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Betting 101

What Does -110 Mean?  Betting Juice Explained

If you’re new to sports betting, you’re going to quickly hear talk of terms like “juice”, “vig”, “vigorish” or “cut”. Whatever adjective you want to roll with, the bottom line is any of these terms refer to the fee bookmakers charge you for placing a bet.

At any legal sportsbook within the United States, you will find that the magic number in sports betting is “-110”.

To define what this number entails, let’s quickly breakdown the difference between a minus symbol (-) in sports betting from a plus symbol (+).

Any time you see a minus symbol preceding the number, this is the sportsbook’s way of telling you the amount of money you need to risk to win $100.

Conversely, any time you see a plus symbol preceding the number, this is the sportsbook’s way of telling you the amount of money you will win if you risked $100.

With that out of the way, we can immediately determine that a game with a -110 number would require you risking $110 to win $100 on that particular wager.

In the below example from the 2020 National Championship game, you will see that Clemson is a 5.5-point underdog to LSU.

If you wanted to win $100 betting the point spread on either side, you would need to risk $110 to do so.

Conversely had you bet $100 on Clemson to win straight up on the moneyline, you could have won $180 (as indicted by +180 next to Clemson’s moneyline odds) had Clemson defeated LSU in the National Championship, which they of course did not do.

Confused yet?  Don’t be!  It’s a lot easier to understand when you get the basics of sports betting down and understand what juice means for a sportsbook and what juice means for the bettor.

What -110 Means…. From the Sportsbook’s Perspective

From a sportsbook’s perspective, there needs to be some sort of incentive on their part to take the risk from your bet to ensure they make money from bettors on a regular basis.  This is how they stay in business after all, so as with everything related with gambling, there is a cut the sportsbook takes to place the wager.

This is what is more commonly known as the vig, and the industry standard of said vig (think of it like a tax on your bet) is 5%.

Thus, the -110 (100 x 5%) number was born.

Now, if you’ve ever wondered, “Why can’t I just bet $10 to win $10?”, the simple reason is that if bettors were to make ten bets and continuously split their bets or come close to doing so, the sportsbook would have a very hard time making a profit of their own.

Whereas if they receive an even split of money on a game, the sportsbook’s dream, they are guaranteed to come out ahead, regardless of the winner.

Now if you happen to play a heavier favorite or tinker with the original line by buying points, you will have to factor that into your cost because again, sportsbooks don’t exactly want to pay even money on teams that are more likely to win than not.

Anything that gives the bettor a little more of an advantage will have a price tag to go with it.

Make sense?

What -110 Means…. From the Bettors Perspective

For the bettor, it’s pretty straight forward what -110 entails for them.

The -110 number is essentially the same thing as wagering on a small moneyline favorite.  (If you’re not quite familiar with moneyline wagering, click here.)  The difference being, this typically comes involved with a point spread or totals wager, as opposed to picking an outright winner with moneyline wagering.

Sometimes you can score cheaper lines marketed along the lines of “reduced juice” or “nickel lines” that will be reduced under the -110 number to attract more action on that side.

You may also encounter a matchup where the point spread has not adjusted, but the price will.

This typically comes on games that have a side getting a lot more of the action than the other, and a sportsbook may then list the favorite at around a -120 to -130 number to back that side.  However, this isn’t a big deal if you win the bet.  But if you lose, make sure you’re accounting for the “juice” in your bankroll.

Conversely, you may run into some occasional plus number games (ex. +105, +115) involving a spread or a total depending on the sportsbook.  This reiterates the point that it’s a good idea to have multiple sportsbooks to choose from when shopping for the best line, as sometimes you can find a line where you would actually make more than you risk.

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