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How Do Bookmakers Make Money?

 article about How Do Bookmakers Make Money?
2016-02-10 00:58:27
Have you ever thought that running your own sports book, or perhaps dabbling on the betting exchanges would be an easy way to make money? In truth, there lies a huge amount of complex mathematics behind every top bookmaking site that ensures that not only do customers get the best deal possible, but that the bookmakers will seldom, if ever, be out of pocket.

Even the betting sites considered to offer the punters best value and promotions (list available at are turning a healthy profit from the vast majority of their punters and there are two main reasons why:

1. Calculating the Odds

Have you ever wondered why odds on a betting market can fluctuate? What is it that makes a horse that was perhaps a 5/1 shot ten minutes ago, suddenly become a 4/1 shot?

The answer to this also explains why and how a bookmaker will try and guarantee themselves a profit on any given sporting market. When a bookmaker (or more likely, bookmaking software) sets the odds on a sporting market, they do so with two things in mind:

  • To provide odds that will make punters want to bet on the event
  • But also to ensure that they receive enough bets across all selections to cover any risk that the bookmaker may take.

    For example, let's say that in a horse race, one horse is priced up initially at 4/1, however, there is a glut of money bet on that horse to win, so much so that if that horse wins, the bookmaker would make a loss.

    Therefore, what happens in this situation is the software will manipulate the odds so that other selections become more attractive to bet on (offering longer odds) and the popular selection will see its odds shortened.

    What the bookmaker is hoping to achieve is a generally even spread around the selections for the sporting event. The odds are adjusted frequently to achieve this and to ensure that more bets are taken on other selections, not just the favourites.

    By adjusting the odds in this way, a bookmaker will ensure that any winning bets they need to pay out are generally covered from the money they make from all the losing bets, with some money guaranteed to be left over as their profit from the market.

    Very occasionally, a bookmaker may lose money on a race (usually when there is a red hot favourite) but this is often offset by the fact that on a wide range of other markets and across the betting year in general, the bookie will make a profit on far more races, than they make a loss. Hence they can stay in business and keep offering punters great odds on a wide range of sporting markets.

    2. Bad Punting

    The other way that bookmakers make cash is simply due to the fact that too many punters are somewhat naive and make many thousands of poorly judged bets every day. Mistakes made by punters can prove costly as they often have little chance of winning and simply boost the coffers of the bookmaker in question.

    Some of the most common mistakes made by punters are:
  • Not understanding the bet you make This can either be, not understanding what the market is your betting on or how it works or simply not understanding the type of bet you are making. If you don't know your Treble from a Trixie from a Patent, for example.

  • Betting more than you can afford A sure fire way to fire the profits of a bookmaker is to bet more than you can afford to lose. Especially, if you are chasing your losses and trying to land a longer odds win. There IS a reason why they are longer odds!

  • Making too many complicated bets Sure, 14-fold accumulator bets promise you a lifetime of untold wealth if you can land them. However the chances of doing so are ridiculously small and making too many of these bets, especially with big stakes, is just adding more profit to the bookies bank account.

  • Don't be blinded by loyalty If you support your favourite team, then you may ferevently believe they will win when all the stats and research suggests otherwise. Your support won't make your team defy the odds to win all the time and betting simply out of loyalty, especially when research predicts your team is going to lose, is a big bonus for bookies.

  • Divine inspitation... If your tea leaves told you that a rank outsider would win the Grand National, or your astrology chart suggests there's a big FA Cup upset on the card, or you just know for a fact that there's going to be a huge upset in that boxing match then think again. Your bet should be based on cold hard facts, not supernatural intervention.

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