Across the Board – A method of wagering on a horse to win, place and show.
Action – A baseball wager where no pitcher is specified. Also refers to the number of bets being placed on a certain event.
Action: Having a wager on a game.
Action: A live bet or bets. (“They got a lot of action on that game.” “I have action on this game.”)
Arbitrage: Betting the same event at separate sports books in order to lock in a profit by taking advantage of different betting lines.
ADVANTAGE RULE: The referee does not have to stop play every time he detects a foul. If the offending team gains an advantage from the offense, he will certainly do so. But sometimes it is penalizing the innocent team to stop play: if, for instance, a defender deliberately handles the ball to bring it under control but only succeeds in deflecting it to an opponent who is well placed for a shot at goal. To stop play at this moment would penalize the attacking team. In such a case, the referee would apply the so-called advantage rule and allow play to go on.
AGGREGATE SCORE: Many of soccer’s most important club competitions are played on a knockout basis. A draw is conducted to decide the pairings. The two clubs drawn as a pair play each other twice, home-and-home. The winner is decided by adding together the scores from the two games — the aggregate score. If the aggregate score is tied, then the winner is the club that scored more goals on its opponent’s field (usually referred to as “the away goals rule”). If the score is still tied under the away goals rule, then 30-minutes of overtime (usually it is not sudden death) are played. If that doesn’t produce a result, then a penalty shoot-out is used to decide the tie. See also: Scorelines.
ASSIST: An American term that is gaining acceptance throughout the soccer world. The Italians regularly use the word, while the official FIFA World Cup statistics now include a list of assists. The English find every reason not to use the word. The idea of an American contribution to soccer is evidently more than they can bear.
ATS (“against the [point] spread”): If a team is 5-2 ATS, it means it has a 5-2 record against the point spread, or more commonly referred to simply as the “spread.”
ATS (Against The Spread) – A method of referring to the result of an event that takes the pointspread into account. Also, the act of taking points rather than betting with the spread, or “laying” points.
Backdoor cover: When a team scores points at the end of a game to cover the spread unexpectedly.
Bad beat: Losing a bet you should have won. It’s especially used when the betting result is decided late in the game to change the side that covers the spread. Also used in poker, such as when a player way ahead in the expected win percentage loses on the river (last card).
Beard: Someone who places a wager for another person (aka “runner”).
Book: Short for sportsbook or bookmaker; person or establishment that takes bets from customers.
Bookie: A person who accepts bets illegally and charges vig.
Buying points: Some bookies or sportsbooks will allow customers to alter the set line and then adjust odds. For example, a bettor might decide he wants to have his team as a 3-point underdog instead of the set line of 2.5. He has then “bought” half a point, and the odds of his bet will be changed.
Bad beat: A very tough, often emotional, betting loss that is characterized by rotten luck.
Bad Beat – A wager that loses unexpectedly.
BALL IN AND OUT OF PLAY: For the ball to pass out of play, all of it must be outside all of the sideline or goal line (the lines can be up to five inches wide). Thus, a ball on the line is in play. Even a ball resting on the ground just outside the line is in play if any part of it is projecting over the line. Similarly, a goal is not scored until all the ball has passed over all the goal line. The position of the player controlling or dribbling the ball does not matter — he can be standing or running with both feet outside the touchline, but as long as the ball is in play the game goes on.
Bankroll: Total capital available for betting sports.
Beard: A person who is betting someone else’s money for that other person; a messenger.
Beard – A friend or acquaintance used to place bets, to conceal the true identity of the real bettor.
BICYCLE KICK: A volley in which the player kicks the ball over his own head. This is not just a simple overhead kick, which can be accomplished keeping one foot on the ground. In the true bicycle kick, the player has both feet off the ground. With his body “floating” horizontally he uses a rapid pedaling motion of both legs (hence the bicycle reference) to kick the ball backward. The player is, in effect, performing a somersault as he kicks. This allows him to get his feet above the level of his head so that the trajectory of the ball can be kept down, essential for one of the bicycle kick’s most spectacular uses as a shot on goal. The bicycle kick should not be confused with the Scissor Kick.
Board: A presentation of all the games and events available for betting in a sports book. (If wagers are being taken on a game, the game is “on the board,” otherwise it is “off the board.”)
Book – An establishment that accepts bets on the outcome of sporting events.
