Life just isn’t fair.
You spend months, years, decades even, developing a successful betting strategy that allows you to earn a decent income from betting and enjoy the life you deserve.
Or you are using a matched betting product like Profit Maximiser and earning a nice few hundred quid a month risk-free.
And then just when it is going well and the cash is rolling in, the bookies go and shut you down.
Yep, they send you a terse e-mail telling you that after analysing your betting activity, they no longer want you as a customer and your account is being closed with immediate effect.
It is exceptionally unfair that bookmakers can do this with impunity. After all, they are multi-billion pound companies and surely having a few winning accounts is not going to bring them down.
The good news though is there are a number of steps you can can take that will greatly increase the chances of your accounts being left open.
Below we go through these in detail, giving you our hints and tips amassed through years of experience. We have split the list into do’s and dont’s as this is the easiest way to describe what to do.
The key thing to try to do is put yourself in the mind of a bookie and think what they like and what they don’t like. Basically they love “mug punters” who aimlessly bet on a whole host of things and hate shrewd, controlled bettors who specialise. But more on that below…
Keeping your Bookie Accounts Open – The Dont’s
First we look at the things you definitely should NOT do if you want to keep your bookie accounts open as long as possible:
1. Don’t Arb
The number one thing on the bookies’ most hated list is arbing. They hate it. Like really, really, hate it.
There is probably a good reason why the bookies detest it so much. Arbing is one of the surest ways of winning at betting and there is nothing the bookies hate more than someone who wins.
If they let people get away with arbing, everyone would do it. What would be the point in betting anymore? There is plenty of software out there that can instantly identify arbs between all the bookies and exchanges, so it would be easy as pie to do – and you would be guaranteed to make money long-term.
And then the bookies’ entire business model would be dead. The punter would have won.
Arbing is one of the very few things we understand the bookies taking action on. They shouldn’t be allowed to limit the accounts of people who win by genuinely betting, but it is fair enough for them to stop arbers.
So if you are thinking of arbing, don’t do it. They will shut you down faster than you can say “told you so.”
At the same time, it is important not to do things that are close to arbing and could flag up on the bookies’ radar.
This would be things like finding a bookie who has slightly higher odds than the current Betfair price and backing with them. Even if you are not arbing by laying the same selection on Betfair, it will flag up on the bookie’s system as if you are.
Stan James in particular clamp down very heavily on this sort of thing. They often have slightly higher odds than Betfair for horse racing for a short time – perhaps their systems are a bit slower at updating the odds than other bookies – so there is great temptation to exploit these good odds. But you shouldn’t.
The bottom line is that if it has a whiff of arbing about it, the bookies will jump all over it.
2. Don’t do Cheeky Each-Way Punts
In a similar vein to arbing, the bookies really don’t like it if you exploit certain situations systematically that give you an edge.
One classic example of this is the cheeky each-way punt.
Basically, in some races where you have a very short-priced favourite (less than 1.5), the next two or three in the betting will offer excellent value as each-way bets.
This is because to win the race, their odds will be quite high, given that there is a short-odds favourite. So as an each-way bet, you will get great value for the place part of the bet, because there is a good chance these horses will finish in the places, even though it’s unlikely they will win the race.
You could in theory exploit this by either laying off the win part of the bet to always secure the place value, or just back the each-way bets and profit from the long-term value they provide.
But the bookies really don’t like this and if you do it repeatedly, there is a high chance they will close or limit your account.
There are other ways of cleverly exploiting each-way bets to make a profit without incurring the bookies’ wrath, such as Each-Way Sniper.
But overall, anything that looks like you are exploiting a “loophole” with the bookies is likely to get you shut down.
Work out if it is worth losing your account for the sake of the short-term gain these opportunities may provide.
3. Don’t Follow Well-Known Tipsters
Don’t do it!
Sadly, the bookies are well aware of the tips of these very famous tipsters and the fact that thousands of punters follow their selections.
