Lines, And Teasers, And Spreads, Oh My: A Sports Betting Glossary Pt. 1


Lines, And Teasers, And Spreads, Oh My: A Sports Betting Glossary Pt. 1

Blog > Let's Parlay > Lines, And Teasers, And Spreads, Oh My: A Sports Betting Glossary Pt. 1

Lines, And Teasers, And Spreads, Oh My: A Sports Betting Glossary Pt. 1

Wizard of Oz pun. Nice.


One thing about sports betting that I learned a long time ago is that it never hurts to brush up on the basics. In the same way losing streaks force intermediate and advanced bettors to re-examine their handicapping strategy, the start of legalized sports betting in Indiana requires beginners to familiarize themselves with core wagering terminology.

This four part “sports betting glossary” will cover concepts both elementary and advanced in nature. You may already recognize most of the terms listed below. That’s okay, we’ll start out slow and tackle more complex concepts in the articles to come. It’s worth a read just for the one-liners.

Sports Betting Glossary: Part 1

Action: If you have “action” on a game, you have a bet riding on its outcome.

Against-the-spread (also referred to by the abbreviation “ATS”): First, see ‘spread’. This is basically a team’s historical performance versus past game spreads. For instance, if the Colts were favored by 3 points against Dallas, 5 points against Tennessee, and 7 points against Tampa Bay, they would be 3-0 against-the-spread if they won each game by 10 points. However, if they won by 6 points each time, they would be 2-1 ATS (they didn’t beat Tampa by 7 or more, even though they won the game).

Bettor: You. Duh.

Book: Short for ‘sportsbook’, or the venue/platform that accepts your bets. Also, an object that your high-schooler hates.

Bookie: Individual who accepts bets, and often someone who operates illegally.

Chalk: The favorite.

Chalkeater: A bettor who notoriously bets favorites, or someone who may find themselves on an episode of My Strange Addiction.

Cover: The result of a wager on the spread. For a favorite to ‘cover’, it must win by more points than the spread; an underdog covers by winning the contest outright, or losing by a margin less than the spread.

Favorite: The expected winner of a sporting event, often with “minus odds” and indicated by a “-“ sign in front of the listed payout. For example, if you saw Indiana Pacers -135, Cleveland Cavaliers +115, the Pacers would be the favorite. You would need to bet $135 to make $100 profit.

Handicapper: A person who uses statistics, weather, injuries, etc. systematically to predict the outcome of sporting events.

Line: Another way of referring to the odds on a game. In Vegas or after 1am, this may mean something completely different.

Moneyline: The most basic of all wagers. You’re simply betting on which team will win the game!

Oddsmaker: A professional who sets the odds for all games being offered at a sportsbook.

Over/under (O/U) or Total: The projected number of combined points/runs/goals to be scored by both teams in a sporting event. Read more about the over/under HERE.

Parlay: A combination bet that requires you to win all “legs”, or individual bets, in order to cash the ticket. The odds are multiplied so that your payout increases exponentially as you add more legs to the bet. This is a risky bet, as all of your picks have to win, but profits can be large.

Spread: The projected point differential between two teams in a game. If the Colts are listed at -3, that means they are favored to win by 3 points. “3” represents the spread.

Underdog: Rudy. Leicester City. Appalachian State. Any team that is not favored to win a game.

Wager: Last but not least…a bet.


“Good teams win, great teams cover.”



Photo by Ethan Miller: Getty Images

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