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Now that you’re moving further along in sports betting and gaining some experience, it’s time to introduce the more advanced concept of the synthetic hold.

That seems like a scary phrase, like "root canal," or, for his NFL opponents, "Bill Belichick." Fright not, "synthetic" means you're creating, or synthesizing, the hold in any market from more than one source. A hold is the total amount of money a sportsbook keeps once all the winning bets have been paid out.

Continue reading as we dig deeper into the synthetic hold — and how you can become a better bettor with it.

If there are $10,000 worth of bets on a market and $9,500 of winning tickets paid out, the hold is $500. The hold number is most often expressed as a percentage, so in this case, we're talking 5% ($500 is 5% of $10,000).

Broadly speaking, the lower the hold is, the better it is for the bettor. With a low hold, you're shelling out less juice, or the bookmaker's built-in advantage; the amount of money they take in from your bets. Betting into low hold markets can be advantageous for bettors, as less money “leaks” to the sportsbooks and more cash is paid out to market participants.

In the example above, we calculated the hold for a single sportsbook. In reality though, multiple sportsbooks offer odds for any event, so to truly understand the hold in a specific betting market, we need to use a calculation based on the best odds offered on either side of a given bet.

This new synthetic hold calculation will tell us how much money — expressed in a percentage — that sportsbooks in aggregate will earn as vig on a specific bet.

As a bettor, you want to bet into markets with low synthetic holds, as these markets pay out a greater percent of the pot to bettors, generating superior returns in the long run.

To calculate synthetic hold, you first need to find the best possible odds on each side of a given bet from at least two different sportsbooks. For each of these odds, first work out the implied probability and then add them together.

For example, if the moneyline on a Chiefs-Chargers game is +145 (40.8% implied probability) best price on one side at Sportsbook A, and -165 (62.1%) on the other side at Sportsbook B, we have a total probability of 102.9%. We than subtract 100% to get to a synthetic hold of 2.9%

This means that, in aggregate, the sportsbooks will earn ~2.9% of all amount wagered as the vig.

An easy way to find the best implied probabilities is to use abe’s odds comparison engine. We calculate implied odds for you to make it easy.

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