Sports Betting Basics

Types of Bets

Action – Action is simply betting activity. Phrases such as “I want in on the action” or “Show me where the action is” come from this term. Since betting on sports is illegal in many places, you can’t always look up your local bookie in the phone book.

Handicap – In sports betting, “to handicap” is to give one team a points advantage in order to level the betting field.

Handle – The handle is the total amount of money wagered on bets. Super Bowl betting generates the biggest handle of the year for most bookies.

Sportsbook – An establishment that takes bets, also known as a book. An individual who takes bets is a bookie.

Juice – This is the percentage of all bets taken by the bookie as profit. The juice is also known as the vig, short for vigorish. Sometimes bookies take a straight percentage of the handle, but more often the vig is figured into the odds.

Pick’em – Sometimes money line games will be listed as “pick” or “pick’em.” This means that the teams are considered equal, and the line on both teams is -1.10. Betting on either team requires $1.10 per $1 in potential winnings.

Types of betting

Many bookmakers or betting companies offer several alternative bets, including the following:

Proposition bets. These are wagers made on a very specific outcome of a match. Examples include guessing the number of goals each team scores in a soccer match.

Parlays. A parlay involves multiple bets (usually up to 12) and rewards successful bettors with a large payout. For example, a bettor could include four different wagers in a four-team parlay, whereby he is wagering that all four bets will win. If any of the four bets fails to cover, the bettor loses the parlay, but if all four bets win, the bettor receives a substantially higher payout than if he made the four wagers separately.

Run line, puck line or goal line bets. These are wagers offered as alternatives to straight-up/moneyline prices in baseball, hockey or soccer, respectively. These bets feature a fixed point spread that offers a higher payout for the favorite and a lower one for the underdog.

Future wagers. This bet predicts a future accomplishment by a team or player. One example is a bet that a certain NFL team will win the Super Bowl for the upcoming season. Odds for such a bet generally are expressed in a ratio of units paid to unit wagered. The team wagered upon might be 50-1 to win the Super Bowl, which means that the bet will pay 50 times the amount wagered if the team does so.


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