Racebook Terms

The following is a list of common horse wagering terms. If you have questions, please visit our Help page.

Across The Board (ATB)
Choosing a selection to win, place and show in a single designated race. The total wager costs three times a single bet. If the selection wins, the player collects on all three wagers. If it places second, the player collects on the place and show bets. If it finishes third, the player collects only the show bet.
Also-Ran
A horse that finishes a race out of the money, i.e., a horse that doesn’t win, place or show.
Ante Post
A wager on a future event that is made prior to the scheduled day of the event. The player making the ante post often receives better odds but risks losing his stake if his selection drops out or the event is cancelled.
Apron
An area located next to the racetrack where players may watch racing up close and in person. A fenceline separates the apron from the actual racing surface.
Backstretch
The area of the racetrack opposite the finish line. At most tracks, it is the area that crosses in front of the tote board.
Backer
A person or group of persons who provides the bankroll for a particular player but remains behind the scenes.
Bad Beat
A tough, unforeseen loss when an underdog hand surprisingly wins the pot against the odds against seemingly better hands. This term is often used to imply that the winner of the pot had no business being in the pot at all, or to suggest dumb luck played a large part in the win. This term may also be applied to a situation where winning points are scored against a wager in the dying seconds of a game, or the favored horse loses by a nose, after leading all the way.
Bankroll
The total available wagering funds held by the player.
Best Bet
The horse selected by a handicapper to win a race; or a wager in a game representing the highest odds in favor of the player.
Bet
The amount of money a player voluntarily risks on cards, sports or other games. The bet can be in the form of cash, chips or vouchers. Also see, wager.
Bettor
A person who places or has a bet (US). A bettor is also called a player in the US and a punter in the UK.
Bet Spread
The ratio between the maximum and minimum bet size. A player who uses $50 maximum bets and $5 minimum bets is using a 10:1 bet spread.
Betting Limit
The set minimum and/or maximum amount of money that the player can wager on a single bet. The player cannot bet less than the minimum or more than the maximum amount posted.
Blow Back
A loss of gains/profit after enjoying a plus in the winnings column.
Book
A sportsbook or betting establishment that sets odds and accepts wagers on the outcome of sporting events. Also refers to a bookmaker’s tally of amounts bet on each event, and the odds necessary to assure him of a profit.
Bookie
A short term for bookmaker, i.e., the person or shop accepting bets.
Bookmaker
A (UK) person who is licensed to accept wagers on the outcome of various gaming events. Such wagers are based on odds provided to the player by the bookmaker. The equivalent term commonly used in the US is sportsbook.
Break-Even Point
The point at which a player’s bets approximately equal the payoffs received.
Bridge-Jumper
A player in the US who specializes in large Show bets on odds-on favorites.
Call
The position of each horse, relative to the other horses, at specific points around the track during a race.
Chalk
The favored team, side, contestant or horse in a sports event.
Chalk-Eater/Chalk-Player
A player who tends to wager only on the favorites, rarely on the underdogs.
Chart
A record of each race showing finish, calls, odds and comments describing the performance of each racer. The chart is considered a useful statistical aid to handicappers for studying the past performance of each racing horse.
Chartwriter
A statistician who compiles records and writes comments describing the performance of each horse or player.
Close
The final odds given on a race before it begins (US). Also referred to in the UK as the Starting Price.
Crow’s Nest
A high vantage point where the racetrack announcer, judges and other officials sit to observe the races.
Daily Double
A combination wager where the player selects the winners of the first and second races of the day. He must place his bet before the start of the first race. The daily double is similar to the accumulator.
Dam
The female parent of an animal, i.e., the mother of a greyhound or thoroughbred.
Dead Heat
An exact tie in a race. The winner in a photo finish is determined by the position of the tip of the racer’s nose, relative to the wire.
Degenerate
A term for a compulsive gambler.
Edge
An advantage over an opponent or the house in any wager. It can also be the advantage the casino has on any given wager.
Even Money (General)
A bet that pays the player the same amount that he wagered plus his original wager. Shown as a ratio of 1:1. Neither side lays any odds.
Exacta (or Perfecta)
Refers to wagering on a race in which the first and second place horses are picked to cross the finish line in a specified order.
