Sports Betting Slang: Decoding the Language of Bookies

Betting is a fantastic way to enhance one’s experience when watching and following sports. If you do it responsibly, sports betting can be as thrilling as the sport. And with the rise of iGaming, sports betting is now more popular than ever, as it is much more accessible. Online betting has grown in esteem among a larger crowd, and newbies are now much more interested. So, to help new bettors navigate the betting world, we thought we would explore some terminology regarding sports betting.

The Terminology of Bookies

Every subculture creates phrases and terms that only make sense within a particular context. The gambling and betting culture is no different. Sometimes, terms from these subcultures break through to popular culture, which is how we get words like “jackpot” or “bingo” when something goes our way. But in this article, we are focusing on sports betting slang exclusively. So, without further ado, let us review the basic terms any bettor should know.


Even the newest bettor will be familiar with “favorite” and “underdog.” The favorite is the player, team, or club most likely to win whatever competition you are betting on. Well, chalk is just another term for the choice. Sometimes, you may hear the word “chalk” applied to bettors. In this case, said bettor consistently wagers on the favorite to win.

“Circle Game”

Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances happen during or just before a game. For example, the Chicago Cubs recently lost their right fielder, Seiya Suzuki, due to an injury. Sportsbooks lower their wagering limits when things like these happen during a game. At that point, the game you are betting on becomes a circle game.


Sports betting has not always been a legal sport. Illegal bookies still exist, though they are less prevalent than once because sports betting is now legal. Illicit bookies still exist and often charge a hefty interest on the money the player has earned. We call this charge juice. Sometimes, juice refers to the extra cash people have to bet in a wager.

“A Dime Bet”

If you’ve never gambled or wagered online, you would be forgiven for thinking “a dime bet” means a low bet. However, in reality, a dime bet is a bet of $1000. Usually, online casinos have minimum and maximum deposit limits, and a $1000 bet would be considered relatively high. If you want to learn more, you can learn everything you need about gambling by watching the linked video.

 “The Beard”

Some people still need to be more trusting of the sports betting industry. And yet, somewhat paradoxically, they still want to participate. So, they find a friend who knows a lot about bookies and asks them to place a bet. At that point, the person placing the wager for someone else becomes their beard.

“Bad Beat”

Sometimes, we put down a wager on a team that is certain to win. For example, let us say Manchester City is playing against Southampton in the English Premier League. If we look at the statistics and data, Manchester City should win the match. So, we place a wager on Man City, and the Citizens lose. We lost our “sure bet.” We call this a bad beat.


Bettors are a superstitious lot. Sometimes, bad luck follows a particular person. And many bettors believe said lousy luck is contagious. So, the person whose fortune went south is a “mush,” and others should not associate with him lest they share in his bad luck.

“Off the Board”

Sometimes you want to place a bet on a particular game or event. You go to the bookie and search the listings, but you simply can’t find the event. The sportsbook does not accept bets on this sport. Or, in gambling terms, the sport/event is “off the board.”


Losing sucks, so some bettors try to maximize their chances of victory. They do so by going to multiple bookies and placing different bets. That way, they come out on top, no matter who wins. The person who does this is a scalper.

Final Say

These are just a few terms you should know before entering the sports betting world. Once you learn the slang, you will have a much easier time understanding other bettors and the industry.

Huynh Nguyen

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