Bookmaker (or bookie): A person who accepts bets.
Bookmaker/Bookie – A person who takes wagers on sporting events.
BOOTER: Ugh! This, I suspect, is the invention of some deservedly obscure headline writer looking for an easy way of identifying soccer players. The word has an aura of heavy clumsiness about it, and no self-respecting soccer enthusiast should be caught dead using it. In any case, “to boot” has a more specific soccer meaning and should not be used as though it means simply “to kick.” To boot the ball in soccer is to kick it hard and long and usually high; an aimless, thoughtless sort of wallop that is the very antithesis of good soccer.
BOX: The box means the penalty area. Sometimes called the 18-yard box, to distinguish it from the goal area, which is the 6-yard box (for those with a metric turn of mind, the corresponding measurements are 16.5 meters and 5.5 meters).
Buck – $100 (as in a “buck” bet).
Buck: See “dollar.”
Buy (Points) – When a player pays an additional price to receive half a point or more in his favor on a pointspread game.
Buyback: The money that comes in on the underdog after a favorite is bet heavily enough to move the line.
Canadian Line – A combination pointspread and moneyline in hockey.
Chalk: The favorite in the game. People said to be “chalk” bettors typically bet the favorite.
Chalk: A favorite, usually a heavy favorite.
Chalk – The favored team, athlete or horse.
Chalk eaters: Bettors who like to bet big favorites (often a derogatory term).
Chalk Player – Someone who usually only plays the favored teams, rarely betting on the underdogs. Also known as a “chalkeater.”
Circle game: A game for which the betting limits are lowered, usually because of injuries and/or weather.
Circled game: A game in which the sports book has reduced its betting limits, usually because of weather or the uncertain status of injured players.
Circled Game – A game where the limits are lowered, or betting options are restricted, usually due to injuries.
CLEAR: To kick or head the ball away from the goalmouth, thus killing an immediate threat to the goal. In theory, there ought to be two types of clearance: good, in which the ball is passed to a teammate to start an attack, or bad, in which the ball is hoofed anywhere. In practice, the first, good, type of clearance is always referred to as a pass or as starting an attack. The words clear and clearance almost always describe those panic situations in which a defender is under pressure and is quite happy to boot the ball aimlessly upfield or out of play.
Closing line: The final line before the game or event begins.
Consensus pick: Derived from data accumulated from a variety of sportsbooks in PickCenter. The pick, and its percentage, provides insight as to what side the public is taking in a game.
Cover: The betting result on a point-spread wager. For a favorite to cover, it has to win by more than the spread; an underdog covers by winning outright or losing by less than the spread.
Cover: Winning against the point spread. (A 10-point underdog that loses 20-14 has covered, or “covered the spread.”)
Cover – To beat the pointspread by the required number of points. When you win, you have “covered the spread.”
DEAD BALL: When play is stopped and the ball is not moving, it is a dead ball. All free kicks, including penalty kicks, have to be taken from a dead — i.e., stationary – ball.
Dead Heat – When two or more horses finish in a tie.
Dime: Jargon for a $1,000 bet. If you bet “three dimes,” that means a $3,000 wager.
Dime: $1,000. (A “five-dime” bet is a $5,000 bet.)
Dime – $1,000.
Dime Line – A line where the juice is 10 percent.
Dime line: A betting line with a 10-cent straddle, often used in baseball. (With a dime line, if the favorite is minus 120, the underdog is plus 110.)
‘Dog: Short for underdog.
Dog – Short for “underdog.”
Dog Player – A bettor who mostly plays the underdog.
Dollar – $100.
Dollar: Jargon for a $100 bet. Usually used with bookies; if you bet “five dollars,” that means a $500 wager.
Dollar: $100. (If a sports book has a $500 maximum on a particular type of bet, you could say it’s a “five-dollar limit.”)
Double Action – An “if bet” that is processed when the precedent bet wins, ties or cancels.
Double Bet – A wager for twice the size of one’s usual wager; also known as “double pop” or “doubling up.”
Edge: An advantage. Sports bettors might feel they have an edge on a book if they think its lines aren’t accurate.
Edge – A person’s advantage when it comes to sports betting.
Even money: Odds that are considered 50-50. You put up $1 to win $1.