Exacta or Perfecta Box
Refers to wagering on a horse race in which the first and second place horses (two or more) are picked to cross the finish line in any order.
Exposure
The amount of money the player or book stands to lose on any action.
Fast
The physical state of the racetrack during normal weather conditions.
Favorite
The team, side, horse or contestant competing in any given event considered to have the best chance to win.
Field (Racing)
The number of entries in a race.
Fixed
A slang term referring to the outcome of a race, contest or game that has been illegally pre-determined.
Forced Out
A chartwriter’s term describing a situation where a horse is crowded to the outside by one or more of the other racers.
Futures
A type of wager made, or lines/odds posted, on an event or outcome that will be determined in the future, for example on which team will win the Super Bowl. The player making the ante post or future wager often will enjoy better odds for having done so.
Handicapper
The official who decides the weights to be carried in events, and the grading of horses. Also, a person who analyzes, studies and rates sporting events.
Handle
Total amounts of wagers taken.
Hedge
To wager the opposite of your original wager in order to reduce your exposure.
High Roller
A big bettor.
Holding Your Own
The result of breaking even, i.e., neither winning nor losing, during a wager, or series of wagers.
Hot
A player who is on a winning streak, or a slot machine that is paying out.
Hot Game
A game which is attracting a good deal of action, on one side, by skilled handicappers.
Hot Tip
Wagering information/data not yet in the hands of the bookmaker.
Infield
The area surrounded by the oval racetrack.
Interference
Intentional physical contact that obstructs or impedes the running of horses or players in a game.
In the Money
A first, second or third-place finish (i.e. Win, place or show)
Leak
To lose part or all of one’s winnings due to questionable gambling habits. See also blow back.
Length
The margin equal to the length of one horse. Length is used to describe the position of a horse, relative to his competitors during calls or at the finish of the race.
Limit
The maximum wager accepted by the house or bookmaker before the odds, points or price will be changed. Essentially, it is a cap on the amount a player can wager.
Line
Refers to the listed odds, points, money line or point spread for any given event.
Linemaker
The person who establishes the original and subsequent betting lines for an event.
Long Odds
Relatively small odds given that an event will occur.
Long Shot
An extreme underdog.
MTP
An acronym for minutes-to-post, i.e., the time remaining before the start of a particular race.
No Action
The situation where no wagers can be accepted by the house because a game has already started. Also, all sporting events must be played on the date and site as scheduled unless otherwise specified. Any event postponed, rescheduled or moved to another site will automatically constitute “No Action”.
Nose
A racing term for the slimmest margin of victory.
Oddsmaker
The person who establishes the original and subsequent betting lines for an event. Also known as the linesmaker.
Odds On Favorite
A horse, team or contestant so favored by the public that the odds for the event are less than even.
Overlay
A horse going off at a higher price than he appears to warrant based on his past performances.
Past Performance
An accurate record of the performance of specific teams, horses or contestants when participating in sports events similar to those scheduled.
Past Post
A wager made after an event has begun.
Perfecta
A wager on two thoroughbreds, in a single designated race, to finish first and second in a specific order. Also see, Exacta and Straight Forecast (UK).
Photo Finish
When a camera is used to accurately determine the winner of a very close race.
Pick Six
A combination wager on the six winners of six consecutive races.
Pick Three
A combination wager on the three winners of three consecutive races.
Place
A wager that a specific dog or horse will finish in first or second place, i.e., if the player’s selection crosses in first or second place, he collects.
Post
A horses box or post position number. The horse’s number always corresponds to the number of his starting box. The term also is used to identify the exact time the horse breaks from the starting box.
Post Time
The time the race begins.
Press
To wager a greater amount than usual.
Pressing
Wagering winnings along with the original bet. A player is pressing a bet when he lets winnings ride.
Probability
A branch of mathematics measuring the likelihood an event will occur. Probabilities are expressed as numbers between zero and one. The probability of an impossible event is zero, while an event that is certain to occur has a probability of one.
Program
A printed guide to the day’s races including detailed data to assist players to handicap the races.
Quinella
A wager on two horses to finish first and second, in any order, in a single designated race. Also see Reverse Forecast (UK). This type of wager is also spelled Quiniela.
