I have more news and advice today on the topic of bookmaker restrictions and closures including specific advice on why the forthcoming Aintree Grand National meeting is such a good time to take action on this front.
Before that though, some interesting news came out this week on restrictions following our call to action to email the Gambling Commission about how they had impacted you. Greg Wood of the Guardian published this fascinating article on Sunday, which outlined how action might not be far away on a min bet law…
“Representatives met with senior Gambling Commission officials on Thursday to discuss the possibility of a minimum bet limit becoming a requirement of a bookmaker’s operating licence, and apparently left believing that it will, at some point, become a reality.”
I followed up on this article with Brian Chappell from Justice for Punters who attended the meeting referred to and because he and his colleagues have also met with others since. He had this to say:
“We mustn’t get carried away, because a lot of what is required for a Minimum Bet Law (MBL) is out of the control of punters, except for campaigning, so it’s really important that people contact the Gambling Commission as part of their present consultation as outlined here.
The possible options on the table are; that companies finally, due to pressure, realise they are trading unfairly meaning they enter into constructive discussion about a voluntary MBL, new primary legislation, which will be difficult to progress quickly due to the UK parliament being obsessed with Brexit, or the CMA forcing companies to be clear in their T&Cs that winning using skill is not allowed. It is, therefore crucial SBC readers continue to email the GC with details of any stupid account restrictions they incur.”
He went on to say that everyone should read the Victoria, Australia MBL rules, because this is what Justice For Punters is campaigning to be introduced and nothing less.
That’s the future, but what about avoiding restrictions right now?
Whilst the above is very encouraging news, until such a time as a minimum bet law is introduced, we must still be careful to protect our existing bookmaker accounts from future restrictions and closures.
..And with the Aintree Grand National meeting coming up – a time when thousands of new bookmaker accounts are being opened from people with no idea about betting, it’s also a fantastic chance for shrewd punters to hide in plain sight and have your accounts ‘coded’ as safe.
To explain more on this and to help you best understand how bookies track your accounts, I wanted to share an article written by a bookie insider for the Smart Betting Club on this very topic.
This insider has spent years working on both sides of the betting fence so is uniquely positioned to offer advice about how to get your bets on.
His approach is all about ensuring your account is coded as ‘safe’ in its infancy and following certain strategies to fool the bookies into thinking you don’t know what you are doing (despite the fact you do!)
Even though this article was first written in late 2016, much of the advice is still very relevant…so without further ado, here is the lowdown from our Bookie Insider…
An insider speaks – how to ‘code’ your accounts as safe
From the point of view of someone who has been on both sides of the fence over the last 15 years or so, it’s best to view the battle between shrewd punters who want to maintain winning accounts and the bookies who want to shut them down as a game of cat-and-mouse.
Bookies have moved well beyond analysing the behaviour of their customers in an attempt to restrict those who will beat them, into employing increasingly smart technology to catch those who discover loopholes and cover their tracks.
Tracking software has become ubiquitous with all major bookies – the likes of iesnare and iovation have been the subject of huge controversy as the grey area of customers’ privacy is challenged. But avoiding these legally-dubious methods is just the first step to take when engaging in the battle of smarts and wills with the online bookmaker and by which ‘unwelcome’ punters can keep under the radar of the bookies’ account-coding teams.
These teams work hand-in-hand with the liabilities department, examining each bet that meets certain criteria, such as those which are due to return more than a certain amount, those from punters who are already being monitored, or those on specific events or niche markets where the firm in question might be vulnerable to savvy customers.
One approach is to try to avoid being ‘coded’ at all – to escape the attention of the hawk-eyed account restrictors by staying under the radar with small bets in the hope of not being noticed. This is possible but it’s tougher than ever to pull off – if your betting patterns are shrewd you’re likely to get noticed at some point and then it’s back to square one.
Try and get marked up early as a ‘safe’ account
Another method, and the one we’re focused on here, is to actively try and get marked up early as a ‘safe’ account, one in which the betting patterns suggest it’s operated by a typical losing punter.
This involves pre-empting the marking of the account by making it look as though the account will be a winning one for the bookie, one likely to consistently lose money over the long-term.
These accounts will tend to have a less rigorous filter applied to them, meaning that for bets to appear on the liability team’s screens they have to be at or close to the market’s maximum stake, or that the event is being subject to particular scrutiny (in which case all bets on that event will be flagged up).
Put yourself in the bookies shoes
To get an idea of how to go about this, try putting yourself in the bookie’s shoes – if you were charged with coding accounts as good or bad for business, what would you do?
The customers that firms like the best are those who lose consistently and reliably, whether involving big or small amounts. Punters like this who lose small (probably 95 per cent of a firm’s active clients) rarely appear on the coders’ radar as the system filters their bets out as irrelevant – they’ll generally be small non-price-sensitive stakes on big markets, or multiples thereof.
To come to a coder’s attention with a young account then it generally would require that account to feature bets on small markets or niche events with bets close to the maximum stake allowed. If you open an account and your first bet is a large one at a stand-out price on, say, a speedway event, it’ll raise a red flag.
If, on the other hand, it’s Sunderland to beat Chelsea 6-2 or a goalscorer accumulator across a few live games, your bets will either be passed over or you’ll be considered a ‘safe’ punter and put under consideration to have your staking limits increased by 20 or 50 per cent.