This presents two problems for them: firstly, when a huge number of people are all betting on the same horse, it is going to mess up their books pretty badly. Secondly – and certainly in the case of Hugh Taylor and to a lesser extent with Pricewise – their results are very impressive, so the bookies won’t want lots of punters winning money off them on a consistent basis by following these tips.
There are one or two other tipsters the bookies are wary of – such as Equine Investments and Steve Lewis Hamilton, who have very respected reputations in the gambling business.
Lesser known but still very successful tipsters such as Quentin Franks may not be such a problem – the bookies can’t keep tabs on all of the thousands of tipsters out there after all.
But it is definitely a good idea to avoid following the tips of Pricewise and Hugh Taylor. After all, as our review of the latter found, it is very difficult to make a profit from them anyway.
4. Don’t Bet Big
One of the clearest separators of a mug punter from a pro is the size of their respective stakes.
Whilst the mug punter likes his – or her – £5 and £10 flutters on this and that, the pro will have wagers often in the hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
Now obviously there are some very bad punters out there who bet with big stakes too and you would think the bookies would love them the most.
However, our own experiences have shown that even when you have a losing account, once you have landed a couple of £100 bets on say a 12/1 or 14/1 shot, you will show up with flashing lights on the bookies’ radar. And it won’t take more than a couple more of these winners – taking your account into profit – to have you shut down.
The vast majority of punters bet with small stakes and only a select number regularly bet at over £100 stakes, so betting big really stands out in the monitoring systems the bookies use.
So really the bottom line is to avoid wagering at more than £50 a bet – and if you do bet above that level, make sure your account is a losing one!
5. Don’t Just Bet on Outsiders
A natural extension of point 3 above is that bookies also tend to separate mug punters from professionals by how they bet.
Mug punters tend to bet on favourites whilst professionals bet on outsiders.
If your account is made up of just long-shots, this is much more likely to signify you are a shrewd gambler.
Conversely, if you are backing odds-on shots all the time, the bookies will think you are probably a mug. There is more on mug bets below in the “Do’s” section (points 3 and 4).
6. Don’t Just do Free Bets
If you are a matched bettor using a product like Profit Maximiser, there is the potential to make a very handy income by utilising all the bookies’ free bets and bonuses.
However, if that is all you do, it is also one of the surest ways to get your accounts shut down.
Not surprisingly, the bookies are well aware of matched betting now and if your account is just made up of free bets, they will know what you are doing and give you the heave-ho.
If you are a matched bettor, it is strongly recommended to mix up your free bets with some “mug bets” – more on that below. But the bottom line is to make sure your account isn’t just a bonus bonanza.
7. Don’t Keep Large Winnings in Your Account
This is probably a less important point than the previous ones, but the bookies would be wary of someone who kept a large amount of say a grand or more in their account after a big win.
It could indicate a professional approach of someone who knows they are going to put on some sizable bets in the near future.
At the same time though, the bookies don’t tend to like people who and constantly move money in and out of their accounts as the bookies incur fees when you do.
So how to strike a balance?
Well, the best thing to do would be to keep a small amount (say £100 – £200) in your account if you know you are going to be betting regularly with it, otherwise withdraw all your winnings. But try to use a service such as Skrill to do so, which doesn’t cost the bookies anything.
Keeping your Bookie Accounts Open – The Do’s
OK, so we have covered the big no-no’s in betting terms. But what about the things you should do? Well, these are covered below.
Remember, the key thing is to make yourself look like a mug punter (which hopefully you are not actually!)
1. Bet in Round Numbers
A sure sign that you are either arbing or doing matched betting is if your stakes tend to be precise amounts such as £25.42 or £37.91 rather than £25 or £40.
No one would bet in such precise stakes by choice – someone betting normally would use round numbers.
As we say above, you shouldn’t be doing arbing anyway. And if you are going to do matched betting, then much better to use round numbers for your stakes to put the bookies at least a little off your scent.
Simple things like this can make a big difference.
