What is Vigorish? Understanding the Vig in Sports Betting

vigorish sportsbetting

Vigorish is defined as the difference between what a wager should pay at true odds and what it does pay at posted odds. This applies to all gambling, not just sports betting. Craps, Roulette and any new game of chance invented in the next millennium.

Vigorish is 4.54 percent for sports bettors laying 11/10 or 110 to win 100.

Apparently some “experts” have been promulgating different numbers for the vig. Mathematicians may enjoy arguing figures and formulas, but the vig is a given, just like pi.

If a wager is a 50-50 proposition, like heads or tails on a coin toss, or the Lakers or Pacers at 7.5 in a basketball game, a player should receive even money on any selection. Bet $100, win $100; bet $347.64, win 347.64, bet $11, win $11. Double your money back on every correct choice.

But a sportsbook only pays $10 for each $11 invested, so a winner collects $21 instead of $22. The difference is the vigorish, 1/22 or .0454545 or 4.54 percent.

If I tell you that two equals six and that three equals four, how much is two plus three? The answer remains five, because no matter what somebody tells you, two is still two and three is still three and when they are added five is the total.

The logic holds in the vigorish question. The vig remains 4.54 percent, regardless of any “expert” opinion. Revolutions and revelations are rare in gambling, and none are forthcoming in this area.

The Vig Changes Depending on the Odds

The vigorish naturally changes with the posted odds. A sportsbook offering 108-100 or 105-100 is cutting a break on the vig, also known  as “juice”. A sportsbook at 6-5, or -120 to win 100, is charging considerably more vig (8.33 percent.)

Serious bettors are always aware of the vig. Like poker players, some know the exact odds, while others are more intuitive. They know that receiving 5-1 on a three team parlay is not good, even if they don’t know the vig is an exorbitant 25 percent.

By the way, a three team parlay paying 7-1 is just about the best bet you will ever find, because it offers true odds with absolutely no vig. Depending on the sportsbook stipulations, you could bet any game at even money.

A two team parlay paying 13-5 is no bargain, either, because the vig is a hefty 10 percent. Most bettors avoid such plays not because it is twice as difficult to pick two winners, but because it costs twice as much when they do.

The vig is what determines your break even point. On traditional wagers laying 11/10 you must win about 53% of your wagers to break even. Find a sportsbook offering -104 juice though, and your break even point is only 51%. That should clearly illustrate the importance of the vig!

The vigorish may be an unhappy fact of life, but remember that the game would not be played without it. Brokers need their commissions, and deserve them for taking action on any side. But there is no logic in giving them any more than their due.