It’s no real surprise that betting exchanges are growing in popularity in both professional and casual gambling circles. While traditional bookies are going out of their way to stack the odds in their favour, betting exchanges offer a fairer way to punt. Without a doubt, if you’re intending to make a serious profit from your bets, then betting exchanges are a must.
The Betting Exchange Model
The fundamental difference between a betting exchange and a traditional bookmaker is that in a betting exchange, you’re betting against other punters. A bookie offers odds that they think will generate more profit for them, and they rely on punters losing to make a profit. At a betting exchange, the exchange doesn’t win or lose; it simply takes a small commission from punters to cover running costs.
Most betting exchanges take a commission of 2-5% from winning bets, while Matchbook takes 1% from both the winners and the losers. (Currently, the best commission rate in the market is offered by Smarkets, who take just 2% from the winner.)
You might be thinking that bookies are sounding like the better bet because they don’t take a commission at all, but don’t forget that what matters even more than commission is the odds you’re getting. Many punters get better odds from exchanges because bookies tip the odds in their favour. At the end of the day, it’s always worth shopping around for the best odds, whether they come from bookies or exchanges.
A huge benefit of using betting exchanges instead of bookmakers is that betting exchanges will never limit or ban your account. If you win too much at a bookie, you’ll probably find your account limited to only making small stakes bets, which will massively minimise your profit margins – or more likely obliterate them entirely, since you’ll still be allowed to place high stakes bets if the bookie thinks you’re going to lose.
This will never happen with a betting exchange, where there is no vested interest in whether you win or lose. Since the exchange makes the same profit either way, they really don’t care what your success rates are as long as you keep placing bets with them. In this sense, betting exchanges are much more customer-driven than bookmakers, because their primary concern is keeping your custom and as a regular better you’ll be high up on their priority list.
Casual gamblers needn’t be too concerned by having their accounts limited, partially because it’s less likely to happen and partially because it matters less if it does. But, as a professional gambler looking to make a decent income from punting, it’s absolutely crucial to have long-term security in your ability to bet. By relying too heavily on bookmakers, you may be risking losing gambling as a source of income in the future.
You Don’t Need To Be An Expert
There’s a bit of a myth floating around that you’ve got to be an expert or a top professional to do well in betting exchanges, but this is completely false. Most people who use betting exchanges are simply looking for better value and fairer odds; while I’d strongly recommend that professionals use betting exchanges, at least in conjunction with bookmakers, casual punters can also benefit from the great odds often on offer, too.
Using a betting exchange is only any more complicated than using a bookie if you decide to make it more complicated. How you use a betting exchange is completely up to you. If you want to lay bets or try matched betting, you can, but you needn’t do this if you don’t want to. Equally, if you’re placing a large number of bets and want to use software to place more bets in less time, you’re free to do this; or, you can just place a bet on the next big footie game or horse race the same as you would at your local bookie. You will still benefit from better odds and unlimited punts at an exchange, so it’s still worth signing up.
More Choice Isn’t Always A Good Thing
The drawback to betting exchanges that you will most often hear about is that they don’t offer as much choice as bookmakers. This is true to an extent, and depends on the betting exchange anyway. You won’t have a problem placing bets on big games and matches that are likely to be popular with other punters, but if you’re looking to make a wager in a small, niche market, you may struggle. Betfair is the biggest betting exchange, and will offer more choice than you’ll find elsewhere, but you may not always be able to find the same bets on smaller exchanges.
However, this isn’t necessarily a point in favour of bookies. One of the reasons why you’re seeing bets available in bookies that you won’t see in exchanges is that these are the bets that bookies are really hoping you’ll make; impulse bets on events happening soon or bets with poor odds. It’s a good rule of thumb to stay clear of these bets anyway, and an easy way to do that is simply to use betting exchanges instead of bookies.
Always Shop Around
There is no one ‘right way’ to gamble, and there is no single ‘best’ betting exchange. The trick of spreading your bets around which applies to bookmakers applies more generally, too; not that you need to spread your bets around with exchanges, but it’s always worth looking around for the best odds. I’m willing to wager that often, you’ll find these at betting exchanges, but sometimes you might find them at bookies too. Whatever you think of betting exchanges, if you ignore them entirely, you’re cutting yourself out of half the marketplace and missing out on some great odds – something that no serious punter in their right mind would want to do.