Understanding Vigorish & How it is Calculated

Sports betting can be incredibly entertaining, but it’s also a challenge. The wins are great, but the losses are frustrating. Even when you do more of the former than the latter, there’s no guarantee that you’ll come out ahead.

So why is that? That’s thanks to the vig, short for vigorish (also known as “juice.”) Sportsbooks charge vig on your bets. It’s essentially a fee for facilitating a bet, and it eats into your potential profits.

As you continue down the path toward finding long-term success in sports betting, it’s important to understand the vig and how it impacts your bottom line.

What is the vig in sports betting?

The vig is the amount charged by sportsbooks for the placement and settlement of bets. Instead of a separate fee, the vig is built into the odds for your bets.

It’s helpful to think of it as a fee or commission factored into the price you pay. When you place a bet and don’t double your money or more, the difference is thanks to the vig.

For bets in which you do profit at a rate of 100% or greater, the vig is still there; it’s just not as readily apparent. In order to achieve long-term profitability, you not only have to win more than you lose but also beat the vig.

Is the vig always the same?

When you place bets, the odds aren’t always exactly the same. As such, the amount of the vig will vary. For bet types that tend to fall into the same range, such as spreads and totals at -110 in American odds and 1.91 in decimal odds, the vig is clear cut.

When you place a bet at those odds, you have to bet $110 to get back $100, while a $100 bet will return $90.90. The difference between the return and a full doubling of your money is the vig amount.

For other wager types, such as moneylines and props, the vig doesn’t shine right through on first glance. However, if you add up the implied probabilities for the possible outcomes, you’ll quickly see that there is, in fact, a vig being charged.

Do all sportsbooks charge vig?

Yes, all of the top legal online Ontario sportsbooks charge vig. They’re for-profit entities, and this is one of the main ways they make money. If they didn’t charge a vig and went on a lengthy losing streak, the business would teeter unsustainably.

The amount of the vig can vary based on the odds, a point which further stresses the importance of line shopping. This simply means you are taking the time to compare the odds before placing your bets.

The difference between -110 and -105 or 1.91 and 1.95 may not seem like much for a single bet, but it has a direct impact on your potential return. That being the case, you should always be mindful of your odds and shop around to compare.

Vig for different bet types

To further understand the concept of vig, it’s important to know that, in addition to variances based on the odds, it can also vary based on bet type. While it may not always seem obvious, you can rest assured that sportsbooks factor it into their thinking when releasing lines. Let’s take a closer look at how it applies to several popular bet types.

Vig on spread bets

While the spread is most commonly associated with football betting and basketball betting, you’ll find it’s used in a number of other sports. The name applied can be different, such as the run line for MLB and puck line for NHL.

For the NFL odds, NBA odds, CFL odds, college football odds and college basketball odds, the majority of sportsbooks use odds of -110 or 1.91 as the starting point for spread bets. If the betting volume breaks with a clear preference, they may adjust from there.

The odds could move to -105 or 1.95 on one side while adjusting to -115 or 1.87 on the other. Over in MLB and NHL, it’s not uncommon to see vast differences in the odds on both sides, such as splits of -130/+110 or 1.77/2.1.

Using the standard baseline for point spread bets, the amount of the vig is standard. At odds of -110 or 1.91, you have to wager $110 to get back $100, while the return will be $90.90 on $100 bets. In both cases, the difference between that and a double is 9.09%.

Those small movements in the market odds may not seem like all that much, but they directly impact your return.

  • Odds of -105 or 1.95: Winning $100 bet returns $95.20
  • Odds of -115 or 1.87: Winning $100 bet returns $87.00

For spread bettors, the odds and vig amount are critical components to understand. If you placed all of your wagers at the standard odds, then you would have to win at a clip of 52.38% just to break even.

Vig on over/unders

For over/under bets, also known as totals, many sportsbooks use the same starting point as they do for point spread bets. At the initial release of lines, it’s not uncommon to see odds of -110 or 1.91 attached to the two possible choices: over or under the estimated points.

Using the standard odds as the guide, totals bettors can generally expect to see 9.09% kept by the book. They’ll have to win at a rate of 52.38% to break even. A win percentage of greater than that amount takes you into profitable territory.

That’s a guideline based on the default odds listing, but everything doesn’t always stay so neat and clean. For totals bets that are attracting a good deal of betting volume, it’s not uncommon to see movement on the odds board right up until game time.

The best advice is to take the time to shop around and compare prices. While doing so, be on the lookout for patterns, such as books that consistently seem to be above or below the mark when it comes to the general market.

