Calculating Margins in Esports Betting

By Michael Stevens in Esports on June 16, 2019

10

Minute Read

Esports betting sites give you the chance to wager on competitive gaming and win money. The catch, though, is that esportsbooks take a small commission from losing wagers. This commission is essentially their fee for offering lines and handling the action.

These fees are appropriately referred to as “margins,” because they represent the bookmaker’s profit margin.

Most margins are seemingly small, ranging from 4% to 6%.

But they play a big role in whether you become a profitable or losing esports better. After all, the difference between being a winner or loser isn’t much in most cases.

It’s important to understand how margins work so that you can figure out whether you’re getting a good deal on a bet. I’m going to discuss this subject in depth, including how you can calculate margins to find the best deals.

What Are Esports Betting Margins?

A margin (a.k.a. juice) is essentially what an esportsbook is charging you to place bets with them. However, you only have to pay juice when you’re on the losing side of a bet.

Here’s an example:

  • forZe +3.5 (-110)
  • NoChance -3.5 (-110)
  • The -110 odds refer to how you’re betting $1.10 to win $1.
  • Losing means that you must pay $100 + $10 juice.

Here’s another example to show where margins factor in:

  • You bet $110 on NoChance.
  • Another gambler risks $110 on forZe.
  • Only the loser will pay $10 juice.
  • $110 + $100 = $210 in total bets
  • This leaves a $10 margin.
  • 10 / 210 = 0.0476
  • 76% margin

Esports betting sites aren’t guaranteed to make a profit just because they’re charging juice. They could be on the wrong side of an unbalanced line and lose money.

But the bookmaker can at least take comfort in knowing they have a long-term advantage thanks to margins. Combining this commission with their oddsmaking skills is what earns them profits.

Why Do Esports Betting Margins Matter?

Some gamblers might look at margins and feel like they’re not a big deal. After all, margins are less than 5% for the majority of bets.

But even professional esports bettors usually only win between 53% and 55% of their wagers (assuming -110 odds). If you’re not a pro esports gambler, you’re going to need even more help to earn profits.

Consistently finding low margins is one of the best ways to boost your chances of winning.

Not having to pay as much when you lose is a big deal in the long run.

Of course, other factors like handicapping and bankroll management play major roles in your success. But you don’t want to rely entirely on your skills to beat esports gambling. You instead want to capitalize on any other available advantages, including lower juice.

How Do You Calculate Esports Betting Margins?

Certain esports betting sites advertise that they feature lower juice than the competition. You can sometimes take these ads at face value. But these bookmakers don’t need to feature low margins on every wager in order for their ads to be true.

It’s important to rely on your own skills when searching for low margins. Doing so ensures that you don’t just have to take a betting site at its word blindly.

Later I’ll discuss how you can use a calculator to calculate margins quickly. Right now, though, I’m going to discuss the different steps towards figuring out this information by hand. Knowing these steps helps you gain a better understanding of margins and how they’re determined.

Let’s begin by covering an even-money event (a.k.a. fair odds):

  • A bookmaker offers a coin toss bet.
  • You have a 50% chance of winning with either heads or tails.
  • The site doesn’t take any juice.
  • The odds are therefore -100 (2.0).
  • You’re risking $1 for every $1 in profit.
  • You’ll theoretically break even with this wager in the long run.

The only problem is that esportsbooks aren’t charities that handle bets for free. They instead collect commissions so they can turn a profit.

Therefore, esportsbooks create lines that ensure they earn a fee from every bet. A bookmaker isn’t going to offer -100 odds; they’ll instead set odds at -105 or -110.

Of course, the difference between -105 and -110 is by no means arbitrary.

A betting site can control the size of their commissions based on the odds they’re offering.

This is where having the skills to calculate margins is of great benefit. The best way to perform these calculations by hand is to use decimal odds.

Luckily, the online calculators automatically convert American or fractional odds to decimal odds. Assuming you’re already dealing with decimal odds, the first step is to convert them to a market percentage (a.k.a. overround) by using the odds as a divisor of 1.

