Sports betting jargon explained for your NBA bet

Sports betting is incredibly popular in many parts of the world, but once you look on the websites of bookmakers and sportsbooks, there is a chance you will find it a little bit confusing as you go through some of the terminology and realize that there is virtually a whole new language you need to learn. 

There are lots of words that are used in the gambling industry that we don’t use in the same way conversationally. To stand the best chance of placing the bets you want and getting results, it is best that you understand what they mean.


A parlay is when you combine multiple results or bets to try to build the odds and increase your winnings if the bet actually comes off. If you just bet on one team to win, you might get decent odds, but if you combine four, five or even more winning selections, the winnings will continue to multiply. NBA same game parlays mean that you can even combine multiple events occurring in a game, and add different “lines” to your bet.

Remember that with any parlay-style bet, you will have to predict all of the lines correctly in order for it to be a win, so if you get one part of the bet wrong, you won’t get any return at all.


A lot of sports gamblers operate with a bankroll, which is a responsible way to set aside money as a gambling fund. The bankroll is effectively a budget – the money that you put in your betting account of preference, and it is used to place bets. It is recommended that you use only a small percentage of your bankroll, especially on long-shot bets.

A bankroll can help you to stay in control of exactly what is going in and out of your betting account, so you know if you are in profit or loss, but a lot of NBA betting apps let you do this anyway, with special features to check profit and loss.

Points spread

This is a term you might notice a lot when you are gambling on NBA games, that you might not see with some other sports. This is a very popular way to bet. You can also bet on the points spread in NFL games.

A points spread is a way to bet with a sort of handicap – a way to bet that a team is going to win, and win handsomely. If you are betting against a big team to play against the minnows in the sport, then a points spread can be a way to get better value if you think they are going to win by a lot of points. 

Let’s say you look at the Syracuse basketball schedule and believe there are fixtures where one team will absolutely dominate. In this case, a points spread bet may be a way to get some value out of the markets.


In our world of being able to watch sports live, stream NBA games and follow each and every aspect of the sport in real time, it is even possible to bet on the games as they are happening.

This is a way to gamble if you are watching a fixture and you think you know how it is going to unfold, or even if an unusual event curtails the fixture and gives you an idea for a new bet that you will win.

In-play betting is more widely available on large fixtures but the coverage is growing all the time, so there are plenty of opportunities to gamble as the event is ongoing.


Totals are when you are betting on how many points you think will be scored in the fixture, rather than betting on an individual team to win it. If you think that a fixture is going to be high-scoring, then this can be your opportunity to back this belief with the bookmakers. Totals are very common types of bets on the NBA and other forms of basketball, so you can usually find a market for this. The bookmakers will set a middle ground and you can bet on the points total being above or below this.


Don’t fear it, and don’t let the jargon put you off. The NBA has a lot of jargon and terminology when it comes to betting but once you understand it, you will see this is all to help you have more control of what you will be betting on.