Even Money – A wager on which neither side lays any odds or vigorish.
Exotic: Any wager other than a straight bet or parlay; can also be called a “prop” or “proposition wager.”
Exotic – Any wager other than a straight bet or parlay, also called a prop or proposition.
Exposure – The maximum amount of money a sportsbook stands to lose on a game.
Exposure: The degree of risk that a sports book will lose money on a given game, result or proposition. (If a book is “highly exposed” on the Cubs in World Series futures betting, it will lose a lot of money to bettors if the Cubs win the World Series.)
Fade: To take the opposite side of another bettor’s wager or to accept that bet yourself.
Favorite: The expected straight-up winner in a game or event. Depending on the sport, the favorite will lay either odds or points. For example, in a football game, if a team is a 2.5-point favorite, it will have to win by three points or more to be an ATS winner.
Favorite: A team (or player) that, according to the odds, is the stronger or strongest in a given match-up or is regarded as such by the betting public or is expected to win.
Favorite – The team expected to win an event. The quoted odds reflect the extent to which the choice is favored.
FIELD: Soccer fields are by no means all the same size. International rules allow substantial variation, but the length (from 100 to 130 yards) must always be greater than the width (50 to 100 yards). Excessively narrow fields are a problem in the USA. Many soccer fields are modified football fields, whose playing width of just over 53 yards can rarely be sufficiently enlarged to give the minimum 70 yards that a satisfactory soccer field needs. See also: Pitch.
FIFTY-FIFTY BALL: A loose ball, or a badly placed pass, that is as near to a player of one team as it is to a player of the opposing team, allowing both an equal chance of controlling it. Bad soccer, in which players lack the technique to control the ball properly, is often a succession of ugly little tackling battles for possession of fifty-fifty balls.
Fifty Cents – $50.
Figure – The amount owed to or by a bookmaker.
Final Four – The remaining four teams in the NCAA basketball tournament.
First-half betting: Wagers that involve the outcome of the first half of a game only.
First Half Bet – A bet placed only on the first half of the game.
Fixed: A participant in a particular game who alters the result of that game or match to a completely or partially predetermined result. The participant did not play honestly or fairly because of an undue outside influence.
Freeroll: A bet you can win or push but not lose.
Futures bet: A long-term wager that typically relates to a team’s season-long success. Common futures bets include betting a team to win a championship at the outset of a season, or betting whether the team will win or lose more games than a set line at the start of the season.
Futures: A type of wager involving the outcome of a season or how a particular team or player will perform over the course of a season.
Futures – Bets placed on an event or outcome taking place some time in the future (e.g. betting during the season on the Super Bowl winner).
Getting Down – Making a bet.
GOAL: All goals, under international rules, must be scored — they cannot be awarded by the referee. If a defender (other than the goalkeeper) punches the ball away from the goal, the referee cannot award a goal, even though the ball was clearly going into the net, and even though the defender’s action was flagrantly illegal. The referee will eject the player who handled the ball, and give the attacking team a penalty kick.
GOALKEEPER: This is the soccer term, sometimes shortened to goalie, or keeper. Beware of imitations, especially one labeled “goaltender.” The trouble with goaltender is that it is a hockey term and it is likely to bring with it ideas that cannot be applied to soccer. A hockey goaltender is frequently credited with having “registered a shutout,” and with a small goal (6 feet by 4 feet) to guard, it is possible for him to single-handedly defy a barrage of shots. It is theoretically possible for a soccer goalkeeper to do the same. Possible, but rare. His goal is eight times as large (twenty-four feet by eight feet) and to remain unbeaten for 90 minutes he needs a lot of help from the defenders playing in front of him. In fact, it is probably not an exaggeration to say that in most soccer shutouts, thanks to his teammates’ superior defensive play, the goalkeeper has relatively little to do.
GOALTENDER: See: Goalkeeper.
Grand Salami – The grand total of goals scored in all the hockey games of the day. It can be wagered to go Over/Under.
GUARD: See: Mark.
Half-A-Dollar – $50
Halftime bet: A bet made after the first half ended and before the second half begins (football and basketball primarily). The oddsmaker generally starts with half of the game side/total and adjusts based on what happened in the first half.
Halftime betting: Wagers, based on betting lines posted at halftime, which involve the outcome of the second half of a game only.
