One of the common misconceptions with amateur bettors is that they need to hit 60% to 70% of their bets to show a big profit. While it’s within reason to hit that high of a percentage over a short period of time, it’s not a sustainable rate over the long run. The question you should be asking yourself is what percentage of your bets do you need to win to break even and go from there.
Why 50% is Not Your Break Even Point
Unless you are making friendly wagers with a buddy, where you are simply exchanging the amount bet after you win or lose, you are going to have to pay juice with each bet through a sportsbook or bookie. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the term juice (also known as vig), it’s simply the amount you have to pay to place a bet.
For example, say you wanted to bet $100 on the Patriots at -7 against the Colts . You would be risking $100 + juice to win back your original bet. The standard juice or vig is 10 cents for every $1. So in the above example, you would have to risk $110 ($100 x $0.10 = $10) to win $100. While you only win back your original bet, you would be out $110 if you lost.
This is why hitting 50% is not your break even point. Say you won 5 bets at $100 a piece and lost 5 bets at $100. You would have profited $500 on your winning tickets and lost $550 on your losing wagers. While you went 5-5 (50%), you would be down $50.
Break Even Point With Standard Juice (-110)
Now that we have established that winning 50% of your bets will have you in the hole, it’s time to get into the break even point on a standard wager with standard juice of (-110).
The break even point with standard juice is 52.38%. There’s a very easy formula for figuring out what the break even point is, which I have provided below in detailed steps.
1) Break Even % = Price / (1 + Price)
*Price = Amount required to bet per $1 (standard juice is 10 cents for every $1. So the price would be 1.10).
2) Break Even % = 1.10 / (1 + 1.10)
3) Break Even % = 1.10 / 2.10 = .5238095
4) Break Even % = 52.38%
How Break Even Point Can Change Depending on Juice
The key thing that you need to keep in mind with the break even point of 52.38% that we found for a bet with standard juice, is that it is only applicable for wagers on spreads and totals that use a standard juice. The break even point can change quite drastically if your standard juice is higher or lower.
There are some sportsbooks out there that offer reduced juice such as 5Dimes and sometimes the odds are set where you have no choice but to pay a higher juice. These are going to throw off your break even point quite a bit. This is why I highly recommend shopping around for the best odds, as just a few cents of juice can make a world of difference.
Say you had a book that offered .08 cents juice instead of .10 cents. Your break even point would go from 52.38% to 51.9%. That might not seem like much of a difference but it adds up quickly. Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it.
Lets use an example where you had 500 wagers and during these 500 wagers you hit a respectable 55%, which would come out to an overall record of 275-225.
- Amount won with standard .10 cent juice on $100 wagers = $2,750
- Amount won with .08 juice on $100 wagers = $3,200
As you can see, simply paying .02 cents less $1, you would profit an additional $450 and that’s just over a span of 500 bets. Just think about the money you are losing over an extended period of time.
Why Break Even Point is Way Different in Money Line Sports
Unfortunately not every sport uses a standard spread where you can pay the same juice regardless of which side you take. In baseball and hockey, the majority of the bets made are on the money line. One of the positive of money line sports is that you don’t have to pay a vig if you bet underdogs. However, on the flip side of this, you have to pay a lot more juice to back the favorites.
This is why winning percentage in baseball and hockey doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, you could have someone hitting 60% of their bets, but on average are paying a juice of .75 cents. This player would be in the hole big time. As the break even point for a vig of .75 cents is 63.64% (1.75 /2.75).
On the other side of this, a different player could be hitting 45% of their bets and showing a profit. Say this player’s average bet was on an underdog of +135. Instead of having to pay $1.10 to win $1, this player would be getting back $1.35 for every $1 wagered. In terms of price from the above formula, it would be $0.65 ($1 – 0.35), which is the same as saying he would have to risk $0.65 to win $1. In this case the break even point would be a mere 39.40% (.65/1.65).