July 27, 2015

How To Bet: Who To Bet With – by @CrazedAlchemist

How To Bet: Who To Bet With?

The question of whom you should bet with could be answered with the simple response that you bet wherever you can get the best price. There are however I believe some caveats to that rule as not all betting outlets are created equal and we need to understand their betting models and therefore what kind of business to send their way. Your betting options will fall in to one of several groups; they are retail bookmakers, exchanges, high volume liquid sport only bookmakers, brokers and commission agents. All of these make money in different ways and will be more or less useful to you as your betting career progresses.

Retail bookmakers are where most British punters will start their betting careers and sadly if you are any good you will not stay for very long. For many this is where the successful punter will build up their initial betting bank before moving on to other outlets. Someone once told me you can take out about ten grand at the most from all of retail before it becomes useless to you and that is not so bad as ten grand is a great starting point for higher volume and lower return betting. This number seemed a bit arbitrary to me and I am sure it varies wildly between punters. The retail model needs losers and it does not need bonus baggers, arbitrage players or sharp punters. I find nothing more boring than reading on Twitter about restrictions and closures and that includes if it is your first bet with the firm. Play by the rules as best you can if they let you and move on without complaint when you cant.

So what are the rules for betting with retail bookmakers? I am going to list the ones that could be relevant to varying degrees and I am sure many people will disagree with some but here goes. Firstly be male. Do not deposit with an e-wallet such as Neteller or Skrill, which are obviously the tool of arbitrage and professional players (some bookmakers do not give you the choice). Deposit with a credit card as this means you like to gamble with money that is not yours. Play in the casino and poker rooms (normally Blackjack in the casino with perfect play). Do not use any bonus offers at all. Bet only on bigger sports events and the key markets in those sports. Retail bookmakers have guidance on football from the Asian markets and Vegas for the US sports which adds a touch of confidence. On other sports target their marquee events such as Majors and Grandslams. Do not bet horses online only in their shops and in cash and to small stakes per shop. Bet via mobile applications. Bet as close to the event start as possible or in-running.

Taking best price means you will be playing on prices that form arbitrage opportunities, you just have to deal with this. Do not work for another bookmaker or in any way within the betting industry. Do not use Twitter or Facebook or Linkedin unless you are sure there is no way to Google them or incriminating connections with shrewd betting activity. Do not block your IP or delete cookies. Try not to play any each-way bets with golf being the possible exception. Even after all this there is every chance you will get restricted or closed. Even by restricting yourself to these rules there will still be opportunities where retail will be best price and therefore worth using. Staking wise never hit bet max and never stake more than 1% of your annual salary/theoretical salary. Bet round numbers, level stakes no matter the odds or bet money to money. By money to money I mean if the bet is 11/4 then bet £40 to win £110 if even if your mega Kelly maximised model says bet £42.65.

Next there are the exchanges. Use the exchanges when they facilitate something you cant do elsewhere or are best price after commission. I do not have any good advice about avoiding the premium charge at Betfair but the internet is full of strategies. Good brokers will often have access to reduced commission exchange accounts. If you are a horse bettor then learn when betting at Betfair SP is going to be to your advantage to help avoid any unnecessary trudging round shops or commission agent costs. Do not use the exchanges first on liquid markets unless you are sure that you can get all you want on and the best price as you risk spoiling your price elsewhere.

Then we have high volume liquid sport only bookmakers such as the large Asian firms and Pinnacle. This may well be where you end up once you have burnt out retail and hit the premium charge. I suggest you get a head start and try to bet on Asian Handicaps as early as possible. Tailor your strategies to using them as much as you can as they are the only way a consistent winner in the long term will be able to bet into a low margin book on football. Try and look to bet on sports that they will accommodate you on early in your betting career so that you have time to really polish your strategy. I would advise using a broker solution for these particularly as a good one will help you navigate the legal ramifications of using them in the advent of the new point of consumption tax. Also the rise of price comparison software with direct execution built in can mean you save a lot of time and energy as most of these bookmakers are connecting their APIs to such services.

This brings me neatly on to brokers, which I have already written an article on that you can find on the internet. I will simply add that I advocate the use of a broker highly and that you begin establishing the relationship sooner rather than later as it can prove to be highly beneficial to your betting education and long-term profitability. Establish early on how your broker is making money from the relationship. Are they charging you commission? Are they making their money purely from bookmaker referral fees? Are you getting a clean price from the bookmakers or one with extra percentage built in or will commissions be deducted from your stake? Are there minimum stake or turnover restrictions? Will your deal improve if you increase volume? A lot of questions for brokers but a good one will have all the answers and once you have got them out the way they may well be the best betting outlet you have.

Finally a short note on commission agents. Whenever I speak to professional sports bettors particularly those who bet on horses I hear some good stories about commission agents and some horrible ones. I would say use them if you can find one you trust and this will normally be the result of a positive referral from someone who already uses that agent. Settle your accounts with them regularly. Some will give you some money at a certain price on your selection and try to manage a book themselves to a degree and some will only give you what they can get on via their various outlets such as shop runners. I prefer the latter as it takes a sharp mind to manage a book full of shrewd punters’ business. I would prefer to get less on but know that the agent is running a low risk model. Horse bettors might want to enquire more about low commission exchange accounts or Citibet (Asian horse outlet) access from a broker before going down the commission agent route. Of course when it comes to say 16 runner handicaps in the UK they may be your only option and they may well grumble when they take that particular call.

As always if there is anything you fundamentally disagree with in the article or wish to discuss further please leave something in the comments section or contact me on Twitter on @CrazedAlchemist.

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