Half Time Bet – A bet placed only on the second half of the game.
HAND BALL: An offense in soccer, obviously. What is not so obvious is that the term “hand” includes any part of the arm below the armpit.
Handicap: To study and research sports in order to make predictions on the results of upcoming games and events.
Handicapper: A person trying to predict the winners of an event.
Handicapper – One who studies and rates sporting events.
Handicapping – The attempt to predict the outcome of sporting events. Usually involves research.
Handle: The amount of money taken by a book on an event or the total amount of money wagered.
Handle: The amount of money in wagers accepted. (“The handle was down this year on the Super Bowl.”)
Handle – The total amount of money bet on an event or group of events.
HEAD: To head the ball is to play it with the forehead, whether the intention is a clearance, a pass, or a shot at goal. The British describe all three under the general term “header,” but the American term “head-shot” to describe a header that is intended as a scoring effort is a useful addition to soccer’s vocabulary (and, more than likely, another term of American origin that the English will refuse to adopt).
Hedging: Betting the opposing side of your original bet, to either ensure some profit or minimize potential loss. This is typically done with futures bets, but can also be done on individual games with halftime bets or in-game wagering.
Hedge: To make a bet that takes the opposite side of your original position, usually to reduce risk or lock in some profit.
Hedging – Placing wagers on the opposite side in order to cut losses or guarantee a minimum amount of winnings.
High roller: A high-stakes gambler.
Hook: A half-point. If a team is a 7.5-point favorite, it is said to be “laying seven and a hook.”
Hook: A half-point in the betting spread. (“I lost by the hook.”)
Hook – A half-point.
Hot Game – A game that is drawing a lot of action on one side from knowledgeable handicappers.
House: The casino, sports book or bookmaker.
In-game wagering: A service offered by books in which bettors can place multiple bets in real time, as the game is occurring.
Juice: The commission the bookie or bookmaker takes. Standard is 10 percent. Also called the “vig/vigorish.”
Juice – The commission the bookie earns.
KICKER: Like the odious “booter” (q.v.), sometimes used to identify a soccer player. It should be shunned. It is not a particularly pleasant word and it already has a specific soccer meaning. A kicker is a player who tends to kick opponents more than he kicks the ball — a dirty player.
Laying the Points – Betting the favorite by giving up points.
Laying the Price – Betting the favorite by laying money odds.
Layoff: Money bet by a sportsbook with another sportsbook or bookmaker to reduce that book’s liability.
Layoff: A type of wager made by one bookmaker with another, often larger, bookmaker in order to balance action or reduce risk.
Layoff – Money bet by a house with another bookmaker to reduce its liability.
Limit: The maximum bet taken by a book. If a book has a $10,000 limit, it’ll take that bet but the book will then decide whether it’s going to adjust the line before the bettor can bet again.
Limit: The maximum wager accepted by a sports book.
Limit – The maximum amount a bookmaker will allow you to bet before he changes the odds and/or the points.
Line: The point spread or odds on a game or event.
Lines – Another word for odds.
Linemaker – The person who establishes the original and subsequent betting lines. Also known as “oddsmaker.”
LINESMAN: Former term for assistant referee. See: Referee.
Listed Pitchers – A baseball bet which will be placed only if both of the pitchers scheduled to start a game actually start. If they don’t, the bet is cancelled.
Lock: A guaranteed win in the eyes of the person who made the wager.
Lock: A bet that cannot lose; a term that is often misused and abused by disreputable touts.
Lock – An easy winner.
Longshot – A team, athlete or horse perceived to be unlikely to win.
Long shot: Big underdog.
MARK: In man-to-man coverage the defender is said to mark (rather than guard) the attacker. The closer he plays to him, the tighter the marking; the further away, the looser the marking.
Match-up proposition: A betting option that pits two players against one another in a contest or event, often used in golf and auto racing wagering.
Middle: When a line moves, a bettor can try to “middle” a wager and win both sides with minimal risk. Suppose a bettor bets one team as a 2.5-point favorite, then the line moves to 3.5 points. She can then bet the opposite team at 3.5 and hope the favorite wins by three points. She would then win both sides of the bet.
Middle: A situation in which you bet both sides in a game and win both bets, due to favorable line moves. (Example: Bet a football favorite at minus 2 ½, then bet the underdog at plus 3 ½ at another book or later in the week. If the favorite wins by exactly 3 points, both bets win.)
