Sports Betting, Gambling and the Vigorish

What is a vigorish? A vigorish, or vig for short, is a bookmaker's commission for taking bets. It is also called "juice." To understand how vigorish works, let's look at a bookmaker and what they do.

A bookmaker is a sports betting broker. You go to a bookmaker to "match" your sports bet. You may say, "What for? I can always wager with my friends!" Right. But there are times when you'd still want to use the services of a bookmaker. For one thing, you may not find anyone willing to match your wager. Or they may not agree to the odds you want.

So you shop for a bookmaker that would take your bet at the odds you want. Various bookmakers will offer you different odds. When you find a bet at the price you like, you make your bet. But you will have to add the bookmaker's commission to your wager.

The mathematics of vigorish is not that simple and cannot be expounded on without going into the gambler's behavior. Some say it is the winning bettor who pays the vigorish since their winnings would be a little bigger if it weren't for the vigorish taken by the bookie. Others say that it is the losing bettor who pays the vigorish. But this is mere theorizing that only gambling mathematicians would be interested in. The important thing to know is that this is how the bookmaker makes money.

Vigorish is also a term to describe a casino's commissions in games where it cannot otherwise profit. An example is Texas Holdem Poker, a purely human versus human game in which the house does not participate. The commission taken from a Poker pot is called a "rake" and is set aside by the dealer after every betting round.

Other games where vigorish may refer to the house commission are Baccarat, Craps, Pai Gow Poker and Backgammon. There is no vigorish in either Blackjack or Video Poker since they are played against the dealer (house).

Vig can also refer to the "house advantage" of a casino game. A house advantage designates the profit the casino will make in the long against a player. The house advantage depends on the type of game played and on the strategy (if any) that the gambler uses.

For professional sports bettors and gamblers, it is important to know about vigorish. The more bets you win, the more commissions you pay. Your staking plan and your winnings, therefore, must be able to beat the vigorish. Also, in some countries, it is possible to make sports bets without using a bookmaker. This is done at betting exchanges. Unfortunately, betting exchanges are not legal in all countries, so make sure is permissible where you live.

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