The Bookmakers’ Advantage
Oddsmakers are a talented bunch. They can handicap sporting events better than anyone else on the planet and are the best place to look when you want realistic odds on just about anything sports related.
Few people doubt the bookies’ abilities anymore and realize that they are usually on the money in terms of their predictions. Of course, some of the worst sports bettors around will say things like, “the bookies got this one wrong,” and go on to explain how “the wrong team is favored.” If any oddsmaker was regularly that far off – their sportsbook would soon be out of business. So we can assume that the ones that are still around are pretty good at what they do.
However, even if an oddsmaker isn’t perfect, one area that sports bettors sometimes gloss over is the built-in advantage held by the oddsmakers on every wager placed. This is known as the vigorish, juice, bookmakers’ fee, and many other colloquial sayings around the world. The “vig,” for short, is the edge that sportsbooks have on each bet placed. This ensures them a profit when they balance their action and gives them an advantage on each bet placed.
Sports betting is all about beating the vig and overcoming this advantage. If you can manage to mitigate the bookmakers’ advantage or effectively eliminate it, then you’re going to make some money betting sports.
Beating the Odds
Beating the bookmaker’s price is easier said than done, however. In today’s world of sports betting, the sportsbooks have systems in place that can automatically move their lines based on specific betting action. Much of this is automated, and there is always someone at the controls during crucial hours regardless.
When the odds move at one of the prominent sportsbooks, most of the market follows rather quickly. Beating the sportsbooks in terms of breaking news or updates is difficult, and they are quick to pull markets off the board when something breaks.
The bookmakers are more vulnerable than many think to sharp action. This is why their betting limits vary depending on the sport and market and why most have night limits for overnight odds on the next day’s games.
The ability to move the lines in a matter of seconds and adapt to the market quickly will always give the sportsbooks an advantage over the vast majority of the betting public. The fact that they can ban or limit players is another feather in their cap. If a player continues to attack their vulnerable markets, the sportsbook can no longer accept their bets.
In addition to their staff of managers and high-tech betting software, the sportsbooks have a hurdle for all bettors to overcome on each bet that is placed – the vigorish.
These standard 11/10 odds may not seem like much, but without them, the sportsbooks would be out of business. If all their wagers are charged the standard vig, this makes the break-even percentage for sports bettors 52.4 percent.
Winning 52.4 percent of your bets may seem simple enough, but it’s something that most bettors who walk up to a sportsbook in Las Vegas or deposit online can’t accomplish.
And that break-even percentage is only if you’re paying -110 on each bet. Of course, some sportsbooks offer reduced juice (-105) pricing, but most bettors don’t opt to use these markets or adequately line shop. In fact, many markets will charge bettors more than the standard 11/10 odds, causing them to pay even more in juice or vig.
How the Bookies Lock-In Profit
Using the vigorish, bookmakers have a built-in profit for each bet that gamblers place. This is because when two bettors take the same odds, the sportsbook pays out one side of the wager (the winner) and keeps the other (the loser).
there will be a winner and a loser.
wager and gain $1,100 for the loss.
10% profit on two bets may not seem like much on a small scale, but when you consider some sportsbooks take millions of dollars in wagers per game, this amount adds up quickly. After all, 10% of $1 million is $100,000.
Of course, it isn’t always that easy. Sportsbooks aren’t always able to get balanced action on all of their markets, but they do their best to make sure not to expose themselves to too much risk. The reason why betting odds adjust so frequently is because managers are looking at their balance sheets on both sides and adjusting accordingly.
Every time the oddsmakers adjust the betting lines, their moves affect the number of bets that come in and what markets bettors are wagering. To outsiders, many of these moves may seem like minor adjustments, but these changes can drastically affect betting action.
Bettors are still playing against “the house” when they bet on sports, but in many cases, the bookmakers would prefer one side wins over the other due to betting action. It’s not as simple as a player winning money at a craps table or blackjack table. There’s no potential positive benefit to the house when you win at craps or blackjack. You’ve merely taken money from the casino that they previously had.
However, the sportsbook may benefit more so and not simply profit their 10% commission when one side has more money on it than the other. Sportsbooks often take lopsided action on favorites, which means they will generally be rooting for the underdogs.
In fact, usually when the bookies have a profitable weekend on the NFL, it often coincides with professional-level sports bettors or just profitable sports bettors, having a strong weekend as well.