Middle – To win both sides of the same contest in a sports betting event. Wagering on the underdog at one pointspread and the favorite at a different pointspread and winning both sides.
Money line (noun), money-line (modifier): A bet in which your team only needs to win. The point spread is replaced by odds.
Money line: The odds on a team winning a game outright, regardless of the point spread.
Moneyline – A wager where no pointspread is involved.
Money management: Any strategy used by a bettor for making the most of his bankroll.
Move the Line – A player pays an additional price to receive half a point or more in his favor on a pointspread game.
Mush: A bettor or gambler who is considered to be bad luck.
NATIONAL TEAM: An all-star team that represents a country in the various international tournaments — e.g. the World Cup, the Olympic Games, the under-20 World Cup, etc. National teams are supposed to consist of the very best players in the country, regardless of which club they play for. They are not permanent teams; they are assembled only to play in specific games or tournaments. The clubs are expected to cooperate by releasing the players for the required period (it may be just two or three days, or a month or more for the World Cup). All of the top soccer nations in the world now have a full-time national team coach. Playing for the national team — i.e., representing one’s country — was once considered such an honor that clubs rarely refused to release their players. Nowadays, release is less certain. For the World Cup, yes, pro clubs will release their players. But for other national team games, especially for exhibition games, clubs are not so keen to release their highly paid players, who run the risk of injury or who may miss vital club games while away on national team duty.
Nickel: Jargon for a $500 bet. Usually used with bookies; if you bet “a nickel,” that means a $500 wager.
Nickel – $500.
Nickel Line – A sports wagering line where the juice is five percent.
No Action – A wager in which no money is lost nor won.
Oddsmaker (also linemaker): The person who sets the odds. Some people use it synonymous with “bookmaker” and often the same person will perform the role at a given book, but it can be separate if the oddsmaker is just setting the lines for the people who will eventually book the bets.
Off the board: When a book or bookie has taken a bet down and is no longer accepting action or wagers on the game. This can happen if there is a late injury or some uncertainty regarding who will be participating.
Offshore: Designation for the organized sports betting industry outside of the United States.
OFFSIDE: The word is singular. Offside. How or why the plural version “offsides” arose I have no idea, but it is incorrect.
Out: A place to get bets down, whether it’s a Nevada sports book, offshore book or illegal bookmaker. (“It’s good to have a lot of outs.”)
Over/under: A term that can be used to describe the total combined points in a game (the Ravens-Steelers over/under is 40 points) or the number of games a team will win in a season (the Broncos’ over/under win total is 11.5). Also used in prop bets.
Overlay: A situation in which the odds are favorable to the sharp bettor.
Off the Board – A game that the bookmaker is not offering action on at that moment.
Outlaw Line – The earliest line in sports betting. This is an overnight line that only a handful of players are allowed to bet into.
Over/Under – A bet on whether the combined total of the points/goals scored by the two teams will exceed or be less than a specified number.
OWN GOAL: It is, obviously, possible for a player to kick, or head, or deflect, the ball into his own goal. If he does so, the score counts for his opponents; and if the ball clearly would not have gone in without his intervention, then he, unlucky soul, is listed as the scorer with the letters o.g. (for “own goal”) after his name.
Parlay: A wager in which multiple teams are bet, either against the spread or on the money line. For the wager to win (or pay out), all of them must cover/win. The more teams you bet, the greater the odds.
Parlay: A bet in which two or more events must happen in order to win; if any one of them does not happen, the wager loses.
Parlay – A bet on two or more teams or outcomes where the original stake and winnings are reinvested on the next wager. All selections must be correct for the parlay to win. In the event of a push or a game cancellation, the parlay reverts to the next lower number (e.g. a 4-team parlay becomes a 3-team parlay).
Pay by mail: How sports books usually pay off winning tickets to tourists who make a bet while visiting Nevada, then return to their home state before they have a chance to cash them.
PENALTY: Beware! The word “penalty” has a very specific (and very dramatic) meaning in soccer. It should be applied only to the award of a penalty kick — i.e., the 12-yard direct free kick taken from the penalty spot with only the goalkeeper to beat. It should never be used in connection with any other offense or free kick situation.
