Betfair - €20 Free Bet
Written by · 29 May 2015 · Category: Gambling

Let’s say you fancy a horse to win a certain race. It’s 5/1 in your local bookmakers but it’s 11/2 in the rival bookies further down the road. Will you make the extra walk?

Or if you’re an online punter, the horse could be 5/1 on your usual betting site but a quick glance at Oddschecker tells you that it’s 11/2 with that other online bookie, the one where you can’t remember your password and you’re not sure if you have any money in the account anyway. Ah sure what’s the big deal? A winner is a winner, right? A 5/1 winner is better than any priced loser, isn’t it? You just want to place the bet at 5/1 and cheer on your horse. That’s understandable.

Get The Best Odds You Can

I want to demonstrate here why even small differences in the odds matter, how these small differences add up to big money and why you should always aim to get the best possible price for your bet.

Ruler Of The World winning the Derby

Think of all the bets you’ve ever made that were at odds of 5/1. There are probably more than you think. For every one of those bets that won, you could afford to have five losers and still break even. Did you? For the vast majority of people, the answer is probably not. Generally we would have slightly more than five losers for every one winner, resulting in a small percentage loss on average. But what if all those 5/1 winners you had were actually paid out to you as 11/2 winners? Would all those extra winnings make up the difference?


Imagine that this blue block represents the profit from a winning bet…

Single Blue Block

…and that this red block below represents the money lost on a losing bet.

Single Red Block

Now visualise all your winning bets as blocks of various sizes piled high on top of each other in a big column, each block representing the profit from a winning bet. Beside it is another column made up of all your losing bets. Obviously you’d like the first column to be higher.

However, after placing a large number of bets, we generally have many, many losers with a nice sprinkling of winners here and there. Our objective is to make sure those winning bets cover all the losers. The cold, hard truth is that for most people, they don’t.

Here is an example of what the two columns might look like for many of us.

Profits and Losses in Columns (1)

That difference at the top of the columns is the money that bookmakers make from you, me and other punters. How can we change things so that our profit column is taller than our loss column? Two ideas spring to mind:

1) Turn a couple of those losers into winners. But that’s a lot more difficult than it sounds!

2) There’s an easier way – make each of those blocks in our profit column slightly bigger.

Two Blue Blocks

If you take just one of your bets and imagine getting 7/2 instead of 10/3, it doesn’t seem like a whole lot of difference, but now imagine every single winning bet you’ve ever had in your life. There might be hundreds, even thousands! Take all of those winning bets and increase the odds just slightly on each of them. How much extra money would you have? It would probably be a lot and might even be enough to turn an overall loss into an overall profit.

New Profits and Losses Columns

Some Real Numbers

Can I demonstrate this more robustly than by using pretty little pictures? Sure!

From our “NAP of the Day” thread on the forum, we have a database of over 12,000 horse racing bets placed by over 200 people with all of the results recorded to industry SP. It’s a significant amount of information and the stats from it are clear, transparent and illuminating.

Total Amount Bet: 12,074

Total Returns: 10,469

Percentage Profit/Loss: -13.3%

That is, for every Euro or Pound we bet, we get back around 87c (or 87p) on average, when betting to the industry starting price in horse racing. So this begs the question: what effect would getting higher odds on our winners achieve?

In betting parlance, the difference between one price and the next is a “tick”. For example, 10/1 is a tick bigger than 9/1 and 11/4 is a tick smaller than 3/1. Using all the information in the “Nap of the Day” database, I was able to calculate what the overall profit or loss would be if we could change the odds on every single winner by one tick upwards, i.e.

1/2 becomes 8/15
10/11 becomes Evens
6/4 becomes 13/8
3/1 becomes 10/3
14/1 becomes 16/1

Increasing the Odds by 1 Tick

Total Amount Bet: 12,074

Total Returns: 11,226

Percentage Profit/Loss: -7%

We can see that by increasing the odds at which we bet by just one tick, we would generate an extra 757 in returns. If we assume €10 per bet, that’s an extra €7,570 in the punters’ pockets!

However, we can also see that there is still an overall loss, albeit significantly smaller than before. This then begs a further question: what if we could increase our odds by not one tick but two?

Increasing the Odds by 2 Ticks

Total Amount Bet: 12,074

Total Returns: 12,032

Percentage Profit/Loss: -0.3%

This is very close to break-even! So by getting odds just two ticks bigger than before (i.e. 2/1 instead of 7/4) we were able to go from a 13% loss to almost 0%. We’ve come this far so let’s take it one step further.

Increasing the Odds by 3 Ticks

Total Amount Bet: 12,074

Total Returns: 12,971

Percentage Profit/Loss: +7.4%

Boom! Three ticks difference in odds isn’t a whole lot but it makes a huge difference to your bottom line.

Returns vs Ticks Bar Chart

I know there are many occasions when bookmakers have almost identical odds on a market and you won’t be able to find a bet at two or three ticks higher but there will nearly always be some variation to take advantage of. It’s worth the effort to seek out the very best odds you can. Never settle for less. The bookmakers and exchanges are desperate for your custom, so always shop around and only take the best value.

If you’re an online punter, have as many online accounts as you can handle.

If you’re a cash punter, visit different betting shops instead of just one. Of course, if the betting shops in your area are far apart, you might have to take into account the extra time you spend walking or driving and any extra petrol/diesel you need to use. Is €1.50 extra petrol and 7 extra minutes of your time worth it to get 7/1 instead of 13/2? I’ll leave that question until another day!

See all posts written by

Betfair - €20 Free Bet