Sports Betting Expert
Last Updated on 18/09/2022
Fact checked by: Melissa Roy
When you first start to play at online bookmakers, it can feel as though everyone is speaking a different language! Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed – instead, take a look at our glossary.
Below you will find some of the most commonly used words and phrases in online gambling. With a little help from us, you will soon be confidently using these terms yourself! Understanding what these betting terms mean will help you navigate the world of online betting.
Bookmakers are the people who operate betting businesses. They set the rates for betting, take the bets, and make the payments to winners. The bookmaker profession has been around in its current form for decades. However, professionals have been taking bets on sporting outcomes for centuries – and perhaps even longer!
Today, many bookmakers have websites where you can place bets. Bookmakers usually deal in sports betting. However, you can place bets on almost anything! Aside from sporting events, common themes for betting markets include politics, entertainment, and current affairs. For example, you can bet on who will win an election or a reality TV show, or even on when a celebrity baby will be born. There are so many possibilities and you’ll need a good betting glossary to help you out!
We can’t have a betting glossary without talking about odds. The betting odds for a particular outcome, also known as the ‘price’, is the return a gambler will get against their stake in the event that their bet is successful. In gambling, a player is staking a cash sum against a particular outcome, in the hope of an increased reward. It is the job of the bookmaker to set the odds or the expected return for that outcome.
Odds can be stated as a fractional or decimal percentage. In each case, the odds represent the chance of success for the player against the chance of success for the bookmaker. Where an outcome is very likely, the odds are ‘short’, and where there is little chance of a win, the odds are ‘long’.For example, if a player bets on a roulette table and chooses red/black, the odds are almost 1/1. There is close to a 50-50 chance of winning that bet, and so the payout is only 1x the original bet. However, the player could also select a single number to bet on, with odds of 36/1. Predicting the outcome of the wheel spin so accurately is unlikely – but if the player is successful, they will get 36x their original stake!
Unlike fixed odds games like roulette, sports betting odds are set by the bookmaker according to expert opinion on how likely an outcome is. This means odds can fluctuate right up until the game plays.
For example, if a soccer team loses its star striker to injury right before a match, the odds of that team winning will likely get cut. Many bookmakers include an option to buy at the price stated when making the bet, and also to buy with odds that can change until the game starts.
We should also talk about cashing out in our betting glossary. Cash-out betting means taking the offered price on a bet before the match or race is over. This is a relatively new option for gamblers. It takes advantage of online betting technology, particularly mobile betting. Players can choose to take the offered price on an outcome, despite the fact that the match could change. Cashing out on a bet could mean losing out on a bigger win, but it could also mitigate a loss.
Cash out is often used by players when it appears that a match is going against them. You could get a portion of your stake back. However, some players also use cash out when a game is going in their favour, to take their profit early. Many online bookmakers have started offering cash-out betting for their players.
We should also have accumulator bets in our betting glossary. An accumulator bet is a popular way to increase the risk – and potential reward – of a placed bet. Accumulators are frequently seen in sports betting, such as football and soccer bets. With an accumulator bet, the payout depends on every selection on the form. The return for a winning accumulator will be far greater than for a series of singles bets because the stake is multiplied according to the odds for every win.
For example, accumulator bets are often placed on a day of matches in a sporting league. The odds for each game may be relatively short, at just 2/1 or 3/1 per game. A player would, at best, double or triple their stake on each singles bet. However, placing an accumulator means that each doubled or tripled win is then placed against the next match.
By the end of an accumulator series, the player might be betting hundreds or even thousands against a 3/1 outcome! Accumulators are very risky. Lose one bet and the whole ticket is thrown out. However, they are very popular because of the potential for significant wins, and for the excitement they produce for the player!
Asian handicap betting is a method of levelling the odds between two teams, in order to make a game more balanced and attract bets to either side of the book. In Asian Handicap betting, the stronger team is required to meet a higher standard than the weaker one – such as winning by a set number of goals. This eliminates the draw option seen in three-way betting, and mixes up the market for all players. As such we just had to include this bet in our betting glossary.
Asian handicap is useful for cup ties in soccer, where a lower league team might find itself playing against a big team. The strong team would, of course, be expected to win – but can they win by a margin of three goals, for example? By adding a handicap to the betting line, the bookmaker can encourage gamblers to put their money on the weaker team – without risking huge payouts in the event of an upset victory!
We had to include matched bets in our betting glossary. Matched betting is a betting strategy employed by some gamblers at online bookmaker websites, using free bets and welcome offers. In matched betting, players place two or three concurrent bets on different outcomes across a number of bookmaker websites, using the free bet offer given to new players.
This way, they can expect a return on either ‘win’, ‘lose’, or ‘draw’. By playing the odds, the player can often guarantee themselves a small profit. Matched betting is a legal method of gambling, and it is not a foolproof system. Players are still required to stake their own money in order to take advantage of the welcome offers, and they are often subject to wagering requirements that limit their withdrawals from a bookmaker or casino site. As a result, matched betting can be a time-consuming and tricky system to play. On the other hand, it does have a good reported success rate for perseverant gamblers. Software is available to assist with creating matched bet systems.
Aside from the main terminology listed above, there are plenty of other phrases and words you will hear while playing at online bookmaker websites in Canada. Explore the rest of our betting glossary below.
