How Vig Works in Sports Betting


If you’re new to the world of sports betting, you’ve probably noticed several references to the juice or vig (short for vigorish) when reading gambling articles. Basically, it’s a sportsbook’s best friend and a bettor’s worst nightmare, and it’s one of the biggest reasons why it’s so challenging to turn a profit when you’re betting on a regular basis. Most bettors think you go even if you go 1-1. Not true! The vig acts as the house advantage and why bookies will never go out of business.

So, what is the juice? It’s the cut of profit that the sportsbook takes when you make a winning bet. Obviously, the goal of the sportsbooks is for bettors to lose a little more than they win so that they keep turning a profit, and the glitzy casinos in Las Vegas prove that they’re pretty successful at what they do. But every so often, sportsbooks deal with a few professional gamblers who know what they’re doing and can usually make a nice profit with their bets.

The book isn’t going to tell these gamblers that they can’t bet because they’re usually among the biggest bettors in the business. Turning these bettors away isn’t good for business because even the best gamblers will lose about 40 to 45 percent of the time, and when these bettors get one wrong, it usually means several thousand in profit for the book.

Instead, the casino will take a little at a time from these bettors by taking some of their profits when they win. That’s why you’ll see spreads at -110 instead of even money: because the casino is taking its cut of the winning bets’ profits. In this way, it really doesn’t matter as much for the casino’s needs if they get the spread correct: they’ll win plenty on the losing bets, and they’ll take 10 percent of the winners’ profits. In short, it’s a great system for the sportsbooks.

Why is Juice the Enemy of Bettors?

Think about it: let’s say that you’re consistently flat betting $50 at -110, and you come out with 20 wins and 20 losses for the week. You didn’t lose anything. Right?
Wrong. Thanks to the juice, your losses total $1000, but your wins only total $909. In that scenario, you’ve lost $91 for getting as many wins as you did losses. In order to come out ahead in that scenario, you’d have to go at least 23-17, which gives a considerable edge to the sportsbook. It’s pretty hard to make money when you’re losing 10 percent of your profit or more when you win, and losing 100 percent of your stake when you lose. Of course, that’s exactly what sportsbooks are counting on and why they’re so successful.

Your Best Weapon Against the Juice

First, you owe it to yourself to shop around and find the best book for your betting needs. If you know you’re going to be betting a lot, it’s a good idea to find a book that offers reduced juice on most of your bets. There aren’t many out there, but there are a few. For instance, BetAnySports offers reduced juice at -105 instead of -110 for almost every point spread sport available. They also offer reduced vig on moneyline bets.

What can that do for you? Let’s revisit the earlier scenario of 20 wins and 20 losses at $50 per bet. By paying reduced juice, you’d make an additional $43 on your wins, almost a full win better than the standard -110. One win might not seem like much, but with how hard it is to win bets, every little bit helps for your bottom line.

Second, when you’re in love with a short underdog, you can bet them on the money line when you feel good about their chances. Betting the underdog can be a risky strategy because, statistically speaking, moneyline underdogs don’t win as often. But if you can identify a few underdogs that have a reasonable shot to win straight up, you can get put yourself in a good position where you’re wagering less to win more and collect a nice profit off your strategy.

The best way to maximize your chances of finding a live dog is to take the time to do your research and make sure that you’re as informed as possible before you place your bet. We’ll provide plenty of information for you on important games so that you know the key stats and where you might have a slight edge with the underdog. If we think there’s a good chance to cash a ticket at plus money, we’ll explain precisely why that’s the case so that you can maximize your chances of picking a winner.

Finally, you’ll want to be smart with your money management and make sure that you’re betting what you can comfortably afford to lose. Obviously, it would be great if every bet you make was a winner, but the best-laid plans can and will go awry from time to time when you’re betting on sporting events. Unfortunately, the internet is full of boastful touts and people claiming to be professional sports handicappers who lie and claim to hit 60% on a regular basis. Believe me when I say it doesn’t happen. It can and does happen in short spurts, but not long term. A very tiny percentage of bettors can pull this off, and you’ll never hear from them or see them because they’re busy doing their own thing!

Those serious about winning at sports betting are relentless in their studies and are constantly doing anything and everything they can to give themselves the best possible chance to win. That means following sports religiously, reading tons of articles and making calculated moves, placing bets only when you have the edge.

Remember, successful sports betting has a lot to do with getting your number, and that applies to the juice as well as to the spread. Make sure that you’re betting reduced juice whenever you can to cut into the house advantage the books have over you. It can be done!