A while back I came across an article entitled ‘Bookie Bashing’. I was intrigued so I decided to investigate further.

Here’s what I found:

These days, bookies will do anything to get new business. They will even offer cash incentives. Some bookies will even continue to offer cash incentives - just as long as you remain their customer.

Why do they offer cash incentives?

Their business has become so competitive in recent years that, in order to attract new customers, they are prepared to offer cash inducements. If they don’t, other bookies will. If other bookies will, they have to follow suit. Otherwise, not only will they fail to attract future customers, they will lose their existing ones too.

The article stated that the cash inducements offered by bookies, if used wisely, can be used to relieve them of their cash. That’s why it’s called bookie bashing.

But are the bookies really giving anything away?

In my opinion, no, not really.

I mean no disrespect to anyone reading this, but bookies know that the vast majority of their customers will quickly lose their cash incentives given to them since most do not have the necessary skills to win money over the long term.

Generally, it doesn’t take long for a bookie to recover their investment in a customer punter by winning back the cash that they gave them - and a lot more besides.

The article described a method by which the free cash incentives, offered by bookies, is used to place a customer in a win-win situation.

So, no matter what the outcome of an event is, the customer wins.

The article went on to claim that the free cash incentives could be used to win money from the very bookies offering the cash incentives.

But is Bookie Bashing as easy to perform as the article implied?

Well, this is debatable.

So, how do you take advantage of these offers of free bookie cash?

According to the article, one needs to perform the following:

1. Open an account with a bookie and deposit the necessary funds.

2. Select a sporting event and, using the free bonus, place a bet on the outcome.

3. Open an account with another bookie or a betting exchange and place a bet on the same sporting event, but this time on the opposite outcome.

For example, suppose that using the funds provided by the bookie, a horse is backed to win.

Then, the same horse should be layed to lose on a betting exchange.

Alternatively, using the funds provided by the bookie, a bet is placed on a particular tennis player to win a match.

Then, a bet is placed on a betting exchange, or with another bookie, on the other player to win the same match.

Regardless of which option is selected, the bet is won before the event has even started!

It’s a case of heads you win, tails you win.

The article stated that it’s that simple and, what’s more, it’s perfectly legal.

The bookie provides a free bet in the hope that you will lose and will bet more of your hard-earned money with him, thus filling his already over-stuffed coffers.

The article claimed, unfortunately for the bookie, to have come up with a sure-fire way of beating him and filling punter’s coffers instead of his.

Well, that’s the theory dealt with.

Now let’s get to the detail and the precise way in which the article claimed that the bookie’s free bets can be used to fill the punter’s coffers.

Let’s take these two simple examples:

Example 1.

Suppose that a bet is placed on a tennis match between Player A and Player B.

The odds on Player A winning with a bookie that is offering a free £20 bet are 7.0.

The odds on Player B winning are 1.25.

The best odds available on the betting exchanges and with other bookies are as follows:

Odds Table

There are four options in which a win-win situation can be achieved:

Option 1

Using the free £20 bet, Player A is backed to win at odds of 7.0 with the bookie offering the free bet.

The profit on the bet is £120 if Player A wins and the liability is £20 (the free bet) if Player A loses.

Player A should then be layed to lose on a betting exchange such that the liability of the bet is less than £120.

Why? Because, if Player A wins, £120 will be won on the first bet and used to offset the potential loss on the second bet.

If Player A loses, the win on the second bet is used to offset the £20 loss on the first (free) bet.

Therefore, regardless of whether or not Player A wins, the bet is won.

To make things a little clearer, let’s suppose that a profit of £5 is to be made, regardless of who wins the match.

Using the free £20 bet, Player A is backed to win at odds of 7.0.

The profit on the bet is £20 x (7.0 – 1.0) = £120 x 6 = £120 if Player A wins and the liability is £20 (the free bet) if Player A loses.

The second bet is now placed on a betting exchange for Player A to lose.