PERIOD: Soccer games are (or should be) divided into two halves: a first half and a second half. The term “period” belongs in games like football and hockey that are played in quarters or thirds. See also: Time.
Pick ’em: A game with no favorite or underdog. The point spread is zero, and the winner of the game is also the spread winner.
Pick ’em: An even match-up, a game with no clear favorite.
Pick ’em – A game where neither team is favored.
PITCH: An English word for a sports field. It is not specific to soccer — there are cricket and field hockey and rugby pitches as well. It has come into vogue in the United States, mouthed by those who feel they are showing some special inside knowledge when they use it. They are merely being pretentious. The American term “field” is all that is required.
Player: A sports bettor.
Pleaser: A specialized form of a parlay that improves the point spread (for the book) but pays off at improved odds.
Point spread (or just “spread”): The number of points by which the supposed better team is favored over the underdog.
Point spread: The number of points added to or subtracted from a team’s actual score for betting purposes.
Pointspread – The handicap, or head start, which the favorite gives to the underdog for betting purposes.
Power rating: A numerical representation of a team’s strength for betting purposes.
Press – To wager a larger amount than usual.
Price: See “line.”
Price – The odds or pointspread.
PROMOTION and RELEGATION: Soccer leagues throughout the world usually feature a number of divisions. The weakest clubs are in the lower Divisions, the strongest in the top Division. The composition of the Divisions changes each season. The top clubs in each lower division (usually the first three or four) are promoted to the division above, whose bottom three or four clubs are relegated (demoted) to replace them. Thus each division features two competitions: one at the top to decide the championship and promotion places, the other at the bottom to avoid relegation.
Proposition (or prop): An unusual or offbeat betting opportunity.
Proposition (or prop) bet: A special or exotic wager that’s not normally on the betting board, such as which team will score first or how many yards a player will gain. Sometimes called a “game within a game.” These are especially popular on major events, with the Super Bowl being the ultimate prop betting event.
Prop (Proposition) Bet – A special wager offered by the sportsbook on unique and various topics. These wagers can be on sporting events, politics, and even trial outcomes. The wagers use the moneyline format of payoff odds and might include who scores the first touchdown in the Super Bowl, who will win the next presidential election, or whether or not someone on trial will be found guilty.
Public: Average, unsophisticated or casual bettors as a whole; or, used to describe money bet by the public (“a lot of public money came in on the Cowboys”); see “square.”
Puck line: In hockey, a betting structure that dictates the favorite must win by a set number of goals, and/or adds a set number of goals to the underdog’s actual score.
Puckline – Giving odds of a goal spread in hockey instead of using a Canadian Line, where both a goal spread and moneyline are played.
PUNT: A useful way of measuring the sophistication of a soccer crowd is to listen to their reaction to a long punt by the goalkeeper. If they ooh! and aah! as the ball arcs downfield for 40 or 50 yards, chances are that they don’t know too much about soccer. A long punt, assessed by football criteria, is impressive. By soccer standards it is next to useless. As a pass, the high towering punt has two major drawbacks: The ball is in the air too long, allowing opponents plenty of time to cover the intended receiver, and when the ball finally does come down, the angle and the speed of its descent make it extremely difficult for a forward to control. The defender, of course, doesn’t have to control it — he merely heads or hoofs it back whence it came. To the reader who asks why, then, do goalkeepers constantly punt the ball, I can only reply that it is a total mystery to me, too.
Pup: See “underdog.”
Puppy – The underdog.
Push: A bet in which the money wagered is refunded; a tie.
Push: When a result lands on the betting number and all wagers are refunded. For example, a 3-point favorite wins by exactly three points. Return on investment (ROI): In PickCenter, ROI is the amount (according to numberFire) that a bettor should expect to get back on a spread pick.
Push – When a contest ends with no winner or loser for wagering purposes.
REFEREE: The person in charge. His decisions on the field are final. He (or she) starts the game and, because under international rules he is also the official timekeeper, he (and not the scoreboard clock, should there be one) says when it is over. No player can enter or leave the field without his consent. He calls the fouls and has the power to caution players or to eject them from the game. He is also responsible for seeing that the ball and the players’ equipment conform to the rules. He has two assistant referees, but their function is strictly advisory. If an assistant, for example, waves his flag to indicate offside, the referee does not have to whistle for the infraction – he is entitled to overrule the assistant and allow play to continue.
