What Is the Vigorish?
If you’re just getting into sports betting, you may find yourself wondering what all these indications are next to your events. Don’t be tempted to just dive on in and throw a stack of cash on your favorite team’s playoff game.
Why? Because even if you win, you’ll be left wondering where the rest of your winnings went. So, we are here to define what the vigorish is so that you can enjoy your betting experience to the fullest!
What Is the Vig?
The vigorish, more commonly referred to as “the vig” or “juice”, can be defined in many different ways. Simply put, the vig is the amount you pay the house in exchange for the opportunity of placing your wager. Hey, we’re in this to make money, and so are those offering their services.
Once upon a time, a transaction was completed with your friendly neighborhood bookie. In the age of the internet, the era of virtual sportsbooks is here.
Every time you place a bet, a vig amount is deducted from your winnings, which goes straight to your online sportsbook.
The industry standard vigorish rate is -110, though each sportsbook may provide different odds. That means it takes a $110 wager to win $100, with $10 going to the bet taker. One of the simplest ways of verifying the vig is checking out the totals (over/under) category. Since you are only betting one way or the other the line is usually set at the standard rate as exemplified below.
Playing Favorites with the Juice
Where the example above explains a standard over/under wager at -110, you may prefer betting on the winner of the game instead. For instance, you might see the following common situation for an NBA game:
If you wagered a $110 on the -1.5 point favorite Cleveland Cavaliers and they won and covered the -1.5 point spread, you’d get a return of $210. In this example, it is important to remember that “return” refers to your initial bet (your stake) added to your profit.
You’d receive your initial stake of $110 back, plus you’d make a profit of $100, for a $210 return. As a result, $10 would go to the house, as the juice.
As money comes in, the odds will start to shift. Weekly changes are indicative of what side the bets are on, so the odds have to change in order to balance out the payout on both sides. This helps spread the money so no matter the outcome the house can pay out and still make their profit plus the vigorish.
The most memorable case in point for this was when Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos were due to face-off against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the 2012 Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. Tebow and the Broncos were just coming off a miracle victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime so everyone jumped on the Tebow bandwagon and threw money on the Broncos as potential big-money underdogs in the next round versus New England.
As each day passed and the game approached, more and more money came in on the Patriots because they received better odds to entice bettors to wager on Brady and the Patriots just in case Tebow really did take care of business. With a better spread and more favorable odds, the money evens out and the house can pay off everybody while still raking in their cut.
The vig can vary from book to book as well. You may see the juice at -125 rather than the standard -110 on certain bets.
I.e. You would profit just $75 on a $100 wager at –125, versus a $91 profit.
Games with less attention and less money on them tend to have higher vigorish rates as there is less room for error from the house to payout. With more people betting on a more popular league or teams there is more risked money to pay the other side off so the vig can be lower.
The Bottom Line
Just like every bet, every sportsbook is different.
Shopping around for the best line is always a good idea. Sometimes you’re going to bet on your favorite NFL team regardless of the matchup. So, it would be wise to scan a variety of safe, legitimate sportsbooks to find the best spread and vigorish to make the most of your money.
The same can be said if you have no idea who you want to bet on and are just looking for the best chance at turning a profit. Look for the spread and odds that make you feel the most comfortable with your risk.