Betting terms can be really confusing. Ever stood in amongst the betting stalls at a horse racing track and listened to the chatter, it may as well be another language. Talking about putting a 'pony' on a horse, how does that make any sense?
Online bookmaking is the modern way to bet but a lot of old and sometimes outdated terminology still exists. You go to put your bet on and you get offered all sorts of things from Lucky's to Yankees, what are these, what do these mean? Conversely there are lots of new terms in the world of online betting that some of old school bettors won't have a clue about, what is Cash Out? How about In Play? In our betting glossary we cover all of the terms and phrases you are likely to find from the football stands right up to the sleekest online bookmaker.
For a detailed list of bet types, names, terminologies, meaning and how to bet on them see our bet types section.
A-Z of Betting Terms
- All Out – A horse or contestant trying their best.
- All Weather – Sports played on all-weather surfaces, usually artificial.
- Also Ran – Applies to racing where a horse or contestant finishes but doesn't win or place.
- Ante Post – Odds and prices given on an event in advance of the commencement, usually months and weeks but at least 24 hours in advance. Generally applies to horse racing. Odds are usually higher to take account of increased risk that a selection may fail to actually take part in an event.
- American Odds – Referred to as US odds, this is an odds style displaying the amount that would be won if betting 100, if positive odds, or the stake required to win 100 when negative, e.g. evens (2.0) would be 100, 1/2 (1.5) would be -200.
- Apprentice – A young contestant, generally a young Jockey.
- Arber – short for arbitrator, a punter who guarantees profit by backing different outcomes on through different bookies to guarantee combined odds of over 100%. Not allowed by UK bookmakers.
- ATC – Short for any-to-come, a conditional bet.
- At The Post – Term used when horses or dogs are ready at the start of the race, the race will begin imminently.
- Back – Wager an amount of money on a contestant or an event, e.g. 'backing Liverpool to win'. Common derivatives include back a winner, back a loser, back a duff horse, etc.
- Banker – A bet or selection that is felt to be extremely likely to win. Often used to boost the value of multiple bets or combination bets.
- Best Price – The odds that give you the best value on for a horse, contestant, team or event. Derivatives include best price guaranteed, best price promise, best price matched, etc.
- Bet Receipt – A copy of your bet slip with a unique tracking number, this can be used if a bet is contested.
- Bet Slip – The form or slip where you write your bets or if online the box in which your bet selections appear. Here you select your bet type and stake.
- Betting in Play (BIP) – See live betting
- Betting in Running (BIR) – See live betting.
- Betting Without (W/O) – Placing a bet excluding a certain selection(s) usually the favourites e.g. premier league outright without Chelsea.
- Blinkers – Headgear fitted to horses to reduce the peripheral vision field, usually to prevent the animal being distracted.
- Board Price – A term for the prices listed on the bookmakers board, usually at a horse race or dog race track. The starting price comes from these board prices.
- Book – Can have two meanings 1 – The total amount of money from all punters wagered on a specific event, selection or contestant. 2 – The size of a market offered by a bookmaker, e.g. a sportsbook would be all of the sports markets offered by a bookie, football book would be all the football bets offered, and so on.
- Bookmaker – An company or individual licenced to receive bets from members of the public. Bookmakers must have a licence to operate in the UK.
- Bookie – Short term used for bookmaker
- Bumpers – Also known as national hunt flat races a run under national hunt rules. These tend to be longer than most traditional flat races, 2-2 1/2 miles, horses tend to be older.
- Buy Price – The price at which you buy your bet from an index bookmaker in spread betting. Opposite to sell price.
- C&D – Sometimes just termed CD, this course (C) and distance (D) found on a race card. C means the horse has won at that course and D means the horse has won at that distance. CD means the horse has won at that course over that distance.
- Century – 100, usually used to refer to £100 but may be used to refer to 100 of anything, such as 100 runs in cricket.
- Chase – Chase or Chasing is where you place bets to recover losses, usually on markets you would not usually bet on.
- Classics – One of the 5 classic UK flat horse races. The 1000 and 2000 guineas, Oaks States, Epsom Derby and the St Leger.
- Co-favourite – A situation where one or more selection(s) or competitor(s) have the same odds.
- Colours – The colour of the silks worn by a Jockey, determined by the owner of the horse.
- Colt – A male horse under the age of 5, over 5 a horse is termed a stallion.
- Course Specialist – A horse, contestant or selection that is known to perform well at a particular track.