Here’s how to this:

  • Line is:
  • Orgless and Hungry 2.4
  • Young and Beautiful 1.6
  • 1 / 2.4 = 0.417
  • 1 / 1.6 = 0.625
  • 417 + 0.625 = 104.2% overround

The 104.2% market percentage represents the sum of all probabilities in the wager. The next step involves using this overround to figure out the bet’s juice:

Here’s the formula you need to use:

  • Formula is: (1 – [1 / overround]) x 1)
  • (1 – [1 / 1.042] x 1)
  • Juice = 4%

You’re theoretically paying the esportsbook $4 for every $100 in bets, which is a pretty good price. Of course, it’s even better when you find opportunities that allow you to pay less.

Use an Online Calculator to Determine Esports Betting Margins

Calculating esports betting margins by hand is a fairly difficult and time-consuming process. The good news is that you don’t have to do this, though, because calculators exist for such tasks.

These tools are usually aimed at traditional sports bettors. However, they work all the same for esports gamblers too.

The main step is to enter your American, decimal, or fractional odds. The calculator will then determine the bet’s margin.

Here’s a moneyline example:

  • Team 1: -125 odds
  • Team 2: +150 odds
  • Margin = 4.44%

Here’s one more example using point spread odds:

  • Origen +4.5 (-110)
  • Rogue +4.5 (-110)
  • Margin = 4.77%

The great thing about esports margin calculators is that they allow you to quickly figure out the price for a wager. I suggest using one of these calculators before you make any bet.

What Are Good Esports Betting Margins?

Most esports gambling margins are in the 4% to 5% range. Anything above 5% is unfavorable and should be avoided, because you’re paying too much in the event of a loss.

The only time you should consider anything over 5% is if you have a really good read on the bet.

The goal is to instead find wagers with margins closer to 4% or even lower.

Unless you’re making bets directly with friends, every esports wager carries a small price. But anything in the lower 4% range is acceptable.

Look for Esportsbooks That Consistently Offer Good Margins

Choosing betting sites that are known for favorable margins is another way that you can improve your chances of being profitable. Some esportsbooks just have a reputation for lower juice.

I suggest that you spend 15-30 minutes on your own researching sites that feature low margins. All you have to do is look up terms like “esports low margins” and “esports reduced juice” to find this info.

Your efforts may turn up bookmakers that are best known for traditional sports betting. But if they offer good margins on regular sports, then they’re likely to do so with esports lines too.

Also, note that just because bookmakers have a reputation for low juice doesn’t mean they offer good margins on every bet. This is why it’s still good to use a calculator to determine a bet’s price.

However, choosing sites that consistently offer small margins makes it easier for you to find good opportunities quickly.

Potential Downsides to Esportsbooks with Low Margins

Based on everything discussed here, it seems like you should only gamble with esportsbooks that take low commissions. After all, these bookmakers are the ones giving you the best chance to win.

However, there are normally drawbacks to such sites. They need to offset their low margins in some manner to still make a healthy profit.

Here are common ways that reduced-juice betting sites recoup their money:

  • Lame welcome bonus
  • Few promotions (if any)
  • Underpaid and/or understaffed support department
  • Sharper lines

Most betting sites won’t use all of these methods to make up for lower margins. But it’s important realize that they’ll use some of these options to boost their profits.

Other Important Aspects to Choosing a Quality Esportsbook

Margins are just one aspect that you want to take into account when looking for an esports gambling site. Other factors play a big role in the quality of an esportsbook too. Here are the main points you want to consider with esports betting sites.

Bonus

Betting sites offer a welcome bonus to new customers. These deals either consist of a deposit bonus or free bet.

A deposit bonus is based on a match percentage of your first deposit.

For example,

A betting site may match 100% of your deposit up to $100.

A free bet gives you an opportunity to earn losses back if you lose your first wager. For instance, a $25 free wager gives you the chance to win back $25 in losses.

