Sports Betting Terms & Basic Concepts Explained for Beginners

Understand the basic sports betting terms and the fundamental concepts to be able to decipher all the wagering strategies you’ll come across

There are many special terms associated with sports betting. So, we decided to explain several commonly-used terms to help beginners understand the basics of wagering and improve their betting IQ.

We’ll get you started with some elementary sports betting terms, and then we’ll explain wagering categories, the different types of bet slips and the most popular betting markets in a few words.

Understandably, you might not grasp every notion after your first read, so don't despair. Just refer to this page when you see an unfamiliar word or phrase.

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Quickly navigate to your desired topic:

  1. Elementary Sports Betting Terms
  2. Wagering Categories
  3. Types of Bet Slips Explained
  4. Popular Betting Markets


Elementary Sports Betting Terms

Elementary Sports Betting Terms

Sports betting terminology can be confusing for beginners, as there are many unique terms associated with wagering. Taking a moment to familiarise yourself with these concepts will help you feel in control and motivate you to research the subject further:

  • Bookmaker / Bookie / Book / House – A person or company who is licensed to create betting lines and take wagers.
  • Bet / Wager – To risk money on the prediction of an outcome.
  • Bettor / Punter – The individual who places a bet.
  • Prediction / Pick / Tip / Selection – An indication of the likely outcome of a sporting event.
  • Tipster / Tout – An individual who publishes or sells his sports betting predictions.
  • Odds / Lines / Price – The returns a bookmaker offers for a selection to win. In theory, they should provide a measure of the likelihood of a particular outcome. Find out more about how betting odds work.
  • Odds Format – There are three main types of odds formats: American odds (+100), Decimal odds (2.00) and Fractional odds (1/1). More information about odds formats.
  • Total Odds / Total Returns – The potential reward of a bet that contains multiple selections.
  • Payout / Juice / Vigorish / Overround / Bookies Margin / House Edge – The commission retained by sportsbooks from the odds offered.
  • Stake – The amount of money a punter risks when placing a wager.
  • Winnings / Returns – The amount of money paid for a winning bet. It is calculated by multiplying the stake by the total odds.
  • Profit – The sum left after deducting the original stake from the winnings.

Once you have mastered these terms, you can move on to the more advanced bits of betting terminology. Feel free to revisit this section as many times as necessary until you grasp these concepts.

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Wagering Categories

Wagering Categories

Sports betting can be done in a number of different ways. So, in order to understand the various betting strategies you’re going to study online, you have to comprehend the following principles.

Types of bets according to the mechanics of the wager:

  • Sportsbook – Traditional betting, when you are playing against the house. Punters place against fixed odds set by a bookmaker, either offline or online.
  • Betting Exchange – A platform which enables users to bet against each other. You can Back or Lay bets, which means you can be the bookmaker and create your own odds.

Types of bets according to the timing of the bet:

  • Pre-Match Bets – Wagers that were placed before the event has started. The odds will fluctuate depending on how much money is wagered on each selection.
  • In-play Bets / Live Bets – Bets that are placed after kick-off. The odds will fluctuate much more during the match based on the live stats.

Types of bets according to the method of placing the wager:

  • In-store Betting / Offline Betting – Punters have to go to physical locations in order to place their bets. Betting in shops enables you to retrieve your winnings immediately during opening hours.
  • Online Betting – Sports bettors place their wagers via the internet. Unlike a brick and mortar store, an online bookmaker enables you to bet from the comfort of your home, during your commute and so on, regardless of the time. Most betting sites offer a wide array of betting options and a total gambling experience: promotions, live betting & streaming, casino games & live casino tables, vSports, & peer-to-peer poker, lottery bets, and more.

Online betting is further split into these two classes:

  • Desktop Betting – Wagering via a desktop computer or laptop.
  • Mobile Betting – Placing bets using a mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet.

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Types of Bet Slips Explained

Types of Bet Slips Explained

A bet slip is the equivalent of a receipt for the bets you place, a physical (paper) or electronic form that stores the predictions, odds and the stake you’ve risked on a particular wager.

