How Much Do Bookmakers Odds Vary?

Bookmaker Odds

We talk an awful lot on this site about the importance of shopping around for the best prices. One of the biggest leaks that we see in any betting strategy is that people are often too lazy to find the best odds and they also use the same bookmaker for each bet that they make.

We can tell you now, if you do this then you are leaving money on the table. If you were in the market for a new TV and one site had it listed for £600 and another at £500, it’s obvious where you would spend your money, right? The same mentality should be taken with betting, and in this day and age it’s really easy to compare bookmaker’s prices to see who is best.

Before we crack on and explain what we mean, we don’t expect you to have an account with every single bookmaker. There are dozens out there and some are definitely better than others, but you can target bookies that are often there or thereabouts when it comes to pricing, opening accounts with 3 to 5 of them and then jump on the best price.

How Much do Bookmakers Prices Vary?

The odds for each market are going to vary quite a bit from bookmaker to bookmaker, and you will tend to find that the longer the price, the more they vary. Let’s take a look at an upcoming Premier League game between Watford and Brighton to see how they differ.

Result Best Price Worst Price % Contrast
Watford to win 2.0 1.85 7.5%
Draw 3.5 3.25 7.1%
Brighton to win 4.5 4.0 11.11%

As you can see, the numbers really start to talk when you compare the best and the worst price for each match. If we apply that to a monetary value and imagine you were betting £100 on each result, assuming each won, you would get £15 more from a Watford win, £15 more from a draw, and £50 more from a Brighton win.

As you can see, these are not insignificant numbers we are talking about, and you could be leaving good money on the table by not taking the time to find the best price for the match. Whilst it might not be possible to get the very best price each time – given that they may be with bookmakers that you don’t have an account with – you can at least target the best price from the bookies that do have accounts with and use that as your best price.

Next, we want to come away from both the Premier League and the Match Result market to see if the same themes occur for lower league football and markets that aren’t as popular. For this example, we will look at the League 2 match between Crawley and Salford City using the Both Teams to Score market.

Result Best Price Worst Price % Contrast
Watford to win 2.0 1.85 7.5%
Draw 3.5 3.25 7.1%
Brighton to win 4.5 4.0 11.11%

As you can see, the difference in price is much the same as the bigger leagues. The shorter price seems to be pretty stable around the 7% difference, and the slightly longer price (in this case, NO BTTS) is around the 9%, a little off 11% we saw above but that was a 3-way market which is going to show a varied range of results.

This goes to show that on average you could be losing up to 7% per bet by not betting with the right bookmaker. Some may argue that this is a negligible figure and if you are betting small single bets, then you’ve got a point, but it’s still leaving free money on the table and over time that adds up. You don’t have to work for this money, it’s not a promotion and there are no wagering requirements; you just need to do a some very quick research into who’s offering the best odds and place your bet with the right bookie.

Accumulator Bets

Online Sports Betting

We know that lots of you like to place accumulator bets, and we do to. These bets are great fun and they can offer huge rewards for very little outlay.

Given that we know that the odds range from bookmaker to bookmaker for single bets, we wanted to see how much this changed for accumulator bets. To test this, we have taken 5 favourites from one weekend’s Premier League fixtures and combined them into an acca. We’ve purposely chosen this league and this betting market as this is likely going to be as close as you will find with these prices, which means that fewer markets or bets with bigger odds will see these number exaggerated again.

We are going to look at the collective home wins, collective away wins and the collective draw results for the following games:

  • West Ham v Man City
  • Bournemouth v Sheff United
  • Burnley v Southampton
  • Crystal Palace v Everton
  • Watford v Brighton

The results are as follows:

Result Best Price Worst Price % Contrast
Home wins 466.85 299.21 35.9%
Draws 924.03 625.38 32.3%
Away wins 155.23 122.2 21.2%

The numbers do not lie and if this doesn’t highlight that taking the best price is important, then nothing will. As you can see, the difference for two of the results are over 30%. So for the home win acca, for every £10 that you wagered you would get £1,676.40 more by taking the best price over the worst price. For the draw you would get £2,986.60 more for every £10 that you bet, and for the away wins you would get £330.30 more for every £10 wagered.

These are hugely significant sums and hugely significant differences in the prices that are paid out. Accumulator bets accentuate the disparity because you are not seeing the difference build across 5 bets, not just one, so they prove the point well.

If you do place accumulator bets, then you really need to start hunting out those best prices.

Using the Same Bookmaker All Season

The examples above have been priced on a best and worst case scenario using all bookmakers. These highlight the extremities of the odds in the industry and how brutal they can be. But what if we used the same bookmaker all the time?

For this example, we are going to take one bookmakers prices across a whole weekend of Premier League action and show you the difference in pricing between that single bookmaker and the industry’s best price. In effect, this is one bookie vs all of the others.

The bookmaker that we are going to use is BetVictor. We have chosen these guys specifically as we know they are one of the best priced bookies for football, even winning awards for it, so they’re about as good as you are going to find.

To make it that bit tougher for ourselves, we are also going to take the shortest price from each of the 10 matches. Theoretically these should have the smallest margins given that most of the money will come in for these results.