Racing Secretary
tAhe track official whose major functions include determining how many races of each grade are to be run over each distance for any given program. The racing secretary also conducts the random draw for post positions.
Reverse Forecast (UK)
A wager on two horses, in a single designated race, to finish first and second in either order. Also see, Quinella.
Roll-over
Refers to the number of times you need to wager funds before a withdrawal of funds in order to keep your bonus winnings.
Schooling Race
A practice race conducted under actual racing conditions, but in which no wagering is allowed.
Score
To win a great amount of money due to successful wagering.
Scout
A person who studies the performance and potential of teams, horses or contestants, and reports the pertinent findings to handicapper(s).
Scratch
To withdraw, cancel or call off a wager.
Sharp
A wise guy.
Short Odds
The odds for an event that has a good chance of occurring.
Show
Describes a third-place finish. A player collects if his selection finishes first, second or third.
Single Bet
A bet on a single result or outcome; a wager on a specific horse or greyhound, in a single designated race, to win at the given odds. This is the most uncomplicated and common bet. If the player’s dog crosses the finish line in first place, he collects. See also Straight Bet and Win (Bet).
Sire
The male parent of an animal, e.g., the father of a greyhound or horse.
Smart Money
Money wagered on sides by knowledgeable handicappers.
Soft Line
A wagering line that is not current with the true posted line; a line that has been adjusted or moved as a result of action but doesn’t reflect the true line as posted.
Square
An unsophisticated player.
Stake
Money used to wager on the success or failure of a particular event.
Stakes Race
A greyhound or horse race for a championship, or for a purse larger than those offered for ordinary feature races.
Steam
When a betting line on a selection starts to move quite rapidly, usually due to a rapid increase in the number of players wagering on it. Most steam games do not necessarily reflect the right side, but are sides where the majority of players have decided to focus their attention and action.
Straight Bet (Wager)
A wager on a specific horse or team, in a single designated race or game, to win at the given odds. This is the simplest and most common bet. Also see Single Bet, and Win (Bet).
Straight Wager (Bet)
A single straightforward wager on a selected side, or over/under. The team wagered on must win by the point spread given at the time of the wager.
Superfecta
A wager placed on any four horses or greyhounds to cross the finish line in a specific order.
System
A method of wagering that is usually based on a mathematical formula and is used by a player to get an edge.
Take
The money taken from the betting pool by track management for the state, as well as the racing association.
Teller’s Cage
The location at a race track where the player may make financial transactions, i.e., place bets, make change, cash checks and collect winnings.
Totalisator Machine
A computerized system that records amounts wagered, prints tickets for players, calculates odds and displays them on screens throughout a racetrack.
Tote Board
A board located behind the backstretch of the racetrack that displays the odds, pools, results and payoffs of each race.
Tout
A person who either sells or gives away his selections on games, races or contests.
Tout Service
A business that sells opinions of sporting events.
Trifecta
A wager on three selections, in a single designated race, to cross the finish line in a specific order. Also see, Tricast and Treble Forecast (UK).
Trifecta Box
Racing term referring to a player making three picks to finish first, second and third in any order.
Underdog
The team, side or contestant in any given event considered the least likely to win.
Underlay
A bad bet. An underlay occurs when the odds of a particular wagering proposition are lower than they should be, i.e. they favor the house. In such circumstances, players often bet that an event will take place but without justification.
Value
An overlay, i.e., getting the best odds on a wager.
Vigorish
The fee or commission paid to a bookmaker (bookie) or taken by the house. Also known as Vig or Juice.
VIP
Acronym for a big bettor deemed worthy of full complementary treatment, i.e., RFB.
Void
Invalid with no result.
Wager
The amount of money a player voluntarily risks on a game. The wager can be in the form of cash, chips or vouchers.
Win (Bet)
A wager on a specific horse or greyhound to win at the given odds. This is the simplest and most common bet. If the player’s selection crosses the finish line in first place, he collects. Also see, Straight bet, and Single bet.
Winner’s Circle
An area where the winning greyhound or horse is on display following the race and is often involved in a ceremonial presentation.
Wire
The official finish line for a greyhound or horse race.