The liability of this second bet must not exceed £120 (the potential win on bet 1) minus £5 (the profit). i.e. the liability on the second bet must not exceed£120 - £5 = £115.

At lay odds of 8.2, the stake must not exceed 115/(8.2 - 1.0) = £15.97.

If Player A is layed to lose at odds of 8.2 on a betting exchange and the stake is £15.97, the liability is £114.98 if Player A wins. £15.97 minus £0.80 (assuming 5% commission on winning bets) will be won if Player A loses.

The table below summarises the two possible outcomes of the match and the profit:

Possible profit outcomes

From the above table, it can be seen that if Player A wins, £5.02 would be won.

If Player A loses, £15.17 would be won but the £20 free bet would be lost.

Option 2

Using the free £20 bet, Player A is backed to win at odds of 7.0.

The profit on this bet, should Player A win, is £20 x (7.0 – 1.0) = £120 x 6 = £120.

If Player A loses, the liability is £20 (the free bet).

Player B should then be backed to win, with a different bookie or on an exchange, up to a liability of £120.

Why? Because, if Player A wins, £120 would be won from the first bet and used to offset the losses incurred on the second bet.

If Player A loses, £20 would be lost on the first (free) bet but the second bet would win.

Therefore, regardless of whether or not Player A wins, the bet is won.

To make things a little clearer, let’s suppose that a profit of £5 is to be made, regardless of who wins the match.

Using the free £20 bet, Player A is backed to win at odds of 7.0.

The profit on this bet, should Player A win, is £20 x (7.0 – 1.0) = £120 x 6 = £120.

If Player A loses, the liability is £20 (the free bet).

The second bet is now placed on Player B to win using a different bookie or a betting exchange.

The liability of this second bet must not exceed £120 (the potential win on bet 1) minus £5 (the profit). i.e. the liability on the second bet must not exceed £120 - £5 = £115. £115 should therefore be placed on Player B to win at odds of 1.35 with a second bookie or on an exchange.

If Player B loses, the liability is £115.00.

If Player B wins, the amount won would be £115 x (1.35 - 1.0) = £115 x 0.35 = £40.25.

If a betting exchange is used to back Player B to win, £2.02 (assuming 5% commission on winning bets) in commission will be payable.

The table below summarises the two possible outcomes of the match and the profit:

Possible profit outcomes

From the above table, it can be seen that if Player A wins, £5.00 would be won.

If Player B wins, £40.25 (minus any payable commission) would be won but the £20 free bet would be lost.

Option 3

Using the free £20 bet, back Player B to win at odds of 1.25.

The profit on this bet, should Player B win, would be £20 x (1.25 - 1.0) = £20 x 0.25 = £5.00.

If Player B loses, the liability is £20 (the free bet).

Player B should then be layed to lose on a betting exchange up to a liability of £5.

Why? Because, if Player B wins, the £5 from the first bet would be used to offset the losses incurred on the second bet.

If Player B loses, the £20 free bet would be lost but the second bet would win.

Therefore, regardless of whether Player B wins or not, the bet is won.

To make things a little clearer, let’s suppose that a profit of £5 is to be made, regardless of who wins the match.

Using the free £20 bet, back Player B to win at odds of 1.25.

The profit on this bet, should Player B win, is £5.00.

If Player B loses, the liability is £20.

A second bet should then be placed on Player B to lose.

The liability on the second bet must not exceed £5 (the potential win on Player B from the first bet) minus £5 (the profit).

This equates to a zero bet, which is not possible.

The best that can be achieved is to place a minimum bet of £2.

At lay odds of 1.35, the liability on the bet equals £2 x (1.35 - 1.0) = £0.70.

Therefore, if Player B wins, £0.70 would be lost and £2.00 minus £0.10 (assuming 5% commission on winning bets) would be won if Player B loses.