Result BetVictor Price Best Price % Contrast
Liverpool to win 1.17 1.18 0.85%
Man City to win 1.25 1.27 1.6%
Bournemouth to win 2.0 2.04 2%
Burnley to win 2.7 2.75 1.85%
Everton to win 2.45 2.5 2.04 %
Watford to win 2 2 0%
Tottenham to win 1.33 1.33 0%
Leicester to win 2.25 2.25 0%
Arsenal to win 1.83 1.87 2.19%
Man United to win 2.2 2.25 2.27%
Total averages 1.92 1.94 1.28%

Remember, the football prices on offer from BetVictor are always famously high, so whilst there were still times that you could get a minutely better price elsewhere, the fact they had 3 best prices from 10 results emphasises their quality.

However, there is no denying that you still would have made more money searching for industry best prices. Overall it would work out to be 1.28% more money for a little more reasearch.

Is it worth it? With these numbers and low stakes it might not be, and if you were placing these bets with BetVictor then you’d be getting a good deal. But BetVictor are the best for football and there was still value left on the table – imagine if you were using someone else.

We’d also wager that these numbers would exaggerate further had we used all the different markets and the vast number of bets over the course of the season, so you need to bear that in mind as well.

Just as one final test, we want to run the same games with that of another bookmaker, this time Paddy Power.

Result Paddy Power Price Best Price % Contrast
Liverpool to win 1.12 1.18 5.36%
Man City to win 1.22 1.27 4.10%
Bournemouth to win 1.9 2.04 7.37%
Burnley to win 2.62 2.75 4.96%
Everton to win 2.37 2.5 5.49%
Watford to win 1.9 2 5.26
Tottenham to win 1.25 1.33 6.4%
Leicester to win 2.1 2.25 7.14%
Arsenal to win 1.8 1.87 3.88%
Man United to win 2.1 2.25 7.14%
Total averages 1.83 1.94 5.71%

To keep this test fair, we wanted to test BetVictor against another of the major brands that a lot of people might assume would be one of the best and use as their sole bookmaker throughout the season.

As you can see here, if you bet with Paddy Power you would be losing out on 5.71% of profit for these bets, and as we stated earlier, there’s a good chance that this number would rise as you mix up markets and leagues.

We’ve taken one of the most respected bookmakers in the industry and showed you just how far off the mark they are. They don’t even have any equal best price bets in here, and even though this is just a sample, compared with BetVictor you go from a solid 1.28% to a massive 5.71% difference.

We aren’t hating on Paddy Power here, this test could have been done with dozens of bookmakers, but what you can see from this is that by not taking the best price and sticking with just one bookmaker for the season, even if that bookmaker is BetVictor, you are still losing free money.

Bookmaker Margins

Margin

If you want to really start getting into the nitty-gritty of the world of odds, then you can start to look at bookmaker margins. We’ve written about how these work elsewhere, but for the sake of this article we will just give it a quick once over.

Bookmakers work margins into each of their markets that guarantee them to make money. For example, if you are betting on the coin toss at kick off (yes this is an actual market!) then you can bet on either heads or tails. It’s a 50/50 chance, which should be and even money bet for either result.

However, the bookmaker isn’t going to give you even money or they wouldn’t make anything themselves. They will give you a little less than even money and the difference is their margin. The odds may be 1.90 for heads or tails, which gives them a 5% margin for each bet, essentially meaning they make 5% profit for each bet regardless of the outcome.

Margins obviously have an effect on the odds on offer. Ideally you would want to be targeting bookmakers that offer the lowest margin possible as this means more money is going back to the player.

Below is a table with 5 of the major bookmakers in the industry showing how the same match betting market can serve up different margins. The game we are using is Liverpool v Norwich in the Premier League.

To work out the margin you just convert the odds to an implied probability percentage and then add them together for each result. Anything over 100% is the bookmaker’s margin.

Bookmaker Home win Away win Draw Margin
BetVictor 1.17 22.0 8.5 1.78%
Paddy Power 1.12 19.0 9.0 5.66%
Betfred 1.14 21 9.5 3.01%
Ladbrokes 1.17 15 7 6.64%
Coral 1.17 21 8 2.73%

As you can see, the margins for each bookmaker can vary quite a lot and this should be something that you remember. Whilst some say that margins don’t pose too much of an issue for the average punter, we would disagree.

Take a look at BetVictor here and you can see they have the smallest margin by some distance. They also offer the best or joint best price on 2 of the three markets and aren’t all that far behind on the draw bet either. If you’re able to find a bookmaker that offers the smaller margins then not only are you going to be paying them less money over the long term, but you’re also likely to bet getting better odds overall.

Final Thoughts

Finding the best odds should become ingrained in your betting routine. As soon as you are able to lock your bet in, you should then be looking to jump on board to find the best price for your bets.

As you can see, odds change massively from bookmaker to bookmaker and some are more consistent than others. If you do bet from just the one bookmaker all of the time, then you aren’t maximising the money that you can earn. It’s like going to work and earning less money than the person sat next to you for doing the same job.

We aren’t saying you need dozens of betting accounts, just take 5 of the most consistent bookmakers and then pick the best price from each of those for every bet. This is an easy number to manage and if you research your bookies well it’s likely that one of them will be near enough the best price, if not the actual best price on most occasions. A little effort now will mean you reap the rewards later down the line.