Consider opening your account at a busy time – like the Grand National
Therefore one approach is to open your account and making your first wagers at a busy time for the firm – the afternoon of the opening day at Aintree or Cheltenham will guarantee your first few bets will sneak through unnoticed. Together with a sign-up offer, a few doubles or trebles on horses close to best price will fit in with the profile of a typical punter, all while giving an expected return of close to 100 per cent of your outlay. The forthcoming Aintree meeting culminating with the Grand National is as good a time as ever to do this.
Bookies don’t like serial bonus (ab)users but they’re generally happy to oblige customers who they feel will be long-term losers, so free bets can generally be incorporated into the ‘churn’ of a new account, lowering the cost of getting the account into respectable shape.
After a few neutral bets on high-profile races or football games, consider a couple of spins of the roulette wheel or engage the ‘cash out’ feature. Most shrewd punters will run a mile from these gimmicks, which take margin from you at both ends of the bet, but that’s the point – these are the kind of customers they’re looking for.
Likewise, in-play football and tennis betting, where the odds are generated automatically and at high margins, are good markets to throw a bookie off the scent, as are ‘virtual’ markets, which have a casino-style house edge built in.
Unfortunately, this strategy will almost inevitably entail losing money for the first few bets but smart punters have to consider the long game – with the bigger picture in mind this should be considered a sacrifice worth taking.
Long-term value of a bookie account that goes under the radar
You might lose a few quid this way, yet have the long-term value of a bookie account that goes under the radar. That can be priceless.
Only once your account reflects the behaviour of a casual punter should you try to draw attention to it by striking bets that will get you noticed by those monitoring the bet streams. ‘Mug’ bets on any sport but particularly football accumulators or side markets at below top price should be considered alongside your ‘shrewd bets’.
If an account marker likes what he sees, he might deem your account ‘safe’, increase your staking limits and hopefully enable you to fly under the radar if you manage your account carefully. This involves generally avoiding hitting maximum stakes (75% or less of the limit is a good guide – anything higher will attract the attention of the liabilities department) and steering clear of niche sports and small, illiquid markets which could attract the attention of compilers as well as liability managers.
Remember, you’re trying to strike a balance between persuading a trained operative that you’ll be a consistent loser in future, without losing too much money while doing so. It’s not easy but it can be relatively cheap if you stick to big prices (which should in reality be far bigger) which will have lower maximum stake limits and therefore trigger the bookie’s monitoring systems without having to risk a lot of money.
If this approach is successful and your account has been deemed ‘safe’, it will be monitored more loosely, allowing bigger stakes and hopefully increasing its lifespan. Care still needs to be taken of course, but if your limits are raised and your bet doesn’t automatically pop up on a liability manager’s screen, that’s half the battle won.
4 key points to consider…
So in summary, the main advice would be:
- Avoid drawing attention to your account in the first few days; bet like they want you to bet for your first couple of dozen or so wagers.
- Use the firm’s gaming app a few times and cash out a few bets; play in-running sports markets and the occasional virtual race.
- Once you’re happy your account history looks like that of a losing punter or chancer, bet to get noticed, ideally avoiding busy times so they can get a good look at your apparent ineptitude.
- This means hitting maximum stakes on poor value bets (ideally at big prices, to limit losses), which will appear on the liability screens, meaning your account will be examined.
If the employee monitoring the liability screens likes what he sees and is in a good mood, he may loosen the restrictions on your account and help your account stay under the radar, increasing its lifespan.
Whatever you do – good luck with your betting and keeping your bookmaker accounts open as long as possible. It can be done with the right approach.
More advice at hand…
My thanks go to our ‘bookie insider’ for taking the time to pen the above article and share his insight with us all. Thousands of new punters open up accounts to bet on the Grand National (which takes place on the 14th April this year), so its a great time to consider trying to hide in plain sight.
Whilst restrictions of bookmaker accounts are a real problem, there are always things we as punters can do to circumnavigate them such as:
- Not always taking the absolute best price on a bet
- Never taking a price with a bookmaker which is shorter on a betting exchange (they will accuse you of arbing)
- Being sensitive to which markets and when betting on them might flag your account (for example – taking early prices for all non-major horse racing markets is a big no-no)
- Avoiding specific niche markets
- Spreading your stakes and winnings around the bookmaker accounts you maintain.
There is further, detailed advice on all of the above and more in the special Restrictions & Closures only section of the SBC website (SBC membership required) for those of you keen to learn more.
Plus – Advice on the best Exchange-only Tipsters
One of the absolute best ways to avoid all issues of restrictions is to simply bet on Betting Exchanges only. There are more valid exchange options available these days with Smarkets, Betdaq & Matchbook all offering lower commission rates and challenging Betfair’s long held dominance so its a growing area. None of whom will ever restrict or close your account for being successful.
For those of you keen to find out more on the Exchange based tipsters we recommend, you can find a list of them available via the Exchange Betting members-only section of the SBC website.
Every single tipster review we publish these days explores the potential of following them via Betting Exchanges with more and more options coming out of the woodwork these days.
Some can be followed at Betfair SP, with others simply by placing your bets in live racing or sports markets and getting great value prices.
So, even if you have had your bookmaker accounts closed off, there are still several very genuine and realistic options out there for you!
You can read all of our expert content on avoiding restrictions and the best tipsters for betting exchanges with a Smart Betting Club membership.
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Smart Betting Club Editor