How Do Bookmakers Set Their Odds, Set Prices & Make Money?

How Do Bookmakers Set Their Odds

Building margins into odds and balancing the book to ensure that the bookie earns money regardless of the winner are key components of successful bookmaking. Every fixed odds bookie wants to make sure that every outcome is backed in the appropriate amount to earn regardless of the result. 

We offer all the information you need regarding the elements that affect market price in this guide. We’ll go over the vig and overround, demonstrate how to calculate odds and bookmaker margins and describe how betting websites recoup their costs. We’ll also cover whether markets have greater or smaller margins, how prices react to betting, how to recognise overpriced odds before the bookie does, how to be your own bookie, and make a profit.


How Do Bookmakers Set Their Odds and Market Prices?

It’s ironic that when it comes to setting their odds, a bookmaker prefers not to take a chance on a certain event. While maintaining a profit margin and approximately reflecting the likelihood of an event occurring, prices are chosen to minimise volatility. Making money while retaining the interest of bettors on the result is what this balance is all about.

First, bookmakers determine their margin. They then incorporate this fee into the odds they assign for each possible event. As we shall cover later, the term “Vig” or “Overrround” refers to the margin that is automatically included in a wager.

Subtracting the margin from each outcome’s calculated probability is how bookies tend to operate. Based on form, history, statistics, and finally, the people’s opinion – meaning the opinions of other bookies, the public, and themselves, bookmakers and odds traders determine the true possibilities of an event. 

Considering an event with only two possible outcomes will help you better comprehend odds pricing. The team you want to wager on to start a football game will be determined by the flip of a coin, and this has an identical 50/50 probability of happening. Because the bookmaker adds their profit margin here, even if the gullible among us would believe that the odds should be even for every possible event, they never will be.

 But odds pricing is more than just probability. To balance their book, bookies base their odds less on actual probabilities and more on how probable they believe their customers will be to bet on each result. Major sports head-to-head markets often have the lowest margins, ranging from 2 to 5%. If you bet on more exotic lines or markets, the margin may reach 20% or higher. 


Vig, Vigorish, Edge, Juice, and Overround Explained

The bookmaker uses a process known as the vig or overround to balance bets on all potential outcomes to turn a profit no matter what. Since it is rarely possible to balance a book exactly, bookmakers typically have a greater degree of liability in one direction than the other. In the lead-up to an event, the bookmaker will adjust the odds lines to encourage bets on lines they are less exposed to while discouraging more bets on lines they are overexposed to.

The sum that a bookmaker charges a gambler for accepting their wager is another way to understand the Vig. Overround and Vigorish vary technically: A betting company’s profit on all bets made on a market or event is called vig or vigorish. An event’s or market’s real percentage above 100% that a book is for is called overrround. 


How Do Odds Prices Change According To Bets?

Within the financial markets, a company’s stock will rise in response to increased demand for it and fall in response to increased demand for its shares for sale. When it comes to sports betting sites and betting odds, more or less the same idea is used. 

The true chance of an event happening is just one element in changing the odds or determining them, as we already discussed. Before adding their margin on top, the bookmaker first makes an educated guess about the chance. Incoming funds would be biased in one direction if everyone placed their bets on only one of those possibilities. Consequently, the bookmaker will raise their margin on the popular line (to discourage bets) and lower their margin on the less popular line (to promote bets).

In practice, the procedure isn’t nearly as complicated or risky. The bookmaker profiles its punter base to predict which markets and lines will be more popular than others, rather than just waiting to see which bets will be popular and then moving the margins.

Because it is more difficult for a bookmaker to balance multiple-choice markets (like first goalscorer) than less complicated markets (win/draw/win), multiple-choice markets often have bigger margins.


Book Balancing: How Bookmakers Make Money

A sportsbook or betting company can only maintain balance in their books if there is an equal amount of bets, regardless of how hard they try. It is simply not always feasible to acquire the proper proportions by altering one’s own odds lines because betting is dependent on public opinion.

When betting on England in international events, for instance, a UK-facing bookmaker is frequently overexposed. Suppose that England is facing Spain in the championship game. Different bookmakers from the UK would find it difficult to have enough wagers placed to cover the book on their own without giving England a sizable lead. This is one of the factors that could impact the bookmaker losing money to their rivals and discouraging punters from betting on England in the football match. 

