one unit.

Win Totals

A popular futures bet, win totals are set by the sportsbook as an over/under number of total wins for one team in a season.

Discover BetMGM’s extensive online sportsbook

With a better understanding of sports betting terminology, you won’t be caught in the dark the next time you place your wager. As one of the best online sports betting sites, BetMGM has a wide variety of betting options for you to explore over and above our other equally exciting online casino games. 

Whether you’re a first-timer using your welcome site credit to bet on NFL games, an occasional bettor browsing updated MLB odds or a die-hard tennis fan scanning live betting opportunities, there’s something for everyone at BetMGM.

The fun and action don’t have to stop on the sports field; bring the thrill home when you register with us to enjoy football betting, basketball betting, and so much more!

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