To further demonstrate the impact, here’s what winning $100 bettors can expect back in profits at a few different price points.

  • $100.00 profit at +100
  • $95.20 profit at -105
  • $92.60 profit at -108
  • $90.90 profit at -110
  • $89.30 profit at -112
  • $87.00 profit at -115

Every tick of difference on the odds board adds up, so be sure to take the time to look around before placing your bets. When you remember that the odds have a direct impact on your bottom line, the time spent doing so becomes well worth it.

Vig on moneyline bets

Over on the moneyline, the vig calculation gets a little more confusing. The majority of the time, the favourite will have negative odds while the numbers are positive for the underdog. For the favourite, there’s a simple calculation you can make to determine the vig.

We’ll walk through how to do that in a bit. On the underdog side, you have the chance to double your money or more. That means there’s no vig on that side, right? Not exactly. The vig is built into the bet in its entirety.

A very useful exercise whenever you bet on the moneyline is to determine the implied probability based on the odds. There are plenty of online handicapping calculators to lean on, but here are a few easy steps to get the answer yourself.

  • Decimal odds: The number 1 divided by the value of the odds – i.e. 1/1.65.
  • Negative American odds: The value of the odds divided by the value of the odds plus 100 – i.e. 120/220.
  • Positive American odds: The number 100 divided by the value of the odds plus 100 – i.e. 100/270.

If you work through the formulas, you’ll have your answer, which can then be converted to percentage form. From there, you add together the implied probability from the two sides to spot the vig. Here’s a quick example.

  • Odds split of -130/+110 or 1.77/2.1
  • Implied probability at -110 and 1.91
    • (130/230) *100 = 56.5
    • (1/1.77) *100 = 56.5
  • Implied probability at +110 and 2.1
    • (100/210) *100 = 47.61
    • (1/ 2.1) *100 = 47.61
  • Implied probability results
    • American: 56.5 + 47.61 = 104.11
    • Decimal: 56.5 + 47.61 = 104.11

For only two possible choices, the true probability should be 100. As you can see, the probability in relation to the odds exceeds that. If you take the amount above 100, you’ve found the vig on the moneyline bet: 4.11.

Vig for other bets

The vig is also factored into other bet types, such as props and futures. It’s even calculated by the books for live betting. Absent a special promotion of “no juice” or something along those lines, you can rest assured the vig is factored into the odds.

As a result, you need to be fully aware of how the odds stack up to the market as a whole. If you can find more favourable odds on the selection you want at another legal shop, then that’s where you should be placing your bet.

For fast-moving live betting markets, that’s not exactly easy to do, but you can also compare what you see by playing at different books for individual wagering sessions. If you come across some that seem to offer more favourable numbers, that’s where you should live bet.

As for props and futures, our customizable live odds feed is a great tool to lean on as you compare prices. You can see the real-time data from all of the top shops with a single glance, making line shopping that much easier.

Calculating vig on sports bets

By working through the implied probability scenario that we outlined up above, you can decipher the vig with a little bit of work. There’s also another formula to follow and get to the same place, but be aware that it’s not for the faint of heart or math-averse among us.

  • (Favourite odds/(Favourite odds + 100) X 100) + (100/(Underdog odds + 100) X 100) – 100 = Vig

The above formula puts together the implied probability and the vig amount into one package, so it’s really a matter of your preferred approach. As an alternative, there are plenty of online handicapping calculators to lean on.

Being aware of the vig in betting and how it impacts your bottom line is a key step to take in the quest for long-term profitability. That said, there’s no need to bog yourself down with a ton of calculations when you can quickly and efficiently get the answer with a little assistance.

Handicapping calculators can also uncover the implied probability, as well as the payouts on your winning bets based on the odds and the amount of your stake. Once you find one you like, keep it in your back pocket for whenever questions of this ilk arise.

What to remember about the vig

Vig is short for vigorish, a term often used interchangeably with the term “juice.” It refers to the fee the book is keeping for facilitating your wager.

For spread and totals bets that always fall into the same range, the amount of the vig is simple to remember. On wagers that have varying odds, it’s not always clear, but there are formulas and calculators to help.

Bettors who are seeking long-term profitability on top of the entertainment factor that comes with sports betting need to be fully aware of how the vig works and the impacts to your bottom line. In short, you can still lose money even when you win more than you lose.

The break-even point is 52.38% at standard odds of -110 or 1.91, and it naturally varies when you’re betting on odds all over the map. By knowing the impact to your bottom line, you’ll become much more conscious of your odds.