Note that you must meet terms and conditions in order to receive your money from either a deposit bonus or free bet. Some esportsbooks are fairer than others with their terms, which is what you want to focus on along with the size of a bonus.

Website Usability

Website navigation plays a key role in your user experience at any esports gambling hub. Everything from the markets to customer support contacts should be laid out cleanly.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case at every site. You should visit a bookmaker you’re considering and make sure that their website is easy to use.

You’ll find that a simple interface with a clean design is often preferable to one that clutters their homepage with promotional offers. It should only take you a few moments to figure out if you like the design of a site.

Number of Markets

Most esports betting action revolves around popular games like Dota 2, League of Legends (LoL), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), and Overwatch.

However, there are plenty of other markets available in the esports world. If you like wagering on some of the less-heralded games, then the number of markets will be crucial.

Much like website usability, you can quickly figure out markets with a quick visit to the site itself. Select the esports betting section and comb through available lines to see what’s covered.

Live Wagering Selection

Live betting has become a big part of esports gambling. These bets allow you to wager on in-game events while a match is playing out.

The unfortunate thing about esports live betting, though, is that it’s not currently available year-round.

Instead, most bookmakers only offer these wagers during major events like the LoL World Championship.

Regardless, you should still check out the live betting section to see if anything is available at the moment. Some bookmakers don’t offer live wagers at every point in the year, which means you may want to avoid them.

Customer Service

Nobody wants to think about having trouble making a deposit or placing a bet. However, issues sometimes crop up at any esportsbook.

This is when it pays to deal with a quality customer support department. Experienced-and-knowledgeable reps can help you quickly navigate through issues and get back to enjoying the betting action.

You can get a quick rundown on a bookmaker’s customer service through reviews. Or you can contact them yourself through live chat and ask a simple question.

Doing so will likely be enough to figure out if your chatting with a real professional, or just somebody who hates their job.

Deposit & Withdrawal Options

You have to be able to deposit before you can make esportsbets. Therefore, you definitely want to review a betting site’s banking options.

Depending upon the operation, you may be able to deposit with credit cards, debit cards, eWallets, cryptocurrencies, and/or bank wires. Remember that all you need is one reliable option to fund your account.

Also, pay special attention to the deposit and withdrawal limits. One more thing to consider is the withdrawal fees, which you obviously want to be low.

Company History

History and reputation are among the most-important aspects to choosing a bookmaker. The last thing you want to do is deposit with a shady operation that’s slow to make payouts if they even pay at all.

Reviews are a great source for determining an esports betting site’s reputation. You especially want to focus on reviews that seem to have an unbiased opinion.

Try googling complaints about the esportsbook in question too. Every betting operation is bound to have a few disgruntled customers. But you want to avoid any place that has a lengthy list of complaints.

Conclusion

Plenty of factors go into becoming a successful esports bettor, including handicapping, bankroll management, and discipline. Looking for good margins is yet another aspect that can lead to becoming a winner.

Margins refer to the commission that bookmakers make off the wagers they offer.

You obviously want to face as low of juice as possible in order to maximize betting returns.

Figuring out how to calculate margins by hand is a nice exercise for understanding how they work. Of course, you can just skip this and head straight to a margins calculator.

These tools allow you to quickly figure out the commission a bookmaker is taking from a bet. The goal is to choose wagers with margins in the lower 4% range or better. Meanwhile, you should avoid anything above 5%, unless you have strong knowledge of one or both teams involved.

One more point to consider is that reduced-juice sites often make up for low margins in other areas. They may craft sharper lines, have poor customer support, offer weak bonuses, and have few/no promotions.

This doesn’t mean that you must be skeptical of any site with low margins. But be aware of the situation in case the site uses low margins as a means to dupe customers in multiple other areas.

You can often figure out if this is the case by properly researching an esportsbook ahead of time. Check out reviews and customer complaints to make sure that you’re dealing with a quality site.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016.

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