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Understanding Your Online Sportsbook’s Juice on NFL Games
The standard commission or ‘juice’ that the typical online sportsbook charges to book a bet is 10 percent. This is why you will see -110 listed next to a pointspread or total line on their betting board for that week’s NFL games.
The 10 percent commission is applied when you place the bet and it is actually charged when you lose a bet. For example, if you like to bet $50 on NFL games, you actually have to put up $55 when you first place a bet. If you win, you get your $55 back plus the $50 in winnings. If you happen to lost that bet, your overall betting account is $55 lighter.
When it comes to betting on point spreads and total lines for NFL games, all things are not always created equal when it comes to the actual juice you have to pay.
There are two ways that today’s online sportsbook adjust their betting lines for pointspreads and totals. The first is by moving the actual line based on the early betting action coming in. If Green Bay happens to be favored by three points against Minnesota and all the majority of the early action comes in on the Vikings, the book might lower the spread to 2 ½ points in an effort to shift some action the other way. The same concept applies to total line moves if the betting public is leaning heavily one way or the other based on the current betting number.
More and more, sports bettors are seeing movement in the actual juice that is charged to place a pointspread or total line bet. Instead of tweaking the spread or total betting line, they will raise the juice on one side against the other in an effort to shift the action coming in.
Using the example above, the listing on a sportsbook’s board may read as follows when it is first released:
Minnesota Vikings +3 (-110)
Green Bay Packers -3 (-110)
In an effort to shift some money towards the Packers, the updated odds may read as follows:
Minnesota Vikings +3 (-120)
Green Bay Packers -3 (+100)
The book decided to leave the spread at three points, but it will cost you 20 percent commission to bet on Minnesota while paying no commission to bet on Green Bay. This great for anyone who was looking to bet the Packers in this game, but a bet on the Vikings just added some additional risk to the reward of winning this game.
You will find variations like this with the total line as follows:
Minnesota Vikings Over 44 (+100)
Green Bay Packers Under 44 (-120)
In this scenario, you would have to pay the 20 percent juice for a bet on the UNDER 44 in this game, while paying zero juice for a bet on the OVER.
Adjusting the commission owed along with line movements for the pointspread and total line really make shopping the numbers an interesting proposition. This is why most serious NFL bettors will have online accounts at a few different books. Not only have millions of dollars been won or lost on a half-point line move, deviations from the standard -110 juice have moved quite a bit of money around from bettors to the books and visa versa as a result of the outcome of certain games.
The big picture in understanding the juice that an online book is charging for any individual game is the potential savings on the juice paid for losing bets over the course of an entire NFL season. If you can save even five percent of your total commission paid, you will be way ahead of the game by season’s end.