- Cover – Referred to as covering the spread, this is the number if points needed to beat the spread.
- Dam – Mother of horse
- Dead Heat - An event where two or more selections draw or tie in an event.
- Decimal Odds – Odds displayed in decimal format, odds include your stake. Returns are calculated by multiplying your stake by the decimal. For example decimal odds of 4.0 (3/1) with a bet of £10 will pay 10x4.0 = £40.
- Distance – This has two main meanings 1 - The distance of a race, in UK horse racing this will be between 5 furlongs and 4 1/2 miles. In F1 this may be length of a lap, etc. 2 – The distance that a contestant or horse wins a race by, e.g. 'by a distance' would mean a win by many lengths.
- Dividend – A winning return from pool betting, payouts in the tote are referred to as dividends.
- Double Up – This is the processes of doubling a stake on a subsequent bet when a first bet loses.
- Draw – Three definitions, 1 – A tie in an event, e.g. Everton 1-1 Newcastle. 2 – Fixtures in an event or round, e.g. FA Cup third round draw. 3 – The starting position, e.g. the order of horses in a stall.
- Drift – The process of odds moving outwards (increasing) before the start of an event.
- Early Price – Odds offered in advance, in horse racing this will be prices offered before those at the race course.
- Evens – A bet with odds of 1/1 (2.0). You will receive the same amount as your stake in winnings.
- Exchange Betting – A form of peer-peer betting. The bookmaker matches the amount of bets for a selection (backing) and the amount bet against a selection (laying) at defined offs. The bookie takes a commission but odds for the customer can be much better. (
- Extra Time – A period added on to the end of a game, match or event when the event is tied and an absolute winner is required. In knockout football a period of 30 minutes is added on to the end of a game if the game is tied after the normal 90 minutes.
- Favourites – A favourite is the simply the most favoured selection and considered the most likely to win, consequently these have the lowest odds.
- Fillie – Name given to a female horse under the age of 5. Over the age of 5 females are referred to as mares.
- First Past the Post (FPP) – The first to pass the finish line, usually used in racing. This does not necessarily have to be the official winner if that selection is disqualified or a penalty applied post race.
- Fixed Odds – Odds that have a fixed price defined by the bookmaker. In horse racing you can chose to fix your price or take the starting price for example.
- Flat Races – Horse races on flat terrain. In the UK official flat races are thoroughbred races run over a distance between 5 furlongs (~1km) and 2 1/2 miles (4km).
- Foal – A young horse that can be up to 1 year old. In the UK all horses are given a birthday as the 1st January, a horse is a foal in the year it is born up to the following new year.
- Form – A process where previous records and performances are used to give an idea of a competitors chances.
- Fractional Odds – Odds written as a fraction, the most common betting format in the UK. These odds show the profit you stand to win excluding your state, e.g. £10 stake at 3/1 would win you £30 plus your £10 stake back.
- Full Cover – A bet type where all possible multiple bets are included. e.g. a patent is a full cover bet with 3 selections comprising 4 bets, 1 treble and 3 possible doubles.
- Full Cover with Singles – As a full cover bet with all individual singles, e.g. for 3 selection a Trixie is effectively a patent (1 treble, 3 doubles) plus 3 single bets, so 7 bets total.
- Full Time – The end of a standard length game or match, used commonly in football to define 90 minutes.
- Futures – Bets common in the US where prices are offered in advance of an event, similar to ante post.
- Gelding – A male horse that has been castrated.
- Going – The condition of the ground from hard to really muddy, termed soft.
- Going Down – Horses making their way to the starting post.
- Going In – Horses or dogs going into their stalls to start the race.
- Going to Post – See going down.
- Grand – Term used to refer to £1000.
- Grand National – The world's most challenging thoroughbred steeple chase, run at Aintree near Liverpool over 33 fences and a distance of 4 miles 3 1/2 furlongs (7.14km).
- Guineas – Term used to refer to the 2 classics flat races run at Newmarket, the 1000 Guineas and 2000 Guineas.
- Half Time – An interval at the half way point in a game/event/contest of standard length.
- Handicap Betting – System of virtually adding or removing points from a predicted outcome to make a one-sided event more attractive to a punter. For example a stronger team starting with a one goal disadvantage.
- Handicap Races – A race in which horses carry weights, better horses carry more weight to even out the field.
- Head – Referring to the head of a horse, "beaten by a head".
- Held Up – The process of a horse or dog being restrained behind other animals in the early phases of a race.
