How to Beat the Bookies

Lee Jackson by Lee Jackson | Published: June 9, 2019

If you think in simplistic terms about betting, then it is you versus the bookmaker. So that means that you are trying to beat them by correctly predicting the outcome of an event.

That event could be anything from the number of corner kicks in a football match to the exact round that a boxer will knock out an opponent in during a fight. So that leads to one of the most frequently asked questions by beginners in betting:

How to beat the bookies?

What does beating the bookies mean exactly? It’s basically a turn of phrase that means that you are going to make money betting. But how do you go about that when the odds are basically stacked in the favour of the bookies?

The way to think about beating the bookies, is not trying to hit them hard with one blow in trying to land one big payout. It is simply by increasing your chances of picking the right outcome of sporting events on a frequent basis.

With that in mind, here are our top five tips on how to beat the bookies.

1. Study Statistics

Statistics are the friend of any punter. It is the kind of thing that could give you an edge over the bookmaker. We will have to first throw in a disclaimer here and that is, sport is unpredictable and underdogs do have their day. There are no guarantees, it’s all about risk.

There is absolutely no guarantee in a football match for example. Real Madrid could be playing Accrington Stanley and while Madrid would be immense favourites, a slice of luck in the game could prevent them from winning. It would be unlikely, but that’s just to illustrate that there is always (however minimal) a chance that things won’t go to plan.

But statistics help a lot. They help you find trends like a team winning a high percentage of away games in their recent form. Or maybe it is a team which has been consistently scoring at least two goals in recent games. Things like head to head statistics can help you see frequently occurring results between two teams. It helps you quickly see the form and then in turn, that helps to spot value in bets.

Statistics are heavily used in horse racing as a prime example of how important they are for bettors. Form of a particular horse along with things like distance, course and race grading are commonly looked at. Jockey form is another factor, as well as understanding how the conditions of the race track itself may have an effect on the race. These are the things that the bookmakers consider when they are setting odds, so you should too.

Basically when it comes to betting, information is power, power to wield against the bookmaker so don’t underestimate the importance of stats when it comes it beating the bookies.

2. Discover a Niche

Go and visit any online bookmaker and you will be bombarded with options. That’s a great thing if you are prepared to cut through the noise. That’s because there are great niche markets that sometimes get overlooked and they can often lead to a bit of value on the bettor’s side of things. You are not going to have a massive influx of bets from other punters on niche markets influencing the odds.

What are niche betting markets? They are markets that don’t get as much attention as other ones, and therefore odds can be stronger. As an example of niche markets in football you could maybe look at a Corner Handicap on a team, half time betting, to win both halves, or the total cards.

These are smaller markets but they can, under the right conditions, be more valuable in terms of winning-likelihood, than trying to pick out a really random option of who the first goalscorer in a game is going to be. So they are well worth exploring, especially when backing them up with stats.

3. Don’t bet with your heart

There are times when all emotions have to be taken out of betting. You’ve probably heard of sayings like “bet with your head”. This means think logically about your betting practices. Sure you may be looking at Scotland to beat Brazil at the World Cup, and as a proud Scottish person, you get all pumped up and passionate about them pulling off a big upset. You start thinking of scenarios of how it could happen, letting rationalisation and realism slide out of the window.

Your stake is played on them as 4/1 underdogs against the Brazilians who are odds-on favourites. That’s just an emotional bet. That’s betting with your heart and not your head. Sure upsets happen, but the chances of it are not high (typically more than 4/1 on that selection for example). That’s why the odds are the way that they are. This sort of betting is almost like handing free cash over the bookmaker. Head over heart.

4. Find Value Bets

Value bets are an interesting part of betting. That is because they basically operate on user discretion. We will echo this again, but this is another example of where stats are important. If West Ham are 3/1 to win a match, that implies a 25% chance of them landing a win. But you really think that on the day, they have a much stronger chance than winning than that. You may be, after looking at stats and form, think that they should be in with a 33% chance.

That, by your estimation, would be a quote of 2/1 odds. So you think that the odds that the bookmaker have given on them is longer than it should be. That means, according to your estimation, the actual odds offered on West Ham offer some great value. That then is a value bet. It’s basically you believing that the bookmakers have underestimated the likelihood of an outcome.

Learn how to find good value bets here.

5. Hedging Bets

This is a more advanced way to potentially beat the bookmakers, but even for beginners it is worth at least thinking about how this works. Matched betting on a betting exchange is the same kind of thing as hedging, a term which you will likely come across. You create a scenario where no matter the outcome of an event, you will collect a return.

To simplify this, let’s assume you have a Novak Djokovic v Rafael Nadal tennis match. There is only going to be one winner. You have a £10 stake to play on the match. You take a percentage of that stake to place on Djokovic to win and put the remainder of it on Nadal to win.

How much of your stake that goes to each option depends on the odds that are in play. More of the stake goes on the favourite, less on the underdog. The concept is that no matter which player then wins, you will collect (as near as possible) the same amount of profit back.

Bookmaker Sign Up Bonuses

By taking advantage of new customer offers, you can receive free bet credits, and more to boost your bankroll. Some bonuses also do not require a deposit. Find an updated list of the latest bookmaker promo codes here, including the highly popular Bet365.

In summary

There isn’t a 100% sure fire long-term way to the beat the bookmakers. As mentioned above, there are no certainties in betting. All the talk of “bankers” and “dead certs” are basically misleading. The only thing that is certain about sporting outcomes, is that nothing is certain. But however, you can apply some basic tools to find solutions as to how to beat the bookies and make money betting.

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How to Beat the Bookies and Make Money Betting
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How to Beat the Bookies and Make Money Betting
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Discover how to beat the bookies and make money betting. We discuss using statistics, finding a niche, emotional betting, value bets and hedging bets.
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Best Free Bets
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Article by Lee Jackson

Lee has built a vast working knowledge of different bet types, betting systems, probability and all-important experience. His experience within the betting industry extends to over a decade of researching and writing betting guides. Understanding the statistical and mathematical side of betting is something that fascinates Lee. The study of statistics and implied probability in odds are factors that he finds engaging and important to understanding the inner workings of the practice of betting.