Making a profit from betting is a very difficult feat to accomplish in the long term. However, there is one simple and fool proof thing every single punter can do to instantly improve their overall performance and that is to make sure they always get the best available odds.
Bookmakers are very much part of the free market economy and just like almost all businesses they set their own prices. It is instructive that we use that word “prices” as another word for odds because it makes an analogy with purchasing a more traditional item from a shop more obvious.
Would you buy a mobile phone for £600 from one shop when it was available in another shop for £500 on exactly the same deal? Nobody would willingly throw away 20% of their cash on a traditional purchase but when it comes to betting odds, many are happy to throw that amount away by accepting odds that are lower than the best. But how much do odds vary from one bookie to the next?
Does It Matter Where You Place Your Bets?
Punters come in all shapes and sizes, from the occasional recreational gambler who might have a bet once a year, perhaps on the Grand National, to a betting hobbyist who has a few bets a week on their favourite sport, to a professional gambler who places bets almost every day of the week. The more bets you place, the more it matters where you place your wagers.
Many who gamble have a favourite bookie that they use the most and there are many reasons why people bet with the bookmaker they do. If you bet infrequently you may just use the site you have always used, the one whose app you like the best, one that you feel is “lucky” or one whose marketing has captured your attention.
However, those who take their betting more seriously are very much driven by the odds and will choose the bookie they use according to which offers the biggest price on the selection they want to back. As we shall explain, this isn’t the only factor to think about but more often than not it is by far the biggest one.
Odds Vary by Bookie
Odds can vary more than you might realise between bookies and this can add up to a significant difference over time. If you are placing a £5 bet on your favourite football team you might think it is neither here nor there whether you back them at evens (2.0 in decimal odds) or 11/10 (2.1).
On that one bet it is the difference between winning £5 and £5.50. And of course, while 50p may not seem like a lot, it is a difference of 10%. What’s more, if you back your team 50 times in a long league and cup season it is easy to see how the difference can add up.
The precise figures would depend on how many winners you backed and at what odds these came, but for argument’s sake let’s assume your team had a good season and won 35 of their 50 games. If the average odds of each winner, allowing for some short-priced wins and some at bigger odds, was 7/4 at the best available prices, we can see how this would play out in the table below. The stats are based on a £5 flat stake at hypothetical bookies with odds approximately 7% apart.
|Bookie||Bets||Wins||Average Odds||Overall Profit|
|Bet Big Odds||50||35||7/4||£231.25|
So, we can see that over the course of a season a punter betting at lower odds would win around £22 less. You might still think that is not a huge amount but it should be remembered that many people make a lot more than 50 bets, using bigger stakes and potentially landing winners at bigger odds too. Moreover, this example is based on odds that were around 7% apart and the difference between the best and worst can often be a lot more.
On top of all that, whilst the £22 in our example might not seem a lot, would you ever buy exactly the same thing in one shop for £231 when you could get it for £209? In the real world, you might if the cheaper shop was in another town but we’re talking about online betting here so getting the biggest odds is as easy as visiting a different website.
How Much Do Odds Vary?
As said, the table above shows differing profitability with a 7% (7.36% in fact) difference in odds. But how much do odds really vary? These days there are literally hundreds of bookies available at the click of a mouse. Most of the great betting sites we feature all boast odds very much towards the top end of the spectrum but even then the difference can be much more than 7%.
Purely as a single example let us look at one upcoming Premier League game and restrict ourselves to 15 of the biggest bookmakers around. To further simplify things, we’ll only look at the favourite and we’ll express the odds in decimal format so the difference is easier to see.
Please Note: The odds in this table relate to Manchester City’s odds against Chelsea on the 25th June 2020 and were correct at the time of writing. Always refer to the official bookmaker websites for the most up-to-date figures.
|Bookmaker||Decimal Odds on Favourite|
So, we can see that the odds differentiate between 1.84, which is 16/19 in fractional odds, to 1.72, or 8/11. At first glance, to the uninitiated perhaps, that may not seem like a lot. But based on a £1 stake it is the difference between winning 84p and 72p. Once again, 12p might not seem like a lot but, based on the lower figure, that 12p means you could have won 17% more.
A difference of 17% is substantial, but fairly typical; but we should remember that this is for an odds-on favourite. In general there will be bigger discrepancies at longer odds. In addition, given this is an odds-on shot, there are sure to be some big hitters placing substantial bets on the favourite (in this case Man City).
While 12p might not seem like a lot on a £1 bet, that is £60 on a £500 bet and £120 for anyone staking a cool grand on City. Would you rather get £1,840 back from a winning bet or £1,720? Is an extra £120 worth a few extra clicks to check odds and join a new bookie?
Accumulators & Long-Odds Bets
As we have shown, odds can and do vary quite significantly and remember the example above is only based on a relatively small selection of bookies and on an odds-on shot in a major market, where variance is likely to be smallest.
If you like betting on accas in an attempt to land a huge win from a small stake then the difference in returns between the best and worst bookies becomes even more marked. Once again, we will turn to the Premier League and conduct a comparison to see just how much the odds can vary.
