Betting Glossary


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A cumulative bet where the bettor designates a selection in several races or events and bets on the first one; if he wins, the winnings become his bet on the next; and so on (also see fold bets).

Across the Board
Where (particularly US horse racing) win, place and show pools are offered, this is a bet of equal stakes on each outcome.

A bet or wager of any kind is deemed Action if valid. Different rules apply in different sports in determining if a bet is action or no action (e.g. baseball bets are action when the game gets beyond 4½ innings).

UK Slang term for Betting Tax.

Also Ran
Any selection not finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th in a race or event.

Ante-post prices are those on major sporting events, usually prior to the day of the event itself. In return for the chance of better odds, punters risk the fact that stakes are not returned if their selection pulls out.

Any To Come (ATC)
Term used to describe when the whole or part of returns from one wager are automatically reinvested  on a subsequent bet.

Where a variation in odds available allows a punter to back both sides and guarantee a win.


A punter's strong selection or "sure thing". An almost guaranteed winner, as in a Lock. Also, in permutation bets the banker is a selection that must win to guarantee any returns.

Those runners in a race not quoted with a price during early betting shows. The bar price is the minimum odds for any of those selections not quoted.

Baseball (US)
In horse racing, a Daily double is a play in which a bettor couples a horse in one race with all horses in the other (also known as "wheeling").

Beard (US)
A contact (friend or acquaintance) who places bets for a bettor who wants to hide their identity from bookmakers.

UK slang term for betting tax. (also known as "bees" or "ajax")

Bettor (US)
Someone who has a bet. A "punter" in the UK.

Betting Tax
Tax on a bookmaker's turnover. More correctly, in the UK this is a "duty" charged by Customs and Excise at the rate of 6.75p on every pound wagered. Common methods of recouping this are to deduct tax from returns or allow the punter to pay tax with his stake. In the latter event, no tax is deducted from the punter's winnings.

Blind Bet
A bet made by a racetrack bookmaker to draw other bookmakers' attention away from his sizeable betting on another horse- and thus to avoid a shortening of the odds on the other horse.

A bookmaker's tally of amounts bet on each competitor, and odds necessary to assure him of profit.

A person or company who accepts bets from the public, usually on racing or sports events (also known as a "bookie").

UK slang, Odds of 2 to 1.

Breakage (US)
Difference between true pari-mutuel odds and lesser, rounded amounts given to winning bettors. The substantial residues go to the racetracks and controlling state authorities.

Bridge-Jumper (US)
Bettor who specializes in large show bets on odd-on favourites.

Buck (US)
A bet of $100 USD (also known as a "dollar bet").

Burlington Bertie
Odds of 100 to 30 (also known as "scruffy and dirty"). About the only remaining example of French Odds still commonly used.

Buy Price
In Spread or Index betting, the higher figure quoted by an Index bookmaker.

Buy the Rack (US)
Purchase every possible daily-double or other combination ticket.


C of E
Slang for UK Customs and Excise.

A multiple bet consisting of 26 bets (10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 4-folds and 1 5-fold) with 5 selections in different events (also known as a "Super Yankee").

UK slang for Odds of 3 to 1 (also known as "tres" or "gimmel")

Carpet Joint
US Slang for a luxury gambling casino.

£100 GBP (also known as a "ton")

Chalk (US)
Betting favourite.

Chalk Player (US)
Bettor on favourites.

Circled Game (US)
When a bookmaker puts a limit on the amount of action they are prepared to take on the game. This is most often due to doubts about key players.

Client (US)
Purchaser of betting information from horseman or other tipster.

Clocker (US)
Person who times workouts, usually for betting information.

Close (US)
Final odds on a horse (e.g. "closed at 5 to 1"). Confusingly equates to "Starting Price" in the UK.

Where three or more competitors share the status as favourite (have lowest odds).

Combination (US)
Across the board bet for which a single pari-mutuel ticket is issued.

Consolation Double (US)
When horse is scratched from 2nd race after daily double betting begins, money is set aside to pay those who have bought tickets pairing this horse with winner of 1st race.

In sports betting, beating the spread by a required number of points. To "cover the spread".


Daily Double (US)
Form of pari-mutuel betting in which the bettor makes a combination bet on two horses in two races. If the bettor wins on the 1st race, his winnings become his stake on the 2nd.

Dead Heat
Where two or more competitors finish tied. For non-pari-mutuel betting purposes in a dead heat, full odds are paid to half the stake (one third if a triple dead heat, etc.).

Dime (US)
A bet of $1,000 USD (also known as a "dime bet").

(see Tote Returns)

Dog (US)
The underdog in any betting proposition.

