Glossary: A to Z of Betting Terms

This page will have you knowing your tricasts from your trebles, and your drifts from your dividends in no time. Below you’ll find a list of some of the most commonly used betting terms. To read the definition, simply click the relevant link below.


An accumulator, sometimes also called a multiple bet or an ‘acca’ for short, is a bet on more than one event where you need all parts of the bet to win, for example Everton to beat Liverpool, Manchester City to beat Manchester United and Grimsby to beat Scunthorpe. With an acca, the individual odds for each selection are applied and the winnings rolled over, potentially leading to huge payouts. The events must not be directly related though, so Lionel Messi to score and Barcelona to win 2-0 is not an accumulator but one single bet with fixed odds.

Read more: Accumulators and Multiples


Ante-post bets are ones placed “before the post” (the term originates in horse racing), meaning before the full line-up and details of an event are known. Examples of ante-post bets are backing a horse in a race like the Grand National before the field is confirmed or betting on the Premier League top scorer before the season starts. Normally if your selection doesn’t take part you lose your stake.

Read more: Ante Post Betting


Arbitrage is, in theory at least, a way to secure a net win by making use of the different odds bookmakers offer on the same event. In simple terms, in the final of the FA Cup, if one bookmaker thinks Manchester United will win and prices Manchester City at 21/20, whilst another bookmaker City will lift the cup and prices United at 21/20, by backing both you can potentially secure a net win.

Read more: Arbitrage

Asian Handicap

This is a type of bet that developed in Asia but is popular in North America too and is used to eliminate the draw, giving just two options to bet on. The handicaps are positive or negative and in their basic form come in increments of half goals, so a team offered at -0.5 needs to win whilst the opposition at +0.5 can draw or win. There are also split Asian handicaps, written as either +0.5, +1 or (meaning the same thing) +0.75. Here the stake is split between a bet on +0.5 and another on +1, such that a 1-0 defeat means you lose half your stake and have a push (stake refunded) on the other half.


A banker is a dead cert: a bet that is deemed highly likely to come in.

Betting Exchange

A betting exchange allows regular punters to lay bets (bet against a selection) as well as back them and is sometimes known as peer-to-peer betting because a lot of the wagers pit one bettor against another with no bookie involvement. The exchange takes a small commission but because there is no margin factored into the odds they are often much higher than at a conventional bookie.

Read more: Betting Exchange

Betting Tax

Betting tax is a government levy on gambling that is no longer paid by the punter in the UK. Rates, rules and details vary from country to country.


A bookmaker is the company or individual that offers odds on a given event, accepting bets from punters (bettors, mugs, the public, whatever you want to call them) and collecting the stakes and – hopefully – paying out the winnings.

Canadian (Super Yankee)

A Canadian, or Super Yankee, is a type of bet popular in horse racing but applicable to any sport that entails five selections (for example five horses to win separate races) and covers every possible combination of accumulator: 10 doubles, 10 trebles, five four-folds and one five-fold acca for a total of 26 bets. As such a £1 stake per line will cost £26 in total, with at least two selections needed to win for any return.

Combination Tricast

A combination Tricast is a bet common in horse and dog racing whereby you are selecting the top three finishers in a race but in any order. Effectively it is six bets covering all possible top three combinations from your selections and as such a £10 combination Tricast would cost £60 in total.

Dead Heat

A dead heat is when two or more teams, players, horses, dogs or anything else are, for betting purposes, tied. Examples include in golf, if several players finish joint second on the same score, or in horse racing if two horses cannot be separated, even by a photo. Rules vary but usually if dead heat rules are applied your bet is split, so if your horse is a dead heat winner half the bet is classed as a win and half as a loss. In the unlikely event that three horses finish in a dead heat just 1/3 of the bet would win.

Read more: Dead Heat


A dividend is the payout on Tote bets, where rather than fixed odds, winnings are calculated by the number of people who backed the victor and the overall stake. The dividend may also refer to the payout from a forecast or tricast, a dividend of £11.23 meaning that your bet returns that amount for every £1 staked.


A double is the simplest form of accumulator and just involves two unrelated selections, for example Leeds United to beat Blackpool and Manchester United to beat Hull City.


Drift is the term used to describe odds that are rising. So if a horse moves from 2/1 to 5/2, then 7/2, then 4/1, perhaps due to changing ground, new information or anything else, it is said to be on the drift” or drifting out”.

Each Way

An each way bet is actually two bets, such that £5 each way will cost £10, with half going on as a standard win single and the other half going on the horse, dog, golfer or whatever “to place”, and with the odds reduced to a specified fraction.