- Hedging – Betting on two opposite outcomes of a bet, usually with different bookmakers, each offering favourable odds to either guarantee winnings or cut losses.
- Heinz – A full cover bet on 6 selections consisting of 57 bets (15x double, 20xtreble, 15x 4-fold, 6x 5-fold and 1x 6-fold).
- Home Advantage – When a team or contestant are competing at their home stadium/track or in their home town.
- Holding Your Own – Neither winning or losing, generally breaking even.
- House – The bookie, casino, gaming institution e.g. "the house always wins"
- Hunter Chase – A race for hunting horses.
- Hurdle – A type of fence in national hunt racing that are at least 3 and ½ feet in height.
- IBAS – The Independent Betting Adjudication Service. A service that deals with disputes that cannot be resolved between punter and bookie.
- Injury Time – An additional amount of time at the end of a period within a game added on in lieu of time lost for injuries, substitutions and other stoppages.
- In Play – An event that has already started, also termed in running, this may refer to a form of live betting.
- Index Betting – See Spread Betting.
- Jack – slang for £5
- Jackpot – The top prize for a game or competition, usually enhanced.
- Joint Favourite – If two or more selections have the lowest odds price.
- Jolly – The favourite, usually referring to a horse race
- Juice – Commission taken by a bookmaker or index.
- Kite – Slang term for a cheque.
- Lay – Betting against a certain outcome, usually peer-peer exchange betting. Also known as laying a bet or laying odds.
- Layer – Person or bookmaker providing the bet, the odds layer.
- Length – Usually referring to the length of a horse or dog, e.g. "beaten by a length".
- Line – A single bet
- Long Odds – High odds value, e.g. 100/1.
- Long Shot – A selection with high odds that is unlikely to win, also known as an outsider.
- Lucky 15 / 31 / 63 - A form of full cover betting with singles on 4, 5 or 6 selections with all possible multiple combinations covered. Invented by Fred Done.
- Maiden – In Cricket an over bowled without runs score or in horse racing a horse that is yet to win
- Mare – Five year old or more female horses.
- Martingale – A system of betting based on doubling your bet each time until you win.
- Match – A game of defined length with 2 or more contestants or teams.
- Match Betting – A bet on the outcome of a match
- MLB – Major League Baseball (USA).
- MLS – Major League Soccer (USA).
- Monkey – Slang for £500.
- Morning Line – An advance forecast of probable odds.
- Multiple – Bets involving more than one selection, doubles, trebles, etc.
- Nailed On – Bet that is considered a certainty to win.
- Nap – A term used by tipsters and journalists to indicate their strongest selection, thought to stand for Napoleon.
- NBA – National Basketball Association (USA).
- NCAA - National Collegiate Athletic Association (USA).
- Neves – Best bet of the day.
- NFC – National Football Conference (USA).
- NFL – National Football league (USA).
- NHL – National Hockey League (USA).
- National Hunt Racing – Sometimes just called jump racing. Steeplechases, hurdles and flat races during the national hunt jump season. Distances over 2 miles and horses of 4 years or older.
- Non-Runner – Selection that is withdrawn prior to a race or event.
- Normal Time – The conventional length of an event, e.g. 90 minutes in football.
- Not Under Orders – Any runner deemed that withdraws prior to the starters signal is deemed to have not come under orders.
- Novice Race – In horse racing this refers to a race in which no horse has won a hurdle or chase previously.
- Number Spread – A spread betting term based on the number of points, runs, etc scored in a match/event.
- Nursery Race – All horses under two years old.
- Oaks – Classic flat horse race, one of five held for 3 year old fillies.
- Objection – Contestant or owner objection to the conduct or result during a race or event, often followed by an investigation / enquiry.
- Odds – Returns offered by a bookmaker relative to stake for a given scenario. Also known as price.
- Odds Against – Odds higher than evens (2.0 / +100).
- Odds Compiler – Also known as odds setter or odds trader, employee of a bookmaker who's job is to set the odds.
- Odds On – Odds lower than evens (2.0 / +100).
- Off – The point at which a race begins.
- Off the Board – Term (usually USA) given to a selection of 100/1+.
- Off the Bit – Term used when a horse needs urging on.
- Off the Top – The commission taken by a bookmaker, often used in pari-mutuel betting.
- Off Track – Bets taken away from the track, also known as off course.
- Official Result – The result on which bets are settled.
- On the Nose – Back a selection to win only.
- On the Bit – A horse that performs without encouragement from the jockey.
