The magic number in sports betting is -110 because it defines the amount required by a sportsbook to earn $100 on either side of most wagers. A bettor must lay $110 to win $100 when wagering on point spreads, which are set by oddsmakers with hopes of getting equal action on both sides.
Confused yet? Don’t be, as it’s really not that hard to understand once you get the basics of sports betting down between book and bettor.
What -110 Means for a Sportsbook
From the sportsbook’s perspective, the -110 number is used to ensure they make money from bettors on a regular basis and stay in business. The “juice,” as it is often called, is defined as the commission the book earns on bets wagered.
What does this mean exactly? Consider it like a fee to broker the wager so that between one winning bet cashing and another losing based on the same -110, the book will still end up ahead between the two of them.
If bettors continuously split bets with the sportsbook and there was no juice associated with them, the book would have a tough time making a profit. Instead, one bettor may win $100 after laying -110 while another loses $110 with the book ending up making the difference of $10 between the two wagers. Make sense?
What -110 Means for a Bettor
For a bettor, the -110 is like wagering on a small moneyline but typically with a spread or total involved where you take one side or the other to cover the number.
Sometimes sportsbooks will offer “reduced juice” at certain times or “nickel lines” that drop the -110 down to -105 in an effort to attract more bets. This is why it definitely pays to shop around for the best lines possible before placing your wager. Because the ultimate goal is to always make the most money you can, putting yourself in position to lay less to win the same amount is one way to help make that happen.
Sometimes you may even have to pay a bit of a premium and lay -120 or -130 to back the winning side. But as long as the bet wins, it does not matter. Losing is what matters, so minimizing losses is critical.