What Is Sports Betting Juice?

Betting juice is the amount of money the sportsbook takes as their cut. It’s also called vigorish.

(note on other names you may hear: “vig,” “the take,” “commission” and a few other verities of these)

The juice is why sports gamblers are setup to lose. If you just bet a friend, there’s no juice so you’re expected to come out even over time. You make 50 bets, he should win about 25 and you should win about 25. But in sports betting, there sportsbook also wants a cut. That’s the juice.

So how do you know…

  • How do the sportsbook take the juice?
  • How do you tell how much juice their taking? What’s typical?
  • How much do you have to win to break even with the sportsbooks taking some of your profits?
  • How do you reduce “juice tax”?

We’ll cover all of these questions. Juice is one of those things that seems small, but we’ve talked about how small differences are the differences of pros and joes when it comes to sports gambling.

Knowing the sportsbook take is super important to your gambling success. Let’s get started.

How do the sportsbooks take juice?

Sportsbooks don’t advertise that they take a profit, they just automatically calculate it into the odds.

The easiest example is a bet you have a 50% chance of winning, like a spread bet. Any bet you will lose half the time should pay double. This would be listed as +100 odds. But you’ll notice almost all 50/50 bets have -110 odds. This means that to win $100, you can’t just bet $100. You have to be $110. That extra $10 is the sportsbooks juice. Here’s an example:

How to determine how much juice they’re taking?

Determining the sportsbook’s take isn’t easy.

On 50/50 bets (like spread bets and and over/unders), it’s the easiest because you know without juice you should double your money. But what about moneyline bets where you might get one team with +140 odds and the other team with -170 odds. That’s a lot more difficult to tell how much juice they’re taking.

But if you want to figure it out there’s a way. Most sports betting sites will calculate the payout for you before you place the bet (see the image above), so you can fill in a $50 bet for each side (in the case above $50 on the +140 team and $50 on the -170 team). The total winnings should be $200 or $100 profit with no juice. You’ll find it’s less than this, and however much less is the juice. Typically, 10% juice is pretty fair, but I’m walking away when it’s much higher than that.

It get’s really difficult when you get into parlays. There’s so much going on it’s not reasonable to calculate the juice. The sportsbooks know they can hide profits the more complicated the bet… more on this later.

When Do You Break Even with the Juice Factor?

So if the sportsbook is taking juice, you have to win more than 50% of your spread or other “even money” bets to break even. 

I’ll start with a formula, but you can skip that if you want the answer for the most common odds.

Break-Even Formula

[Moneyline odds / (Moneyline odds + 100)] x 100

The solved number would determine the percentage of wins you must get from your bets to break even in the long term.

Important Points to Note

1.   Negative Odds: The solved value is the win rate required to break even

2.   Positive Odds: 100 – The solved number is the win rate required to break even

Let’s go over some examples:

Break-Even for – 110

To break even with -110 odds, you will need to win at least 52.4% of your bets.

How did I determine this? Let’s plug into the numbers from the formula above:

[110 / (110 + 100)] x 100 = 52.4%

Break-Even for + 120

So, for a +120 odds, you will need to win up to 45.45% of your bet on this odd to break even.

With positive odds, you’ll have to use one more step to calculate (shown above):

[120 / (120 + 100)] x 100 = 54.55%

100 – 54.55 = 45.45%

How do you reduce the juice tax?

The first step to reducing juice is to know that a fair amount of juice. Here are two rules of thumb:

  • 8-10% take by the casino is typical (so about $0.80 to $1 for every $10 bet)
  • -110 odds if typical for 50/50 bets

This makes the easiest way to avoid high takes by the sportsbook to avoid 50/50 bets that are -115 or lower (more negative) in odds. These bets are clearly stacked against you.

There are times when it’s important to shop for juice. This is usually moneyline bets because the odds are always different. For example, the Yankees might be favorites against the Pirates, so the Yankees have -160 odds, while the Pirates have +140 odds. It’s not uncommon to find Sportsbooks with different odds in these cases.

So what should you look for? If you ignore the (+) and (-) signs the negative odds/favorite will always be the higher number. You get the better deal when the positive number (underdog) bet is closer to the negative number (favorite) bet. The opposite is also true: if the negative number is a lot “higher” than the positive number than the sportsbook is taking more juice. In example, -160 and +140 is a lot better than -180 and +120 for a game. Shop around and find your best deal.

There’s no time that’s more important to shop around than live betting. I’ve seen live betting odds and juice vary a lot more between sportsbooks than pregame odds.

Another tip is act whenever you see no juice, or better, the sportsbook is setup to lose money. This only happens during promotions like no juice promos that will have 50/50 bets at +100. I’d snag these offers when you can. Even better, odds boost and other promotions can turn the juice upside-down and make your odds of winning much higher.

I’ll end with my best tip for reducing juice: avoid parlays. There’s no rule htat says sportsbooks have to charge more for parlays, but they almost always do. It’s well know that sportsbooks profit 2-3x more on parlays than they do standard bets, meaning you’re the loser.

Bottom Line

Unlike your childhood, less juice is better.

Hopefully your eyes are now open to the sportsbook takes. At the end of the day, you’re not just betting against the other side of the bet, you’re betting against the sportsbooks take.

Sometimes it can seem small, but as I hammer home in the sports betting guide, it’s surprisingly small differences that make the difference between people that make a career out of sports betting, and those that lose it all.