The A to Z glossary of sports betting termsThe world of betting is full of strange words, jargon and slang. In this glossary of betting terms we explain both common and exotic terminology. Please get in touch if you feel we have omitted any relevant terms.

Asian Handicap

The Asian Handicap is a football (soccer) betting market. As a draw is a fairly common result in football matches, bookmakers offer prices on three possible outcomes; the home win, the away win and the draw.

It is also quite common for a fixture to be very one sided, such as a Premier League team like Manchester United taking on a team of lesser ability, such as Wigan or Blackpool. As the price for Manchester United in a fixture like that would be very unattractive to a sports bettor, the bookmaker will offer a handicap, such as giving their opponents a one or even two goal head start, bringing the odds of both football teams closer together.

The handicap market still poses a problem for sports bettors though, so many bookmakers will simply things even further, by removing the draw altogether and offering what is essentially a fifty fifty bet – this is known as the Asian Handicap.

Instead of offering a full goal head start, the Asian handicap relies on half and quarter goal handicaps. For example, Wigan might be given a +1.5 advantage against Manchester United and the odds for both teams would be around the even money mark (2.00 in decimal odds).

If Manchester United win the match 2-0, for example, the score on the Asian Handicap would be 2-1.5, so any bets on Manchester United would win and those on Wigan would lose. Had the score been 2-1, the Asian Handicap score would be 2-2.5, so all bets on Wigan would be winners.

Asian Handicap markets occasionally use a “level handicap”, which will be written something like “Manchester United (0)”. This means that the actual match result is used to settle the bet, but should the game finish as a draw, then the bet is void and stakes are returned.

Asian Handicap markets sometimes utilise quarter goals too, so the handicap would be written something like “Manchester United (0, 0.5)”. In this case, half of your stake is on the +0 and the other half is on the +0.5, so if the match finishes 1-0 to Manchester United, the Asian Handicap results would be 1-0 and 1.5-0, so both halves of the bet win. If the match finished 1-1, then the Asian Handicap results would be 1-1 and 1.5-1 so only half of the bet wins and the other half is returned, as in the “level handicap” example.

The Asian Handicap seems complicated, but once you get used to it, it can be profitable way to bet on football.

Canadian

No, we’re not referring to those loveable folks from North America, but in sports betting terminology, a “Canadian” is a type of combination bet that features 26 different bets, made up from five selections. The bet, also known as a “Super Yankee”, consists of ten doubles, ten trebles, five fourfolds and one fivefold.

Because a Canadian bet does not contain any singles, the minimum number of winning selections required to guarantee a return is two. This type of bet appeals to sports bettors because if all five selections in your Canadian win, the returns can be much greater than with a regular fivefold accumulator, as you actually have 26 winning bets. But at the same time, if any of your selections lose, you still have several winning bets that can pay a healthy return, almost like an insurance policy.

The Canadian – much like the Yankee, Lucky 15 and Lucky 31 bets – is very popular in licensed betting offices, particular with British horse racing bettors.

Good luck with all of your betting and stay tuned for our next A to Z article, which will deal with the letter “D”.

Dutching

“Dutching” is a term for backing more than one selection in a sports betting market, in such a way that the returns are the same no matter what the outcome of the market. For example, one might back a football team to win with one bookmaker, to lose with a second bookmaker, whilst backing the draw at a third bookmaker to take advantage of differing prices, and guaranteeing a small profit irrespective of the outcome.

The name “Dutching” is believed to have originated with Dutch Schulz, a New York based gangster of the 1920s and 1930s. Dutch had an exceptional talent for mathematics, that he used to fix a numbers racket and earn a fortune.

Dutching is a form of arbitrage betting (betting on “Sure Bets”) which is discussed in this BetPal article.

Exacta

In horse racing, an “Exacta” is a type of pool bet where the person placing the wager is attempting to pick the horse that will win the race, as well as the horse that will finish second in the race.

For example, if horse #1 wins the race and horse #2 comes second, a winning “Exacta” bet would be #1 to beat #2. #2 to beat #1 would be a losing “Exacta” bet, as would any other combination of horses.

