Sports Betting Terminology: A Glossary of Common Terms Every Bettor Should Know

The gambling world has its own culture and atmosphere. Bettors know bettors and speak their own language filled with jargon understood by fellow gamblers. Below is a quick guide to help those new to the sports betting world cope with the terms used.

Types of Bets

There has never been a better time to bet on sports. With cable TV and streaming services. Sports from around the globe can be watched from the comfort of the lounge room or on smart phones when you are on the move. 

There are a number of bet types available on every event such as head-to-head, line/handicap and margin betting on sports as well as novelty bet types such as first goalscorer or highest run scorer. Same Game Multis are a recent addition to the betting market with a possibility of a big collect from a small outlay. 

Bookmaker Terms

The Favourite or “fav” is the selection that the bookmakers think will win the event. The favourite is the lowest priced selection in the market and the odds are decided by not only what the oddsmakers think but also by the amount of money wagered on the selection. As a betting market is a live changing thing, favourites can change from time to time based on the bets placed on each selection.

Lay is the bookmaking equivalent of holding a bet. A bookmaker takes a bet, that is he “lays” the selection to the punter. The art of bookmaking involves laying the selections that cannot win while keeping away from bets on the selections that will win. Any odds maker will tell you that it’s harder than it sounds!

Liability is the amount a bookmaker stands to lose on a particular event if a certain selection wins. In the 2000s sports bookmakers would hold a lot of bets on superstar golfer Tiger Woods in all of the major tournaments in the hope that the American would lose. It proved costly on a number of occasions! 

Roughies tend to be good for bookies. They are selections that are not expected to win an event but sometimes do. The team or player will have a “rough chance” of winning a “roughie”. Some bettors have a knack of landing a roughie bet sometimes and with big payouts from a little outlay they can be very profitable. 

A Shortener is a selection that has been supported enough in betting markets that the bookmaker needs to bring in the odds to a “shorter” price. There are a number of reasons why a team may shorten in odds such as an injury to an opposing player or weather conditions changing closer to the match time.

A Strip Out is bad for the bookie and good for the punter! It is when a selection that is well backed in betting markets wins leading to a number of payouts. The bookmaker is “stripped out” of all his cash. 

Other Common Terms

“Look Overs” is a term often used to describe a team that has been undervalued by the bookie. For example, if Port Adelaide are $8 favourites to win the AFL Premiership and look like they will finish in the top 2 at the end of the season, an astute bettor will think that they are “over” the odds. 

“Look Unders“ is the opposite of the above. If a team is priced by the bookie at a shorter price than expected they may be overvalued by the oddsmakers. Teams like Geelong in the AFL and Melbourne Storm tend to be shorter in betting markets than their results support due to the clubs consistently good performances over the years. Astute bettors will steer clear of teams that are “under” the odds. 

“Covering the Spread” is when a team covers the line in a match. If the LA Lakers are 6.5 points favourites in a match against the Chicago Bulls and the Laker win by 9 points they have “covered” and those who bet on them are happy. 

A Betting Bank is what a bettor has to bet with. The key to managing a betting bank is a staking plan. It is recommended by experts that no more than 5% of the betting bank is wagered at any time on any selection. For example, if you deposit $200 into your account and bet $10 per bet. This is a method that can be refined over time through trial and error. 


Hopefully the above glossary has helped you understand the lingo involved with betting on sport. What is even more important, is choosing an online Australian bookmaker. Australian owned and operated Palmerbet have been around for three generations and offer an extensive range of markets across a number of sports, They offer fantastic promotions and are licenced by the NSW government.

Download their app or visit the website at Palmerbet.com and start betting with them today. Keep it local!