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7th August 2014
Good afternoon, friends,
In this issue of Punters’ Verdict….
I can’t get it on, Judge….
This week we have an interesting query from a Punters’ Verdict reader – one that I feel sure will resonate with a great many of you out there….
PC writes in with the following….
‘EVERY ONE of the bookies you recommend (apart from Betfair) has either closed or severely restricted my account in the past year. I am not a genius but I can't get a bet of even £20 on now. I tried using a different name and address, but bet365 took FIVE days to check and then closed that account too. I have been told by a computer guru that the bookies trace IP addresses. Any ideas?’
The first thing I should say is that here at Verdict Towers we are not in the business of ‘recommending’ bookmakers.
For sure, we believe it is part of the service we are honor-bound to provide to flag up instances when it might be useful or beneficial to place specific bets with a specific bookie.
But in general we take the view that you get the most out of your betting when you have a portfolio of bookmaking accounts at your disposal – enabling you to find the best home for every bet you place.
If you can get the best deal on offer – wherever you happen to find it – about every bet you place, we think that’s the best way to play. We believe in being positioned to pick the best cherries at all times – and being prepared to show bookmakers disloyalty as and when appropriate.
But, of course, all that starts to become irrelevant if, like PC, you are encountering problems getting your bets on across the board.
How the bookmakers play….
First things first. If a bookmaker displays an unwillingness to take your bets it might be because you’re pretty damn good at what you do and the bookmaker doesn’t want you taking money out of his book on a regular basis.
In this instance you are very much a victim of your own success. Tough to take, for sure. But it’s part and parcel of the modern betting game. Bookmakers are in business to make money first and foremost. And, being businesses, they are perfectly within their rights to protect themselves against profitable punters.
It might not be in the ‘spirit of the game’ – but unfortunately the ‘spirit of the game’ is a voluntary code (if it even exists at all). It isn’t legislated for, it isn’t regulated and – when the situation demands (which is whenever the bookmaker deems it so) – it is totally ignored.
The bookmaker – as his terms & conditions will be sure to point out baldly – is under no obligation to accept your bets. Bets are taken at his discretion. If he doesn’t want your business then he doesn’t want your business – and he is free to close the doors on you. Permanently.
All that said – even if you are a top punter who wins regularly you can consider yourself pretty unlucky if a bookmaker (particularly all of them) doesn’t want to bet with you at all.
There are bookies out there who will immediately close your account as soon as you place bets they consider astute. Bet365 are a pretty well-known example. They want to be betting with losers. They want winners betting elsewhere. And their objective is policed rigorously day-by-day. So much so that their account analysis team is the key outfit within their business.
Other firms will let you roll along for a little while. They take a bit more time to assess you – your strengths, your weaknesses, where you are profitable and where you are not. Then they’ll make decision. At which point you could be out.
Other firms still will take a defensive stance – ensuring that you don’t hit them out of the park early doors whilst they are still getting to grips with what you’re all about. These guys will restrict your stakes from the word go – only increasing the limits if they like the cut of your suit (which means you lose regularly).
There are other firms who will let you bet what you want to begin with and then restrict you if you win – without taking the step of getting rid of you altogether.
Given the range of approaches taken by different firms you’d think you’d always have a couple of options. Especially because of my next point….
Some winners are tolerated….
Not all winners are turned away by the bookmakers. Not a bit of it. Some are tolerated. They are considered a necessary evil.
Information is king in the betting game. And getting the key information quickly is a critical part of the bookmaker maintaining a lead over the general market.
Punters like to think bookmakers have some kind of direct line into racing yards, dressing rooms and the mobile phones of all the people who are ‘in the know’.
For sure, there’s an element of that kind of information at work – bookies work hard at cultivating knowledgeable contacts. But by far and away their best sources of information are their shrewdest punters. And they have to bet with them – to some degree – to get the line on what those punters want to bet.
What better way of finding out that an Irish dark horse is ‘on it’ than having the shrewdest Irish racing punter on your books call up to bet it to good money first thing in the morning? You lay his bet – that’s the price you pay for the steer – and now you are well positioned to shave the price and ensure that you don’t take too much business on a well-fancied animal.
Without the Irish punter to give him the steer the bookmaker would be working in the dark to some extent. In this instance – and many others like it – the winning punter is a Godsend. Rather than being an unprofitable proposition he is considered an asset to the business – a ‘marker’ who can ultimately save the bookmaker money.
It surely doesn’t get any better for a punter. You win and you can always get on.
The winners nobody wants….
Punters generally don’t feel well-disposed towards bookmakers. And the bookmakers only have themselves to blame. They are ruthless in their pursuit of profit – ravenous to the point that they are sometimes guilty of behaving in ways that are perceived as crooked.
When they welsh on bets, claim palpable errors, provide really poor standards of service, take ages to return monies, deny customers advertised concessions and rewrite the rules as they go along – all with an arrogance bordering on the pathological – it sticks in the craw….
But it’s not all one way. There are certain punters bookmakers regard with similar rancor….
We’re not talking about quality punters – the ones the bookies think of as fair and square shrewdies. No. We’re talking about the winning punters the bookmaker considers crooked.
We’re talking about the punters that engage in arbing.
We’re talking about the eagle-eyed and committed punters constantly looking for the bookmaker’s mistakes (prices, start-times, place-terms and the like) and pouncing when they appear.
We’re talking about punters who seek to benefit from some degree of trickery. For example, you might be aware that a lot of punters have been ejected from cricket grounds over the last year or so – because they were engaging in ‘court-siding’ – trying to secure an advantage by getting bets on in the delay between an event occurring live and the action being relayed to bookmakers.
Tennis punters have been trying the same thing. If a bookie suspects you of engaging in that kind of betting then your account will be closed in very short order.
Punters who try to seek an ‘unfair’ advantage are considered cheats – plain and simple. They have no information that is useful to the bookmakers. They are just a drain on the bottom line. As such, they simply won’t be tolerated.
What are the options?
Let me stress that our man, PC, is not involved in any activities that bookmakers could consider crooked.
He’s just a punter doing pretty well by dint of his own knowledge and expertise (they do exist).
And he hasn’t been fortunate enough to be marked up as a punter worth betting with for purposes of information received.
So what does PC do now?
What, if any, options are available to him?
How can he get on if the bookmakers won’t bet with him?
I can offer some thoughts on these questions. And on the remaining points in PC’s email. Unfortunately, I have run out of space in today’s issue and must continue the discussion next week.
In the meantime, if you have any thoughts on the issues raised in today’s column or you have potential solutions to PCs problem, please feel free to make your voice heard. You can contact me via the form you’ll find here.
I’ll be back with the Verdict next week.