This type of bet is known as a “Forecast” with many fixed odds betting bookmakers; the term “Exacta” tends to be used used by pool betting operators, such the Tote in Britain and Pari Mutuel in France.

With pool betting, all stakes placed are pooled together and any winning bets receive an equal share of the kitty (minus the operator’s cut). This is as opposed to fixed odds betting, where the bettor is given a set price – the odds – and therefore knows in advance exactly how much the bet will win, should the prediction be correct.

There are many variations on the “Exacta” bet, such as a “Reverse Exacta” (also known as a “Reverse Forecast” with many bookmakers) which allows you to pick the horses to finish first and second in either order. As this is technically two bets, the stake is doubled.

For example, reversing horse #1 and horse #2 means that should either #1 beat #2 or #2 beat #1, then the bet is a winner.

There is also the “Trifecta” or “Tricast”, which is the same idea as the “Exacta”, but the bettor is attempting to pick the correct order of the first three horses home. These bets can be combined, similar to the “Reverse Exacta”, making for a total of six bets.

For example, combining horses #1, #2 and #3 gives the following “Trifecta” combinations:
#1 – #2 – #3
#1 – #3 – #2
#2 – #3 – #1
#2 – #1 – #3
#3 – #2 – #1
#3 – #1 – #2

Expectation / Expected Value

“Expectation”, or “Expected Value” (“EV”), is a mathematical concept related to probability, that helps gamblers to better understand the decisions they are making.

To understand “Expected Value”, let’s take a look at a coin flip. Assuming a fair coin, the chances of it landing on one side or the other are equal. Both sides have a one in two chance of appearing. If your friend offered you £1 for every time it landed on heads, in return for £1 from you every time it landed on tails, we know that in the long term, both players would break even.

The maths behind this is straightforward. Let’s flip the coin 1,000 times. The chance of a head is 1/2 (0.5) and the chance of a tail is 1/2 (0.5). 0.5 x 1000 = 500. So theoretically, there will be 500 heads and 500 tails. £1 x 500 = £500 each, or breaking even.

So from the above proposition, one’s “Expected Value” is £0 (£500 in, £500 out, over 1000 flips). But what if the friend offered you £1.20 for every head, but you only had to pay £1 for every tail? Let’s use a sample of 1,000 coin flips again:

The chances of a head or tail appearing are still the same, so theoretically, there will still be 500 each, but in this case you will be paying out 500 x £1 (£500) but receiving 500 x £1.20 (£600). Here your “Expected Value” is £0.10 per coin flip (£600 in, £500 out, over 1000 flips).

This is a positive expectation bet that theoretically earns you ten pence per flip. Of course, in reality, you might win more or less than the theoretical figure of £100 over 1,000 coin flips, but that is simply down to variance. It doesn’t make this a bad bet, just because you suffer a run of horrible luck.

Good gamblers are always looking for positive expectation bets and looking to avoid negative expectation bets.

Favourite

The “favourite” in a sports betting market is the outcome that has the greatest chance of occurring, and therefore the shortest odds.

So in football match for example, Manchester United might be priced by the bookmakers at 2.10 to beat Arsenal, with Arsenal being priced at 4.50 and the draw at 3.20. In this example, Manchester United are considered by the bookamkers to be the “favourite”, as they have the strongest chance of winning.

The term “favourite” is used most widely in horse racing. “Favourite backing” is the strategy of simply betting on whichever horse is the favourite, regardless of that race type or the prices of the other horses, based on the theory that the favourite is the horse feared most by the bookmakers, therefore it must have the strongest chance of winning. This strategy always loses money in the long term, due to the way in which bookmakers price up their markets.

Most bookmakers allow bettors to back the “un-named favourite”, which means that the bet will stand for whichever horse has the shortest odds at the time of the start of the race. It doesn’t matter which horse is favourite at the time the bet is struck, only which is favourite at the start time. Bookmakers are always eager to encourage bettors to indulge in long term losing strategies!

Fold

In sports betting terminology, a “fold” is also a type of bet. When a bet is placed on one particular outcome, such as on a single horse winning a race, this is called a “single”. If two independent outcomes are backed on the same bet, for example a horse to win a race and a football team to win a match, where both outcomes need to win in order for the bet to be a winner, this is called a “double”.

