What Does Juice Mean In Sports Betting?
by Doc's Sports - 10/9/2014
The juice is the primary way that sportsbooks make money - the commission they take on bets. It is also commonly referred to as vigorish, or just vig.
We’ll use an example to see how the juice works. The standard price for a pointspread or total bet is -110. That means that you have to bet $110 to make a profit of $100 on both sides. Let’s say that $1,100 is bet on each team, and the underdog covers the spread. Bettors on the underdog will make a combined $1,000 in profit. Bettors on the favorite will lose their $1,100 in combined bets. The sportsbooks will use $1,000 of those $1,100 in losses to pay the winning bettors. Left over is $100. That’s the juice - the commission on the bets, and the profit for sportsbooks.
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People assume that sportsbooks are trying to be smarter than bettors - out-handicapping them and winning more games to make their profit. That’s just not the case. It’s all about the juice for books - at least ideally. Just think about it - if the books can get approximately balanced amounts of action on both sides of a game then they can make a guaranteed profit no matter how the game turns out. That is far more attractive for them than having exposure to one side or the other and hoping for the best. Books, then, are in the business of getting balanced action - they are market makers. The reason that lines move is because either action is more tilted to one team than the other and the movement makes the underappreciated team more attractive, or because the books anticipate unbalanced action because of a development like an injury and they are moving to minimize the impact of the action. When linemakers set lines, then, they aren’t necessarily trying to figure out who is going to win the game and by how much. They are focused on how they think you and the rest of the bettors are going to perceive a game, and where they need to set the line to drive balanced action. The better you can understand that and all that it means, the stronger you will be as a bettor.
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