How to Read Sports Betting Lingo

The lingo surrounding sports betting is filled with jargon, abbreviations, and complex betting phrases that can leave even the most experienced gambler struggling to understand the rules and lingo of the bookmakers. While it’s not necessarily complex, sorting through all of this can be tricky. That’s why we’ve gone ahead and curated this glossary featuring some of the most common phrases and words you might come across while reading the betting lines for major sporting events. We hope this article will greatly enhance your sport understanding and allow you to take your game to the next level. Don’t hesitate to comment below if you encounter any phrases that you don’t know or understand. We’re always eager to learn more!


The word action has a variety of meanings, but in this context it generally refers to a sporting event or match in which someone places a wager, makes a bet, or takes an action in accordance with the result of the game. For example, a baseball game has several actions that could occur including home runs, strikeouts, hit by pitches, and the like. In a football (soccer) match, there are generally three distinct actions that could take place: a goal, an assist, or a foul.

In order to keep things simple and straightforward, some bookmakers have chosen to avoid using the word action when describing sporting events and matches, opting instead for other phrases such as “We’ve got a bet on…” or “That game has an official result.” Nevertheless, when speaking with a bookmaker, it’s usually understood what you’re talking about and they’ll make it easy for you to place the bet you want to make.

Adjusted Gross Margin

This is a phrase that can appear in various contexts when discussing sports betting, but its meaning depends on the source. In the US this is referred to as AGG (Annual Gross Margin), in some other countries it’s known as Adjusted Gross Profit, and in the UK this is called EBIT (Economic Income before Tax). Essentially, it’s the total amount of revenue (before deductions) earned when selling a product or service, minus costs that you’ll need to pay including employee salaries and costs of materials and operation. For sportsbooks, this is the amount left over after paying out winnings to bettors, paying taxes, and making a profit.

To calculate this figure, take your net revenue (after tax) and subtract the costs of doing business (overheads) plus the amount of money you need to pay winners. If you make a profit after this, then great! Otherwise, you’re probably wondering why you even bother doing business since it’s not easy to make a profit in this industry. This figure is also commonly referred to as “bottom-line profit” or “net profit” and is used to determine how successful a business is (in comparison to other businesses in the same industry). For example, if you have a sportsbook with an annual gross margin of $10 million but expenses amount to $2 million, your annual profit is $8 million after taking taxes into account. This figure can help you determine how competitive an industry you’re entering and whether or not it’s something that you want to pursue. It can also help you determine how much you should be paying as a customer (in relation to other bookmakers in the same industry).

Apple Jacks

In the US, the phrase apple jacks usually refers to a type of poker that can be played with a single deck of cards. Though it’s not necessarily limited to this game, this is the most common application. In the game, which was reportedly inspired by the Western movie Deadwood, players must avoid going over a set number of winning hands (usually 10 or 12) without going over a certain amount of money, typically defined as “stacked” or “strong”. If you’re unfamiliar, this game can be extremely complicated and you might need help determining the best way to play it.


When referring to two or more consecutive sports events or matches, this phrase is used to describe the situation where one event follows immediately after another event (generally within a day of each other). Bookmakers will often use this phrase when presenting the odds for a particular game or sporting event so that you know that the events are truly consecutive. For example, if you search for “back-to-back” on any of the major sports betting websites, you’ll likely see a list of consecutive betting events that have this characteristic.

Barry Bonds

In Major League Baseball, Barry Bonds is often the first name that comes to mind when people think of the “Killer B’s”. For those unfamiliar, Bonds is widely considered to be one of the greatest hitters of all time and holds a number of MLB records, including most career home runs, most career plate appearances, and most career runs batted in. In 2001-2004 he set a new record for the most home runs hit in a single season, breaking Henry Aaron’s longstanding record of 715 home runs. In 2014 he was suspended for violating baseball’s steroids policy. When referring to him, people usually use “The Dude” or “That guy” because he was, in fact, a very, very, very, very impressive dude.

Betting Odds

This refers to the odds that a particular event will occur. For example, the “point spread” is the odds that a particular team will win a football game. In order to receive the full benefits of a “line” (the difference between the two teams’ odds), you must wager at least $1000 on the game. If you wager $10, you will only receive $10 in payoff (assuming you win). It is very similar to the notion of “line” in horse racing, with the key difference being that in horse racing, you’re paying to enter a side and getting your money back if your horse wins (minus the costs of the entrance fee).

In the case of sports betting, the odds that an event will occur are generally presented in one of two ways: either numerically (3.75) or verbally (Soccer: 1.5 – Arsenal to win). When gambling online, most books will also provide the odds in a variety of ways: either through a free calculator that you can utilize or by presenting them in a table. Regardless, odds can be extremely helpful when determining your strategy for placing a wager or analyzing the results of a game (assuming you know how to interpret the results of course!).

Odds change frequently, so make sure that you check the betting sites frequently to ensure that you get the best prices possible.


This is the plural form of bookmaker and can refer to the collection of odds or the company that provides them. In the case of online sportsbooks, this will usually be the website that you visit to place your wagers. If you visit the website of a reputable sports book, you can usually find live scores, schedules, and the like.

A bookmaker is a type of sports service provider that keeps records of bets and accepts wagers on sporting events. Most people think of bookmakers when they hear the word “gambler”, as it’s the most common application of this acronym. You may also come across books if you play in an online casino, as the site will generally keep track of your betting activity for you.


When referring to a bookmaker, this phrase usually indicates that you’re placing a wager and the bookmaker is calling you to confirm your bet (this is most common in the UK where the word “call” is used instead of “bet”). A call can be good or bad, depending on how confident you are in making the wager. The better the odds, the more you should probably be nervous about placing a call! Alternatively, you can also get called by a bookmaker if the price of a particular bet changes unexpectedly (this can sometimes happen if there’s a major shock event that affects the odds of a game – think Superbowl 50 where the odds suddenly dropped due to higher than expected demand for Pepsi products during the game).


This is used to define a betting outcome where one team wins and the other loses, but the score is not indicative of the final result. For example, if you bet on the “over” (the favored team wins) but the eventual score is 5-0, then you would claim that you successfully “caused” the desired effect (your favored team won).