But where three or more selections are involved in the same bet, this is a “fold”, for example a “three-fold”, a “four-fold” and so on. “Ten-folds” or even “fifteen-folds” are not unheard of and are usually found in football or horse racing, where a bettor is trying to make a huge return from a very small stake.

These “fold” bets are collectively known as “accumulator” bets, or more commonly in America as “parlay” bets.

Goliath

A Goliath is a type of multiple bet, found in the world of sports betting and often in horse racing.

The bet consists of eight selections (perhaps eight different football teams to win, or eight horses in eight different races) and it consists of 247 individual bets, which are as follows: 28 doubles, 56 trebles, 70 fourfolds, 56 fivefolds, 28 sixfolds, 8 sevenfolds and a single eightfold accumulator. Not that it does not contain any singles.

In order for a Goliath bet to provide a return, at least two of the eight selections must win and the more selections that win, the greater the returns. These types of bet are perfectly suited to bettors looking to turn a small stake into a large win.

Handicap

The “Handicap” is a popular type of bet found in sports involving two teams, where one side is superior to the other. For example, in an English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Norwich, one would expect the odds of a Chelsea victory to be around 1.20, which doesn’t make much appeal to the average football bettor.

Nobody is interested in backing Norwich as they look highly likely to lose on paper, while backing Chelsea is a foolish long term strategy, as large stakes are required to win a small amount, and one poor performance could destroy a betting bankroll.

To counter this and make the match more appealing from a betting perspective, the bookmaker will apply a “Handicap”. For example, Norwich may be awarded a one goal head start, in which case the price on Chelsea would be adjusted to around 1.60 – much more attractive to a bettor. A two goal head start may even be applied by some bookmakers, in which case the price for Chelsea to win could be as high as 2.80.

A variation of “Handicap” betting is the Asian Handicap. For more details on this, you can see the BetPal.com Guide to Asian Handicap betting here. The concept is similar, but by using half goal or quarter goal handicaps, the draw outcome can be eliminated, meaning just two possible outcomes, which is even more attractive to astute sports bettors.

Heinz

A “Heinz” is a type of multiple bet, commonly found in football and horse racing betting.

The “Heinz” gets its name from the fact that it is actually made up of 57 different types of bet – 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 fourfolds, 6 fivefolds and 1 sixfold. The H. J. Heinz Company, famous for manufacturing Tomato Ketchup and Baked Beans amongst other things, have a well known slogan: “57 Varieties”.

The “Heinz” bet requires six selections and to see a return, at least two must win. Not that the bet doesn’t contain any singles – a Heinz plus six singles is better known as a “Lucky 63″.

There is also a type of multiple bet known as a “Super Heinz”, which contains 120 bets – this requires seven different selections and consists of 21 doubles, 35 trebles, 35 fourfolds, 21 fivefolds, 7 sixfolds and 1 sevenfold accumulator.

Lay

“Lay” bets are often misunderstood by novice bettors, but they are totally fundamental to any type of wager and are actually really simple to understand.

When a bet is made, there are always two sides; one party will stake their money on an outcome taking place and the other will stake their money against that very same outcome. To use an example, a bettor might stake £5 on a horse winning a race, which is known as “backing” a horse. The bookmaker that accepts that very same bet is wagering their own money that the horse will not win the race and they are said to be “laying” the horse.

So every time you place a bet with your favourite bookmaker, or even when you play roulette with an online casino, those companies are laying various outcomes, while you are backing the same outcomes. Traditionally, it was only the bookmaking companies, casinos and the like that could do the laying, but thanks to the birth of betting exchanges like Betfair, anybody can act as a bookmaker and lay bets of their own.

Perhaps you’ve studied a big football match and have decided that the away team have no chance of winning, but you can’t decide whether the game will finish as a draw or a home win. If you used a traditional bookmaker only, your options would be limited and you would either have to choose not to bet at all, or be forced to place a bet that you were not overly keen on (the draw, or the home win). With Betfair however, you can simply lay the away team, or to put it another way, you can back the away team not to win.