Dog Player (US)
A bettor who mainly wagers on the underdog.

A bet consisting of two selections, both of which must win for the wager to be successful.

Double Stakes About (or DSA)
Like Single Stakes About, but where returns from the 1st winning selection are invested at double the original stake on the 2nd selection. (Note: you can also have Triple SA, Quadruple SA etc.).

Double Carpet
UK slang for Odds of 33 to 1, based on Carpet.

The basis of some widely used systems. After a loss the player doubles the size of his previous bet hoping to win back the money lost and make a profit. Also known as a Martingale system.

When the odds on a competitor "lengthen", they are said to have "drifted" or be "on the drift".

Dual Forecast
A tote bet operating in races of 3 or more declared runners in which the punter has to pick the first two to finish in either order.

Dutch (US)
Eliminating heavily bet non-contenders, betting on others in exact proportions necessary to yield some profit no matter which wins.


A bet which consists of two wagers. The first is for the selection to win and the second is for the selection to place, at a proportional price dependant on the place terms.

Odds of 1 to 1 (also known as "scotch" or "levels").

Exacta (US)
Form of betting in which bettor attempts to pick winner and 2nd horse, buying one mutuel ticket on the double choice (also known as "exactor" or "perfecta").

Exotic Wager (US)
Any wager which is not a straight bet, e.g. round robin, parlay, teaser.


Favourite (fav)
The competitor considered most likely to win and therefore has the shortest or lowest odds (also known as the "jolly" or "sponk").

When preceded by a number, a fold indicates the number of selections in an accumulator (e.g. 5-Fold= 5 selections).

To have a winning chance or the handicapper's rating number that identifies the winning chance (also "fig.").

A bet consisting of 23 bets (a "Yankee" plus 6 "Single Stakes About" bets in pairs) on 4 selections in different event.

Flash (US)
Change of odds information on tote board.

A wager that involves correctly predicting the 1st and 2nd for a particular event. This bet can be reversed or permed (also see dual and straight forecasts).

Past performances used to give an indication of the competitor's chances. In US, short for the Daily Racing Form.

Form Player
A bettor who makes selections from past-performance records.

French Odds
Expression of odds as 100 to 6, 100 to 8, etc. The name goes back to the days when the French had a "metric" money system while UK still used 1 pound of 240 old pence.

Full Cover
All the doubles, trebles and accumulators involved in a given number of selections.

Futures (US)
Odds offered on winners of sporting events in advance of the event itself (see ante-post).


A multiple consisting of 247 bets (28 doubles, 56 trebles, 70 4-folds, 56 5-folds, 28 6-folds, 8 7-folds and 1 8-fold) involving 8 selections in different events.

£1,000 GBP  (also known as a "big 'un")


A method used by bookmakers to make a one-sided event become a more attractive betting proposition. Teams are awarded a number of points start depending on their calibre (also known as the "pointspread" or "line").

Handle (US)
Total sum bet on a race or in a day or some other period.

Hang Cheng
A form of soccer betting popular in Asia where returns on a team winning or drawing are determined by part-goal handicaps.

A bet made by a cautious bookie on a horse on which he has accepted large bets - in order to cut his losses if the horse wins (also known as a "lay-off bet").

A multiple bet consisting of 57 bets (15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 4-folds, 6 5-folds and 1 6-fold) involving 6 horses in different races.

A casino or gambling centre. Also the operators of a gambling game.


In the Money
Describes the horses in a race that finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd (and sometimes 4th) or the horses on which money will be paid to bettors, depending on the place terms.


Joint Favourites (jt-fav)
When bookmakers cannot separate two horses or teams for favouritism, they are made joint favourites.

The favourite.

Juice (US)
The commission paid to the bookmaker (also known as vigorish).


UK slang for a cheque ("check" in the US).


A bookmaker or one who "lays" odds.

Acronym for "Licensed Betting Office" in the UK.

Long Odds
Odds (e.g. 100 to 1) offered against a competitor unlikely to win.

Handicaps, pointspreads and odds offered to the punter.

One who compiles or sets the original or subsequent betting lines.

Lock (US)
Term used for an almost guaranteed winner.

The outsider or unfancied runner, usually against which "long odds" have been offered.

Lucky 15,31,63
Multiple bets on all possible combinations of 4, 5 or 6 selections. A Lucky 15 (same as a Yap) is 4 selections, so 4 singles, 6 doubles, 4 trebles and 1 accumulator  = 15 bets.


Machines (US)
The pari-mutuel computers/calculators.

Betting system based on doubling-up.

Minus Pools (US)
In pari-mutuel betting, a situation in which so much money is bet on a horse (usually to show) that the pool is insufficient, after take and breakage, to pay holders of winning tickets the legal minimum odds.