RELEGATION: See: Promotion and Relegation.
Rotation: The official list of all the games on the betting board, presented in a specific order.
Round robin: A specialized form of a parlay that uses every combination of a set of teams in a wager. For example, there would be six two-team parlays within a four-team round robin.
Round Robin – A series of three or more teams in 2-team parlays.
Runline – In baseball, a spread used instead of the moneyline.
Rundown: A reading of all the games and betting lines on a particular day.
Run down – All the lines for a specific date, sport, time, etc.
Runner: Someone who makes bets for another person (aka “beard”).
Runner: See “beard.”
Runner – One who places bets for another.
Scalp: A form of a middle in which you bet both sides in a game, taking advantage of line movements to secure a profit.
SCISSOR KICK: The side volley. The ball is kicked in the direction that the player is facing. The player leans sideways, throws his legs upward, and volleys the ball forward with a scissor-like motion as the kicking leg passes forward over the other leg. Not to be confused with the Bicycle Kick (q.v.).
SCORELINES: The convention used throughout the soccer world is to name the home team first. Thus, a scoreline of AC Milan 3 Lazio 2, tells you not only that Milan won the game, but also that the game was played in Milan. A scoreline of AC Milan 0 Lazio 1 indicates an away win for Lazio at Milan. The American convention of listing the winning team first is an annoying one to soccer fans, as it fails to indicate the home team. This is often vital information. There are certain two-leg cup series (e.g., in the European cup competitions), in which goals scored on an opponent’s field may count double. (Soccer, however, does use the American system for tournaments such as the World Cup that are played at a fixed site, and where there is in effect only one home team, the host nation.) See also: Aggregate Score.
Scouts – Person(s) who waits for what he thinks is an unusually strong wager. Also known as a “sports player.”
Sharp: A professional, sophisticated sports bettor.
Sharp: Savvy, highly informed; or, used to describe the money bet by sharp players (“a lot of sharp money came in on the Eagles”).
Sharp – A sophisticated or professional gambler.
SHUTOUT: See: Goalkeeper.
Side: A variation of a middle in which you win one bet and push the other; also, a particular team in a match-up. (“Which side do you like?”)
Sides – The two teams or athletes playing – the underdog and the favorite.
SIDELINES: Also called touchlines. A ball that goes out of play over the sidelines is said to have gone into touch.
Single Action – An “if bet” that’s processed only if the precedent bet wins.
Sports book: The part of the casino that accepts bets on athletic contests.
SPOT-KICK: A penalty kick, so called because the ball is placed on the penalty spot, 12 yards in front of goal.
Spread: Short for point spread.
Spread – An abbreviated form of “pointspread.”
Square: A casual gambler. Someone who typically isn’t using sophisticated reasoning to make a wager.
Square: An unsophisticated or casual bettor, the opposite of a wise guy; see “public.”
Square – A novice when it comes to sports betting.
STATISTICS: Inevitably, Americans have brought statistics to soccer, a sport in which, traditionally, records have not been particularly plentiful. The theory behind most of the statistics – to plot the shape and progress of a game with figures – is excellent. But soccer is a game that is proving stubbornly resistant to having its portrait drawn in columns of numbers. I can only say that soccer statistics, particularly those such as shots on goal, or saves, should be viewed with caution. Many of them will be judgment calls by the scorekeeper, who may or may not be reliable. Also, special soccer considerations must be taken into account when assessing the figures (see the discussion of shutouts under Goalkeeper).
Steam: When a line is moving unusually fast. It can be a result of a group or syndicate of bettors all getting their bets in at the same time. It can also occur when a respected handicapper gives a bet his followers all jump on, or based on people reacting to news such as an injury or weather conditions.
Steam: One-sided action.
Steam – When a line starts to move rapidly. Most “steam games” do not necessarily reflect objective circumstances, but are games that draw a mass of bettors for some reason.
Store – A bookie or sports betting establishment.
Straight: A single bet, usually laying 110 to win 100.
Straight Bet – A wager on just one team, athlete or horse.
Straight up: The expected outright winner of the money line in an event or game, not contingent on the point spread.