That means the sportsbook has an option. First of all, they might assume the risk that even if England loses, they will still turn a profit. Since taking chances in the bookmaking industry can lead to rapid failure, bookmakers will, if feasible, share their liabilities with other bookmakers or through platforms comparable to betting exchanges. In this scenario, a bookie facing Spain will be overexposed in Spain if the bookie facing the UK is overexposed in England. This implies that the Spanish and UK bookies may share their overall responsibility, allowing them to both earn marginally from their deals without taking any chances.

They accomplish this by using wholesale bookmakers, who essentially serve as a clearinghouse for books that aren’t balanced. In 99 percent of situations, this way protects a sportsbook. Nonetheless, situations when all bookmakers have liabilities in the same market will always exist. If a heavy favourite wins the Grand National, for instance, all bookmakers will be excessively exposed and have fewer choices for shifting their obligations to other parties. In this case, if the favourite prevails—which happens frequently—the entire business will suffer as a result.


Best Value Odds – High Vs Low Margin Markets

The highest value is usually found in top sports such as football, tennis, horse racing, etc., whereas novelty and special bets typically give the worst value.

Because there is less volatility and less possibility of unexpected results, higher margins are usually encountered in simpler markets. Expect margins below 5% in head-to-head markets with two choices and match outcome markets with three alternatives (Win/Draw/Win). This is because the bookmaker doesn’t have to work as hard to balance the book, which lowers the risk. Because they provide greater value over time, this is one of the reasons why an increasing number of the best players in the betting industry prefer to continue with over/under markets and handicap bets.

The bigger the margin required to account for volatility and imbalanced books, the more outcomes there are in a market. There are several alternatives and larger margins for goalscorer, correct score, etc. The events and sports that are most popular will have the smallest built-in margin. This is because bookies want to remain competitive in those markets and turn a profit, and there is a lot of information accessible. The bigger the margin, the more exotic the wager. This is because there is less information available, which makes betting companies less confident in the result, and because betting companies can find it more difficult to balance the book.

If you’re a novice or inexperienced bettor, you’ll probably get greater value by sticking to smaller margin markets. It doesn’t mean, therefore, that you shouldn’t gamble in markets with larger margins. The increased probability of discovering a line that the bookmaker has overpriced is reflected in the larger margin, which signifies the increased level of speculation. If it wins, you may win big sums if you get on this before everyone else. You may compare bookmakers and even hedge your bets with greater margin markets, which are also more likely to fluctuate across them. 

Because they have larger profit margins to work with, bookmakers frequently promote and offer deals on multiple outcome markets. They can provide you with a decent bargain and, for the most part, turn a profit in this way. Keep in mind that a goalscorer market with a bargain (such as money back on goalscorer bets in the event of a red card) will still have a greater margin than the more straightforward match outcome market, so try not to get drawn in. 


Accumulators And Multiple Bets Have High Margins

Compared to other bet types, accumulator or parlay betting draws in most bookmaker promotions. Why is that? You effectively multiply the profit margin of the betting companies as soon as you place an accumulator. It’s because of this that they can provide accumulator bonuses, free bets, and insurance.

An example of a double bet is shown here. Let us assume that you have chosen two tennis matches, A vs B and B vs C and that each of the four teams has an equal probability of winning. There exist four potential results: A and D triumph, B and C triumph, A and C triumph, or B and D triumph. A 25% probability exists for each of these four eventualities to take place and a 75% chance that they won’t.

By having no margin, you may earn £400 if you bet £100 on any of those results. Since betting companies won’t offer you evens on an even probability, let’s assume that each scenario has a 10/11 (1.91) chance of winning. This indicates that the margin for each option is ((1/1.91) + (1/1.91) x 100 = 104.7) 100-104.7 = 4.7%.  We provide the bookies twice the margin, or 4.7 + 4.7 = 9.4%, by merging these choices into a double. This explains, among other things, why accumulator bonuses are tiered and rise in proportion to the amount of selections, and why acca insurance only starts with five or more.

Since full cover bets like Lucky 15s and Yankees are just packed with several individual accumulators, this naturally also applies to those types of bets. This also explains why there are so many offers available for these kinds of wagers. 

Although accumulators are a lot of fun and can provide large payouts when you do win, they are generally of bad value bets, and the more choices you have, the more leverage the betting company has. Again, this is not to say that you shouldn’t place these kinds of bets; rather, it may be that you should limit your placement to multiples and modest stake accumulators.


