In baseball, they often talk about the magic number, the total number of games a team needs to win or have its closest lose, or a combination of both that when attained, assures the club of a spot in postseason play. In the sportsbook industry, there is also a magic number, and that number is -110. Sportsbooks, like any buisness, are in the gambling industry in order to make money. If the house doesn't profit, it will quickly collapse in upon itself like a house of cards.
Minus-110 A Plus Sum For Sportsbooks
Here's a line from a Major League Baseball game to view as an example:
In this game, the Minnesota Twins are listed as -110, but what does that mean? Well, in the simplest terms, it's the moneyline odds on the Twins to win the game. Moneyline wagers are based on $100 increments. In this instance, to win $100 on the Twins, you would be required to bet $110.
It's All About The Juice
No, weren't not talking about O.J. Simpson. The juice on the loose in this instance is the profit margin for a sportsbook, the sum that allows them to make money off wagers and stay afloat. The industry standard for the juice, or the vigorish or vig, as it is also known, is 10 percent. That's what the sportsbook will take off the top of every wager as what basically amounts to a user fee for providing the service that allowed you to place your wager on game.
Now, look at this line on a CFL game:
The Calgary Stampeders are -7.5 favorites against the Ottawa Redblacks, who are listed as the +7.5-point underdogs. Yet both wagers come with a line of -110 on them. It's the same over to the right on the total, which is set at 57. Whether you opt to play the over or the under, the line is still -110. That's because this is the magic number for the sportsbook. They aren't going to allow their vig to dip below a minimum guarantee of $10 on every bet laid, so you aren't going to see that line dip below -110.
But as money is wagered on a game, you will see those lines trend upward from -110. So if you were to bet +110 on the Stampeders to cover the spread and they succeed in doing so, then you would take home $210 - $110 from your original wager plus $100 profit. But if another bettor were to play $110 on the over on the total of 57 and the final score ended 34-21, that's only 53 points and that bet would be a loser.
Even though you collected $100 in winnings on your wager, with the $110 loss on the other fellow's failed over bet, the sportsbook still comes out of the two bets with a $10 profit margin. This is the reason why -110 works for well for the sportsbook. In most cases, there will be just as many losing bets as winning wagers on every game.
For sake of argument, let's say 100 people placed $110 each on this CFL game and 50 of them were winners. That means there would also be 50 losers and the sportsbook would be guaranteed $500 in profit when all the wagers were tabulated. Now think about how many games there are available for wagering purposes on all the sports at a sportsbook in a given day. This should allow you to gain a better understanding of why the sports betting industry is such a profitable venture.
If there were no lines on games and all bets were merely straight wagers, it would difficult, if not impossible for sportsbooks to remain in business. The -110 scenario is no different than if you hire a stockbroker to handle your investments, or an agent to negotiate your contracts. They will also take a cut of your take as a fee for services rendered. Think of -110 as the way the sportsbooks garner their fee for the service of providing you with a place to lay your wager.
Reducing The Juice
Some sportsbooks, as a way of enticing you to play at their book, will on occasion offered reduced juice wagering. Think of this as the sportsbook version of a clearance sale. Suppose you were in the market to get yourself a spanking new Dallas Cowboys jersey in time for the NFL season. You go to the mall and in one sporting goods store, there's an Ezekiel Elliott No. 21 white Dallas home jersey priced at $110. Sounds like a sweet deal, but just to be sure, you check out the sporting goods store at the other end of the mall.
Wouldn't you know it, they've got a sale on and there's an Elliott jersey for $105. Your patient search has just saved you five bucks. Well, this is kind of how reduced juice works in your favor. To entice you over to play your wagers at their sportsbook, a bookmaker may reduce the juice or vigorish that they take from a wager.
You might see lines offered at -107, -105, or even as low as -102, all below the industry standard of -110. What does this mean for you? It means that on two similar bets like the ones listed above in that CFL example, you would only be required to wager $105 to win $100. So like when you were at the mall, you've just saved yourself five bucks.
There are some sportsbooks that offer reduced juice all of the time, while others utilize it as a promotional tool, almost like a happy hour in a bar. But watch out for bets on favorites that are bumped up to recoup that alleged reduced juice, such as a -115 favorite instead of -110. That $5 reduction on one wager just got added to another wager.
Other sportsbooks will offer you reduced juice on wagers in the place of other bonus offers that might work out better for you in the long run. It's always a good idea to do a background check on any sportsbooks that continually offer reduced juice. Are they doing so because they've got a bad reputation within the industry and are offering discounts in order to lure customers back to their site?