Bookmakers will most often set their own odds for a game or match in-house. Over/under bets are made against the set betting line. A bookmaker will decide on the margin of success for a win (similar to Asian handicap betting), and then they will offer bets that fall over or under this marker. For example, a boxing bout might be priced according to the number of rounds a competitor will last. Gamblers, in turn, can choose to bet over or under the bookmaker’s line, with prices set accordingly.
We should also include betting systems in our betting glossary. Some gamblers will use a fixed ‘betting system’ in order to improve their chance of winning. Many gambling systems are perfectly legal to use – for example, using matched betting with free bets. Others take advantage of flaws in the gambling process, or use insider information or other underhand methods, and are therefore seen as cheating.
A betting system can be as simple as doubling the stake each time until a win is made (the Martingale method), or based on extremely complex mathematical formulas. Though many professional gamblers swear by their system, there is always some element of risk involved – especially when betting on sporting outcomes where almost anything can happen. This shows why a betting glossary can be useful in thinking for critically about your bets.
You’ll probably benefit from having the term ‘favourite’ in our betting glossary.In gambling, the ‘favourite’ for a match or race is the competitor or team most likely to win. You will see this term often in horse racing, though it can be applied to any betting outcome. Most bookmakers will indicate which is the favourite on the betting form or price list.
This favourite will have the shortest odds, which means a win is more likely but the return will be smaller. In some cases, there might be ‘joint favourites’ listed for a match or race. This happens when two or more entrants are evenly matched.
The underdog, also referred to as the ‘long shot’, is the outsider for any particular race or match. Essentially, they are the opposite of the favourite and are an important part of our betting glossary. They are seen to have the least chance of winning, and are therefore priced with the longest odds. Betting on this competitor has little chance of success, but in the event that they do win, the reward will be very sizeable.
In horse racing, gamblers sometimes place a small bet on the underdog with a large bet on the favourite, in order to mitigate losses either way. This is essentially a form of matched betting, but with far greater risk than in a two-team sports game.
When it comes to US sports betting, the odds are expressed differently from how they are in most other global markets. Instead of a decimal or fraction, the odds for a bet are usually given as a positive or negative figure which is relative to an assumed $100 stake. For example, the odds might be stated as +150, or -150. In such an instance, this is the amount that you would need to bet on that particular outcome if you were to achieve a win of $100 for that bet.
Many bets placed are based on an outright win, loss or draw. However, horse racing in particular attracts gamblers to the each way betting market and we had to include this in our betting glossary. With each way betting, the bookmaker pays out on a successful placing by the chosen competitor. This includes the fixed odds for first place, but also a reduced return on the stake for subsequent second, third and fourth placings. Some bookmakers even offer a small return for fifth place!
The stake for an each way bet is doubled. That is, a $10 bet is placed twice, costing $20 in total. The first $10 is a single line bet on the winner, while the second $10 is a backup bet on placing in the top four (or five). The return to the player is adjusted according to the place and also the odds, with lower places returning less. In the event of a first place win, the bet essentially pays twice: once as a single line, and again for the each way place.
Exacta betting is another popular market in horse racing and so we included it in our betting glossary. Gamblers select the winner and also the runner up, either in that order (straight exacta) or in either order (reverse exacta). Unlike an accumulator, this kind of betting is two singles bets made concurrently. The return is not multiplied, but the odds given by the bookmaker for winning such a bet are usually higher than choosing a single winner (or each way place).
Other terms in our betting glossary included a similar bet known as the ‘trifecta’ or ‘triactor’. This requires correct prediction of the first, second and third places. Some bookmakers only offer trifecta betting on three places in order, while others will accept a reverse placing. This kind of bet is most commonly seen in horse racing, though it sometimes appears in tournament betting so we thought we should include it in our betting glossary.
A good betting glossary should talk about starting prices. When a match or race begins, what is referred to as the starting price is the odds given at that time. A bookmaker will pay wins out according to the starting price, unless otherwise specified at the time of making the bet. In many cases, players can choose to take the starting price for a bet, or they can accept the price that was listed when they made the bet instead. Odds are subject to change right up until the match or race starts, so the return for a bet can decrease or even increase when the competition actually gets underway.
The ‘spread’ of a sportsbook market refers to the difference between the highest and the lowest odds offered and we had to include this term in our betting glossary It is this spread that is used to set the handicap line for betting. Some bookmakers will advertise that they offer ‘spread betting’. In such a strategy, the gambler will be betting against the bookmaker’s own spread prediction, as opposed to the game itself. Here, the gambler bets on the accuracy of the bookmaker’s spread, and the margin of error involved. Though this tactic is more often seen in the stock market, spread betting does exist among those more experienced sportsbook players.
Has our betting glossary helped you understand how sports betting works? Now that you have the lingo down, it is time to start putting it to good use! Sign up today for an account at one of our recommended bookmakersto take advantage of their welcome offers, and to start placing bets on the markets of your choice.
We are proud to show you bookmakers who offer some of the best sporting odds in Canada, with an extensive range of national and international sporting markets available. From a starting single line to a risky accumulator, you can find the best price on your chosen teams and races right here. So read our betting glossary and then place your bets for the chance to win!