Who are professional bettors and what bookmakers do they use?
Professional Bettors vs. Gamblers
For the select few who can call themselves professional bettors, betting has evolved past gambling to become a primary source of income. Most professional bettors do not consider betting to be gambling, but rather an investment.
It may come as no surprise then, that many professional bettors started out in the financial and banking industries. Using custom built computer programs, they place bets carefully based on statistical analysis.
Whilst most are passionate about their chosen sport, they try to minimise the effect of emotion or personal feelings on the decision-making process. This contrasts with the gambler, who might bet on their favourite team winning the league, or try to recoup losing bets with riskier, larger bets.
Professional Bankroll Management
Another distinguishing factor is that professional bettors set realistic long term goals, which are achieved through strict bankroll management.
For example: a professional might start with a bankroll of £100,000, bet 1% of this every game, and expect to end the year up 25% on £125,000.
A gambler might start with £1000, bet £200 on a 4/1 chance and double their money, then bet £2000 on a ‘sure bet’ and loose everything. For many gamblers, this cycle of winning and losing is repeated. Whilst some might be lucky and win over time, the majority loose.
It is the consistent and measurable approach of professional bettors, that is the most likely to return a profit.
How Do Professional Bettors Choose a Bet?
Professional bettors look for small advantages which can be found by comparing the probability of an outcome to the odds of a market. This method of selecting bets is commonly referred to as handicapping.
Using a mathematical approach, the probability of an outcome is calculated and theoretical odds can thus be determined. These odds can then be compared to the odds offered by the bookmakers.
Where there is a difference between the odds offered and the handicapped odds we find an advantage. Here is a very simplified example:
The bettor calculates that Team A should be 2/1 to beat Team B, but the bookies are offering odds of 4/1. Clearly the bookies are offering better odds than Team A are worth. Provided the handicapping is accurate, this is a good opportunity for a bet.
The reality is that bookmakers are usually very good at choosing odds. Professional bettors are often looking at very small advantages. To minimise the risk and maximise profit, the best odds available must be chosen. So, where do professional bettors place their money?
Professional Bookmakers in Asia vs. European Bookmakers
Professional bettors rarely bet with common high-street or European bookmakers online. There has been a clear shift towards the use of Asian bookmakers, who offer several distinct advantages; most importantly better odds. Asian bookmakers work on much lower margins than European bookmakers, meaning odds tend to be better.
Often criticised by the betting community, European bookmakers tend to ban winning players very quickly. If a bookmaker predicts a player will win money in the long run, they will often be banned, sometimes within one or two bets being placed.
Asian bookmakers on the other hand allow winning players to continue betting. Additionally, Asian bookmakers allow bettors to place much higher bets on a single game, whereas European bookmakers often limit bets to ~£10,000.
Further benefits of Asian bookmakers are increased anonymity and faster pay-out times.
Professional Strategy: The Asian Handicap
Favoured by many professional bettors, the Asian Handicap, in addition to the benefits mentioned above, marks Asian bookmakers as more professionally focused. Essentially, the Asian Handicap eliminates the draw. It also levels the playing field, by giving the weaker team goals before the game starts.
This may seem complicated to the average gambler, but professional bettors have an advantage using this system, because they use mathematical models to predict the score. For anyone willing to put a lot of time and effort into handicapping games, Asian handicap bets probably offer the best risk-reward ratio.