What Is Juice in Sports Betting Explained
Updated: June 4, 2023
No matter the outcome of a sporting event, the bookie always makes money.
Well, OK. There have been a few exceptions to this rule over the years.
That has happened when something normally completely outside the realms of possibility (e.g. Leicester winning the English Premier League) happens.However, for the most part, bookies try to ensure that they make a bit of cash on every transaction.
The juice in sports betting is the profit margin that the sportsbook has worked into their betting odds. This ensures that no matter what happens during an event, the sportsbook will always make money.
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On this page, we want to give you an overview of what ‘juice in sports betting' actually means.
We also want to give you a rough idea of how it can be calculated. This can be quite a complicated subject, so we are only going to cover the absolute basics.
Just enough for you to know how much cash the bookie is pocketing from a bet that you place.
What Is Juice in Sports Betting?
A sports betting company is a business.
They may love to take your bets, but they do so in a bid to make a bit of cash.
Of course, as much as they want you to take risks on your bets, they do not want to be taking the risk themselves.
They want to know that no matter the outcome of an event, they are going to make a bit of cash.
For this, they add something known as the ‘juice' onto every bet (you may sometimes see this referred to as ‘vig').
They won't explicitly say there is a commission, but you can work it out yourself (more on that in a short while).
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Juice Sports Betting Example
We think the best way to illustrate how the juice works is to give you an example.
Let's do that with the classic 50/50 chance ‘bet' and that is a coin flip.
- Obviously, a coin has two sides.
- You can either have the coin land on heads, or you can have it land on tails.
- In fractional odds, this is 2/1, in American odds, this is +200.
Now, let's say you had a person betting $1 on heads, and another person betting $1 on tails.
A sportsbook would make no money on the transaction. This is where the juice comes in.
The juice is a bit added to the betting odds.
Let's take the coin example again.A sportsbook could bump up those odds a little bit so rather than saying “you need to bet $1 to win $2”, it could become “you need to bet $1.10 to win $2”.
That 10 cents then becomes the commission for the sportsbook, and they stick this in their pocket.
As we said, it can be a bit confusing, and you don't really need to know too much about the juice if you are a casual gambler.
You know that sportsbooks need to make money, and you generally accept that they will.
How Can You Calculate The Juice in Sports Betting?
First things first, we want to point out that betting odds will be constantly adjusted by the sportsbook.
This is because of the juice.
In order to ensure that a sportsbook makes as much cash as possible, they need to ensure that the number of bets on each side is roughly the same.
This means that if one side isn't attracting too many bets, they may make the odds a little bit more attractive.
This is important to know because if you are serious about your sports betting, you need to watch out for these odds adjustments.
Now that is out of the way, let's tell you how you can calculate the juice in sports betting.
This is where a bit of math comes into play.
This is because you are going to need to work out the implied probability of an event happening.
It is worth noting that there are two formulas that you need to follow.
- One for negative moneyline odds (generally the favorite). This means that the number is preceded with a – e.g. -300,
- and for positive moneyline odds, normally for the underdog. This will have a + before e.g. +300.
For the negative moneyline odds, do the following:
- Add the odds (without the -) to 100.
- Divide the odds by the number in step one.
- Multiply this figure by 100.
So, if you had odds of -300, it would be:
For positive moneyline odds, the process is similar, with one key difference:
- Add the odds to 100.
- Divide 100 by the figure in step one.
- Multiply by 100.
So, if you had odds of +300, this would be:
This means the chances of this bet winning (in the eyes of the sportsbook) is 25%.
Once you have calculated the figure for both sides of the bet, add them up.
For example, if you had an implied probability of 27% and 78%, you get a figure of 105%. Subtract 100 from this.
This will give you the juice.
In this case, it would be 5%.
This means that the sportsbook is making 5% on that betting line, no matter the outcome.
We understand that the juice can be quite confusing if you are brand new to sports betting.
However, we can assure you that it isn't something that you need to think about too much in the early days.
However, once you start to get serious about gambling, it may be wise to know how to calculate the juice on the fly.
If you can do that, you can work out which online sportsbooks are charging a hefty commission, and which ones are offering great value for money.
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