We all have our favourite bookies, the companies that we turn to more often than any other. Sensible bettors also have certain sites that they turn to for particular events, believing that one bookmaker is better than another for football betting or having a flutter on the horses. The bookies themselves would prefer us to place all of our bets with them, regardless of how good or otherwise the odds that they’re offering are.
That’s why they offer loyalty schemes, rewarding customers who place a given number of bets with them during a timescale like a week or a month. They’re not naive, however. They realise that there will always be reasons why a customer might flit from place to place, perhaps having several open bets with a number of different companies all at the same time. Perhaps one bookmaker has an offer on football accumulators, for example. Maybe another has a brilliant Free Bet Club that makes it irresistible to bet on the horses with them.
Competition is Fierce
That’s why you’ll often seen companies copying promotions from each other. The ability to Request-A-Bet will be thought of by one bookie on a Tuesday and then by Friday they’re all offering the same feature, each with their own distinctive hashtag. Spend enough time looking from site to site and you’ll see that they also seem to cover pretty much the same sports as each other.
If it looks as though a bookmaker might lose customers to a rival firm because they’re not offering eSports and their competitor is then, low and behold, eSports pops up on the list of things you can bet on. Some bookies get around this by offering outlandish markets or ridiculous bets, such as Paddy Power’s insistence that they allow people to bet on U2 frontman Bono becoming the next Pope or the existence of alien life being proven. Yet then biggest reason any of us move from one bookmaker to another is the most obvious – better odds. So, just how much do odds vary between the biggest bookies? Let’s have a look.
Comparing the Odds Amongst Bookies
If you’ve had a browse through the rest of this site then you’ll know that I’ve taken the time to take an in-depth look at both old-school bookmakers and new kids on the block. I’m a fan of the former because you always know where you stand with them, from the types of offers that you’re likely to get through to whether or not they have features like Live Streaming. I love the latter type of bookie because they’re always coming up with new and inventive ways to break into the market, usually via coverage of more random events and with promotions that seem too good to be true, such is the extent to which you feel as though they’re giving away money. Yet the reality is that there are simply far too many bookmakers out there to look at all of them for a piece like this.
As a result, I’ll be having a look at a mixture of both types of company, concentrating on ten different ones to see how the odds vary. I’ll look at some of the most established in the business, like Ladbrokes, Coral, Betfred and BetVictor, plus some of the newer ones that have made a real impact such as 888sport, Unibet, Betway and 10Bet. I’ll also look at both Paddy Power and Betfair, which have now become part of the same company and yet don’t seem to fit into either category. Betfair in particular took the betting world by storm when they launched their Betting Exchange platform in 2000, although for this piece I’ll only be considering the odds on their standard Sportsbook. As for Paddy Power, they’ve been around for years if you want to trace their history back through the Irish bookies that joined forces to create it, but in terms of the wider UK audience, they’re a recently new phenomenon.
Examining Major Sporting Events
When you’re looking at how much the odds of various bookmakers differ from each other, it’s only fair to look at a number of different events. After all, one bookie might specialise in tennis coverage and will naturally appear to offer the best odds if you only see what’s going on with Wimbledon. Equally, football is one of the most popular sports to bet on in the entire world, so it would be silly not to look at a couple of different events in order to get a feel about how they’re covered by all of the different companies we’ll looking at.
Thankfully, I’m writing this piece at exactly the right moment to be able to look at numerous different sports and a variety of events within said sports. As I sit here typing, Liverpool and Real Madrid are both in training to prepare for their upcoming Champions League final against each other, national team managers are announcing their squad for the World Cup and Aston Villa and Fulham are getting ready to head-to-head in the Championship Play-Off final to see which team will be returning to the Premier League. Meanwhile, tennis players are eyeing up their fitness head of Wimbledon, Lewis Hamilton, et al are fine-tuning their engines before the Monaco Grand Prix and Tiger Woods is hoping for one last hurrah at the the British Open in Carnoustie. Finally, there’s the small matter of an international test match between India and Pakistan at Lord’s.
In other words, there’s loads to look forward to on the sporting calendar, which means loads of betting opportunities for those in the know. The big question is, which bookmaker deserves your business? Obviously, if I wrote in-depth sections on each and every event I’ve mentioned there then this page would take several hours to read through. Instead, what I’m going to do is write a brief intro to how each of the above is looking and when it is due to take place, as well as picking a few bets that I think you’ll be interested in and putting them into a table with the odds on offer from each bookie.