- One Paced – A selection that runs or competes at one pace and cannot produce extra.
- Outsider – Selection judged unlikely to win with high odds to match, generally over 10/1, see Rag.
- Over – Betting for a score 'over' a predefined amount. In cricket referring to 6 balls bowed by a bowler.
- Overbroke – Scenario where a book pays out more than it takes in in stakes.
- Overlay – Selection that is deemed to have odds higher than its real chances.
- Over Round – Another term for the profit a bookmaker builds into an odds price.
- Pace – Speed at which a race or portion of race is run.
- Paddock – The section of a racecourse where horses are paraded before a race.
- Parlay – American term for an accumulator with 2 or more selections.
- Pari-mutuel – Peer to peer bet type where stakes are pooled and winnings relative to the pool size, e.g. Totepool.
- Patent – A full cover bet of three selections and 4 lines, consisting of 3 doubles and 1 treble.
- Permutations – All possible outcomes or bets possible on a given result/event or series of results/events.
- Photo Finish – Method of determining victory if it is too close to see by eye.
- Picks – Terms for individual selections.
- Pitch – Refers to the ground on which sport is played, a bookmakers position at a course or a throw in baseball from a pitcher.
- Place – Positions in addition to the win paid out when place or each way betting.
- Place Terms – The number of places allocated and the odds given relative to a win, e.g. 4 places at 1/5th the odds.
- Placepot – A type of pari-mutuel bet.
- Point Spread – The different between two contestants or the whole field.
- Pool – The cumulative monetary amount of the number of bets in the pot when pari-mutuel betting.
- Pony – Term used for £25.
- Postponed – Contest or event that is cancelled and rescheduled at a different time or date.
- Price – See Odds.
- Punter – UK term for a bettor or someone who places a bet.
- Quinella – A US term for a forecast bet that predicts the horses that will finish 1st and 2nd.
- Rag – Slang term used for an outsider.
- Re-run – Race re-taken for technical reasons.
- Related Bets – A situation where bets are contingent and so cannot be placed as independent events in a multiple bet. For example a team to win a semi-final bet combined with an outright to win the trophy bet.
- Return – The amount you can expect back from a winning bet.
- Reverse Forecast - A forecast bet predicting a minimum of 1st and 2nd place where either selection can finish in either place to win.
- Ringer – A runner or contestant that is seen as significantly better than the rest of the field. Often brought in as a replacement.
- Round Robin – Conditional bet type consisting of 10 bets: 1 treble, 3 doubles and 3 up and down bets (2 lines each up and down bet).
- Rounder – A conditional bet with 3 selections: 3 singles and 3 any-to-come bets
- Roundabout – Same as rounder with double stakes on the any-to-come bets.
- Roug – Slang for 4/1.
- Run In – Distance from the final corner/turn to the finish line/post.
- Runner – Contestant or selection or someone who places bets for someone else.
- Rule 4 – Industry agreed deduction strategy for bets placed prior to a non-runner or void selection.
- Scout – Someone who waits for the best price or someone who works for a bookie to spot other bookies best prices.
- Score – Slang term for £20. In the US this can be a term that means to win a race.
- Scratch – US term for the withdrawal of a competitor.
- Selections – The competitor(s) predicted to win in your bet.
- Selling Race – The winner must be offered for sale at auction.
- Settler – Bookmaker expert who calculates payouts.
- Sharp – Professional gambler, e.g. sharp shooter.
- Shortening the Odds – Bookmakers decision to lower the odds price for an event due to heavy wagers or other factors.
- Shoulder – Slang for 7/4.
- Show – US terms for 3rd place and UK term for an odds list.
- Shut Out – Too late to place a bet, book is closed.
- Single – The simplest form of a bet, one line that can generally either win or lose.
- Sire – The horses father.
- Smart Money – Wager thought most likely to win, often with 'insider' information.
- Special Bets – More unusual bets such as the Union Jack. Can also refer to bespoke betting lines e.g. Liverpool's next manager.
- Spread – Generally used to define the lowest to the highest odds for either an individual selection or an entire field.
- Spread Betting – Bet type where winnings and losses are not fixed but based on the accuracy of a prediction.
- St Leger – One of the 5 classics races for 3 year old fillies and colts during the flat season.
- Stalls – Compartments designed to hold competitors prior to commencement of the event or race.
- Stake – The amount of money wagered or bet.
- Stake Unit – When placing a bet with multiple lines (e.g. Lucky 15) this is the amount of money wagered on each line.