These are the forms of bet slips you’ll come across when betting in the UK:

  • Single Bet – A bet placed on only one outcome. Professional bettors prefer single bets over accumulators as they offer the highest payout.
  • Acca / Accumulator / Parlay Bets / Multiples – Bets involving a minimum of two selections, where all selections must be successful for the bet to win. To calculate the potential returns of an acca bet, you have to multiply each of the individual odds into the next and then to the total stake. Each selection in your betting ticket can be referred to as a fold. E.g. if your Premier League slip includes Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United to win you’ve got yourself a four-fold accumulator.

A bet slip with two selections is called a Double, whereas a three-fold acca is called a Treble bet.

  • System Bet / Combination Bet – A bet that can be won even when one or more selections fail to win. A system bet slip requires a minimum of three selections. E.g. a 2/3 system bet has three possible outcome combinations, which means that the total amount staked shall be divided into 3 equal amounts. Find out more about system bets.
  • Banker Bet – A combination bet with one or more defined selections that will be included on all betting combinations. All the selections that are marked as bankers must be correct for the bet slip to win. Find out more about banker bets.

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Popular Betting Markets

Popular Betting Markets

Anyone who is serious about their betting should be aware of the various betting markets available to them. But for beginners, understanding the most common bet types should be enough to get them started:

  • Moneyline / Winner / 1X2 – A straight-up bet that implies picking the final result. It is also referred to as 3-way betting in football, and other sports that involve three possible outcomes: 1 for the home team to win, 2 for the away team to win and X for the draw. In tennis, combat sports, volleyball etc., the money line is a two-way bet, as it only has two possible outcomes.
  • Outright Bet – A bet on the overall winner of a tournament or competition, e. g. Liverpool to win the Premier League, Tiger Roll to win the Grand National, and so on.
  • Totals / Over/Under – A wager on how many goals, points, rounds or runs will be scored in a given time interval, e.g. minutes, innings, halves etc. The typical Over/Under betting line in football is 2.5 goals. Three or more goals are required to win an Over 2.5 wager; whereas an Under 2.5 bet will be successful when no more than 2 goals have been scored (0, 1 or 2 goals will generate a win).
  • Double Chance – A three-way market that combines two of the three possible outcomes (1 & X, 1 & 2 and X & 2). It can be used in any sport where there are three possible outcomes.
  • Draw No Bet – A two-way betting market where the stake is refunded if the match ends in a draw. Because of that, it provides better odds than a double chance bet. This option is identical to Asian Handicap 0 bet, but we’ve already explained that in more detail in this guide.
  • Both Teams To Score – Referred to as BTS or BTTS among punters, it is a simple bet with two options: Yes or No. Both teams involved must score at least one goal each for the bet to win.
  • Each Way – A combination of two bets, with half stake on each bet that is most commonly used on racing events such as horse racing, greyhounds, cycling, motorsport etc. but also on outright bets. One bet is placed on the respective selection to win, and the other on it to Place, e.g. in the top two or three, depending on the number of participants and the bookie's rules.
  • Handicaps – Handicaps, also known as spread bets, come in positive or negative amounts and can be assigned to teams, players or various scorelines and can represent goals, points, sets, games, seconds etc. as a way to balance the books and determine punters to wager more often.

There are two types of handicaps in online sports betting. European Handicap bets are three-way bets and thus provide three options: Home Win, Draw and Away Win, whereas Asian Handicap only comes with two options: Home or Away, Over or Under etc.

Only Asian Handicap bets can be quoted in half-goals and quarter-goals, such as 2.5 or 1.75, respectively.

Whole goals handicaps, like -1, -2, -3 etc. can easily be mistaken for one another, but they are in fact, totally different wagers: Your stake will be refunded when betting -1 AH on a team that wins by exactly one goal difference, whereas your -1 EH bet would be lost in the same scenario. Find out more about European & Asian Handicap.

After reading our betting guide, you have hopefully developed a better understanding of sports betting terms and concepts. You have been given the tools you need to be able to decipher various betting strategies. Don’t forget to have fun while playing responsibly that is limiting your wagering, so it does not negatively impact other areas of your life!

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