The place rules vary from event to event and bookie to bookie but in a standard horse race of eight or more runners you may get the top three paying at ¼ of the odds. In such a case, if your horse finishes third you lose half your stake but win with the other half, at the reduced odds of course. If the horse wins, both sides of the bet pay out.

Read more: Each Way and Place Betting


Evens is the common term used to describe odds of 1/1, or 2.00 in decimal odds, meaning that for every £1 you stake you will get £2 (including your stake) back.


Exposure is the amount you stand to lose, so with a standard bet it is your stake or the total of all your stakes on various selections in a given market. Exposure is more commonly used with regard betting exchanges when laying a selection, and again describes the amount you stand to lose. However, if you lay a £10 stake at 28/1 your exposure is not £10 but £280! In spread betting the exposure is again what you stand to lose if things go wrong and can also be far more than your stake and, in some cases, be unlimited.


The favourite is the competitor with the shortest odds in any given event and therefore the one the bookies deem most likely to win.


A forecast is bet on the top two finishers in a race or event, in the correct order.

Read more: Forecasts & Tricasts

Free Bet

Free bets are promotions run by bookmakers to attract custom and publicity, just like a loss leader in a supermarket. There are various different types of free bets but all, theoretically, give you a serious advantage over the bookmaker. From stake returned and stake not returned free bets, free bet refunds and no lose free bets, we love them all!

Read more: Free Bets

Full Cover

A full cover bet is a bet on multiple selections where every combination of bets is included irrespective of the number of selections: so all doubles, trebles, four-folds and so on, as well as one accumulator incorporating all selections. A full cover including singles” adds all possible singles onto this.


A Goliath, as the name suggests, is a huge bet that comprises eight selections and covers all 247 possible bets excluding the eight singles. That’s 28 doubles, 56 trebles, 70 four-folds, 56 five-folds, 28 six-folds, eight seven-folds and one eight-fold, with at least two winners needed for a return but probably four or more to see a net win (depending on the odds).


Handicap can mean a type of horse race, where the horses are given different weights (handicapped) to even out competition, as well as the process of handicapping itself. Alternatively it is a type of bet applicable to any sport where one side is given a theoretical head start” to make the betting closer or offer different bets. For example, in football, one side may be given a handicap of +2 (goals), meaning all they have to do for the bet to win is avoid defeat by two goals or more.

Read more: Handicap Betting


To hedge a bet is effectively to take an insurance policy on it losing by backing all other outcomes. Depending on the circumstances, you may be locking in a net win on the original bet or cutting your maximum loss and this can be done either by backing opposing selections or laying your original bet at a betting exchange.

Read more: Hedging Your Bets


The Independent Betting Adjudication Service is an independent (would you believe it?!) body designed to resolve disputes between the gambling public and those bookies that are registered with it. IBAS rulings are not legally enforceable but would be given serious weight in any legal argument.

Read more: IBAS

Lucky 15/31/63

These are three different types of full cover with singles bets covering four selections, five selections and six respectively. For example a Lucky 15 includes four singles, six doubles, four trebles and one four-fold acca. Betfred is said to have created this bet.

Read more: Lucky 15/31/63

Martingale System

The Martingale system is one of the oldest, most popular and most flawed betting systems ever invented and has been invented” millions of times since it was truly created in the 1700s, with countless naïve punters assuming they themselves had discovered a flawless plan. It is a system usually applied to roulette but can be used with any betting event, especially where there is a bet with a roughly 50% chance of winning.

After a losing bet you simply double your stake, meaning that whenever you win you will always have a single unit net win, no matter how many losses you have endured. Sadly it is an assured way to lose money as whilst you may have many, many small wins, eventually a sequence of losses will occur that will leave you unable to double your stake (either through lack of funds, lack of cojones or because you have reached the house limit) and this huge loss will more than wipe out the previous small wins.

Read more: Martingale System


A Nap is similar to a banker in that it is a top betting tip, a selection deemed the best bet of the day and most likely to win.

Odds Against

Odds above evens are odds against. So anything where your net win is higher than your stake is odds against, denoting the bookmakers give it less than a 50% chance of winning.

Odds On

Odds on, conversely, are odds shorter than even money, so any fractional odds where the number on the left is smaller than on the right, for example 1/2. This may be expressed as either one to two” or two to one on”.


An outsider is a selection that is generally unfancied and is available at long odds.


Parimutuel betting is popular in France and some other countries and involves a betting pool, rather than fixed odds. When you place your bets you only have a rough idea of the odds, the final payout being determined by the number of people who backed the winner, the overall amount staked on the event and the operator’s (bookmaker’s) cut. This is sometimes called pool betting and the Tote offers this in the UK.

Read more: Parimutuel Betting


Parlay is simply a North American term for an accumulator.