Lay betting is still frowned upon by certain pockets of the gambling world, such as in horse racing where it could be argued that corrupt jockeys, trainers or owners could enter their horses in a race, lay them on the betting exchanges and deliberately make sure that the horse runs below its best in the race, guaranteeing that their lay bets win. In reality though, the many positives of lay betting far outweigh the negatives and the greater flexibility for the bettor can only be a good thing.

For a more detailed guide to the betting exchanges, check out our Betting Exchange Odds Comparison guide.

Lucky 15

A “Lucky 15″ is a classic multiple bet born of the good old days of Licensed Betting Offices, where horse racing bettors would try to turn a small stake into a large payout. The bets remain popular even in the days of online bookmakers and are often seen in football betting too.

A Lucky 15 requires the punter to pick out four outcomes – usually four horses to win four different races, but often four correct score outcomes in football games, or four greyhounds to win four races – and the bet actually comprises 15 smaller bets – four single bets, six doubles, four trebles and a fourfold accumulator – hence the name “Lucky 15″.

The ideal “Lucky 15″ result would be all four outcomes winning, so that all 15 bets win. In this case, many bookmakers offer a bonus payout to the lucky punter that can achieve such a result. But the punter will also guarantee themselves a return if just one of the outcomes is positive and many bookmakers also offer a consolation prize if just one of the four “Lucky 15″ selections wins, such as doubling the odds of the winning outcome.

Why not try a Lucky 15 with Stan James? They will add 10% to any winnings when selecting all four winners, as well as doubling the odds of your winning selection when picking just one winner. Good luck!

Multiple

A “multiple” is any type of bet involving more than one selection, where all of the selections are required to win in order for the bettor to see any returns.

Multiples – often called “accumulator bets” are usually referred to as X-folds; a bet with six selections would be a sixfold, while a bet with ten selections would be a tenfold. A multiple with two selections is more commonly known as a “double” and one with three selections is called a “treble”.

These types of bet are popular with the small stakes punter who is trying to earn a massive pay day, usually in horse racing or football betting. Even if the selections are mostly odds on favourites, if you have enough them, you can see potentially huge returns. Of course, the flip side is that the chances of the bet ever winning are slim to none, as the more selections there are, the greater the chance of an upset.

Despite the fact that multiple bets are what keep the bookmakers in business, they remain ever popular with the average sports bettor. We all dream of winning the lottery, after all.

Nap

No, this doesn’t refer to falling asleep whilst watching a particularly lengthy session of cricket, but is actually found in sports betting circles, specifically the field of “tipping”. Tipping is the practice of recommending bets to other people, often in return for a fee.

Someone who offers tips is known as a “tipster” and they are often betting specialists or insiders; perhaps they are professional gamblers or work for a bookmaker and have experience in creating betting markets, and therefore the ability to recognise when the odds on a particular event are out of line; it’s also possible that may have other inside information, such as working for a particular horse racing stable, and therefore are in possession of knowledge about how well a horse is working in training, or similar information.

In any case, when a tipster publishes his or her tips, be that in the local newspaper, on a website or via a telephone service, they will often have more than one selection and it is common to hear one of the tips described as the “Nap”.

The “Nap” is simply the tipster’s best bet; of all the different tips offered, the tipster feels the most strongly about the “Nap” selection. They may also offer a “NB”, which is simply short for “Next Best” – not quite as confident a choice as the Nap, but certainly more so than the rest of the selected bet recommendations.

The term “Nap” is thought to have its origins in a card game called “Napoleon”, a trick taking game similar to Euchre. If a player takes all five of the available tricks, he or she is said to have “gone nap” and the hand could be described as a “nap hand”.

Odds

The term “odds” can be misleading, as the word is used both to express the true probability of something happening relative to another thing happening, but also to refer to the payout offered by a casino or bookmaker when an event happens. The two things are very different.

For example, let’s take a look at a European roulette wheel. The “odds” of the number 5 being spun are 1 in 37, as there are 37 numbers on the wheel (1 to 36, plus a single 0) and only one of these is a 5. There are 36 chances for the number not be a 5 and there is 1 chance for the number to be a 5, so the odds can be expressed as 36/1. These are the true mathematical odds of a 5 appearing on a European roulette wheel.