The Champions League Final
In many ways, this is the biggest event on the horizon until the World Cup gets underway. As a Liverpool supporter, I must also confess to having a keen interest in this match’s outcome! Real Madrid haven’t had the best season in Spain this time out, coming third in La Liga behind Barcelona and their fierce local rivals Atletico Madrid. Yet they’ve been unstoppable in Europe, making their way through a more difficult set of matches than their opponents in order to give themselves a chance of winning their third Champions League trophy in as many years; something which hasn’t been done since Bayern Munich pulled it off in the 1970s.
As for Liverpool, the Merseyside club has enjoyed something of a renaissance under Jürgen Klopp. This is only the club’s second appearance in Europe’s elite competition since 2009, yet the Reds have history with the cup they call ‘Old Big Ears’. They’ve won it five times to date, more than any other British club and all of the London sides put together. They’ve been setting records on their run to the final, including an away win of 7-0 in the Group Stage. The final is expected to be something of a classic, but bookmakers are understandably struggling to pick an obvious winner. Here’s how they’re all seeing some of the most interesting bets:
|Real Madrid to Win in 90 Mins||2.15||2.20||2.25|
|Liverpool to Win in 90 Mins||3.00||3.09||3.20|
|Draw After 90 Mins||3.60||3.71||3.80|
|Both Teams to Score – Yes||1.36||1.41||1.44|
|Over 4.5 Goals||3.50||3.67||3.90|
As you can see, there are definite variations in the market when you look across a select number of bookmakers. Often they are in the same region as each other, meaning that you’re unlikely to get massive profits unless you’re betting with large chunks of money, but every little helps.
This is when it’s worth looking around at all of the bookies to see what offers they’ve got on – is there a loyalty scheme that means it’s worth betting with one over another, for example?
The World Cup
The biggest and most prestigious competition in international football only rolls around every four years, but when it does it absolutely rules the roost in terms of grabbing the attention of football supporters around the globe. This year all eyes will be on Germany to see whether or not Joachim Löw’s men can repeat the trick of lifting the trophy, as they did in Brazil in 2014.
After all, they’re World Number One in the rankings for a reason! There are plenty of other interesting bets worth keeping an eye on, so let’s have a look at how they’re being covered by the bookies:
|Germany to Lift the Trophy||5.00||5.51||5.80|
|Brazil to Lift the Trophy||5.00||5.35||5.50|
|Messi to Be Top Scorer||10.00||10.10||11.00|
|Ronaldo to Be Top Scorer||11.00||13.40||15.00|
|England to Reach Final||7.50||7.85||9.00|
In some of the markets, there’s virtually no movement at all, with Messi seen as the best option for a Top Goalscorer bets with all but one of the bookmakers. Yet dig a little deeper and you can see the reason for shopping around rather than taking the first bet that you’re presented with.
The difference between 10/1 and 14/1 for Cristiano Ronaldo to be Top Scorer is marked, even if you’re only betting with relatively low stakes. It’s the difference between taking home £50 or £70 from a £5 bet.
Championship Play-Off Final
|Aston Villa to Win in 90 Mins||3.10||3.28||3.40|
|Fulham to Win in 90 Mins||2.25||2.30||2.38|
|Draw After 90 Mins||3.00||3.14||3.20|
|Under 2.5 Goals||1.53||1.56||1.62|
|Aleksandar Mitrovic to Score First||4.50||4.86||5.25|
Given how close some of the markets where when looking at both the Champions League and the World Cup, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the odds would be similarly close when it comes to the Championship Play-Off final. Give it a quick glance over, though, and you’ll see that they vary within each bet, let alone across the match as a whole.
The bookies didn’t think it would be a game full of goals, as evidenced by the relatively short odds on Under 2.5 Goals and the chance of it being a draw. Despite various odds offered, all felt that Fulham were favourites heading into the game.
Arguably, the most famous tennis tournament in the world takes place in London every summer, with bookmakers always keen to offer odds on the winner of both the men’s and the women’s final. As I’ll explain after you’ve had a look through the odds, betting ante-post can often see wild variations in how the bookies see each players chances.
|Federer to Win Men’s Final||2.50||2.61||2.75|
|Djokovic to Win Men’s Final||5.50||6.43||8.00|
|Murray to Win Men’s Final||6.00||7.12||9.00|
|Serena Williams to Win Women’s Final||4.50||5.58||7.00|
|Caroline Wozniacki to Win Women’s Final||17.00||20.30||22.00|
The first thing to note about Wimbledon is that it doesn’t get started until July and I’m looking at the odds in the middle of May. I’ve done this deliberately in order to show you the major differences that you can find when you’re betting ante-post. Caroline Wozniacki is seen as an outsider for the Ladies Final, for example, yet there’s a £5 difference between what the ‘classical’ bookies are offering when compared to some of the new kids in town.
