With legalized sports betting sweeping the nation at breakneck speed, it’s more important than ever to recognize various gambling terms thrown around in both conversations and on the internet. NFL betting terms or lingo can frequently be confusing for a novice. We decided to compile this grocery list of terms to help you comprehend the most commonly used jargon in the hopes of becoming a more profitable football bettor.
NFL betting terms you should know
Action: The act of placing a bet or wager on a particular sporting event (e.g., “I’m just bout that action boss.”).
Against the spread (ATS): The acronym ATS stands for Against the spread, which means a wager involving a point spread. In this case, the bettor is either taking points with an underdog or laying points with a favorite.
(For anyone who needs a quick reminder on ATS, we found a great recap from Sports Betting Dime on what it means to bet against the spread. Additionally, you can find more information from our own James Aguirre on how to bet on different betting platforms).
Arbitrage: The act of placing two different wagers on each side of the same game at different bookmakers. This occurs when there is a difference of opinion between betting companies, allowing the bettor to ensure a profit regardless of the outcome.
Backdoor: A backdoor cover occurs when a team that has little to no chance of winning a game outright, comes from behind and puts up an otherwise meaningless score late in the game to alter the betting winner. Being on the right side of a backdoor cover is pure jubilation.
Bad Beat: The bad beat is the evil cousin of the backdoor cover. This occurs when a team has little to no chance of losing a game outright but then allows the other team to put up an otherwise meaningless score late in the game to alter the betting winner. Being on the wrong side of a bad beat is pure devastation.
Bankroll: The total amount of funds that a bettor has available to them for gambling purposes.
Bookmaker: Also referred to as a “book,” this is the person or institution accepting wagers on events. This establishment is often the one licensed to creating betting odds as well. Sports Books are commonly referred to as “the house” as well.
Buying points: This is the practice of paying an additional fee or taking less of a return on your investment to increase the odds of a point spread in a given wager. In regards to NFL betting, this would apply to purchasing an extra point so that the team you bet on only needs to cover a 3 point spread at -120 odds instead of a 3.5 point spread at -110.
Chalk: The odds-on favorite to win a particular sporting event. The term itself derives from the pre-technology era when sportsbooks posted prices on chalkboards.
Closing line value (CLV): CLV is the acronym for Closing Line Value, which describes when a bettor places a wager after the initial lines are posted. More often than not, that opening line will move up or down, pending the amount of money being wagered on a given side. The value comes from wagering on the outcome at a price in the bettor’s favor when compared to the closing line just before the event taking place.
Contrarian: A contrarian play or contrarian wager involves betting directly against the public. The idea is that the bookmakers win more often than not, therefore consistently betting against the public should ensure a profit in the long term.
Cover: When a bettor accurately picks the correct side of a point spread wager. Examples include a 3 point favorite winning by a touchdown or a 7 point underdog losing by only a field goal.
Edge: Any perceived advantage that the bettor is presumed to have over the bookmaker. This edge may be due to inside information (injury?) or advanced metrics, which indicate that a specific point spread seems faulty.
Even money: A wager involving no “vig” or vigorish. The odds for this type of bet are generally listed at +100. These are also known as “pick-em” games.
Favorite: The betting favorite is the team, which is predicted to win a given contest and is, therefore, laying points according to the bookmaker.
Field: The field is a group of players or teams that are not listed among the favorites to win a specific prop bet. Bettors who take the field have the opportunity to cash their wager if any of these unlisted teams or players come through as the winning outcome.
First Half (1H): A first-half bet is a wager that is decided at halftime of a given event. The complete game outcome does not come into play, as the first-half results are final in this type of wager.
Future: A future bet is a wager placed in advance. These often happen before a season or postseason starting, in which the bettor attempts to identify a champion, either of a specific division or overall champion. The bettor will not see a payout until the end of the season in this case.
Handle: This is the total amount of money wagered on a particular sporting event or for a specific time period.
Hedge: A hedge is an instance where a bettor places a bet on the opposite side of a pre-existing wager. These types of plays are often made in an attempt to minimize losses, although they can also be placed to guarantee a profit or establish a “middle” opportunity.
Hook: This is the extra half point attached to a point spread. The Hook ensures that there can be no “push” on a given wager. In NFL wagering, bettors will sometimes “buy” the hook as a means of getting back to the key numbers of 3 and 7 while diminishing the amount of profitable returns.