If you are just starting out in your sports betting adventure, you might have heard the terms “juice” or “vig” many times, but likely don't know what it means. Here we will explain what is juice (or what is vig) and how it all works in the sports betting world.
What is Juice? Juice Explained
Juice or “vig” is simply the percentage a sportsbook “charges” for offering odds on sports betting events.
As we all know, there are no membership fees to join and bet at a sportsbook and contrary to the popular belief, the sportsbooks don't make money from the people that lost their bets. Well, we should probably say that their goal is not to have losers betting, but have equal amounts on each side of the bet. Naturally, this is nearly impossible to achieve, so the sportsbooks do sometimes make money from people losing their bets and other times can get obliterated by winning bettors. But that's a topic of a different conversation.
Getting back on track to the “juice” and “vig”, which are two sports betting terms describing the exact same thing. The sportsbooks have built-in profit maker in the odds, which many bettors refer to as “juice” or vig, which is short for vigorish. The most simple way of explaining and understanding juice in betting is to think of it as a percentage of each bet the book charges the bettor, or if you are a poker player – look at it as a rake.
How Juice works? / How vig works?
With most betting lines, the juice is not really apparent, but you can spot it and understand it completely if you look at one popular betting option -the over/under bet. If you pick a sport and look at the over/under lines, let's say and NBA game, you will see something like:
Total 201.5 points
You know how the total bet works – the sportsbook selects the most likely total of the scores of each team and then offers odds on whether the actual score will be over or under that total. If the sportsbook's odds makers did their job, both over and under will have 50% chance of occurring. Yet if you look at the odds, you will see that they are not “even”, as one would expect, but -110, i.e. you have to bet $110 to win $100. Where did the extra $10 come from? Well, my friend, that's exactly what the juice is and how the vig works. The sportsbook tries to get even amount of money on each side of the bet, in this example case the over/under on the NBA game, and juices up the odds to make profit from both sides of the bet. If ten people bet to win $100 each on over (i.e. $110 wagered per bettor) and ten people bet to win $100 on under, in the end, the money will simply travel from one side to the other. But the sportsbook, thanks to the juice, will make cool $200 ($10 vig on every bet) fee for offering the odds. While it's not as easy to see the juice on most betting lines, know that it's always there.
Low Juice Sportsbooks
While every sportsbook will charge vig, or have juice in the odds, otherwise it would be one very risky and most likely, unprofitable operation, not all sportsbooks have the same juice in the odds. The industry standard among the top sportsbooks is the so-called dime line. You can read more about it in our betting glossary. And there are betting sites with extremely high juice, praying on unsuspecting recreational bettors, those should be avoided at all costs, no matter how little you may bet. There is no need to throw away your money and we will never have a high vig sportsbook listed among the sportsbooks we recommend.
On the other side, there are low juice sportsbooks, although not many of them, to be perfectly honest. One of the most popular and reputable low-juice sportsbook is 5Dimes, which has always offered low juice lines on all their betting markets and is The Low Juice Sportsbook for US players. Another trusted low juice sportsbook is Pinnacle, which unfortunately does not allow players from the USA to join and bet with them. Those two sportsbooks are a perfect example of low juice sportsbooks and you can visit them to compare odds with other betting sites to see examples of the vig we explained earlier.
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