Category Archives: Bookies’ Tricks

Handicapping – Winning Through Superior Knowledge

Handicapping is one technique that bookies use that you can pick up and use against them.

By handicapping bookies try to determine who has the greatest chance of winning a particular sporting event and then adjust the odds so that they can make money.  Handicapping requires a great deal of knowledge and major bookies employ sports experts who can help them set the appropriate odds.

The good news is that this means you can beat bookies at their own game.

First of all you will need to have information about the sports, the teams and the players.  It’s good to know about past matches, history and the past form of the team. This information combined with the experience you get over time will help you to understand the handicapping process.

The goal is not so much to pick winners, but to work out when the bookies have mispriced the odds.

Guys that make money from sports betting have great lives.  They watch a lot of sports and get to know them extremely well. It seems ideal: you can grab a cup of coffee, relax and open a sports magazine or a newspaper, switch on the television or just listen to sports radio where ever you are.

Every match you hear about will give you the opportunity to start thinking about the real chance that this or that team has to win. Once you understand that you can start searching for odds that bookies have set and see which ones have been mis-priced.

Have a look at what professional tipsters say and whether they have accurately assessed the likely outcome of a sporting event. The fact is you can’t make money from them, because bookies will have already adjusted the odds to take into account this tip, no matter how good that tipster is.

Therefore, people who make money from sports betting don’t go public with their ideas, they need to place their bets without the world knowing.  People who are very good at it, might successfully sell their tips to a select few trusted customers.

Bookies’ Tricks: How Bookies Make Money with the Overround

There are several ways for a bookmaker to make money.  Chief amongst these is running what they call a  “balanced book”.  A bookmaker’s book on a sporting event is balanced when he makes money no matter what the outcome.

Consider a soccer match. There are three outcomes a home win, a draw or an away win.  Let’s assume the true probabilities are as follows:

Outcome True Probability True Odds
Home Win 1/3 2-1
Away Win 1/3 2-1
Draw 1/3 2-1

Only one outcome is possible, so if the bookie offers those odds, he will not make any money. For example, say a bookie accepts $100 from several punters and is therefore holding $300. If the Home team wins, he will payout $200 and return the original $100 stake, leaving him with nothing for his time and effort.  Bookies, obviously won’t be happy with this. The way they deal with it is to adjust the odds away from the true probabilities:

Outcome True Probability True Odds Offered Odds
Home Win 1/3 2-1 9-5
Away Win 1/3 2-1 9-5
Draw 1/3 2-1 9-5

So, athoughl the chance of each outcome is 33.3%, the bookie is offering odds of 9-5 equivalent to 35.71%. If you add up the ‘true probabilities’, we get 100%.  However, if we add up the probabilities corresponding to the offered odds, we end up with 107.14%. This 7.14% above 100% is known as the overround or sometimes ‘juice’ or ‘vig’ and is where the bookie makes his guaranteed profit.

So if, as in the previous example, the bookie accepts $100 on each of the outcomes and is holding $100, if, say there is a home win, he must pay out $180 in winnings and return the $100 stake, for a total of $280.  However, there is a clear, guaranteed $20 profit for the bookie.

Let’s now look at a slightly more real world example.

Consider a football game  Barcelona is playing against Poli Ejido. Barcelona is the favourite to win and decimal odds are offered at 1.25. For a draw the odds are 6.67 and the odds offered for a Poli Ejido win are 20.0. The punters have staked a total of €500,000, with most money being staked on Barcelona to win, as follows:

Outcome Odds Amount Staked Potential Payout Bookie’s Profit or Loss
Barcelona wins 1.25 425,000 531,250 -31,250
Draw 6.67 62,500 416,817 83,333
Poli Ejido wins 20 12,500 250,000 250,00

Barcelona is the clear favourite and the odds have been set accordingly. However, from the bookie’s point of view the odds are not correct. The reason for this, is that if Barcelona wins (and there is a high probability that this will be the outcome) then the bookmaker will suffer a loss of €31,250.  This is an example of an improperly balanced book.  But what if the bookie juggles the odds ever so slightly:

Outcome Odds Amount Staked Potential Payout Bookie’s Profit or Loss
Barcelona wins 1.15 425,000 488,750 11,250
Draw 5.0 62,500 312,500 187,500
Poli Ejido wins 17 12,500 212,500 287,500

Here, we see that regardless of the outcome the bookmaker has a guaranteed profit of at least €11.250.

Although this article has been about how bookies make money, the above example,where the odds for a Barcelona win are mispriced,  shows where a discerning punter can potentially make money.