The Vig and the Value

The Vig and the Value

What if I told you that winning bets is not always the most important part of gambling? Sports betting is a fickle beast, with many intricate components. Believe it or not, picking winners is only half of the battle.

Those that are unfamiliar with sports betting and/or those that do not bet in general can sometimes perceive it to be easier than it actually is. Have you ever been watching a game where a heavy favorite is winning by a ton of points and overheard the sarcastic  "I should have bet my life savings on them to win" comment? Seasoned sports bettors in those cases tend to get a little enraged. Bettors wish it were that easy.

The most important component of sports betting is ensuring you get value for your bets. The implied probability of an outcome happening should be better than the odds on the line. For instance, if a player scores a touchdown in exactly 50% of their games played, would you bet them at -300 to score in their next game? While we acknowledge there are many other factors such as injury news, matchups, and external player motivations. More often than not, the answer would be no at -300 odds.

Whether or not said player is someone you think will score in the game, or you think it's a great bet because of the matchup, you want the line to hold value. At -300 odds, it is assumed this bet will win at a 75% rate to break even on it. These odds for that line should have bettors running for the hills. Now, if the sportsbook offered +105 for that line, a bettor would (and should) gladly place that bet. At +105 odds, said player would only need to score 48.8% of the time to break even.

Here is a full list of betting odds compared to their implied probability:

The most common vigorish, or vig, a sportsbook will charge on a line is -110. The vig by the book is the edge the house has since the implied probability of a set of events will always be 0ver 100%. With the example of -110 odds the implied probability of both sides of the line is 52.4%. Thus, adding up to a 104.8% probability. That 4.8% is the house edge over the line since one side has to win and the other has to lose.

There is no truer 50/50 bet than a flip of a coin. A coin flip is actually something bettors can wager on. It is one of the most popular prop bets for big games like the Super Bowl. As weird as it may sound, this "fun" bet can be very profitable and hold great expected value (EV). However, this is only the if you are given the right odds. If a sportsbook is giving +105 on both sides (they wouldn't) then a coin flip would be considered a great bet, holding a lot of value.

This is almost never the case, especially in a situation where bettors could bet on both sides and guarantee profit. Sportsbooks are too smart to ever offer odds like that. Instead, bettors are usually offered -105 or -110 for this bet type on most books. At -110, the oddsmakers give you an implied probability of 52.4% for a true 50/50 bet. Paying vig on a bet type like this then becomes a negative EV bet and is not worth a wager. At that point, you are better off betting with a friend at 1 to-1 payout. The equivalent of +100 odds.

The Value of Pikkit

Now that we understand what exactly implied probability means and how it relates to the value of a bet, let's talk about the Pikkit app. It is vital to line shop for every wager you place. There are now numerous sportsbooks and betting outlets available at your fingertips. Pikkit helps our users easily compare odds on a line among all books. It is as simple as opening the app and clicking on the line:

A screenshot of the Pikkit App Line Shopping screen

As you can see in this image, the Pikkit app displays all books and the current vig being offered. This makes the life of a bettor much easier and more importantly, profitable. In this case, if you were to play this under the 3.5 strikeout line and lose, you would much rather lose on the -128 odds. If a bettor wagered $128 to win $100 on this bet three times and won two of the three, they would profit $72.

If a bettor bet the same bet on Caesers, not knowing better lines existed, they would hurt themselves. A wager of $173 to win $100 would net you only $27 if they were to go 2-1. By simple line shopping and playing the best line, your profit would increase by 167% in this situation.

So, understand the vig and why it is important. Make sure you bet where the value is on any given line. Oh, and make sure to shop lines using the Pikkit app.