10-Fold Home-Team Acca Example
We have looked to keep things simple by creating an accumulator that covers all 10 games in a given round of the English top flight. We’ve gone for a 10-fold home-team acca which features a mix of odds-on shots and some longer priced selections. The best odds for the selections ranged from just 3/10 up to 7/2 but you will be staggered by the difference in the overall odds for the acca.
The best odds for our slightly random 10-fold were a whopping 14,112 to one! The lowest, in contrast, were 8,692. Clearly, anyone landing a winning bet at almost 9,000/1 is going to be happy but would they remain sanguine when their mate showed them their winnings for more a bet at more than 14,000/1?
It would take a bold punter to bet all that much on such an acca but even with a stake of just £2 you are looking at a difference of almost £11,000! No matter what was staked, the difference represents around 62% extra winnings for the savvy punter who knew that odds vary and that it is well worth shopping around.
When it comes to other bets at long odds you will also find a significant difference, even with singles. If you like backing outsiders or just enjoy placing bets in sports such as golf where winners at long odds are common, making sure you get the best odds is crucial, or at the very least extremely sensible.
If we consider a few selections from the middle of the outright betting for a selected golf tournament we can see odds varying significantly from one bookie to another. In a tight tournament it might be typical to see a large cluster of players grouped at odds of between 12/1 and 25/1.
On these the odds between bookies may not differ all that much and the favourite might be 12/1 with almost all the top bookies and 11/1 at some of the lesser ones. Other golfers might be widely available at 16/1 but 18/1 in places and a little lower down a range of 22/1 to 25/1 might be typical.
However, as we drop down the betting a little further you might see the odds varying between 25/1 and 40/1. We say might, but we actually mean they do, because we are looking at a live example, in this case the 2020 Travelers Championship.
Paul Casey, the world number 25 and in with a decent chance of glory, is available at 40/1 with a number of firms, 35/1 with the odd one or two, 33s with some, going down to 25/1 with the most parsimonious sites.
Marc Leishman, another very decent player and ranked 15 in the world at the time of writing is priced at even longer odds. The canny punter could back the Aussie at a price of 60/1. In contrast, the golf betting fan simply picking their usual site might get odds as low as just 40/1. That’s a whopping 50% difference and clearly one worth paying attention to.
Things to Consider Other Than Odds
Since money was first invented, traders have told buyers that price isn’t everything and whilst it is very, very important in betting, this truism still applies to odds. In some ways, the example we have given above for golf is slightly unfair as there is another big factor at play here.
Due to the large fields, typically between 100 and 150, many golf punters back their selections each way. Increasingly, bookies offer different each way terms when it comes to odds and it is usually the bookies with the biggest odds that have the least favourable each way terms.
If we return Leishman, the site that was offering 60/1 is paying each way bets for the top five players. In contrast, the site that priced him at 40/1 was paying an extra two places, down to seventh. With other bookies paying out on eight and even nine places, this is clearly a very important consideration, assuming of course your intention is to bet each way.
At the start of this piece we talked about buying a mobile for £600 when the exact same deal and phone could be purchased for £500. Clearly, if the £600 deal offered a free tablet and insurance, you would take this into account, as well as the price, and you must do the same when it comes to odds.
Factors for Consideration
Some factors to consider in addition to the odds are:
- Each way terms
- Cash back and insurance offers
- Free bets
- Sports/bet rules
- Bookmaker loyalty schemes
Much of the time none of these will be relevant and you can simply make the call based on price. However, if you are backing each way, on a golfer, horse or anything else, checking the terms is crucial.
Similarly many bookies, especially for big events, may offer cashback, or a free bet, for example if your selection is second to the favourite (in racing) or there is a red card (as just one example) in football. Of course, even allowing for these possible extras, you may decide that the odds remain the most important factor.
One last thing to consider is the trustworthiness of the bookie. All of the sites we feature are top class operators that are licensed and regulated in the UK. The UK Gambling Commission is the most stringent and powerful regulatory body in the gambling world and so this alone should offer some degree of assurance.
None the less, as we have seen over the past 10 years or so especially, huge British brands from retail, travel and other non-gambling sectors can go bust. Given that, it is certainly possible that some of the smaller bookmakers might stray into difficulties, though this remains uncommon.
Uncommon though it may be, if you are placing large bets or bets with the potential to land big wins, some may consider it worthwhile to accept slightly lower odds. Losing a percentage or so here and there may be deemed worthwhile for the added security of knowing your bet is placed with one of the industry’s biggest, most profitable companies.
Conclusion: Shop Around
Odds vary from one bookmaker to the next and whilst this may sometimes only be a small difference, it can sometimes be as high as 25% or even more. Differences tend to be most pronounced on longer odds options, especially accumulators with many legs. Small or large though, these odds differences add up over time. Given how easy it is to access the best odds it pays to have a number of accounts so you can maximise your profits on each and every win.
That said, selecting the bookmaker with the biggest odds isn’t always the best option (though it usually is). You should also take into account different each way terms, promotions, rules and any extras a site may offer to determine which bookmaker delivers the best overall package.