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Football Betting Terms

Football Betting Terms, Lingo, Slang and Jargon

By Loot, Football Handicapper,

My first trip to the sportsbook was a real eye-opener. At the end of day, I had heard a ton of football betting terms I had never heard before. Here I am 20 years later writing a glossary explaining this hodge-podge of lingo, jargon and slang. There's quite a bit to learn! I've compiled a list of popular NFL betting terminology below. I've probably missed a few so if there's something you'd like to add, please drop me a line at I'd appreciate it! Enjoy!

Action: When a bet is considered “on.” The opposite being “no action.”

Against the Spread (ATS): Not a team’s won-loss record, but how they perform against the spread.

Arbitrage: When there is a big enough discrepancy in the odds of a single game that betting an equal amount on both sides would guarantee a profit.

Bettor: A person who places wagers.

Binary Bet: A “heads-or-tails” bet with only two possible outcomes.

Book, Bookie, Bookmaker: The “house”--the entity that puts out the odds and takes the bets.

Chalk: The favorite.

Chalk Player: A player who tends to play favorites.

Circled Line: A designated game on the board where the book limits the maximum bet.

Closing Line: The final odds on a game before it starts.

Cover: Beating the point-spread.

Dime: A term used to mean $1000.

Dog: An underdog.

Even Money: A wager where you stand to win the exact same amount that you wagered.

Fade: To do the opposite of someone. For example, if someone is a losing bettor, you might want to “fade” his picks.

Fixed Odds: Odds that don’t change for you after you place your wager. It remains what it says on your ticket.

Futures: Betting on events that lie weeks or months in the future.

Giving: Taking the favorite in a game, as you are “giving” points.

Grand: Lingo for $1000.

Handicap: To analyze a sporting event before it takes place, trying to pinpoint a likely result.

Index Betting: Another way to describe betting against the spread.

Juice: A built-in money advantage for the bookie.

Lay: To be relinquishing a certain advantage, as in points or odds. For example, when taking a favorite, you can “lay” 5 points or being laying -180.

Layoff: When bookies get too many bets on one side, they will “layoff” some of those bets by betting with another book.

Lines: The point-spreads and odds.

Linemaker: A person who comes up with the odds and spreads, the oddsmaker.

Lock: A supposed bet that is a foregone conclusion. A sure winner.

Margin: The discrepancy of a score in a game.

Money Line: A football bet where you bet on a team to simply win the game, with no points involved.

Nickel: Slang for $500.

Off the Board: A bet that you had hoped to make that for whatever reason is now out-of-play.

Opening Line: The first odds that are posted on a football game.

Over/Under: Betting on whether the total points scored in a game will go over or under what the oddsmaker determines.

Parlay: A wager involving multiple games where they all must win in order for you to get paid.

PK, Pick, or Pick ‘em: When betting the spread, both teams are neither giving or taking points, forcing you to merely pick who will win the game straight-up.

Price: Another word to describe the odds on a football game. If a team was -170 on the money line, you would say that’s a good or bad price.

Prop: A sub-event in a game that you can bet. In a football game, a prop could be where you wager on individual player performance.

Push: A tie in a football bet, where no one wins or loses.

Return: The total amount of winnings you gain.

Soft Lines: Point-spreads that are perceived as being weak by bettors.

Spread: Lingo for the point-spread.

Spread Betting: A specific kind of wagering that takes place on events that have point-spreads.

Steam: When public opinion surges on one side of the bet, forcing the line to move or the odds to change.

Sucker Bet: A bet that looks like a good-value wager on the surface that is actually a poor wager. Or a wager where the odds you are getting are not reflective of the actual probability.

System: A pre-determined set of conditions that determine whether or not you bet on a game. For example, always betting teams after a bye-week would be a kind of system.

Taking: When you are receiving points on an underdog against the spread, you are “taking” points.

Teaser: A bet involving multiple teams where you get a certain amount of points in your favor, but you have to win all games on the ticket.

Tips: Alleged good betting advice from people who are supposedly good at football betting.

Totals: The amount of total points scored in a game.

Trends: When a team either wins or loses a percentage of games against the spread when a certain condition is present. Like when a team is 2-13 ATS in their last 15 games on the road.

True Odds: Not the odds you’re receiving on a wager, but the true mathematical probability that something will occur.

Underdog: A team that is not expected to win a game and thus receives points or odds that reflect that.

Value: Getting good odds in a game, odds or spreads that are more favorable to a team than one might think.

Vig: The built-in price the bookie imposes on you for the privilege of betting. For example, when you bet $110 to win $100 on a football bet. Be sure to read our article on Reduced Vig. It'll change the way you bet on sports forever!

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