Continuing my Back to Basics Betting Class, a repeated complaint from successful punters is that bookmakers close or limit their accounts. You spend all your time perfecting your betting skills, and then you’re barred for using them. Is it really worth the effort?!
The answer, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear, is a resounding yes. There is no good reason why you should get your accounts closed or limited by the bookies if you follow these simple rules.
1. Bet round numbers (i.e. stakes ending in 0 or 5, without any pence).
Betting very precise amounts (e.g. £46.56) will mark you out very quickly as an arber. And most bookies don’t like arbers. This is because they really want to attract so-called “mug punters” who are happy to take random punts in a spontaneous way, and who traditionally lose money hand over fist.
In contrast, arbing suggests you are aiming to milk the bookies in a systematic way. And frankly they could do without the aggravation, as life is too short and anyway these days their margins are paper-thin.
If you’re arbing, use calculation software that works out rounded stakes (see my article on calculator betting for the best option), or use a system like SkewTrader Pro, which is designed to work with round stakes. Only bet pounds not pence, and stick to sums ending with a ‘0’ or a ‘5’.
2. Consider using the basic fake-a-loss technique by laying your bets off at Betfair (though a better option follows at steps 3 and 4!)
It may seem like stating the obvious, but bookies don’t like winners. You therefore have to think about how to fake losses effectively, with the classic way of doing so being to (a) back an event at the bookies (e.g. Lucky Ned to win), (b) lay the same event off at Betfair (Lucky Ned not to win), then (c) hope that the event doesn’t happen (e.g. Lucky Ned falls at the first).
This approach can often work but may prove expensive or back-fire entirely and get you shut down. In particular, things can go wrong if you’re tempted to back-and-lay longshots to “make sure” you lose, as longshots are often only available at much longer prices on Betfair than they are at your bookmaker’s.
So if you back Lucky Ned at 30, you might be offered lay odds on Betfair of 40 or 50. Such an arb could cost you up to £400 on a £20 stake if the Law of Sod kicks in, and Lucky Ned comes home in front. This, in my opinion, is way too much stress for the pleasure of making your bookie twenty quid richer. With the punchline being that, if your longshot wins, your bookie will probably close down your account anyway. This will follow as night follows day, if you’ve been taking money off him prior to the race. He’ll now figure you’ve moved on to successfully backing rank outsiders and are therefore not worth the trouble.
There is also the additional cost of Betfair commission to factor into your lay bet, so you may end up locking in a loss no matter what. Arbs that are guaranteed to lose, and in some cases lose you a lot, are an unnecessary price to pay for making your bookie smile; so my advice is to use this approach with caution.
So instead, here is a more sophisticated way to manage your bookmaker accounts…
3. Rest winning accounts in favour of losing ones.
Keep records of where you are with each bookie. I keep records of bookie balances in my bookmaker passwords file (it’s only 1 row per bookie so it’s really not onerous), and then I track whether I am up or down this week with each of them. This should be easy if you’ve been recording all your bets (which you have been doing, right?).
Obviously, if you’ve lost money at a given bookies this week, no further action is required, but if you’re up, review your progress over the last month and quarter. If I am ahead across all three periods, I will take action (see below). But if I’m only ahead at a given bookmaker’s over any one or two of these periods, I will usually decide to ‘rest’ him, and switch to the accounts I’m losing money with. There is usually no need to fake losses if you’re managing your bookmaker accounts carefully.
Now I do a LOT of arbing so there are always some accounts that, by chance, end up ahead, with others falling behind. The obvious long-term goal is to take your profits in Betfair, but you can give the natural cycling of bookie balances a helping hand simply by leaving successful accounts alone for a bit. In my experience, this actually only means resting two or three accounts at a time when I’m arbing (as of course bookie odds are designed to help the bookie profit over time, via the over-round, so usually the majority of accounts end up overdrawn).
But what do you do if you are still ahead at a particular bookie over the last week, month and quarter? Well, after kicking yourself for not resting the account earlier, try this….