TACKLE: To use the feet in attempting to take the ball from an opponent’s feet. A tackle may be accompanied by a legitimate shoulder charge, but there must be no holding, pushing, tripping, elbowing, or hip-checking. Clean tackling — the ability to strip the ball from an opponent without fouling — requires considerable skill. Unfortunately, the leniency shown to defenders has meant that many defenders are not good tacklers. They simply clatter into the guy with the ball, often from behind, and — if called for a foul– protest, “But I got the ball ref!” Possibly, but only by demolishing the opponent as well. FIFA’s claim that its rule changes have banished the more violent tackles from behind is questionable – such tackles are still frequently seen.
Takeback: On a money line, the price of the underdog. (In baseball, if the favorite is minus 120, the “takeback” on the underdog is often plus 110.)
Taking the Points – Betting the underdog and its advantage in the pointspread.
Taking the Price – Betting the underdog and accepting money odds.
Teaser: Betting multiple teams and adjusting the point spread in all the games in the bettor’s favor. All games have to be picked correctly to win the wager.
Teaser: A specialized form of a parlay that improves the point spread (for the bettor) but pays off at reduced odds.
Teaser – A bet on two or more teams where the line on each team is adjusted in the favor of the bettor. Like a parlay, all selections must be correct for the teaser to win.
Ticket – A sports betting wager.
Tie – A wager in which no money is lost nor won because the teams’ scores were equal to the number of points in the given line.
TIME: Traditionally, soccer games have always been divided into two halves: 45 minutes per half in professional games, less (30 or 35 minutes) for youth games.
TIMEOUT: The referee alone can stop the clock in soccer. Coaches are not permitted to call timeouts. A FIFA experiment with timeouts during the 1995 U-17 World Cup in Ecuador (coaches were allowed to call one 90-second timeout in each half) was not repeated.
Total: The perceived expected point, run or goal total in a game. For example, in a football game, if the total is 41 points, bettors can bet “over” or “under” on that perceived total.
Totals: A type of wager that involves whether a score or result will go over or under a posted number.
Total – The combined amount of runs, points or goals scored by both teams during the game, including the overtime (see Over/Under).
Totals Bet – A proposition bet in which the bettor speculates that the total score by both teams in a game will be more or less than the line posted by the sportsbook.
Tout (service): a person (or group of people) who either sells or gives away picks on games or events.
Tout: A person who sells his predictions to bettors (often derogatory).
Tout – Someone who sells his/her expertise on sports wagering.
TRANSFER FEE: When a player under contract to a club is traded (transferred) to another club, the new club has to purchase the contract, often paying huge sums of money for it. This is the transfer fee — it goes to the selling club, not to the player.
Twenty-cent line: A betting line with a 20-cent straddle, standard in football and basketball. (With a 20-cent line, if the favorite is minus 120, the underdog is even money.)
Under – A wager that the total points scored by two teams will be under a certain figure.
Underdog – The team perceived to be most likely to lose. Also known as the “dog” for short.
Underdog: The team that is expected to lose straight up. You can either bet that the team will lose by less than the predicted amount (ATS), or get better than even-money odds that it will win the game outright. For example, if a team is a 2-1 underdog, you can bet $100 that the team will win. If it wins, you win $200 plus receive your original $100 wager back.
Underdog: A team (or player) that, according to the odds, is the weaker or among the weakest in a given match-up, or is regarded as such by the betting public, or is expected to lose.
Value – Getting the best odds on a wagering proposition; the highest possible edge.
Vigorish – The bookmaker’s commission on a losing bet; also known as “juice” or “vig” for short.
Vig/vigorish: The commission the bookie or bookmaker takes; also called the “juice.” Standard is 10 percent.
Vigorish (or vig): The commission charged by the bookmaker.
Wager: A bet.
WALL-PASS: The give-and-go. So called because in soccer games played by boys in streets, the ball was often rebounded off a wall rather than passed to a teammate.
Welch: To not pay off a losing bet.
Wiseguy: A professional bettor. Another term for a “sharp.”
Wise guy: A sharp, successful, established professional sports bettor. (In terms of Las Vegas sports betting, this has nothing to do with Tony Soprano, Henry Hill & Co.)
Wiseguy – A well-informed or knowledgeable handicapper or bettor.
Wood: The price of a heavy favorite. (If you bet the Red Sox as a minus 240 favorite, you “lay the wood” with the Red Sox.)