Then, there’s Andy Murray, whose odds veer from 6/1 with BetVictor to as long as 8/1 with Ladbrokes. Betting in advance is always the best thing you can do in terms of odds, but you run the risk of the player not even taking part in the tournament and your stake disappearing along with their chances.
Monaco Grand Prix
F1 is a sport that I’ll confess I’ve never really got to grips with. If you fancy watching a load of cars drive around in circles then I reckon you’ll be better off standing in service station on the M6. Still, I also know that it’s a sport millions of people enjoy, with the variations on the manner in which the drivers and teams can win being seemingly endless.
The Grand Prix in Monaco is one of the most exciting on the calendar, if for no other reason than that the scenery is spectacular. Here’s a little look at who the bookies think will win:
The bookmakers are all pretty much in agreement about Sebastian Vettel’s chances of winning the Monaco Grand Prix, with all but two of them offering odds of 7/4 and the two that aren’t coming close enough to make it irrelevant. The interesting one to look at as far as I’m concerned is Fernando Alonso (not shown on chart).
The Spaniard might be having a tough year so far, sitting in seventh in the Drivers’s Championship at the time of writing, but he’s won twice before on the Monaco course and will fancy his chances of springing a surprise. Odds differing between 200/1 and 300/1, therefore, offer some food for thought for those that like to take longer odds.
Golf is a sport that people seem to either love or hate, which is an opinion that golfers themselves can have midway through a round. Personally, I’ve always loved the sport, with the British Open being my second-favourite event to watch and have a flutter on behind the Ryder Cup.
As you’d expect, the bookmakers aren’t too sure which way to call it ahead of the event getting underway in July. Here’s a look at a select few possible winners:
At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much in it between the bookmakers as far as the favourites are concerned. Yet look a little bit closer and you’ll notice that Rory McIlroy has a difference of £3 between Betfred’s 9/1 and Unibet’s 12/1 offering.
That difference is even more stark when you look at Tiger Woods, with 888sport and Unibet both feeling that he’s got the same chance that most bookies are giving Jordan Spieth of winning it, whilst the ‘classical’ bookmakers like Ladbrokes and Coral are offering double those odds for the American. That’s why it’s always worth choosing wisely when you’re looking at ante-post odds!
First International Test at Lord’s
Cricket will never be to everyone’s taste. I confess that until the Ashes in 2005 it wasn’t really to mine. I’ve got into it since then, understanding the complexities of the game a little better and coming to see it for what it is. England haven’t enjoyed the best of times over the past year or so, which is why this test against Pakistan could be exactly what they need. Here’s a look at how the bookmakers are seeing certain events panning out:
|England to Win||1.42||1.47||1.50|
|Pakistan to Win||4.50||4.98||5.25|
|Match to End in a Draw||5.00||5.18||5.50|
|Joe Root England Top Runscorer
After 1st Innings
|James Anderson England Top Wicket Taker
After 1st Innings
The market that catches your eye most obviously here is the one that suggests that all but two of the bookmakers think a draw is an unlikely scenario, offering odds of 4/1. The consensus on Joe Root being England’s top run scorer and James Anderson taking the most wickets in the first innings is clear to see, even if there are big differences between the actual odds on display.
Once again, it’s interesting to note that it’s the older bookmakers that are slightly more conservative in their approach to deciding their odds.
The Odds Can Vary Wildly
The above events have little in common, with some due to take place in a matter of days, some not due to begin for a couple of months as I write this and others still lasting for weeks before a winner is found compared to the couple of hours the football matches will need. Yet one thing that does seem to be common between all of the events is the number of times that bookmakers odds vary hugely depending on who it is that you turn to.
What you’ll no doubt have noticed is that bookies who are linked together via mergers or a common owner, such as Ladbrokes and Coral, 888sport and Unibet or Betfair and Paddy Power, often have similar odds to each other. Yet there are still differences to be found every now and again, meaning that having an account with both might serve you well. It’s also interesting to note that ante-post betting tends to offer far more variation in odds than pre-match alternatives.
This isn’t conclusive, of course, but the research I’ve done here proves that it’s not always good to stick with your favourite bookmakers. If you’d taken the first odds you’d found on Tiger Woods to win the British Open then you’d have missed out on £100 from a £10 bet had he gone on to do it. If you’d done the same thing with Fernando Alonso in the Monaco Grand Prix, feeling that 200/1 were pretty good odds, you’d have missed out on £1000 had he been victorious!