What is Vig?
Vig is an abbreviation of the word ‘vigorish’, and refers to the percentage that a bookmaker charges for taking a bet. Vig can also be used to refer to the interest being charged on a loan from an underground casino or a loan shark, although this is only the case in the United States. The word vig has its origins in the French language.
‘The juice’, ‘the take’, ‘the cut’, ‘under-juice’: all of these are alternative words for vig and may often be heard in gambling establishments. Vig is simply the way in which bookies make money for providing a service to gamblers. They will do this by balancing the books. For example, say a bettor places a huge bet on a horse at 30/1. The bookie may wish to lengthen the odds of the favourite in the race. This attracts more people to bet on the favourite meaning that, if the outsider wins, then the bookie will have enough money from the bets on the favourite to be able to cover the winning bets on the outsider; this also ensures that the bookie still makes their cut. The typical Vig taken by bookies is 4.5%.
The amount of Vig that a bookie takes will vary depending on what sport and what event the person is betting on. For example, if someone places a bet on a World Cup game, then the Vig will be very low, because many people are placing bets and so the bookie is able to balance out the bets to make their Vig. On the other hand, if someone wants to place a bet on a tennis match in the first round of an unknown tournament, then the Vig will be higher, as the bookie is not taking a lot of bets and will find it harder to balance the books.
The Vig is only taken from winners’ bets, and the more winning bets a bettor has, the higher the Vig taken by the bookie.