NFL betting terms you should know
Juice: This is the established percentage that the bookmaker charges the bettor for any given wager. The most common tax in NFL games is -110, although that number can vary based on any number of circumstances.
Key numbers: These are the most common numbers that football game scores will end on. In the NFL and NCAA, 3 and 7 are the basic key numbers, although 4 and 10 are also key to a lesser extent. Most recently, the XFL conversion rules made the key numbers nearly null and void for that league.
Line: Synonym for betting odds. The margin of expected victory between favorite and underdog in a given sporting event.
Live betting: Also known as in-game wagering. This involves bets being placed once an event is already in progress with fluctuating real-time odds.
Lock: This is what is perceived or touted as a can’t miss wager (e.g., “This is the mortal 5-star lock of the century!”). Occasionally referred to as a “whale” play.
Longshot: This is a specific type of underdog bet that is highly unlikely to win but offers incredibly long odds, which are often enticing lottery tickets for novice bettors.
Middle: This is a situation where separate wagers are placed on opposite sides of the same contest with different betting odds. This leaves a window of opportunity for the bettor to cash in on both bets if the game score lands in the middle of the opposing bets. One example would be a bettor taking the road underdog at +6 after opening lines are released. After the injury report comes out, the line drops to +3 for whatever reason. Now, the bettor places an additional wager on the home favorite at -3 and ensures a victory if the final score lands at -4 or -5. The one caveat to this is that if you do not hit the middle, you will lose the vigorish on the losing wager.
Money line: A money line wager is one in which the teams are bet to win or lose straight-up with no spread involved.
Off the board: This is an event that is currently unavailable to wager on due to any number of circumstances, including weather, injury status, etc.
Opening line: The initial odds released on a particular sporting event.
Over-Under: These wagers are often referred to as “totals” and require the bettor to wager on the total number of points scored in a game, half, or quarter. If a bettor believes the total score will be less than the number posted, they bet the under. Similarly, if they expect more points than the total, they are taking the over. These O/U wagers can also apply to team totals.
Parlay: This is a wager involving multiple bets that are tied together in which all bets must win to cash-out. Due to the increased risk of multiple teams having to cover to win, these bets typically come with increased payouts.
Point spread: The betting odds which indicate how many points a team is favored to win or lose by.
Prop bet: Props are any wager placed on something other than the outcome of the game. These types of bets frequently include individual player statistics or other things not directly connected to play on the field. Prop bets (or novelty props) are especially popular during Super Bowl week when it is possible to bet on everything from the coin toss to the specific songs performed during an artist’s halftime show.
Push: A push or draw is when the outcome of a particular event falls exactly on the betting line. In this instance, there is no winner or loser among both the house and the bettor. For example, if the home team is favored by 14 points and wins by exactly 14 points, the wager is a push.
Reverse Line Movement: This occurs when a betting line moves in the opposite direction of the public betting perception and percentages. This “too good to be true” scenario often means that there is a large amount of “sharp” money pushing the line in the opposite direction of where the public is betting.
Return on investment (ROI): ROI is an acronym for Return on investment. This is a basic measurement of efficiency in terms of the bettor’s overall investment.
Sharp: The term “sharp” is generally used to describe either a person or play that is deemed to be strategic, professional, and respected by sportsbooks. Sharp action may come from individuals or betting syndicates and frequently can move betting lines.
Steam: This term describes sudden, often unforeseen line movement, which occurs when heavy action comes in quickly from sharp, high volume bettors.
Square: A “square” is the opposite of a sharp bettor. This is the recreational bettor who puts down a few bucks on his or her favorite team on a given weekend.
Taking the points: Wagering on an underdog to cover the spread against the betting favorite.
Teaser: Similar to a parlay in that the bettor needs the outcomes of multiple games to go their way in order to profit. However, in this wager, the bettor has the ability to manipulate the point spread in exchange for lower payouts. One example would be taking two teams who were both favored by 6 points and teasing them down to pick-em. Now instead of needing these two teams to win by a touchdown, the bettor only needs the teams to win outright. Odds on these teasers tend to vary based on the number of points teased, although industry standard is currently -120 for two team 6 point teasers.
Underdog (Dog): The underdog is the team that is predicted to lose a given contest and is, therefore, receiving points, according to the bookmaker.
Unit: This is a predetermined monetary amount used to describe the confidence level of someone’s wager without disclosing an individual’s specific investment. Basic betting strategy indicates that a “unit” is generally somewhere between 2-5% of a person’s respective bankroll. The idea is for a universal language of understanding and tracking bets for individuals and groups.
Vigorish: Vigorish, more commonly known as “the Vig” is another term for the juice or tax charged to bettors by the bookmaker on any particular event.