Sports Betting Terminology

You will run into a lot of different terms in betting that aren’t so common in everyday life. Here is an overview of the most important sports betting terminology with clear explanations.

Asian handicap

A handicap that is typically used in soccer/football. One team gets a fictional number of goals credited, while the other team gets a fictional number of goals taken away from the score. Asian lines are like spreads in American sports. There are only two options, but many different lines. Read more about Asian handicaps here!


The total sum of money that a player has put aside for betting.


A person who bets on something.


The company/service that allows players to place bets. Bookmakers provide the odds and allow you to bet. Nowadays, most bookmakers are online. Examples are Pinnacle, SBO, BetCRIS, Bet365, Cloudbet, Nitrobetting.


A bet broker (also called betting brokerage) is a middleman that connects bettors with bookmakers and exchanges. Often a broker will have a platform where the bettor gets access to several bookmakers and exchanges from one account. Sportmarket, Asianodds and BetInAsia are examples of brokers.

Closing odds

The final odds are the odds on the market right before the game starts. Used as a metric by serious sports bettors to measure performance: Generally, if you bet a few days before a game, it’s a good sign if the closing odds are lower than the odds you got.


When the probability is in your favor, you have an edge. You can have an edge on one play if you find good odds. Or, you can have an edge in general based on knowledge and ability to regularly find profitable bets.


A platform where bettors can bet against each other – usually with a back/lay mechanism. The exchange will usually take a commission on winnings while providing safety for the players. Betfair, Matchbook, Smarkets and Betdaq are the largest betting exchanges in the world.


The percentage of winning plays out of all the bets. For example, if you have won 20 out of 40 bets, you will have a 50% hit rate (20/40).


There are maximum amounts that players can place. First of all, market limits – typically very high. But also personal limits, as some bookmakers put limitations on winning players, allowing them to only bet for small amounts.


Combining several odds into one coupon. If you bet two different games on the same coupon, the two odds will be multiplied. A better gain if it hits – but more variance.


The price you are betting, based on the estimated probability by the bookmaker. There are different ways to write odds: -110 is an American odds, and 1.91 is a decimal odds, used in Europe and sometimes Asia.

Payback percentage

The mathematical background for the odds that the bookmaker is providing. At an Asian handicap line with odds 1.96-1.96, the payback percentage of the bookmaker will be 98%. As a bettor, you want to bet with bookies that have a high payback percentage (SBO, ISN, Pinnacle).


The chance of a specific scenario happening.


Smaller betting options, not major lines. For example, a prop would be betting on the coinflip of the Super Bowl, on how a specific player performs, or smaller scenarios within a game.


Return on investment. Calculated by dividing your full earnings by your turnover. 1000 dollars won / 900 dollars bet = 1.11. That’s an ROI of 11%.


A serious and successful bettor. The pro sharp bets by looking at odds and probabilities, not based on guesswork and subjective opinions.


Same as a bookmaker: A business that provides odds for the customers to place bets on.


A type of betting where one team gets credited points, while points are taken away from the other team. Popular in football, basketball, baseball, hockey. An example could be an NFL game where the 49ers -7 and the Cardinals +7. Usually the odds will be even, the point spread is what makes the difference. Similar to Asian handicaps in soccer.


A large document with data inputs that keeps track of your results. Useful for analysis. Use our betting spreadsheet or one of the websites dedicated to tracking.


The average bettor, usually someone choosing the obvious side, leaning on intuition and opinionated views from media and experts. Typically not a profitable player long-term, yet squares have some influence over the odds development on the markets.


The amount of money that you place on your bet is your stake.


A major company or group of bettors with extremely sophisticated insights. Syndicates typically bet huge amounts and move the lines on game day. Read more about syndicates and how they operate here.


Someone who shares picks with others. Sometimes tipsters share picks for free, other times they sell their picks.


Totals let you bet on the number of goals or points scored in a game. It could be over/under 2.5 goals in a soccer match, or over/under 47.5 points in an American football game. Very popular among pro bettors.


The gap between the odds that the bookmaker provides and the fair odds. The wig is the reason why bookmakers make a profit. If you see a spread where the odds are -110 (or 1.91) on both teams, the bookmaker has a wig of around 5%.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top