4. Back-and-lay short-priced selections (between 1.5 and 3.0) until you lose enough money.
This approach may sound counter-intuitive (as you will worry that favourites will win), but it is actually a sure-fire way of making losses on your bookmaker account. After all, the bookies make the bulk of their profits by laying favourites, so it shouldn’t be hard to lose to them by blindly backing anything in the required range. Plus, if you’re backing favourites or second favourites, you are going to look like the mug punter they so want you to be. And if your short-priced punt does come home in front, you’re likely to win such small amounts (relative to your stake) that your bookie is likely to let matters run, sure in the knowledge that your mug punter behaviour will soon find you out.
Now I know what you are thinking – haven’t we, in step 2, questioned the value of backing-and-laying on account of (a) the odds disparities between the bookies and Betfair, and (b) the Betfair commission issue?
Well yes, but Betfair rarely offers long lay prices on favourites. All you do is use a site like Oddschecker, combined with a separate Betfair window, and find back-and-lay options where the lay odds at Betfair are equal to the backing odds at the bookies. Then lay your horse/team/whatever at Betfair for the same (or lower) odds as those on offer at the bookmakers, for a sum equal to the backing stake.
If your selection wins, you will finish level, or possibly even ahead if you got better odds at the bookies. And if it loses, you will be down by the amount of your Betfair commission: typically £2.50 on a £50 stake, which is, I feel, a price worth paying to put the smile back on a long-suffering bookmaker’s face!
That said, if you follow the guidance on pages 14 to 17 of my free 43-page manual on making £1000 per month from betting, you should even be able to make money from your short-priced arbs. Which in turn makes the whole thing that little bit more pleasurable!
5. Avoid moving money into and out of your accounts any more often than is absolutely necessary.
I can’t stress this enough. Bookies incur quite significant banking costs (that thankfully they don’t usually pass on to you) if you use bank cards. If they are already having doubts about your account, there is nothing quite like a whole pile of bank fees to tip them over the edge.
Just because you don’t see this cost doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter to them. Remember – bookies’ margins are wafer-thin, so naturally they are tracking this stuff.
A really good way of getting accounts limited is to open an email about a reload offer, make a debit card deposit, milk the offer, then withdraw all your money again. Please don’t do this! Instead, focus on the long game.
6. Use Skrill (formerly Moneybookers) or Paypal to deposit or withdraw.
This follows from point 5. Save your bookie bank charges and he will smile on you. Moreover, he will let you make much quicker withdrawals, so your bankroll can be turned over more quickly. So everybody’s happy!
7. Use arb-friendly bookies.
No article on this subject would be complete without a plug for Pinnacle Sports. This bookie is a punter’s dream. They offer great odds, openly welcome arbers, and, as far as I’m aware, have never closed down a soul.
The only reason you’ve probably never heard of them is that they don’t waste money on marketing (or, by the look of it, on web design!) – and famously don’t bother with expensive sign-up offers. They genuinely are in a class of their own, and should be on your radar.
8. Use a system that allows you to bet at modest stakes.
Arbing is all very well but if you are placing £200 bets on League Two football matches in order to drive out £2.70 worth of profit, it won’t be that long before your bookie limits you (Pinnacle aside). It would be better to place four arbs of £50 across a whole range of bookies, so the risk of unwanted attention is reduced.
I developed SkewTrader Pro effectively to ‘widen the gap’ between the back and lay sides of the arb, thereby allowing you to make enhanced profits at lower stakes. It comes with super-fast trading support screens, to help you get more value from modest trades. Find out more about it here.
So that’s it. Spread your bets around, using the techniques in my free manual on making £1000 per month from gambling, and open lots of bookie accounts. Then adopt an organised approach to bookmaker management.
Having an account closed can happen to any of us (sometimes the bookies simply do random things!) but it usually isn’t inevitable. You simply need to plan ahead to minimise the chance of it happening.