However, the casino payout for such an event is only 35/1. So if you have a £1 wager on the number five and it appears, you will receive £36 (£35 profit, plus your £1 stake). The odds paid out by the casino are 35/1, but as we have seen, these are not the true odds.

It is important to differentiate between the true odds of something happening, and the odds being paid to you when placing a bet. The difference is how a bookmaker or casino makes its money long term (usually referred to as the house edge, juice or vigorish) and smart bettors can avoid making wagers that have a large house edge. In certain areas of gambling – most notably sports betting, where odds are compiled on the basis of people’s opinions rather than mathematical facts – savvy punters can even take advantage of inaccuracies in the odds on offer and profit from them.

There are many different ways to display odds. The most common way in Britain is fractional odds. You will have all seen these in the betting shops or at the race track – 6/4, 3/1, 11/2 etc. These represent the payout that a bettor will receive relative to their stake, so if the odds are 10/1, this means that for every 1 unit bet, the profit will be 10. So a £10 bet would return £110 – £10 x 10 = £100 profit and don’t forget the £10 stake which is also returned.

A slightly more practical way to display odds has been popularised by betting exchanges like Betfairdecimal odds. In the case of decimal odds, to work out your potential returns you simply multiply your stake by the odds on display. So to use the same example, a £10 bet at odds of 11.00 (which is equivalent to 10/1 in fractional odds), you can see that your returns will be £110 because £10 x 11.00 = £110.

The third way to display odds is more commonly found in North America, and involves positives and negatives. These odds show the bettor how much they need to wager in order to achieve a profit of $100, or how much profit will be made if $100 is staked.

So for example, if the odds are displayed as -140, you will need to bet $140 to win $100 profit. If the odds were shown as +200, you would gain $200 from a bet of $100. This is equivalent to 2/1 in fractions and 3.00 in decimal odds.

Quadpot

The “Quadpot” is a pool bet in the United Kingdom, which is operated by the Tote and is very similar to their other popular bet, the Placepot. The aim of the Placepot is to pick one or more horses to place in the first six races of a given horse racing meeting, while the Quadpot is a near enough identical bet, but only for races three, four, five and six on the card.

In case you aren’t familiar with the term “place”, it generally tends to mean finishing amongst the first three or four horses (though the exact place terms depend on the size of the race, in accordance with the following chart):

Number of Runners – Place Terms:

1 – 4 – Win Only (No place betting allowed)
5 – 7 – First and second
8 – 15 – First, second and third
16+ (Handicap races only) – First, second, third and fourth

So for example, if the first race contains six runners, you are looking to find a horse that will finish either first or second for your Tote Quadpot or Placepot. If the race has 14 runners, you are looking to find a horse that will finish in the front three.

The Tote Placepot is a brilliant bet, because it can give you an interest in an entire race meeting, for a very small stake. The rewards can be generous and you can put in as much time and effort as you like – plenty of serious students of horse racing form enjoy the Placepot, but it is equally as appealing to first time bettors and racegoers, who are happy to treat the Placepot much as they would a lottery game or perhaps the football pools.

The main advantage of the Tote Quadpot is that it is a little easier to win, because there are fewer races to sort out, but the obvious flip side to that particular coin is that the dividends tend to be lower. Another good thing about the Quadpot is that if you miss the first race for whatever reason, any effort you put into studying for the Placepot is not entirely lost – you can still place your bet for races three, four, five and six by placing a Quadpot instead.

Both the Quadpot and Placepot are very flexible in terms of stakes – another reason that both of these Tote bets are so popular. You can play for a few pence per line, or if you prefer, a few pounds per line and you can choose as many horses as you like in each race, including the unnamed SP favourite. Of course, the more selections you put into your Quadpot or Placepot, the more you have to pay for your bet.

There is a simple formula to work out the total cost of your Quadpot and Placepot bets – simply multiply the number of selections together and multiply by your desired stake. So for example, let’s say that in the first three races of your Placepot, you choose a single horse in each race, but the last three races are tougher to narrow down, so you opt for three in each. You want to play 50p per line, so your total stake is £13.50 (1 x 1 x 1 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 50p = £13.50).

