There are many different types of juice in this world, but other than MLB-level steroids the one type of juice you want to minimize your exposure to is sports betting juice. Otherwise known as vigorish or vig in the sports betting industry, the juice is defined as the fee that the sportsbook charges every single time you make a wager.
Without the juice, sportsbooks would have a much harder time making a profit from their operation. In fact, the juice is so powerful that it sometimes allows the books to make money no matter what the outcome of the sporting event happens to be.
While it is possible to find bets that do not have any juice, a majority of the bets you make in sportsbook will be charging you a small fee. The only bets that do not charge any juice will have their odds listed as “EVEN”, which means that it is a completely fair bet.
How Does Juice/Vig Work?
Sportsbooks are companies that have the sole purpose of making money and the juice is exactly what allows them to get the job done. Let’s assume that you place a $1000 bet on the Los Angeles Lakers to win their game against the Boston Celtics at -110 odds. Meanwhile, another bettor places a $1000 bet on the Boston Celtics that is also listed at -110 odds.
If the Lakers win their game then you win your bet and the sportsbook has to pay you but they do not have to pay the other bettor who chose the Celtics. This means that the sportsbook got to collect the juice from both players but only had to give a payout to you, which guarantees them a small profit overall. The exact same thing will happen if the Celtics win the game since the odds are the same, except that the other player will get paid out instead of you while the sportsbook still collects their profit from the juice.
Just looking at this scenario should explain to you why sportsbooks like to change the amount of juice they charge from time to time. They would like to keep their investment on both sides of the game as close to even as possible since they are guaranteed a profit from the rake if they can manage to do this. If one side is getting far more betting action than the other side then they will sometimes change the juice to tempt bettors to choose the less popular side and even things out a little bit.
How Do You Calculate Juice/Vig?
Instead of guessing how much juice you are being charged on a bet you can plug some variables into a very simple equation and figure it out for yourself. The equation which will allow you to solve for how much juice you are being charged in a two-team event is shown below:
Vig/Juice = 100 x (1 – (p1 x p2/ p1 +p2))
It is a lot easier to understand what this equation is saying once you know that the variables p1 and p2 are simply the payouts for each side of the bet in decimal form. If the odds in question are listed in fraction form then you simply need to divide the denominator (or bottom number) into the numerator (or top number) and then add 1 to convert the fraction to decimal form.
The best way to learn how to calculate the juice is to practice with an example. If you look at the Houston Astros moneyline bet against the Cleveland Indians this evening you will see the odds are set at 1.66 while the Cleveland Indians moneyline bet has the odds set at 2.25. Simply plugging these numbers into the aforementioned equation will show that the juice percentage is equal to 100 x (1 – (1.66 x 2.25/1.66 + 2.25) which simplifies down to 100 x (1 – 0.9552) and gives you a final answer of 4.48% juice.
It is very important to note that most American sportsbooks tend to list their bets in moneyline format which means that you should know how to convert those numbers into a decimal format so that you can plug them into the juice equation above. If the moneyline number is higher than 0 you simply divide it by 100 and then add 1. If the moneyline number is less than 0, you will divide 100 by the moneyline amount without the negative sign and then add one.
Why Does Juice Vary So Widely?
After perusing all of the betting options at your local sportsbook you might notice that the amount of juice they charge on each bet can vary from no juice at all to quite a lot of juice. There are many reasons for why this could be the case, but a general explanation is that the juice will always be set where the sportsbook feels like they can make a profit and in different situations that number can fluctuate wildly.
One of the big advantages you get from betting on major markets such as the NFL or NBA is that your juice will be lower compared to the smaller markets. The main reason for this is because the sportsbooks take their major market lines very seriously and focus most of their attention on making sure they are correct which is why they are confident enough to charge less juice. However, this advantage is usually counteracted by the fact that smaller markets usually impose a cap on how much you can wager for each sporting event.
Another time that you will notice you are being charged a lot of juice is when you are live-betting in an online sportsbook as the event is happening. Even though these bets can give you extra entertainment during a sporting event that you are watching, you will need to wager more money in order to win the same payout amount you would have won if you had bet on the same result before the game started. The exact amount of extra juice for a live bet varies from site to site but it will generally be around 10% higher than usual.
Finally, a good way to avoid paying higher vig is to pay attention to the type of sports bet you are making. For example, parlay bets might seem enticing at first because of the insanely high payouts that are available if you include a ton of teams in your bet. Unfortunately, it turns out that the more teams you pick the higher juice you are paying since you are not going to get paid anywhere close to the true odds for your wagers. In fact, sportsbooks in Nevada recently reported that they are holding around 30% of all parlay bets that have been made since 1984 which is around 10 times higher than what they keep from straight bets in any single sport.
Why is Juice Important?
We have already mentioned the importance of juice when it comes to the sportsbooks’ side of things, but how does it apply to you as a sports bettor? How can the act of focusing on the amount of money that someone else is charging you to make your bets help you in any way?
The fact of the matter is that juice is something that all serious sports bettors should be paying close attention to. For starters, if you know how high the juice is then you can calculate how often you need to win your bets to make a profit, which is critical information to know.
Another reason why juice is important is that you can use it to figure out when the best time to make your wager will be. If the juice is higher than you are comfortable with then you can simply wait for it to lower before you make any bets.
It is also occasionally true that a change in the juice for a certain bet signifies a possible line change coming for that wager in the near future. This is extremely advantageous for a sports bettor to be aware of because if you perceive a line change will happen that favors the team you were going to bet on then you can simply wait for the change to happen and then get better odds on your bet. Conversely, if the possible line change does not favor the team you were going to bet on then you can quickly place your bet before your odds become worse.