2. Monitor your Betting Accounts
One of the surest ways to get your betting accounts restricted is if they are in profit. Therefore it is important to keep an eye on how each of your accounts is doing.
You can do this quite simply by keeping a record of the weekly or monthly total for each account you have, in a spreadsheet for example.
If any of them are running into profit, it is time to take action. See point 3:
3. Bet Like a Mug
In order to give yourself the best chance of keeping your bookie accounts open, in amongst your normal bets, you should try to bet like a mug punter.
How do you do this?
Well, it consists of placing lots of £5, £10 and £20 bets in the following ways:
- Back favourites – odds-on favourites and popular ones like Man Utd, Arsenal etc are best.
- Place accas – bookies love accumulators, they are the ultimate sign of a mug punter. Stick on a few £10 accas of say six Premier League matches or the top five favourites on the coupon.
- Bet on different sports – another sure sign of a mug is someone who bets on a whole load of different sports. It is very difficult to become an expert in one sport, let alone more than one. If you bet in lots of sports, it will look more like you are a mug. Chuck in a few random sports that you would never normally bet on, like basketball or Gaelic football.
- Place multi-sport accas – even better, combine the two above! Now you are really becoming a mug punter.
- Bet on big events – the Grand National, FA Cup Final, England internationals, Wimbledon, the Ryder Cup, the Ashes etc. A classic mug tendency is to get sucked in by all the hype and bet on these events willy-nilly.
It is probably best to use a product like Oddsmonkey to lay off your bets so that these mug bets are risk-free. Obviously be careful though to ensure you don’t use any bets that look like they could be arbs – i.e. when the bookies’ odds are above the exchanges’.
If you do enough of this mug betting, you are almost certain to lose. Accumulators are terrible value and doing lots of them is the fastest way to the poor house. Just keep doing these bets until your accounts are in negative territory.
4. Do “Super-Mug” Bets
OK, if you really want to supercharge the situation and get the bookies to love you, then you can take things to the next level and become a “supermug.”
To do this, leave sports betting aside for a moment and enter the world of the casino, slots and games. This is what the bookies really want you to do and where they make most of their money. The margins on sports betting are pretty thin but much better on the casino and games, so they are a lot less likely to close your bookie account if you are doing some of this too.
Obviously you want to be careful you don’t go and lose a lot of money on their casinos. Just a few bets here and there is fine. Who knows, you may even win…
5. Spread your Bets Around
As we have advised above not to bet too big, then it naturally follows that if you do want to place some larger wagers, it is best to spread your bets around.
So if you want to place a £100 wager, try three separate bets of £30, £30 and £40 with three different bookies.
And try not to place all your selections with the same bookie but spread them around.
6. Don’t Bet Through an Odds Comparison Site
You shouldn’t bet through a link to a bookie from an odds comparison site such as Oddschecker. This is because bookies will take this sign that you are not a mug (i.e. you are searching around for the best odds) and could limit your account. Sky Bet allegedly used to automatically limit accounts of people who came through to them via Oddschecker.
The best thing to do, once you have checked the odds with an odds comparison site is to then open the bookies’ site separately in a new tab.
7. Use Exchanges Where You Can
It may sound like stating the bleeding obvious, but is a point that is missed sometimes and is an important part of keeping your bookie accounts open.
Basically the simple facts are that if you are a winning gambler, there is a higher chance your accounts will be limited.
So to keep your accounts open longer, by placing bets on the exchanges where you can it follows that your winnings with the bookies will be lower, all else being equal.
It is always worth looking at whether there is a price available at the exchanges that is equal to or higher than the bookies. If so, place it with the exchange.
If you are following a tipster, then have a look at whether you could achieve similar results with that tipster by using Betfair SP.
That is one of the reasons we record Betfair SP results for all of the horse racing services we review. So you can look at the results and if there is not much difference, it might be worth using Betfair SP to follow that tipster and therefore preserve your bookie accounts for longer. Typically we see that services that tip at higher odds (e.g. over 10/1) often see better results at Betfair SP.
