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Beating The Bookmakers

In order to maximise your long term profits, it is crucial that you have numerous accounts with different bookmakers and always make sure you are taking the best price.

You should have accounts with Ladbrokes, Hills, Paddy Power, Stan James, Skybet, Blue Square, B365, Betfred, Boylesports, Sportingbet, Bet Direct, Corals, Tote and Victor Chandler as these will be the companies whose prices I recommend. Centrebet are an Australian based firm who have grown quite a bit over the last few years and I also recommend you open an account with them.

All of the above are safe and secure to bet with and all offer various forms of free bets when you first open an account.

Most bookmakers bet to around 110% on the match odds of many European leagues. This means that they have worked out the percentage chances of each event occurring in any particular game and added on a 10% profit margin. This makes it very difficult to make profit from betting with just one bookmaker as even if they get their prices wrong, they have to be more than 10% wrong to give you a fair chance of beating them. Those who just use their local high street shop have virtually no chance of long term success. However, if you have ten accounts with ten different bookmakers, the differences in opinions between the bookmakers on some games can erode the margin you are facing down to practically nothing. When there is a big move for something and certain bookmakers are slow to react the odds can then swing in the punters favour and you can lock in a profit by backing all three outcomes with different bookies.

We'll use a hypothetical fixture between Aston Villa and Everton as an example with the following bookmakers offering the following prices:

Villa 2.1 (48%) Draw 3.2 (31%) Everton 3.2 (31%)

Villa 1.9 (52%) Draw 3.2 (31%) Everton 3.75 (27%)

Villa 1.8 (56%) Draw 3.4 (29%) Everton 4 (25%)

Each bookmaker is betting to 110% but if you take the best prices for each outcome from across the three bookmakers you get:

Villa 2.1 (48%) with Skybet
Draw 3.4 (29%) with Betfred
Everton 4 (25%) with Betfred

These three prices only add up to 102% rather than 110% so straight away by shopping around for the best price you have eroded 8% of the margin. We will continue to use this hypothetical fixture as an example and introduce a scenario where Tim Cahill, Phil Neville, Lee Carsley and Andrew Johnson pick up a virus for Everton the day before the game and are unable to play. Betfred and Ladbrokes pick up on this information and both firms cut their prices to:

Villa 1.67 (60%)
Draw 3.6 (28%)
Everton 4.5 (22%)

Skybet however, are slow to pick up on this information and do not cut their price until one hour later. Therefore, the best prices available for that hour are:

Villa 2.1 (48%) Skybet
Draw 3.6 (28%) Betfred and Ladbrokes
Everton 4.5 (22%) Betfred and Ladbrokes

These prices add up to 98% and present punters with an opportunity to lock in a 2% profit regardless of the result by taking the three best prices available.

Betfair is another account EVERY serious gambler should have. They are a betting exchange who allow you to bet against other punters by backing or laying any outcome. Because they are not a bookmaker there is no built in profit margin and they make their money by taking 2-5% of your winnings depending on how many loyalty points you build up with them. The more money you put through the site the less commission you pay. They advertise that on average their prices are 20% better than you can get with bookmakers and therefore it is well worth the relatively small commission charge. This is true to an extent but slightly misleading. Generally Betfair will be the best price but when it comes to backing a favourite the difference between Betfair and the bookies is rarely 20%. It is generally a big enough difference to make it worthwhile having the bet with Betfair rather than the bookie though. Outsiders on the other hand are often a much bigger price on Betfair than they are with the bookies. You should always check the price on Betfair when I make a recommendation as it may be bigger than the recommended bookmaker price.

Another useful tool for gamblers is shop coupons. These are often printed days in advance of a fixture and the prices will still be available in a shop even though they have been cut online. Some bookmakers are very sly however and will accept your bet on the coupon and then pay you at the new lower price. They are supposed to tell you if a price is no longer available yet the poorly paid and unmotivated staff will often not bother until it comes to paying out. Therefore I only recommend Ladbrokes and Hills shop coupons as if you get the bet on they will pay you at the coupon price. Messages are sometimes sent to shops telling staff that limits have been imposed on certain teams. Using the Villa v Everton game from before as an example, Ladbrokes might send a message to shop staff that customers can only have a maximum of £100 on Villa at the coupon price of 10/11 and anything over £100 will have to be at 4/6. If you want £200 on Villa then simply say you only want £100 and then walk down the road to the next Ladbrokes shop and put the second £100 on there. Obviously this is much more difficult if you live in rural areas. If there is any sort of dispute with the shop just phone up customer services and complain. I have a friend who used to work for Ladbrokes customer services a few years ago and apparently they have a cupboard full of free bet vouchers to give out to anyone who has a legitimate complaint. They are very keen to keep the customer happy so its always worth giving them a ring.

Anyone who has had any success with their betting will know that eventually bookies start to get upset when you start winning on a regular basis. Bookies call these people "unprofitable customers" and they will restrict how much money you can get on by factoring your account down. Going back to the Villa v Everton game again, Skybet's maximum bet per customer on the internet might be set at £1000. An "unprofitable customer" might be factored to half of what a regular customer can get on and might only be allowed £500. Depending on how unprofitable you are you might be restricted to a tenth or even less and at this stage some accounts become literally unusable.

There's more than one way to skin a cat though and with most bookmakers you can simply open a new account with a different credit/debit card in your own name and carry on regardless. Some might realise its the same account quite quickly and a few will do IP address checks to see where you are placing the bet from and link you to other accounts at that IP address. Your account will last longer if you change your username too as some traders might remember the old one. It's best to set your username to something unremarkable too, such as a set of numbers or maybe a foreign name as it is less likely to stick in a traders memory. If your username is "bookiebasher72" or something along those lines, then traders are much more likely to remember you having a bet on that dodgy non league game last week and decide to restrict your account. Another way around bookies limits is opening a "shadow" account in a partner/family members name as this will be very difficult to link to your other account unless they run an IP address check. Obviously get the permission of your partner/family member first :)

If you do bet in reasonably large amounts the likelihood is that you will soon start to have difficulties with some bookmakers if you follow my selections. If you follow the instructions above though you should be able to sidestep these problems and continue fleecing the bookies. I would recommend using Betfair as much as possible as they will not stop you getting on after a few big winners. If the bookmakers price is only going to pay a couple of quid more than Betfair after commission then it might be worth taking the marginal drop in profit, especially if it means protecting an account that might be on borrowed time. Use shop coupons where you can and use different shops where possible as this will prevent them from monitoring your business. If you have any questions about any of the above please contact me.

Best Wishes

The Oracle