£500 GBP.

Morning Line
Forecast of probable odds.

Mutuel Pool
Total amount bet to win, place or show in a race. Also total amount bet on daily double, exacta, quinella, etc.


The selection that racing correspondents and tipsters nominate as their strongest selection of the day or meeting. Reputed to stand for "Napoleon".

Nickel (US)
A bet of $500 USD.

No Action
see Action.


Odds are the bookmaker's view of the chance of a competitor winning (adjusted to include a profit).

Where the odds are greater than evens (e.g. "5 to 2").

Odds Compiler
The person working for the bookmaker who sets the odds following research and his own feelings.

Odds Man (US)
At tracks where computers are not in use, an employee who calculates changing odds as betting progresses.

Where the odds are shorter than evens (e.g. "4 to 7"). If the selection wins, the amount won is less than the amount staked (don't forget, you get your stake back as well!).

Off the Board (US)
A horse so lightly bet that its pari-mutuel odds exceed 99 to 1. Also, a game or event on which the bookie will not accept action.

Off the Top
The practice of deducting a fixed "take" percentage from the pari-mutuel pool before paying holders of winning tickets.

Betting conducted away from the track.

On the Nose (US)
A bet that a horse will win.

Acronym for "Off-Track Betting" in the US, legal only in certain states.

(also known as "The Rag").

Where the book results in a loss for the bookmaker.

Horse whose odds are high by comparison with its good winning chances.

Profit margin in the bookmaker's favour.


A means of gambling on races in which all bets are pooled and winners are paid according to size of pool and the number of other winners. Often shortened in US to mutuel.

Parlay (US)
Term for an accumulator bet in horse racing. Also, a wager on two or more teams in which both must win or "cover" for the bet to be lucrative.

A multiple bet consisting of 7 bets involving 3 selections in different events. A single on each selection, plus 3 doubles and 1 treble.

It is possible to "perm" bets or selections (e.g. on 4 selections all the possible doubles could be "permed" making 6 bets).

Pic Six (US)
A proposition which challenges the bettor to pick six winners of six successive races (also known as "pick six" or "five-ten").

The selections chosen by an expert to bet on (also known as "tips").

The position where a bookmaker conducts his business on a racecourse.

Place (US)
The term used to describe a 2nd place finish.

Place Terms
In non pari-mutuel betting, the returns for place bets are calculated as a proportion of the win odds. This varies between events and sports. Bookmakers clearly advertise the place terms in operation when the bet is struck.

The start that the favourite gives the underdog. Also known as the "line" or "handicap".

£25 GBP.

Total amount bet for win, place or show, or in a daily double.

UK term for someone who has a bet ("bettor" in the US).


Quinella (US)
A bet in which the bettor predicts the horses that will finish 1st and 2nd, regardless of order (sometimes called a "quiniela").


Right Price (US)
Among players, pari-mutuel odds high enough to warrant risking a bet on a particular animal.

A horse (or greyhound) entered in a race under another's name - usually a good runner replacing a poorer one.

A bet consisting of 3 bets involving three selections in different events (i.e. 1 single any to come and double stake double on remaining two selections, 3 times).

A bet consisting of 3 bets involving three selections in different events (i.e. 1 single any to come a single stake double on remaining two selections, 3 times).

Round Robin
A bet consisting of 10 bets (3 pairs of "Single Stakes About" bets plus 3 doubles and 1 treble) involving three selections in different events.

Round Robin (US)
A series of three or more teams into two-team wagers.

Runner (US)
In racing, a bookie's employee who gathers information on the progress of betting elsewhere on the course. Also, a messenger "running" to and from pari-mutuel windows for occupants of clubhouse boxes.


Sawdust Joint (US)
A term for a non-luxury gambling club.

£20 GBP.

Score (US)
To win a race or a bet. Also, a victory.

Scratch (US)
The withdrawal of a competitor.

Scratch Sheet (US)
Daily publication that includes graded handicaps, tips and scratches.

A bookmaker's expert who calculates payouts.

Shoo In (US)
A supposed cinch bet or guaranteed victor. Also, a fixed race.

Shortening the Odds
A bookmaker's reduction of the odds offered in the face of heavy betting.

Short Price (US)
Small pari-mutuel payoff.

Show (US)
The term used to describe a 3rd place finish.

Shut Out (US)
What happens to a bettor who gets on the betting line to late and is still waiting in line when the window closes. Also, in sports betting, when the losing team do not score.

A "straight" bet on one selection to win one race or event.

