Bookmakers aren’t particularly concerned about which team wins a match. Instead, their focus is on balancing the number of bets on both sides to secure a small profit. This is why bookmakers change their odds on various outcomes as bets come in. In every bet or market, bookmakers have a margin, often referred to as “vig,” “juice,” or “cut,” depending on who you ask. But they all mean the same thing.
1. Decoding the “Vig”: Understanding Bookmakers’ Margins
The “vig” represents the margin bookmakers take when offering odds on an outcome. The size of this margin depends on several factors, including the number of bets placed in that market (liquidity), the level of competition among betting sites in the market (best odds), and the expenses associated with that market for bookmakers (in-house odds vs. third-party solutions, marketing, etc.).
A perfect example to illustrate how “vig” works is the coin toss market during the Champions League final. It’s a simple coin toss where the odds should be 2.0 (50%) on both sides. Instead, to earn their margin, bookmakers often reduce these odds to, for example, 1.85 on each side. So, you get €8.50 back for every €10 you wager. This market has a 7.5% vig and a 92.5% payout percentage (TBP).
2. How Big is the “Vig” Usually?
The size of bookmakers’ margins varies greatly, typically ranging between 7-10% for the top Scandinavian bookies(link). These margins can be observed in various sports, including football, ice hockey and handball. For instance, in larger markets such as the Swedish Allsvenskan, the Norwegian Eliteserien or the Danish Superliga, bookmakers with lower margins offer higher odds.
Some of the best bookmakers in Scandinavia, known for providing attractive odds and lower margins, include Unibet, LeoVegas, and NordicBet (link to review/affiliate link). These bookmakers have built a strong reputation for offering competitive odds and an extensive range of betting markets. The TBP in these markets can be as high as 98%, making them highly attractive for bettors looking to maximize their potential returns.
3. Tips for Smart Betting and Maximizing Returns
Two things we hope you’ll remember going forward are:
- Avoid betting on markets that should be 50/50 but only offer 1.85 odds on both outcomes. In such cases, the bookmaker’s margin is too high, making it difficult for you to make a profit in the long run.
- Bookmakers often have a much lower “vig” on draws since fewer people bet on them. As a result, this is a betting outcome that you can potentially earn more money on over time.
By understanding the concept of “vig” and being aware of how bookmakers make money, you can make more informed decisions when placing bets. Remember to compare odds across various betting sites to find the best value and increase your chances of making a profit.