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Betting Terms: A Guide for Beginners 

Betting Terms: A Guide for Beginners

Sports betting has gained unprecedented popularity over the past few years. What was once the biggest underground market in America has now become a massive, multi-billion dollar industry.

Though success in this form of gambling mostly relies on luck, you can stack the odds in your favor if you play smartly.

If you are new to sports betting, you’ll come across bizarre terminologies that you won’t understand. Let’s look at some of the basic betting terms:

Covering The Spread

A way of saying that a team or bettor has beaten the point spread created by the sportsbook. As each bettor has a favorite and underdog, the favorite team must do what is called ‘covering the spread’ which means winning or not losing by a predetermined margin of points.


Taking an action simply means placing a bet. 


A strategy involving betting on all possible outcomes of an event to guarantee a profit regardless of who wins. 


Book is short for ‘sportsbook’ which is a place where you bet on different sports. The term is used for both online and land-based sportsbooks. 

Betting Unit

A betting unit is a measurement of the size of a given bet i.e. the amount of money placed on the bet. For example, if you have a budget of $100, you can divide it into $20 units and place a bet five times. 


A person who places a bet for another person who wants to stay anonymous. 


A wager worth $1,000 or €1,000. 

Dead Heat

The term is used in racing sports for a tie. Every sportsbook has different rules on how to pay in case of dead heat. 


The team or player that is not expected to win

Double Pop/Doubling Up

A way of saying that the bettor is placing a bet that is twice the size of a usual bet. 

Early Cash Out

A way by which bettors can settle a wager for a certain amount before the event is over. This is how bettors lock in a profit at a smaller value than they would pay in the end.


The financial risk taken by a sportsbook for a specific event. 


The amount of money that the sportsbook takes from bettors over a specific period of time. 


A strategy of placing a bet on the opposite side of your original bet in an attempt to middle the game or minimize the downside exposure of the original bet. 


A wager of $500 or €500. 

Fixed Odds

Refers to odds that most wagers will experience. The odds are set once a bet is placed. Horse bettors may experience a change in odds in certain situations. 

Flat Betting 

A betting system in which all bettors are the same and a bettor does not change the bet amount based on wins or losses. 

Free Bet

Any bet that a bettor places without having to put up their own money. Sportsbooks offer this type of wager as a reward for placing a bet of a certain amount previously. 


Refers to betting on the score gap of both teams at the end of the match. 

Point Spread

A bet made by oddsmakers at a sportsbook on the margin of victory. It serves as a handicap between two bettors. 


Refers to betting on which team will win a match. 


Two or more bets tied together into one bet. A parlay bet allows bettors to create a single bet for two different matches to be played on the same date. 


A bet in which a sportsbook predicts a number for a statistic in a specific game and bettors wager on whether the actual number will be higher or lower than the pre-agreed value. 

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