boxing betting lines

How Do Bookmakers Work?

As a general rule there are two groups of gamblers – those who hope to win and those who plan to win. The vast majority of punters belong to the first group, and always will, because their betting strategy contradicts their intentions. There is no simple secret to attaining long-term betting profitability, all professional bettors serve a long apprenticeship, but if you aspire to join this elite group there is some basic betting strategy that you need to understand to make the transition from ‘square’ to ‘sharp’, starting with understanding how bookmakers work.

Betting Strategy – Using A Coin Toss To Explain Basic Bookmaking

The first choice that a novice gambler must make is where to place their bet. More often than not, this is where they make their first and biggest mistake, simply because they don’t understand how bookmakers work. In simple terms, bookmakers make a profit by pricing their betting markets so that the odds offered do not fairly represent the actual statistical probability of the event concerned.

The simplest analogy is betting on a coin toss, which statistically represents a 50/50 chance (even money or 1/1) on either outcome – heads or tails. When betting with a friend, you’d bet €10 to win €10. In bookmaking terms this is called a 100% market, offering no edge. As soon as that market percentage moves above 100%, there is an edge to the whoever is laying the odds, i.e. the bookmaker.

All bookmakers, by the nature of their business would offer heads or tails at odds below even money – 2.0 in decimal odds – so you might for example have to bet €11 to win €10. This equates to decimals odds of 1.91, and a 104.7% market. The bookmaker’s edge is therefore 4.7%. Using the example of the coin toss, you would have to win close to c. 53% of bets to break even with traditional bookmakers.

By William Lewis
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