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Football Betting Odds: Study Comparison Bookmaker vs. Exchanges Odds


It may surprise you to know that when placing a back bet before the commencement of a game, our research shows that more than 85% of Betfair’s odds (at 5% commission) can be beaten by bookmakers whether you are betting on the home win, draw, or away win.

In fact, if you want to back the draw in a game, over 95% of the games we have analysed this season would have had financially greater benefits available in the bookmaker market.

Taking into consideration the standard Betfair commission rate of 5%, the bookmakers who wish to compete have to offer something more attractive but this is a balancing act if they want to avoid the risks of an arbitrage situation. The margins are therefore very fine but over the course of a season, you will undoubtedly be at least 5% better off placing your back bets in the bookmaker market rather than at Betfair.

Comparing Bookmakers’ Odds with Exchanges’ odds

Below, is a tiny extract from a huge Soccerwidow exercise comparing Betfair prices across many European top-flight football leagues with the best available odds offered by a selection of online bookmakers (click to enlarge – opens in a new tab):

Financial Edge Backing With Bookmakers Rather Than Betfair

German Bundesliga Matches 2nd-4th November, 2012


For consistency, our exercise uses odds available 24-hours in advance of each match.

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The calculations above take into consideration Betfair’s 5% commission charge, and you can see straight away that just one event marked red in the extreme right-hand column provided a better financial return with Betfair (the possibility of Augsburg winning at Hannover). Otherwise, 26 out of 27 events (96.3%) were better off backing in the traditional bookmaker market.

The extent of the bookmaker advantage in all of the 1X2 match event possibilities is also shown and here are a few examples:

  • Freiburg to beat Moenchengladbach was priced at 3.50 in the bookmaker market, thus providing a financial advantage of 11.98% over Betfair’s price. In effect, for a 10 unit stake the bookmaker return is 2.68 units better off than with Betfair.
  • The draw in the Bayer Leverkusen vs. Fortuna Dusseldorf was priced 9.25% better with the bookmaker market offering 3.25 units more return for a 10 unit stake.
  • Backing Werder Bremen to beat Mainz provided a return 7.21% better with the bookmakers rather than with Betfair.

With the spread of results during this round of matches in the Bundesliga, it is evident that every HDA result which happened (cells highlighted in dark blue) was more profitable as a back bet in the bookmaker market. Even with some exchanges offering lower commission charges than Betfair, bookmaker prices are on the whole still more financially rewarding.

Successful Gamblers ‘Plan’ to Win – They Never ‘Hope’ to Win

An amount as small as 5% may not sound large, but 5% is a huge amount when considering factors such as eventual yield and return on investment.

If you have found what seems to be a successful selection system but lack the discipline not to attend to details when running your betting venture then we suggest that you are not serious enough about it. It follows that if you are not serious enough about your gambling then be honest with yourself and please do not bet.


learn to think like a bookmaker!
deciphering bookmaker mathematics

Last Update: 26 November 2012

Categories:Betting Exchanges Bookmakers



3 Responses to “Football Betting Odds: Study Comparison Bookmaker vs. Exchanges Odds”

  1. Alex
    7 December 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    I agree, it is easy to believe the claims of the major betting exchanges that they offer ‘better odds’ than traditional bookmakers. They even often advertise figures like up to 20% better odds. But this is misleading! It is wrong to bet only on betting exchanges.

    One should be using bookmakers AND betting exchanges to maximise returns.

  2. Punter
    12 January 2013 at 9:15 am #

    For a small punter like myself I do not think there is a great deal of difference. I only bet $2 – $5 per match. Would I really need accounts with every bookmaker and exchange which is there?

    • Soccerwidow
      13 January 2013 at 4:20 pm #

      It depends how serious you are about betting.

      Many bookmakers also offer periodical free bets and bonuses which exchanges do not. You can take advantage of this “free money” by converting it into cash via matched betting.

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