The table below summarises the two possible outcomes of the match and the profit:

Possible profit outcomes

From the above tables, it can be seen that if Player B wins, £4.30 would be won.

If Player B loses, £1.90 would be won.

Option 4

Using the free £20 bet, back Player B to win at odds of 1.25.

The profit on the bet, should Player B win, will be £20 x (1.25 - 1.0) = £20 x 0.25 = £5.

If Player B loses, the liability is £20 (the free bet).

Player A should then be backed to win at a different bookie or on a betting exchange, up to a liability of £5.

Why? Because, if Player B wins, £5 would be won on the first bet and used to offset the loss incurred on the second bet.

If Player B loses, the £20 free bet would be lost but the second bet would win.

Therefore, regardless of whether Player B wins or not, the bet would be won.

To make things a little clearer, let’s suppose that a profit of £5 is to be made, regardless of who wins the match.

Using the free £20 bet, back Player B to win at odds of 1.25.

The profit on the bet, should Player B win, will be £20 x (1.25 - 1.0) = £20 x 0.25 = £5.

If Player B loses, the liability is £20 (the free bet).

Player A should then be backed to win.

The liability on this bet must not exceed £5 (the potential win on Player B from the first bet) minus the £5 profit.

This equates to a zero bet, which isn’t possible.

The best that can be achieved is to place a minimum bet of £2 on Player B to win at odds of 8.00.

If Player A wins, £2 x (8.0 - 1.0) = £2 x 7 = £14 minus £0.70 (assuming 5% commission on winning bets) would be won.

If Player A loses, £2 would be lost.

The table below summarises the two possible outcomes of the match and the profit:

Possible profit outcomes

From the above table, it can be seen that if Player B wins, £3.00 would be won.

If Player B loses, £13.30 would be won.

The above principles can be applied to any situation where there are only two possible outcomes to an event i.e. one player or team wins and the other player/team loses.

It is important to note that these principles cannot be applied where a draw is a possible outcome.

Now let’s take a look at horse racing.

Example 2.

Suppose that a bet is placed on the 3:30 at Southdown in which a horse called ‘Bash the Bookie’ runs.

The odds on Bash the Bookie winning the race with the bookie that has offered the free £20 bet are 4.5.

The best available odds to back Bash the Bookie to win on the exchanges and with other bookies is 4.5 and the best available odds to lay the horse to lose is 4.6.

Using the free £20 bet, Bash the Bookie is backed to win at odds of 4.5.

The profit on the bet should Bash the Bookie win, is £20 x (4.5 - 1.0) = £20 x 3.5 = £70.

If Bash the Bookie loses, the liability is £20 (the free bet).

Bash the Bookie should then be layed to lose on a betting exchange up to a liability of £70.

Why? Because, if Bash the Bookie wins, £70 would be won on the first bet and used to offset the losses incurred on the second bet.

If Bash the Bookie loses, the £20 free bet would be lost but the second bet would be won.

Therefore, regardless of the race outcome, the bet would be won.

Let’s suppose that a £5 profit is to be made, regardless of who wins the race.

Using the free £20 bet, Bash the Bookie is backed to win at odds of 4.5.

The profit on the bet should Bash the Bookie win, is £20 x (4.5 - 1.0) = £20 x 3.5 = £70.

If Bash the Bookie loses, the liability is £20 (the free bet).

Bash The Bookie must then be layed to lose on an exchange.

The liability on the lay bet on Bash the Bookie must not exceed £70 (the potential win on the first bet) minus £5 (profit) = £65.

At lay odds of 4.6, the stake must equal £65/(4.6 - 1.0) = £65/3.6 = £18.05.

If Bash the Bookie is layed to lose at odds of 4.6 on an exchange and the stake is £18.05, the liability is £64.98 if Bash the Bookie wins and £18.05 minus £0.91 (assuming 5% commission on winning bets) would be won if it loses.

