Ultimate Basketball Betting Glossary

Ultimate Basketball Betting Glossary

Published Date · Oct. 18, 2022 · Last Updated · Feb. 22, 2023 ·Read Time · 4 mins

Before you put a single dollar down at any online or brick and mortar sportsbook, you need to understand the terminology when you are making your wagers. And if you choose your sports betting career specialization to be for the NBA, you need to learn the specific NBA betting terminology.

Understanding both the NBA and sports betting terms are essential in betting your best. Because of this, we have created a basketball betting glossary to help you along your sports betting career and to advance your basketball wagers from the easier type of bets to the more difficult wagers.


Chalk- a side of a wager that is considered likely to pay out. More often than not, a chalk bet involves betting on the favorite in the matchup as opposed to the underdog.


Edge- also can be known as the advantage; this is having a leg up on the sportsbook. Rare, but ultimately possible.

Even Money- also known as Even Odds, this is a basketball wager where the bettor will receive a payout in the same amount of money that they originally wagered. These types of bets are typically rare because a usual 50/50 even bet will be posted with -110 odds, slightly favoring the sportsbooks. 

Favorite- represents the team in the basketball game that is expected to win the game. If you make a Moneyline bet on the Favorite, it comes with a lot less risk, but the payout will be a lot smaller.

First Half Bet- a wager in basketball that involves putting money down on only the first half of the game.

Future Bet- wagering on a basketball event or outcome that has yet to take place. A future wager can be placed on an individual basketball player to win an award like MVP or Defensive Player of the Year. A future bet can also be made on a specific team to win either their Division, Conference, or the championship.


In-Game Wager- a bet placed while an actual game is going on. Since the game is going on in real time, many sportsbooks have different odds for each type of wager including Moneylines, Over/Unders, and Prop bets. 

Lock- a wager that is considered to be a “sure thing.” While nothing is exactly a sure thing when it comes to basketball betting, there are some bets that are considered a lock because of how lopsided they are. For example, a game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Oklahoma City Thunder has the Timberwolves Moneyline at -550. This means that the Wolves are heavily expected to win the game, virtually a lock.  


Moneyline Bet- the simplest wager you can make when betting on basketball. This bet is used to place money on the team you believe will win the game. The favorite in the matchup will have a lower payout, but a much higher chance of winning. The underdog will have a lower chance of winning but a much better payout should they win the game. 

No Action- a game or Future bet that the sportsbook won’t allow you to wager on. For a game, this could be because of an injury to a major player that could sway the odds. For a Future bet, a star player could be traded soon and could affect a team’s championship odds


Odds- the number given by the sportsbook oddsmakers for any given NBA and college basketball game to show the return you will receive if your wager wins.

Over/Under- also considered a Total wager, it’s a type of basketball bet where you try and determine how many total points will be scored in the game. This is the combined points of the underdog and the favorite. The Over/Under would also include any points that are scored in overtime. 

Parlay Bet- a wager that is composed of two or more bets into one single bet. The more bets that are put into a parlay, the riskier the bet becomes. This is because each bet in the parlay has to win in order for it to pay out. Because of this, the more legs (wagers) that are put in a parlay, the better payout the parlay has. 

Prop Bet- also known as a Proposition Bet, this is a wager that involves making a bet on something during a basketball game that ultimately has no effect on the outcome of the basketball game. An example of this would be betting on Lebron James to score above or below 30 points in the game. 

Push- a wager that is tied with the sportsbook. While more rare nowadays, it is still possible to break even with the sportsbook on a wager. An example of this is if the Over/Under odds for a game don’t have half a point at the end, then you can tie. If the game ends with 215 points and the odds were set at 215, then you would receive your original wager back. 


Second Half Bet- a wager in basketball that involves putting money down on only the second half of the game. 

Underdog- the team in the basketball game that is expected to lose the game. If you make a Moneyline bet on the Underdog, it comes with a lot of risk but the payout will be greater if you win.

Start Your Basketball Sportsbook Betting Now

Before you start your NBA and college basketball betting, you need to make sure that you have familiarized yourself with as much basketball betting lingo as possible. This glossary will be a good start to get your feet wet and familiarize yourself with the initial ins and outs of basketball betting.

Any experienced basketball bettor will tell you that knowing as many of these phrases as you can will be instrumental in your basketball betting career. So when you go through to make your wagers either in person or online at your favorite sportsbook, make sure you have these terms handy to work through all the different odds and betting options that are available at your fingertips.


Phoebe Greenwood

Content Writer