- Starting Price – The final odds of a selection at the start of an event when betting is closed.
- Straight – US term for a win (Straight (1st), place (2nd) and show (3rd)).
- Straight Forecast – Predicting the contestants, runners or teams to finish in a specific order usually 1st and 2nd.
- Steeplechase – Form of National Hunt jump racing in which horses jump fences of varying height and consistency. Run over 2 miles to up to 4.5 miles.
- Steward – Racecourse official.
- Stewards Inquiry – Investigation held by the steward if the rules of racing are deemed to have been contravened, can be in response to an objection.
- Stoppage Time – See injury time.
- Superbowl – American football championship (USA).
- Super Heinz – A full cover bet on 7 selections consisting of 120 bets: 1 seven-fold, 7 six-folds, 21 five-folds, 35 four-folds, 35 trebles and 25 doubles.
- Super Yankee – Also known as a Canadian, a full cover bet consisting of 5 selections and 26 bets. One 5-fold, five 4-folds, ten trebles and ten doubles.
- Sure Thing – Very little chance of losing.
- System – Method of betting, e.g. Martingale.
- Tattersall – main auctioneer of race horses in the UK, named after Richard Tattersall (1723-95).
- Tattersalls Rule 4 – See Rule 4.
- Tic Tac – A system of hand signals that used to allow on course bookies to communicate market.
- Tip – A selection chosen by an expert or someone with additional knowledge.
- Tipster – Someone who either gives or sells tips to punters.
- Totals – Bets placed on over/under markets.
- Tote – Short form for Horserace Totalisator Board, a UK body that operated pari-mutual pool betting online and at racecourses, now owned by Betfred.
- Tote Board – information board at race tracks displaying Tote prices.
- Tote Return – Defined by the amount in the pool divided by the number of winning bets.
- Tout – Someone who sells either tickets or advice related to sports or betting, generally an illegal practice.
- Trap – Name of an enclosed starting gate used in greyhound racing.
- Trap Number – Inside trap is usually number 1 with 6 gates.
- Treble – A single accumulator bet with three selections.
- Tricast – Predicating the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers in an event.
- Trip – The distance of a horse or dog race.
- Trixie – A full over bet with 4 lines on 3 selections consisting of 3 doubles and a trebles.
- Turf Accountant – A slang name of a UK Bookmaker, usually referring to those present at the track.
- Under – Referring to over and under markets, betting on a score to be below a certain number.
- Underdog – A selection that is expected to lose, e.g. in football this may refer to a lower league club playing a higher league team.
- Under Official Starters Orders – Or just under starters orders, this is the time when the official starter is happy that all the race is ready to begin, he will raise a flag to indicate this. Any horse failing to start after this point will not have bets refunded.
- Union Jack – A special type of bet of eight trebles made on 9 selections, named the union jack due to the pattern matching the British flag.
- US Odds – See American Odds
- Value – The process of getting the best odds or returns.
- Visor – Device fitted to some horses to restrict their vision to a forward direction, designed to prevent other runners distracting the horse.
- Vig or Vigorish – Another name for a bookmakers margin or commission on a given book.
- Void Bet – A wager that is cancelled and stake returned either because the event did not run or terms were contravened.
- Walk over – Process of a selection going through the process to win without any competition, often a result of a foul or penalty. Also used as a slang term to denote a heavily one sided event.
- Weigh In – Used in boxing and racing in particular, the process of weighing a fighter/horse to make sure they are within preassigned weight limits for the contest.
- Welch – Non payment of a fair bet, e.g. 'bookmaker welched on payment'.
- Win – Finishing in first place
- Win / Draw / Win – Name sometimes given to a match betting market where there are three possible outcomes.
- Winning Margin – Distance (physical or points) from the winner to the runner up. Also a bet predicting by how much a team/contestant/horse will win by.
- Winnings – The profit made from a bet, minus the stake.
- With a Run – Name given to an ante-post bet where your stake will be refunded if the horse does not end up running.
- Withdrawn – A selection removed prior to the start of an event, may or may not be replaced by a reserve.
- X – Short code to denote a draw or tie.
- Yankee – Full cover bet with four selections and 11 lines, consisting of 6 doubles, 4 trebles and one 4-fold.
- Yankee Patent – Yankee with 4 singles included, also known as a Lucky 15.
- Yearling – Name of any horse from 1st January to 31st December the year following their birth.
- Zoo – Mixture of very different selections or contestants in one event.