The table below summarises the two possible outcomes of the race, from Bash the Bookie’s point of view, and the profit:

Possible profit outcomes

From the above table, it can be seen that if Bash the Bookie wins, £5.02 would be won.

If Bash the Bookie loses, £17.14 would be won but the £20 free bet would be lost.

So, we have seen how a win-win situation can be achieved.

But are things this simple? Well, yes and no.

There’s just one other thing that you need to understand before you venture forth and pick up your free money - the bookie’s terms and conditions, or Ts & Cs.

Term and Conditions.

Bookie’s Ts & Cs may well be dull, they may well be boring, but they are very important and you are advised to read them, understand them and realise their implications prior to attempting to bash a bookie.

The devil is in their detail!!

Here is a selection of the Ts & Cs from various bookies:

• Free bets only apply to new customers. Past and existing customers do not qualify.

• Free bets only apply to Internet and Telephone accounts.

• Customers who deposit money into their account via Moneybookers and Neteller are excluded from the free bet offer.

• The cumulative odds of the selections on the first bet must be evens or greater in order to qualify for a free bet.

• The free bet will usually be made available within 24 hours of the first bet being settled.

• The first bet must be settled within 30 days of account opening in order to qualify for the free bet.

• £5 or more (or currency equivalent) must be wagered on the first bet in order to qualify for the free.

• Previous account holders are not eligible for the free bet. Anyone opening an account that has previously held one that is closed does not qualify for the free bet.

• The free bet is valid for 30 days after issue. Any free bet amount left unused after 30 days will be removed.

• The first bet must be placed on a sports book market, numbers or lotto only (Games, Casino, Poker, Arcade and Bingo do not qualify).

• One free bet per customer only.

• The free bet stake is not included in any returns and is non-withdrawable.

• The free bet offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.

One issue with the Ts & Cs is that, prior to the free bet bonus being credited to an account, a qualifying bet must be placed on the outcome of an event. i.e. a customer must risk money their own money first before becoming eligible for a free bet.

Although we cannot circumvent this, let’s see how we can obtain a free bet without exposing too much of our money.

In outline, a qualifying bet is placed on a horse winning its race with the bookie offering the free bet and then as much of the liability is layed off, as is possible, on a betting exchange.

In this way, it becomes a low/no risk bet.

The only issues here are that:

• The betting exchange odds are generally greater than the bookies’ odds by approximately 20% and sometimes more.

As such, it is possible that a relatively small amount of money could be lost due to the difference between the bookie’s and the exchange’s odds.

The greater the difference, the greater the potential loss is.

Therefore, it is best to wait until a horse can be identified whose difference between the bookie’s and exchange’s odds is as little as possible.

In this way, the potential loss is also as little as possible.

It would be ideal if the bookie’s back odds were greater than the exchange’s lay odds, but this rarely occurs.

• Generally, in a fast moving market, odds change relatively quickly, especially on exchanges.

Therefore, the required lay odds may be unobtainable.

The best advice that we can give is to be patient and to place the qualifying bet well before the start of the race since betting markets tend to be more stable at this time.

Let’s take an example:

Firstly, back a horse to win with the bookie that is offering the free bet.

Let’s say that the minimum bet, to qualify for the maximum free bet, is £20 and that the odds to back the selected horse to win is 3/1.

If the horse wins, £20 x 3 = £60 will be won.

If the horse loses, £20 (the stake) would be lost.

Secondly, the same horse that was backed to win must now be layed on a betting exchange to lose.

The exposure must be identical to the amount that will be won if the selection wins i.e. £60.

Let’s say that the odds to lay the horse is 4.0.

The stake must therefore be £60.00 /(4.0 - 1) = £60/3 = £20.

If the horse loses, £19.00 (£20.00 - 5% commission) will be won.

If the horse wins, £60.00 would be lost.

The profit/loss is identified in the following table:

Possible profit outcomes

From the above, it can be seen that the maximum potential loss is £1.

