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Does Betfair Really Have Better Odds?

Betfair OddsIt’s difficult to avoid the barrage of sports betting adverts shown around the UK, they’re everywhere: on the tv, websites, the radio, billboards and more.

Every bookmaker tries to convince us they’re offering more than their competitors. Betfair regularly claim to have the best odds on certain sports and events but is that really the case?

Let’s strip away the bright colours, the quirky punchlines, the cameo-celebrity endorsements, and sign-up offers and instead let’s consider what really matters when it comes choosing the right bookmaker: the odds.

Every Bookmaker Should Have:

A licence from the UK gambling commission, ensuring they’re legally entitled to operate.

Various payment methods including credit/debit cards, and e-wallets.

A vast array of betting markets, with all major sports events/markets at your disposal.

A clean, professional app providing a smooth and reliable user experience.

So there’s the basics covered. There’s still one key question that remains: what sports betting site offers the best odds and therefore most value?

Value Should Be The Top Priority For Punters

Without any doubt, the most important factor for reviewing UK bookmakers is the value of their odds. This is because value means everything to the successful bettor.

A lot of punters believe that profitable betting is all about making the ‘right’ selections. That’s only partially true. More accurately, it’s about pursuing the best possible value, every time you bet. That way you avoid giving away too much ‘edge’.

I’ll explain how value works with a simple example:

Imagine you place 2x £10 bets every weekend. So over the course of any given month you bet a total of £80. You might be up, down, or even at ‘break-even’ by the end of each month.

Suppose during one month you had just 1 winning bet of your 8 x £10 stakes. Assume these were placed at industry-leading prices, and the winner was made at odds of 8/1, as follows:

Bet 1: -£10
Bet 2: -£10
Bet 3: -£10
Bet 4: -£10
Bet 5: +£80 (£90 return)
Bet 6: -£10
Bet 7: -£10
Bet 8: -£10

In total you would make a profit of +£10 in this month. The winning bet saved the day.

Sure, in hindsight, it made absolutely no difference what odds you had on the losing bets. But it’s important to maintain that attitude of finding the best possible value every time. You’ll see why.

Suppose this same month played out at low industry prices, with the one winning bet secured at odds of just 7/1. This would play out as follows:

Bet 1: -£10
Bet 2: -£10
Bet 3: -£10
Bet 4: -£10
Bet 5: +£70 (£80 return)
Bet 6: -£10
Bet 7: -£10
Bet 8: -£10

This time round you would break even with £0 profit. No change to your bankroll.

So there’s a significant £10 difference after a series of bets. What this very simple example illustrates is the importance of shopping around for odds.

The leading prices made the difference between earning profit, and merely breaking even. Think about it. If this case represented an average week of betting, then that’s a whopping £520 you miss out on over the course of a year (assuming 52 weeks of betting), just by accepting low odds.

Sport is unpredictable. You don’t know for sure who’s going to win or lose. The best you can do is bet at the highest possible odds. This reduces the edge you give away, and gives you the maximum chance of making a profit. Don’t settle for less.

Where Do You Find The Best Odds?

You can use an odds comparison tool to shop around. However, you’ll notice that the majority of UK bookmakers offer highly synchronised prices. It’s not so easy to highlight a clear-cut, consistent leader in terms of value.

So what you really need is that go-to sports betting site that simply provides you with the best value every time.

That site is Betfair.

How & Why The Betfair Exchange Offers The Best Prices

You might be wondering precisely how one company can offer such superior odds.

Betfair ExchangeWell, it’s actually because Betfair isn’t (primarily) a bookmaker, and functions very differently. Betfair is a betting exchange — which means that for a sports event outcome the public places “Back” bets for, and accepts “Lay” bets against one another via their platform. You have the choice of playing the role of the punter or the bookie.

Betfair members compete against one another for prices. Whoever offers the best value is first in line to get their bet(s) away. This forces the Betfair betting markets to organically generate very accurate, fair prices for every sport event. Betfair themselves only take a small clip of winnings — which starts at 5%, and is reduced the more you bet. Thus the exchange is said to be “fair”.

Technically a “fair” bet is one which reflects the true chance of an event occuring. For example, if there’s a 50% chance of Man United beating Liverpool at home, then the price would be 1/1 (2.0 decimal). Betfair gets you the closest to those fair odds as possible.

Bookmakers, on the other hand, offer as little value as they can. This gives them an advantage or ‘edge’ in the region of 4-15%. If they offer too much value, they won’t earn enough in the longrun. If their prices are too low then punters won’t bet there. They seek that ‘sweet spot’ where they earn, but don’t deter customers.

The reality is that Bookmakers cannot afford to offer the same prices as Betfair. In fact, they track Betfair odds, and try to keep their prices lower. The bookies at racetracks do this manually, too. Using public markets is a very simplistic — yet effective — way to price odds.

So the big question now is: why doesn’t everyone bet on Betfair?

Why Do Bookmakers Continue To Thrive?

It’s true that bookmakers offer a product that’s largely inferior to Betfair’s exchange. However, there are some reasons bookies continue to capture the lion’s share of the market…

  1. Bookmakers invest heavily in advertising in order to familiarise customers with their brand, and deter them from heading over to the exchange.
  2. The Betfair decimal odds format is too much of a transition for many bettors to make. The UK market is accustomed to the traditional, fractional format; many punters are reluctant to convert.
  3. Betfair relies on volume from the public. For highly obscure markets it’s tough to place a decent sized stake. Bookmakers, on the other hand, can offer as much volume as they’re willing to accept — it’s their choice.
  4. Promotions, novelty bets — even accumulators — are mainly ran by bookmakers. This attracts many recreational bettors. The betting exchange is geared towards professionals placing more than just the one-off stake.

Despite some limitations of betting exchanges, it remains crucial to seek value on every bet.

A good starting point is to familiarise yourself with Betfair’s interface and odds format. From there you can begin to learn trading strategies, and further improve your approach to betting.

Consistently find value that’s “above fair”, and you’ll earn a profit long-term. That’s the basic principle of profitable betting.

Author: Toby Aldous

Toby Aldous
Toby Aldous is most well known for his professional sports betting blog Punters2Pro. Having graduated from university with a Computer Science degree he's been at the forefront of developing Betfair's trading algorithms and value finder tools. His experience in sports data analysis is second to none and his realistic approach to sports betting stands out in a space which is over hyped and sensationalised.

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