What Is Vig In Sports Betting?

Key points

  • Vig, also known as vigorish or juice, is the amount that sportsbooks charge for taking a bet.
  • The amount of the vig will vary based on the odds, but it’s always there — even when it’s not readily apparent.
  • Bettors can line shop to compare odds and should be cognizant of the impact that vig has on the bottom line.

When betting on sports, you won’t always double your money when you win. That is because of the vig, which is essentially the amount that the sportsbook charges to take wagers. It’s a cost of doing business, essentially a cost from the sportsbook for accepting the wager. This page covers how it works and its overall impact.

What is vig?

Vig is short for vigorish, and the two terms are interchangeable. The amount of the vig is part of the odds for all bets.

Essentially, the vig is the equivalent of a fee or commission that online sportsbooks charge. It helps to make sure that the book makes money regardless of how a game goes. By extension, it also has a direct impact on the potential profits for bettors.

Is vig the same as juice?

Yes, for sports betting purposes, vig and juice are referring to the same thing. Both terms see regular use in betting circles, so there’s a good chance that you’ll encounter them both.

The juice is part of every bet that a sportsbook offers. Bettors should try to account for this prior to placing bets, as the amount of the juice plays a role in your potential profits.

Which sportsbooks charge vig?

All of them. Sportsbooks are for-profit entities and not in business to lose money. The vig is a big part of how they make sure that doesn’t happen. It also provides them with an edge over the average bettor, who has to beat the vig long-term to be profitable.

How much vig do sportsbooks charge?

The amount of the vig can vary. To make things even more confusing, it’s not always readily apparent what the exact amount is from the sportsbook odds. However, for spread and total bets where the odds are -110 on both sides, the answer is easier to identify.

  1. Both sides of a bet have -110 odds.
  2. One bettor wagers $110 on Team A, and another wagers $110 on Team B.
  3. That’s a total of $220 in wagers.
  4. The winning bettor would receive $210 (original wager of $110 plus $100 in profit).
  5. The sportsbook’s cut, then, is $10.
  6. That cut, divided by how much the book paid out, equals the vig: 10/210 = .0476, or 4.76%.

As odds for spreads and totals shift, so too does the price you pay to wager. If the numbers go lower, such as down to -108 or -106, you’ll pay less and have the potential for greater returns. When the odds go the opposite way, such as up to -112 or -114, the price of the bet grows, meaning you must wager more to win the $100 profit mentioned above.

Vig for other bets

When the odds are the same on both sides, then the vig is easy to spot. When betting the moneyline and other wagers where the odds differ, the calculation is a little more involved. You can use an online handicapping calculator to figure the juice, or you can do it yourself via the following steps:

  • Translate the odds into implied probability.
    • Negative odds: Absolute value of the odds/(absolute value of the odds +100) = implied probability
    • Positive odds: 100/(value of the odds +100) = implied probability
  • Add the implied probability on both sides together.
  • Subtract 100 to get the vig.

Let’s work through the above while using a moneyline split of -140/+120.

  • Implied probability at -140
    • 140/(140+100) = 58.33%
  • Implied probability at +120
    • 100/(120+100) = 45.45%
  • Implied probability results
    • 33% + 45.45% = 103.78%
    • 103.78% – 100% = 3.78%

The vig is 3.78%. For another option, you can calculate the vig directly from the odds via the following formula.

  • (Favorite odds/(favorite odds + 100) X 100) + (100/(underdog odds + 100) X 100) – 100 = vig
    • Example: Odds of -140+120
    • (140/140+100) * 100) + (100/(120+100) * 100) – 100 = 3.78%

The above formulas are useful when it comes to two-sided bets. When it’s a wager with multiple options, such as a futures bet on the winner of the next Super Bowl or a prop bet on the first player to score a basket in an NBA game, the calculation is more challenging.

For the abridged version, you’d have to calculate the implied probability for each of the options. Next, add them all together to come up with a total, from which you’ll subtract 100 to determine the actual vig. Sportsbooks charge vig on all of the bets that you place, and it can be much larger than normal when it is not quite as easy to figure out, especially in futures markets where it is easier to hide.

How the vig impacts profitability

To further understand the vig, it helps to view it through the lens of how it actually affects your bottom line. For a simple exercise, let’s consider the profit potential of a winning $100 bet at various odds.

OddsPotential Profit
+100$100
-102$98.04
-105$95.24
-108$92.59
-110$90.91
-112$89.29
-115$86.98
-118$84.75
-120$83.33
-125$80

To further understand the impact, consider the fact that a spread and total bettor who wins 50% of the time at odds of -110 will lose money on a long-term basis. To fully cover the vig, you would need to win more than 52.38% of the time. That extra 2.38% is half the vig of 4.76% that we calculated above.

The sportsbooks have a built-in advantage because of the vig. Meanwhile, bettors have to not only win their wagers but do so often enough to beat the vig.

Can you reduce the impact of vig?  

There’s no way to completely get around vig. However, there are ways to mitigate some of the impact:

  • Line shop: The difference between odds of -110 and -108 or -125 and -120 might not seem like much for a single bet, but it adds up on a long-term basis or if you bet larger amounts. Before placing your bets, take the time to shop around at multiple sportsbooks to find the best possible odds for any bets you want to place.  
  • Reduced vig: Occasionally, sportsbooks will run promos that lower the vig, such as dropping spread odds from -110 to -105. When you see reduced vig that lines up well with the spreads and totals that you want to wager on, that’ can be an advantage in placing your bets.
  • Other promos: Sportsbook promos can take on many forms, ranging from free to risk-free bets to insurance, odds boosts and more. Promos provide you with the chance to boost your own bottom line. By extension, using them correctly can help to reduce at least some of the impact of the vig.
  • Win rate: If you can get your win rate to an extraordinary level, the vig won’t be much of an issue. While that’s not a realistic goal, improving your percentage to the point that you are beating the vig is more attainable than completely eliminating its impact.
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