Tips on How To Be Your Own Bookie and Place Better Bets

✅ Be Your Own Sportsbook, Hedge Your Bets

Hedging a bet means avoiding committing yourself to a certain outcome. Stated differently, the goal is not to pursue victory but to avoid defeat. On a market when there are only two conceivable outcomes, hedging is most fundamental. To guarantee you always turn a profit, you may select two separate bookies providing favorable odds on each other for the opposite outcome. You can then back these in the right amounts. By putting wagers that balance your risks and assure a profit, you are essentially acting as your bookmaker. 

✅ Try Exchange Betting For Better Odds

When setting pricing, margins, and balancing books, fixed odds bookmakers use teams of real odds traders and a ton of calculations and analysis. It is rather difficult to consistently discover the gaps and obtain a significant deal, but it’s not impossible. Exchanges represent the majority of professional bettors’ bet types. Anybody can place a bet and set their odds on an exchange, which is essentially a platform. A bettor can act as their own small-time bookmaker in this scenario, with the betting site acting as the agent that receives the commission.

The elements that drive fixed odds bookmakers have less of an impact on odds in this situation, which is dependent considerably more on the instincts of individual players. With a level head, betting wisely through exchanges may be quite rewarding, even if the prices you see here are occasionally 100% or more different from those found in fixed odds books.

✅ Use Betting Offers And Promotions

Betting on high-margin lines is what most promos aim to entice you to do. For accumulators and markets with numerous outcomes, such as goalscorer, correct score, etc., almost all bookmakers provide money back, free bets, or betting sign-up offers

Because the margins in these markets are already larger, the bookie can afford to conduct a deal and still turn a profit. This does not imply that you should pass up the bargains; in fact, you may as well take advantage of them if you want to bet on an acca or the first goal scorer to obtain greater value.

Make an effort not to go the other way around and base your wager only on the promotion. Choose your desired bet and then search for the offer with the most value addition. Bookmakers often provide low-margin outright lines at a loss for important sporting events and competitions. With the hopes that you would continue to gamble with them throughout the league or tournament, they aim to attract you by doing this. You ought to accept these deals whenever they’re presented because they’re the greatest ones. 

✅ Live Betting And Cash Out Odds

Given the abundance of live markets accessible, no actual odds trader could move as swiftly as they would if live-in-play odds weren’t mostly controlled by computer algorithms. Comparing play lines to pre-event markets, play lines often provide worse margins. Bookies are more dependent on probabilities, statistics, and form when operating their business, therefore they run a larger margin to make up for the lack of manual odds adjustment time before an event begins. To obtain the most value, put your major bets before the event and only place a wager if you have a strong feeling the market will move.

Computer programs also compute cash-out odds, which are the ratio of the starting odds to the probabilities of that result at cash-out. The odds on cashouts are not favourable as you have to pay twice the margin—once for putting the bet in the first place and again for cashing out. If there is a significant accident, shift in the weather, or another event, you should only use cash out when you are certain it will maximise profit or minimise loss. But, if a significant event occurs, the bookmaker will most likely have stopped trading. 

✅ Why Are Casino Odds Better Than Sports?

The odds in a casino are often better than those at a sportsbook. When it comes to individual wagers, the casino plays often provide greater value and smaller margins than the typical sports wager. For example, betting on some roulette variants would typically provide a payout of more than 98% to the player, leaving the casino with a profit margin of less than 2%. Sports markets would never have such low-profit margins unless it was a promotion or loss-leading line. 

The predetermined parameters of casino games are one of the reasons why you obtain higher odds when you play there. Because all game outcomes and the ability to calculate the probabilities, a casino can predict its long-term earnings from any wager using just arithmetic and probability. 

Sports betting differs greatly from other bets because, in sports, results are determined by real-world events, which makes it impossible to anticipate with 100% accuracy. As a result, betting businesses add larger margins to sports bets in order to guarantee profits despite increased volatility.


Final Word

Every day, we all perform hundreds of calculations to choose whether to wait or cross a road, accept or decline a job offer, etc. Successful gamblers have traits like those who thrive in life in general: they are logical, objective decision-makers who minimise risks, whether intentionally or unintentionally. More traditional players could strike it lucky and win large, but ultimately they will lose. Your gambling will be more profitable the better your long-term judgment is at estimating true probability. 

After we’ve given you all our insider knowledge above, we want to finish off with our recommendations: always use multiple betting sites for better odds, try to bet on low-edge markets if possible, use your welcome offers and promotions sensibly, avoid live betting if you’re inexperienced at first, and last but not least, do proper research and find your own angle to take with betting!

Happy and safe betting! 

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