Returns from a Quadpot or Placepot are unknown until the end of the race meeting, as it will depend on the total amount of money in the pool and the number of tickets that still remain after the final race (all stakes are collected together and shared amongst the winners).

The Quadpot and Placepot can be played at any race meeting in the UK and Ireland, as opposed to similar bets like the Tote Jackpot and Tote Scoop6, which involve specifically designated meetings and races.

Quinella

The term “Quinella” is essentially the same as a “Reverse Forecast” in the United Kingdom – it is a type of pool bet that involves attempting to pick out the front two finishers in a race, in either order. Quinella bet can be placed on anything involving a race, so they are usually found in horse racing or greyhound racing.

The bettor picks their two selections and pays two times their chosen stake (as a Quinella is essentially two different bets). For example, if the player believes that horse number 1 and horse number 7 will finish in the front two, a Quinella gives them a bet on both 1 to beat 7 and 7 to beat 1.

A “Quinella Wheel” is the same as a “Combination Forecast” – if a bettor believes that, for example, three of the selections in the race will finish in the front two, but they aren’t sure in what order they will finish, the bettor could place a Quinella Wheel. This is essentially six different bets on all of the possible Forecast (Exacta) combinations, so if the punter opts for number 2, 3 and 4 in a Quinella Wheel, they are effectively betting on 2 to beat 3, 3 to beat 2, 2 to beat 4, 4 to beat 2, 3 to beat 4 and 4 to beat 3 – six bets.

Quinella payouts are unknown until the final result, and are usually declared as a dividend to a single unit stake. So if you are betting in the United Kingdom a dividend will be shown to a £1 stake. If you were to place a winning £1 Quinella (Reverse Forecast) you would have actually paid a total stake of £2 and your returns would be exactly equal to the dividend. If you had placed a £2 Quinella (£4 total stake) then you will win exactly two times whatever the declared dividend is.

Scoop6

The Tote Scoop 6 is a popular pool bet in the UK that revolves around the sport of horse racing. Every Saturday, six of the best televised horse races from a variety of courses are selected and the object for the player is to pick the winner of each race.

Any player that successfully manages to pick all six winners on the Scoop6 will win the jackpot, which has been known to grow to more than £1,000,000 (when nobody wins the Scoop6, the jackpot rolls over to the following week) and anybody managing to pick six placed horses will win a consolation prize, which can be as much as £1,000.

Scoop6 winners have a further opportunity to win big, as a Scoop6 “Bonus Fund” also exists. To win the bonus, the winning player must pick out a horse for the following Saturday’s biggest race and should it win, they will pick up the bonus fund too.

The Scoop6 costs a minimum of £2 to play and is enjoyed by casual punters and professional gamblers alike. It is operated by the Tote, the official pool betting operators in the UK, but any major high street or online bookmaker will take Scoop6 bets and these are all paid into the same pool.

It is not uncommon to see players perming their Scoop6 selections. This means that in one or more races, a player will actually choose more than one horse to win the race to increase their chances of winning the Scoop6 jackpot. Of course, to do this, the player must pay more than £2 to play. To calculate your total stake in a Tote Scoop6 bet, simply multiply the number of selections together and then multiply by the stake.

So for example, let’s say you want to select three horses in the first two races and one in the remaining races. Your total Scoop6 stake would be as follows:

3 x 3 x 1 x 1 x 1 x £2 = £18.

Tote

Responsible for pool betting in the UK, the Tote (short for Horserace Totalisator Board) was formed when the Betting Levy Act of 1961 was passed. Its purpose was to provide safe, state run betting opportunities that would also race funds to help support British horse racing.

Nowadays, the Tote is much more dynamic and like any major bookmaker, offers more than just horse racing. The Tote has several different arms that offer various different betting opportunities, such as ToteBingo, ToteCasino and of course, TotePool.

The Tote is responsible for many different pool bets, but the most popular of all is the Tote Scoop6, which challenges players to find the winner of the six best races of every Saturday and offers huge returns for just a £2 stake.

If nobody wins the Scoop6, the prize pool will roll over to the following weekend and it isn’t uncommon for jackpots to reach a million pounds. The chance to win so much for so little definitely appeals to many around horse racing, whether casual bettors or professional gamblers.