What is Vig and Juice in Sports Betting?
You may have heard the term “vig” or “juice” in movies and shows, always in reference to some sports betting action, maybe a couple of wise guys in an old black-and-white, talking shop, referencing “the vig”, etc. And now you are wondering, what does vig mean? What is juice in sports betting? It may sound like a secret code, but in reality, it’s just part of the sports betting terminology.
The “vig”, short for vigorish, is the price you pay the sportsbook for the privilege of making a bet. The vig is also called the “juice”, so the two terms can be used interchangeably. You can think of it as the fee the sportsbook charges for taking your bet. Now, when we say fee, don’t think that you have to actually pay a fee in order to place bets with the sportsbooks. The vig is already baked into the betting odds, so you are paying it every time you place a bet.
The concept of the vig is best understood through an example. Let’s say that you want to place a straight bet on a football game and the sportsbook has the favorite team with -110 odds. Without getting into how the odds work (you can read all about it in our guide on the subject), this means that you have to bet $110 to win $100. As you can see, there is a $10 difference between the amount bet and the amount won, which should otherwise be equal: in a two-to-one odds (2/1), you simply double your money. But in this case, you don’t really double your money, since you had to wager $10 more than your win. This $10 difference is called the vig and is one of the ways the sportsbooks make money.
This is all in theory, however. The idea is that the sportsbook would keep the perfect ledger of bets: the same amount would be risked on a team losing as on the team winning. If those two numbers match, the sportsbook would still make money from the juice. In reality, however, this almost never happens, so even though it may look cool to talk about the vig, there is really not much in it left. Most sportsbooks today don’t make much money from the vig alone. And while there are bettors who still look for reduced juice sportsbooks, those benefit players who are betting large amount of money and try two squeeze the maximum return. For example, if one sportsbook has the odds posted at -110 and the reduced juice book has them at -105, if you were to bet $100, the difference in the vig would only be $5, hardly much of a profit difference. If, however, you were a high roller, betting $10,000 on the game, the difference in the juice alone is now worth $500, hardly a difference to ignore.
But for the majority of people, the vig (or juice) is just a cool term to throw around with friends, rather than something to pay attention to at the betting sites. And now that you know what the vig means and how it works, feel free to pepper it all over your conversations, knowing that you won’t be caught off-guard.