A patent is a multiple bet with three selections and a total of seven bets – a treble, three doubles and three singles and as such is a full cover with singles bet.


Permutations are the various options created by selecting a number of different outcomes and selections. On four selections you have various options, including the four singles, the one four-fold, the trebles or the doubles, so, you may decide for example to perm all six doubles. Another way perms are used is demonstrated by a tricast, where you are selecting the top three finishers in a race or event. By selecting four or more horses or dogs you can create various permutations of your top three and thus give yourself a greater chance of winning. Of course, each different combination is a separate bet and the more options you give yourself, the more the bet will cost overall.


Place refers to a finish that will pay out as an each way pick or a separate place bet. In F1 this is usually second, as it is with tennis, football tournaments and many other sports, whilst in racing it is anything from the top two to the top eight, the latter only applicable to betting offers in conjunction with races such as the Grand National.

Reverse Forecast

A reverse forecast is like forecast, in that you must select the top two finishers in a race or event but they can finish in either order. As with a combination tricast, this is a bet that covers multiple options – in this case two – so a £10 reverse forecast, sometimes called just a reverse, would cost £20.

Rule 4

Rule 4 is the system used by the bookmakers to reduce the odds when there have been withdrawals from a horse or dog race after the final declarations have been made. If you place a bet, for example, on a 2/1 joint-favourite and subsequently the other favourite withdraws, your selection now has a far greater chance of winning and as such the Rule 4 deduction, a percentage based on the odds of the competitor that has withdrawn, compensates for this. Rule 4 doesn’t apply to bets placed either ante-post or at the starting price (sp).

Read more: Rule 4


A single is the most basic form of bet, just a single selection on one event.

Spread Betting

Spread betting is a type of wager that rewards the accuracy of your predictions, rather than just whether your bet wins or loses. In fixed odds betting your pick a team to win a football match and you know the odds and you either win or lose. A comparable football spread bet would be Arsenal to beat Spurs by more than 0.8 goals. In this instance the bookie may have made Arsenal the favourite by offering a spread that they would win by 0.6-0.8 goals. You either buy (go higher than the upper value) or sell (go lower than the lower value) and if Arsenal win by a single goal you win 0.2 times your stake, whilst if they lose by a goal you lose 1.6 times your stake. The bookie’s margin is the spread whilst earnings and losses can be huge: for example if Spurs win 5-0 you would lose 5.6 times your stake.

Read more: Spread Betting

Super Heinz

A Super Heinz is a multiple bet that includes a grand total of 120 bets, with seven selections offering up a single seven-fold accumulator, 21 doubles and everything in between but not the seven singles. Depending on the odds of your winning selections you will probably need at least three and possibly four to make an overall net win as there are 120 bets, each with individual stakes.


Tic-Tac is the arcane sign language that is seen less and less nowadays at race tracks across the land. It is used by bookies to communicate the latest odds and market movers but is now more used for novelty, mobile phones and laptops having usurped its functionality.

Read more: Tic-Tac


Totepool betting is now offered by a number of bookmakers, although the system remains operated by Totesport (bought by Betfred in 2011). It is the horse racing version of the national lottery and football pools combined and allows people to win huge sums of money – the biggest ever payout was more than £3.5m in 2009. There are a variety of options but the biggest and most popular are the totescoop6 on Saturday’s and the totejackpot, both of which require you to pick the winner of six selected races. The scoop6 has a minimum stake of just £2 and an average win fund in 2013 of around £100k. If nobody wins, the prize rolls over and large rollovers can result in jackpots far in excess of what the odds merit, meaning the scoop6 can offer real value and attracts huge interest.


A treble is a basic acca involving three selections, all of which must win for your bet to return anything.


A tricast is a bet on which horses, dogs or other competitors will finish in the top three of a given event and to win they must all be in the correct order, as opposed to a combination tricast in which they can be in any order.

Read more: Forecasts and Tricasts


A trixe is a multiple bet with three selections that excludes singles. A total of four bets, with three doubles and a treble and two selections needed to return anything at all.


The underdog is like an outsider: an entrant not fancied by bookmakers or punters to win. They are likely to be at long odds and may be given a positive handicap in certain markets. Chiefly applies to boxing but applicable to any sport or event.


The vigorish, also sometime called the vig, the juice or the take, is effectively the bookmakers margin. Sometimes used interchangeably with overround”, the terms do actually have slightly different meanings but effectively it is the way the bookmaker offers odds slightly below the true odds of an event happening.

Read More: Vigorish: How Bookies Make Money


Win refers to a simple bet on a given outcome, as opposed to an each way or place bet.


A Yankee is another multiple bet, this time one which has four selections or legs and a total of 11 bets, with six doubles, four trebles and a single four way accumulator.