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What is Juice? (Vigorish)

College Basketball Betting: What is Juice? (Vigorish)

By Loot, College Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

It’s a big reason why the book succeeds and most players fail. Juice (aka: Vigorish) is what makes the sports betting world go around. In case you thought the bookie was in business for our entertainment purposes, there are reasons they thrive year after year while the average betting man bites the dust. One of the main reasons is the juice.

When you make a wager, there are two sets of odds. One are the actual odds of what you need to happen. Then there are the odds the bookie is giving you. Rest assured, those are two different things. The gap that exists is the juice. In other words, if the true odds of your wager winning is 7-1 and the book is only paying 6-1, that’s called juice.

The most common and easy-to-understand example of juice is when you make straight bets on sides and totals. The wagers will be -110, meaning you must bet $110 for every $100 you hope to win (profit). In this instance, the juice is spelled out. It’s easy to comprehend. It isn’t always that way.

The more extravagant the bet, the more juice you will be paying. Bets including parlays, teasers, prop bets, and futures wagers all carry with it increased juice. In other words, the amount that you stand to win doesn’t come very close to the true odds of what you’re asking to have happen. Anyone who succeeds at college basketball wagering is very conscious of juice and goes above and beyond to avoid big doses of it.

Juice all but guarantees the bookie will win. When picking which team will cover the spread, the total winning percentage from all players will equal out to about 50%. When betting $110 for every $100 you win, 50% doesn’t cut it. Take all players who make 2-team parlays, for example. On average, players will win about 1 out every 4. But they don’t get the 3-1 odds that represent the true probabilities, they get 2.6-to-1. Multiply these numbers over thousands of times and it’s clear how big of a role juice plays in the world of wagering.

Betting Tip: A few online sportsbooks out there offer "reduced juice" where you only lay -105 odds. The best one can be found at 5Dimes.

The bookie naturally wants you to make bets that offer bigger juice. Bookies love bettors who make extravagant parlays and other wagers where the payout doesn’t even come close to matching the actual odds. They’d prefer everyone play that way. Not that they would turn away your business, but it doesn’t really excite the bookie to have a player who tries to eke out a profit making straight bets, where the juice is less crippling to the bettor.

We do ourselves a disservice when we eschew the issue of juice. If you’re in Vegas for a weekend and want to fly by the seat of your pants a little bit, that’s one thing. Anyone who places a lot of college basketball wagers, however, should be very wary of paying steep juice on any kind of consistent basis.

The best way to shield ourselves from the ravaging effects of juice is to keep it simple. The vast majority of our wagers should consist of straight bets. In addition, we should be diligent in finding a book that gives us the most bang for our buck. A lot of good books offer discounted rates, namely the cherished -105 line.

If we veer off-course, we subject ourselves to the very element that guarantees most bettors will lose. That means we are swimming upstream, with the sheer mathematics preventing us from gaining any foothold. When making straight bets, we are risking a little more than we stand to win. A winning percentage in the mid-fifties is enough to turn a profit. In other words, we aren’t getting pounded by the juice.

Juice, again, is the gap that exists between the true odds and the odds the bookie is giving us. When making straight bets, that gap is something we can hop over. Or at least we have a fighting chance. All we need to do is just win a little more often than we lose. That is actually doable. When we begin to go off-the-grid and make more elaborate bets, the gap becomes much bigger. Over time, that gap starts to resemble the Grand Canyon and it is far too much for anyone to overcome. As college basketball bettors, juice is something we all have to drink. Let’s just remember to take small sips instead of gigantic gulps.

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