Sportsbetting Glossary

Bet: no, really — some people don’t understand what a bet is. Or they might think that a bet and a wager are two different things. Don’t laugh; I still have trouble remembering the difference between odds and lines. Basically, a bet is when you put money (or something of value) on an event with an uncertain outcome. This goes for any kind of bet — a bet in poker, spinning the reels of online slots, or investing in the market.

You have to understand that there is a risk (unlike, say, opening up a bank account, where you never really expect the bank to fail, or that your savings will ever yield anything other than the stated percentage). There should also be some chance that your money will increase or decrease proportionately to the likelihood of the outcome.

Conveniently, that describes odds. The chances of something happening are the most important factors in any kind of betting.

Even odds (“even money“) means that you stand to gain exactly as much as you bet (all else being equal, if you win, you double your money).

Proposition bets (props) are made on whether an event will happen or not. “Will Cleveland win the World Series” is a proposition bet.

Handicapping is a way to deal with more than one outcome. For example “Will Cleveland or Florida win the World Series?” couldn’t offer the same reward for a correct choice, because the smart money would always choose the favorite. The bookie handicaps the odds so that together they make even money bet between the two teams.

Anything with better-than-even odds refers to a favorite, or something which is considered likely to happen; these kinds of bets only ever win you less than you bet. Conversely, anything with worse odds is called an underdog, and can more than double your money if you win. In every game with two teams, the favorite and the dog are handicapped to make an even money bet between them.Another method of handicapping is the point spread. Instead of making the odds even with the potential payoff, this method makes the odds even through the score. Simply put, the underdog gets extra points, and the favorite has to beat them by at least that much. You’ll hear this stated as ‘taking (or ‘laying’) and ‘giving‘; if you give Cleveland five points, you’re betting that they beat their opponent by more than five points, and if you take the points, you’d better hope that your team comes within at least five points of beating Cleveland.

I’ll admit that I’m a little confused about teasers. I’ve heard the term go to a point spread bet where you actually have some control over giving and taking points (i.e., the more points you buy, the bigger your payoff if you win). However, I’ve also heard the term used to describe parlays – which simply mean bets involving more than one game. And just to make it even more fun, I’ve heard the name refer to a combination of the two…so I think I’ll just go back to online casino USA and play a few rounds of online slots until I sort it all out.

The over/under bet is an interesting one: instead of betting on one team or another, you’re betting on the total points that will be scored in the game. You’ll find it a little more often in games like basketball (where the scores can total in the hundreds) than you will in games like soccer ( where the score can often be counted on no fingers). It doesn’t matter how much either team contributed to the total — you’re simply betting whether they all add up to more or less than the sportsbook expects.

Futures may sound like a stupid category of bets  (after all, aren’t all bets on the future?) until you realize that you get a huge payoff for predicting something a very long time in advance. For example, there are ALREADY futures bets being accepted on the next presidential election results (this example probably won’t mean as much if you happen to be reading this in, say, October of 2012, 2016, or 2020).

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