At best, a break-even situation is achieved.

If the selected horse can be layed at odds of less than 4.0, the potential loss will be less than £1 and a profit may even be made on the two bets.

If the lay odds are greater than 4.0, the potential loss will be greater than £1.

The greater the lay odds are, the greater is the potential loss.

That’s the qualifying bet dealt with.

Now let’s deal with the free bet.

Let’s say that the free bet is worth £20 and that a minimum profit of £5 on the bet is to be made.

Firstly, a horse is backed to win, using the free bet, with the bookie that has offered the free bet.

Let’s also say that the odds to back the selected horse to win is 7.2.

If the horse wins, £20 x 7/2 = £70 will be won.

If the horse loses, the £20 free bet will be lost.

Secondly, the same horse that was backed to win with the bookie must be layed to lose on a betting exchange.

Let’s suppose that the odds to lay the horse on the exchange are 4.6.

The liability on the lay bet must not exceed £70 (the potential win on the first bet) minus £5 (profit).

This equals £65.

At lay odds of 4.6, the stake must not exceed £65/ (4.6 - 1.0) = £65/3.6 = £18.05.

If the selection is layed on the exchange to lose at odds of 4.6 and the stake is £18.05, the liability is £64.98 if the horse wins and £18.05 minus £0.91 (assuming 5% commission on winning bets) would be won if it loses.

The table below summarises the two possible outcomes of the race, from the selection’s point of view, and the profit:

Possible profit outcomes

From the above table, it can be seen that if the selection wins, £5.02 would be won.

If the selection loses, £17.14 would be won but the £20 free bet would be lost.

So, we have placed ourselves in a position such that, no matter what the outcome of the race is, we will win.

Now let’s combine the two tables to determine what the overall effect of the two sets of bets is:

Possible profit outcomes

From the above, it can be seen how, using the strategy described above, a win-win situation can be achieved.

What would prevent this win-win situation from being achieved?:

• Be aware that this is very much dependent upon the relative odds of the selections with the bookies and on the exchanges.

Should the odds on a selection change dramatically between placing the first and second bets such that the differential is large and not in our favour, we could find ourselves in a lose-lose situation.

• We are very much in the hands of technology, especially on betting exchanges.

Should the technology fail between the placing of the first and second bets, money could very easily be lost.

Conclusions

• It is possible, using the above method, to bash the bookies, but it is, by no means, a forgone conclusion and, though unlikely, it is possible for losses to be incurred in attempting this. For this reason, it is recommended that you should never risk more than you can afford to lose.

• The bookie’s terms and conditions need to be read and their implications well understood.

For example:

• Existing customers are excluded from the free bet offer.

• The customer’s own money must be put at risk before a free bet is credited to a customer’s account.

• The value of the free be cannot be withdrawn as cash and is not returned as part of a winning bet. i.e. the free bet cannot be withdrawn as cash.

• The free bet is one-time and cannot be re-used, even if the bet wins.

• There is a maximum placed upon free bet amounts.

• To qualify for some free bets, selections whose odds are evens or greater must be bet.

Evens and odds-on selections may not qualify for the free bet.

• The free bet is not made available immediately and is sometimes delayed by up to 24 hours.

• When laying off bets on a betting exchange, the smaller the difference between the back odds obtained from the bookie and the lay odds on the exchange, the better.

The ideal situation is when the lay odds are less than the bookies back odds.

• Before attempting to bash a bookie, it is suggested that several dry runs (no real money is involved) are conducted in order to determine if the method is both profitable and practical.

• Each bookie can only be bashed once and there are only so many bookies out there offering free bets.

Given this and the limited amount of money that could be won, is all this risk and effort really worth it?

If a free bet could be re-used if the previous bet won, then it would definitely be worth it.

But a free bet can be used once, and once only. And there’s the rub!

I hope that you are now aware what ‘Bookie Bashing’ is and how it is achieved.