How To Calculate Sports Betting Margins

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Bookmakers make money regardless if you win or lose your bet by creating margins in their betting lines.

The bigger the margin, the more money they make but they often go overlooked by bettors.

If you’re reading this and thinking ‘what are sports betting margins?’, this guide will help you understand and help you calculate them for yourself.

Here’s all you need to know.

Sports Betting Margins

Here’s the deal.

Sports betting margins are the cut taken by the bookmakers for using their service to make the bet.

You may have heard of the term ‘juice’ or ‘vig’ – these both refer to the same thing.

Margins are what give bookmakers an edge and are usually built into their odds.

However, while these cuts tend to be small, they still have an effect you’re paying out to a bookmaker.

Even a 1% difference can be the difference between winning and losing in the long-term so it’s vital you can work out the margin.

Plus, it can reduce the bookmakers’ edge and improve your own.

How To Calculate Sports Betting Margins


While realizing that you need to find reduced margins is all well and good, you must know how to actually calculate them.

While you can use a margin calculator to make life a lot easier, there is a way to do it manually.

Here’s an example of how to calculate sports betting margins.

Example of sports betting margins

These odds suggest that Louisville are favorites, so you must wager 145 units to win 100.

On the other hand, the odds suggest Minnesota are underdogs, so you will win 105 units from a 100-unit wager.

In order to calculate the margin, you need to calculate the implied probability that each wins from the betting odds that either team wins.

Here’s the formula:

Implied Probability = (Risk/Return) * 100%

We apply this equation to each team. Starting with Louisville:

Implied Probability = ($145/$245) * 100% = 59.18%.

Now for Minnesota:

Implied Probability = ($100/$205) * 100% = 48.78%

Add the percentages together:

59.18% + 48.78% = 107.96%

The difference between this total percentage and 100% is the margin.

In this case, the margin is 7.96%. In other words, you’re paying the bookmaker $7.96 for every $100 wagered.

This particular example has a huge margin so we would recommend finding another bookmaker if there was value in this bet.

If you want a list of the best bookmakers, click here to check it out.

Otherwise, this next part of the article will show you the things to look out for when choosing the best bookmaker. 

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Tell your friends how to calculate the margin so they can make more money too!

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Tell your friends how to calculate the margin so they can make more money too!

How To Choose The Best Bookmaker

Aside from the odd and the smallest margins, there are other things to consider when choosing the best bookmaker.

Here are the top 5.

Range Of Markets

Firstly, the best bookmakers have a wide range of markets to bet on.

While the majority of people bet on popular sports such as football or baseball, there could be a lot of value from moving away from the norm.

Bookmakers should have a list of all the sports they cover somewhere on the screen.

For example, Pinnacle have theirs on the left-hand side.

Pinnacle have a range of markets to bet on

The majority of bookmakers have plenty of sports to bet on but it’s always worth checking just to be sure.

User Experience

Poor user experience turns off customers regardless of the website or the business.

Your bookmaker should be no different.

Making money from sports betting should be an enjoyable experience so your bookmaker must enable you to navigate the markets and find bets easily.

Browse through their different sections as you use the site.

Customer support is also important for a great user experience.

The best online bookmakers will have systems in place, such as live chat or dedicated teams, to deal with all your queries or issues faced while using their site.

Again, browse the interface to see what options are available. 

Read some reviews to get a feel for how their customer service teams dealt with previous or existing members.


This is important.

How your bookmaker deals with withdrawals signals how much you can trust them.

Some will happily let you deposit but once you request to withdraw your winnings, all of a sudden, they will request all sorts of information from you, such as providing proof of identity.

If you’re asking yourself ‘why do they need this now but not when I was depositing?‘ you are thinking along the right lines.

In general, stay away from sites like this.

The best bookmakers allow you to withdraw your funds just as easily as depositing.

Betting Limits

Unfortunately, the majority of bookmakers don’t actually like you winning and will start to limit your account once you make too much.

While this is a sign that you’ve created a profitable betting strategy, it can be extremely annoying – if you make plays with larger units, this may happen quite quickly.

As part of your research, look for sites that encourage bettors and don’t look to restrict your betting limits.

Look through their terms and conditions or use reviews again to see when anyone else has experienced limited accounts.


If you’re new to sports betting, sign up to a bookmaker that offers healthy deposit bonuses.

The best sites will at least match your deposit but some will go even further.

However, err on the side of caution.

Some sites will have really great promotions but to make up for the money given away, they get it back by including high margins in their odds.


While margins exist and are a pain to deal with, without them, bookmakers would go out of business, meaning you won’t be able to make money in the first place.

Nevertheless, you should not have to accept extortionate margins!

Shop around and use a calculator/work out the margins yourself to ensure you get the best bang for your buck.

Along with low margins, use the other factors mentioned at the end of this article to help you find the best bookmaker.

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