football page background

What Does Chalk Mean In Betting?

Become an expert in chalk betting and impressive your friends with your extensive betting vocabulary; on this page we look at what chalk is in betting and how you can place chalk bets.

If you enjoy sports betting and/or watching and trying to pick the winners of horse races, one commonly used betting term that often comes up in conversations is “chalk.”

However, chalk, as it applies to sports and horse racing odds, has a special meaning apart from the everyday meaning of this word. If you are not sure about what might chalk mean in sports betting but you are curious to learn more, this article will clear up the mystery.

What Is Chalk in Sports Betting?

Chalk in sports betting refers to a heavy betting favorite. Since all major sports have both top-performing teams and bottom-rung teams that frequently play one another, sportsbooks use moneylines and point spreads to attract more action on the underdog. Even so, many chalk bettors will not be deterred.

The bigger the chalk, the lower the rate of return on a moneyline bet compared to the much greater amount you must risk to place the bet. No wager on a two-sided proposition is a sure thing, and major upsets occasionally occur, which can play havoc with the bankroll of a small sports bettor. Or, if you bet heavy chalk on the point spread line, you might be surprised by how often these bets go down because the superior team has an off day. Spread lines for the betting favorite in many college football games are in the 30s, and the anticipated blowout does not always occur.

It is important to understand that chalk in sports betting always refers to the favorite, but not all favorites are considered chalk. For example, a team that is -600 on the moneyline (costing you $600 for every $100 you hope to win) or a 14 ½ -point spread favorite would be considered chalk. However, a team that is -120 on the moneyline or has a point spread of -2 ½ is not chalk.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what the term chalk means in sports betting, you will know exactly what the speaker means when you hear comments like the following:

  • “Yesterday was such a chalky NFL Sunday I had to wait in line an hour to cash my ticket.”
  • “The odds on the chalk are insane. How can I make a profit when the return on my bet is so little?”
  • ” I knew what he bet on without even asking. He always bets on the chalk.”

Make Your Chalk Bets At These Sportsbooks

Promocode: GAMBLEUSA
1445 ratings
Up To $1,500 in Bonus Bets
  • Superb range of sports
  • Enticing rewards program
  • Extensive catalogs of betting markets
Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (available in the US). Call 877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY (467369) (NY). Call 1-800-327-5050 (MA). 21+ only. Please gamble responsibly. Call 1-800-NEXT-STEP (AZ), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), 1-800- 981-0023 (PR). First bet offer for new customers only. Subject to eligibility requirements. Bonus bets are non-withdrawable. In partnership with Kansas Crossing Casino and Hotel. See for terms. US $1500 promotional offer not available in New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Ontario, or Puerto Rico.
2005 ratings
Up To $1,000 Deposit Bonus
  • Accepts deposits as low as $5
  • Hefty welcome and referral bonuses
  • Available in 22 US States
Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. Call (800) 327-5050 or visit (MA). Call 877-8-HOPENY/text HOPENY (467369)(NY). Call 1-800-522-4700 (NH), 888-789-7777/visit (CT), or visit (WV). Offer for new customers 21+ (18+ KY/NH/WY), present in AZ, CO, CT, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA (select parishes), MA, MD, ME, MI, NJ, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, VT, WV, WY only. Void in ONT/OR/NH. Eligibility restrictions apply. See terms at
1148 ratings
Bet $5, Get $150 In Bonus Bets
  • Massive Choice of Sports
  • Daily Odds Boosts
  • Convenient Banking
Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. Hope is here. or call (800)-327-5050 for 24/7 support (MA). Call 1-877-8HOPE-NY or Text HOPENY (467369) (NY). 21+ and present in AZ, CO, CT, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA (permitted parishes only), MA, MD, MI, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, VT, WV, or WY.
Promocode: GUSA1000
1265 ratings
$1,000 First Bet on Caesars
  • Great Mobile App
  • Brilliant Welcome Bonus
  • Range Of Bet Types
21+. New users only. Offer valid and must be physically present in AZ, CO, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, IL, MD, NJ, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY. 1-877-8-HOPENY (467369) or Text HOPENY (467369). Call 1-800-GAMBLER.
3403 ratings
Up To $500 2nd Chance Bet
  • Awesome live betting
  • Multiple bet types
  • Huge range of sports & markets

Why Is it Called Chalk?

Horse racing is another type of betting where the term chalk is often used. Horse racing is where the term originated.

Initially, before the start of computerized screens, the odds for the different horses in a race were written with chalk on a blackboard rather than being displayed on a digital odds board. Since favorites received the most action, their odds changed more frequently than the odds for the other horses, and the odds for heavy favorites were updated so often that their names were covered with smeared chalk and chalk dust.  As a result, strong favorites, not just in horse racing but with sports betting in general, started being referred to as chalk.

What Can I Win

Chalk Betting Examples

The odds at post time on the great Secretariat to win the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, were only 1/10. In other words, a $2 bet paid a measly $2.10.  However, the odds were justified. The horse won by 31 lengths and set a track record.

Not all heavy chalk lives up to public expectations, however. Take the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs, for example. As the No. 1 seeded team in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks’ first order of business in the playoffs was to eliminate the No. 8 seeded Miami Heat.

DraftKings posted a moneyline of -1000 on Milwaukee. However, the Heat pulled a massive upset and won the series 4 games to 1.

What Is a Chalk Player?

 A chalk player is a person who consistently resorts to betting chalk. The term frequently has derogatory connotations. Others may equate chalk play with sucker bets that show both a lack of respect for the value of money and a lack of original thinking.

Chalk Betting on Different Sports

Chalk betting can apply to a game in any competitive sport where one team, player, or statistical outcome significantly stands out.

But one of the most noteworthy examples occurs just before the start of March Madness when college basketball bettors fill out their brackets for how they think the NCAA tournament will play out. Since the opening round of the NCAA tournament will inevitably include some games where the underdog team is happy just to get in and is given virtually no chance, many bettors will pick the chalk (i.e., the top four seeds).


Why is betting called chalk?

Bets on heavy favorites are called chalk because back when horse tracks used chalk to display odds, the odds on a heavy favorite required such frequent updates that the horse’s name would be covered with chalk dust.

What is chalk in football?

Chalk in football is a team with very expensive moneyline odds or a very big (i.e., double-digit) point spread.

What does a chalk player mean?

A chalk player is someone who consistently bets on heavy favorites.