Get an edge over sportsbooks by working out their profit margins on events with the Hold Calculator.

 This is just one of a range of betting calculators we provide at ProfitDuel to help level-up your betting strategy.


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1. What is Hold in Sports Betting

In sports betting, hold is the profit margin that a sportsbook expects to make on an event. For example, if $100,000 is wagered on a particular betting market such as Moneyline, and the sportsbook pays out a total of $95,000 to winning bettors, the hold would be:

Hold (%) = [($100,000 - $95,000) / $100,000] * 100 = 5%.

If an event's hold is a minus, this indicates the sportsbook will make a loss on the event. However, this is uncommon.
Understanding hold is important as a sports bettor as it can allow you to judge sportsbooks implied probabilities, recognize favorable odds fast and ultimately make more profitable betting decisions.

2. What is a Hold Calculator?

A hold calculator is a betting calculator that rapidly calculates the profit margin a sportsbook is looking to make on an event. It uses the sportsbook's two sets of odds (for team A to win, and for team B to win) to work out the percentage of profit they're targeting from the game.

An simple calculator to use, using a hold calculator you can instantly compare different sportsbooks' odds on certain events and markets. This not only gives you a spread of which sportsbooks offer the fairest odds, but also the most profitable ones.

3. How do I Use a Hold Calculator?

To use a hold calculator, follow these four simple steps:

  1. Choose a Sportsbook Event: Choose any sporting event from a sportsbook that involves two sides facing each other.

  2. Input the Odds: Input the odds for one side to win in the ‘Side 1 Odds’ cell, then input the odds for the other side to win in the ‘Side 2 Odds’ cell.

  3. View the Hold: The calculator will automatically calculate the sportsbook's percentage hold for this event.

  4. Repeat With Other Sportsbooks: Repeat the process using other sportsbooks' odds on the same event. If their hold is higher, this means they're trying to make more profit from the bettor, and may be a sign of less fair odds.

    Read More: Sports Betting Terms - Top 150 Words & Phrases

4. How is Hold Calculated?

If you've got a hold calculator to hand, you don't need to know any formulas to work out sportsbook hold. But in case you're curious, you can manually calculate hold following two steps:

  1. Convert Odds Into Implied Probabilities: Each set of odds will have a chance of winning attached to it (in per cent). This is known as the implied probability. For American odds, there are two ways of converting odds into implied probabilities - one for positive odds, one for negative. Alternatively, you could just use an implied probability calculator.

    a) Positive Odds Formula: 100 / (odds+100)

    For Example: If the odds are +150, your calculation would be: 100 / (150+100) = 0.40

    40% implied probability of winning.

    b) Negative Odds Formula: odds ignoring minus sign / (odds ignoring minus sign + 100)

    For Example: If the odds are -200, your calculation would be: 200 / (200 + 100) = 0.66

    66% implied probability of winning.

  2. Add Implied Probabilities and Subtract by 100: Now you've converted the two odds into implied probabilities, add them together to get the 'total book value', then minus that by 100 to get the hold percentage.

    For Example: (40% + 66% = 106%) - 100% = 6%

    Hold = 6%

5. How do I Remove Hold?

Now you've calculated the hold, you might be curious about what the sportsbook really thinks the chances are of each outcome (AKA their true probabilities or ‘true odds’). If so, you can remove the hold to find this out.

To remove the hold, divide the odd's implied probability by the total book value (both calculated in the last section), before multiplying that figure by 100.

Sports betting hold formula

Using the examples used in the last section, here's how we would do that:

Sportsbook true probability that team A will win = (40 / 106 = 0.38) x 100 = 38%
Sportsbook true probability that team B will win = (0.66 / 106 = 0.62) x 100 = 62%

Notice how these true probabilities add up to make 100%, whereas the sportsbook's implied probabilities in the last section added up to 106% (including their 6% hold).

Knowing how to remove hold isn't a must when picking the fairest odds (as the hold calculator does the heavy lifting for you). However, it can be a handy trick to sharpen your betting toolkit.

Read More: 10 Tips to Avoid Your Sportsbook Account Being Limited


6. Hold vs Vig: What's the Difference?

Though both hold and vigorish (AKA ‘vig’ or 'juice') relate to the amount of profit sportsbooks make from bettors, there is a slight difference.

Vig is the commission a sportsbook charges on each individual bet to make a profit, whereas hold relates to the overall profit margin percentage a sportsbook aims for on each event.

Because of this, a hold calculator, vig calculator and no-vig calculator can all play an effective role in a betting strategy.


7. How to Make Money Using a Hold Calculator: the Winning Strategy

By now you're probably wondering "How can I actually use a hold calculator to make money?". Well, we'll walk you through the one strategy that stands head and shoulders above the rest for building profits - matched betting

Also known as free bet conversion, matched betting involves betting on every outcome of a sporting event to unlock a sportsbook promo (such as a free bet) risk-free. 

Matched betting process (simplified)

matched betting overview asset

But wait, it gets better. After this promo is unlocked, you then shop around for the best odds on events (using tools like a hold calculator) and repeat the process to guarantee yourself a withdrawable profit, regardless of the outcome.

No risk of losing money, no risk of time wasted, no risk of coming away empty handed.

It really is as easy as:

  1. Sign up to a reputable matched betting platform

  2. Place two bets (on either side of a sporting event) to unlock your free bet risk-free

  3. Shop for favorable odds (using tools like the hold calculator)

  4. Place another two bets to guarantee yourself a profit

The best part? At ProfitDuel we're so confident you'll love our matched betting platform, we're offering new members a 7-day $1 trial to get you started. In there we've included a matched betting welcome offer that will earn you a guaranteed $100+ risk-free when you follow the steps.

Sound too good to be true? Try us. You'll see why we have 400,000+ happy customers in Europe.

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