Sometimes a bookie will offer better value and so you want to bet with them, which is fine. But some judicious use of the exchanges can help to keep your bookie accounts open for much, much longer.
What to do if Your Accounts are Closed
Now of course you may have already lost your bookie accounts or it may be that even taking all the above steps, the bookies decide they just don’t like the cut of your jib and decide to limit or close your account.
There is a certain amount of randomness to this. For example, personally I have accounts where I have broken just about every rule above and yet the account is still open and not limited in any way – Bet 365 being an example. And yet there are others where I have done practically nothing wrong and even been in deficit, but they still close the account (Sky Bet looking at you).
Overall though, following the guidance above will make a huge difference to your chances of keeping your accounts open, whilst there may be one or two exceptions to the rule.
Let’s say your accounts have been limited though. What do you do then?
1. You May Still Have Options
Firstly, sometimes your account has been limited but it is not necessarily the end of the story. The bookie may have limited you in certain sports, or to stakes that are reduced but that still enable you to get reasonable-sized bets on.
A number of my personal accounts are like this. Paddy Power have limited my account on horse racing and golf, but I can bet as much as I want on other sports. William Hill similarly have limited me on football and horse racing. Sportingbet just on horse racing.
So don’t panic if you do suddenly find yourself limited – it may just apply to one or two sports.
2. Ask your Auntie Linda
Ok, let’s say you have suffered proper shut down and the bookies have cut you off completely. What do you do next?
Well, if you really want new accounts then one thing you might think about doing is finding a family member or friend who is prepared to let you set up credit cards and accounts in their name.
Now obviously it would be less obvious to the bookie if that person has a different surname and address to you!
Using your wife / husband / brother’s account if they have the same name and/or address as you will probably flag up much quicker on the bookie’s system and they could well shut you down straight away.
Now just to be clear, we are not recommending that you actually do this and get a family member or friend to set up credit cards for you in their name. For one thing, we are not sure of the legality of it. But we are just pointing out that it has been known for people to do this.
3. Use a VPN
If you did go for the family member/friend option, then bear in mind that the bookies could still link the new accounts to your old ones via your IP address (i.e. the address of your internet connection).
One way round this is to set up a Virtual Private Network (or VPN). This creates the impression that you are using a different IP address and should overcome the problems of the bookies linking your new accounts to your old ones via the IP address.
VPNs are fairly cheap and straightforward to set up these days as well.
Or you could use a dongle, which also uses a different IP to your home IP, although most dongles will cost around £15-£20 per month, depending on how much you use the internet.
4. Remove Spyware
In the endless battle between bookie and punter, you might have thought the steps above would have given the punter the upper hand.
But never forget the deviousness and resourcefulness of the bookies. Remember, they hate winners and will do whatever they can to stop them. Plus they are multi-billion pound business so have the money to invest in whatever systems they need to keep us punters down.
Recently it has emerged that bookies are allegedly using spyware to track the activities of punters, to see if they are using exchanges, doing matched betting etc.
The legality of this appears questionable and indeed there are reports of punters bringing legal challenges to the bookies for using Spyware.
But whilst the legal cases go on, it is probably best that you take steps to protect yourself from the bookies spying on you.
There is a very good and detailed article on it here.
Conclusion – Prevention is the Best Cure
The bookies don’t want you as a customer if you win money, that is an unfortunate fact and for the time being, they are legally allowed to do this.
There are lots of things you can do to keep your bookie accounts open though and as with so many things in life, the best cure is prevention.
Best to take steps to stop the bookies shutting you down in the first place, as once you have lost your accounts then the course of action for setting up new ones is onerous and time-consuming.
So basically don’t do any arbing or try to exploit loopholes and try to place a good number of mug bets to supplement your normal betting.
When the bookies come to study your account, the more like a mug you look, the less likely they will be to close or limit your account.