Single Stakes About (or SSA)
A bet consisting of 2 bets on two selections (1 single on each selection any to come 1 single on the other selection reversed).

Six-Dollar Combine (US)
An across-the-board bet in racing.

Smart Money
Insiders' bets or the insiders themselves.

Spot Play (US)
Type of play in which bettor risks money only on types of races and horses which seem relatively worthwhile risks.

Spread Betting
A bet is won or lost according to whether you correctly predict the result of an event (also known as "action line" or "money line"). Returns or losses are calculated in proportion to how right or wrong the bettor is, and can lead to huge returns or losses.

Also known as handicaps.

Starting Price
In non-pari-mutuel betting, unless a punter requests otherwise, all wagers are settled at starting price (SP). The SP is arrived at by taking the average available in the betting ring on the racecourse, shortly before the "off".

Stooper (US)
Those who make a living picking up discarded mutuel tickets at racetracks and cashing those that have been thrown away by mistake.

Super Yankee
Alternative name for a multiple bet known as Canadian, a Super Yankee is a Yankee type bet with five selections instead of four.

Store (US)
A bookie.

Straight (US)
Another term for a bet to win (i.e. "straight, place and show").

Straight Forecast
A tote bet operating in races of 3 or more declared runners in which the punter has to pick the first and second to finish in the correct order.

Super Yankee
see "Canadian".

Sure Thing
Any bet that has very little chance of losing.

A method of betting, usually mathematically based, used by a punter to get an advantage (if successful!).


Take (US)
Money deducted from each pari-mutuel pool for track revenue and taxes.

Taking (US)
Betting on the underdog. In a match bet, the underdog is usually odds against, so the bettor is "Taking the odds".

Take Out (US)
That part of the pari-mutuel pools not returned as winnings.

Teaser (US)
A pointspread based bet where the bettor can move the line in his favour (in return for reduced odds).

Thick 'un
A big bet.

Ticketer (US)
A forger of bookmakers' tickets.

The code of hand signals by which UK oncourse bookmakers' employees relay information on current odds and betting around the course (e.g. "top of the head"= 9 to 4, "up the arm"= 11 to 8).

A French combination bet in which the bettor predicts the horses that will finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

The selections chosen by an expert to bet on (also known as "picks").

A person who gives or sells to bettors his estimate of likely winners of a race, game or event (also known as a "tout").

Totalisator (US)
Automated pari-mutuel machine which records bets as soon as tickets are dispensed at betting windows.

Sports bet on whether the total score will be over/under a given mark.

'The Horserace Totalisator Board' otherwise known as "The Tote". A body in the UK set up to operate pool-betting on all racecourses.

Tote Returns
Returns from a tote pool (also known as a "dividend"). Calculated by taking the total stake in each pool (after the take out) and dividing it by the number of winning tickets. A dividend is declared to a fixed stake, for various win, place and forecast pools.

Tote Board
A racecourse information board that displays approximate odds, betting totals, payout prices and other information necessary to the punter.

To give or sell betting advice or one who does so (also known as a "tipster").

A bet consisting of 3 selections, all of which must win for the wager to be successful.

A bet which involves correctly predicting the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in an event.

Trifecta (US)
Bet in which the bettor picks the first three finishers in exact order (also known as "triple").

A multiple bet consisting of 4 bets (3 doubles and 1 treble) with 3 selections in different events.

Turf Accountant
The UK euphemism for a bookmaker.


The team that receives a point start in a handicap.

Union Jack
A bet consisting of 8 trebles on 9 selections A to I: ABC, DEF, GHI, ADG, BEH, CFI, AEI, and CEG.      Union Jack


Getting the best odds on a wager.

Vigorish (US)
The bookmaker's commission (also known as "vig" or "juice").


To fail to pay a gambling bet.

Wheel (US)
A form of betting in which daily double, perfecta or quinella player makes every possible combination bet on his favoured horse or horses.

Wheeling (US)
A racing system devised for the daily double bet in which the bettor backs one horse in the first race and every horse in the second (also known as "baseball" or "locking").

The term used to describe a 1st place finish.

Winning Margin
A bet to predict the winning margin of one team over another.

Wise Guy (US)
A knowledgeable or well-informed bettor or handicapper.

With the Field
Having one horse linked with all the other horses in an event. It can apply to forecasts or in doubles.


Taken to mean 'a draw' on a soccer betting coupon.


A multiple bet consisting of 11 bets (6 doubles, 4 trebles and 1 4-fold) on 4 selections in different events.

"Yankee Patent" - The same 11 bets as a "Yankee", but with singles on each of the 4 selections as well, making 15 bets in all (also known as a "Lucky 15").


The value of most betting systems and tips!

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