Odds Comparison and Odds Matching
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Odds comparison and odds matching sites can be useful, and there are plenty of them out there. The purpose of this article is to help you avoid some common issues and to give some tips about using some of the better ones.
The first thing to remember with all these sites is that they are not there simply to provide a free service. They make money via affiliate links (in a similar manner to the multitude of price comparison sites on the internet) and what they want you to do is to click through their flashing banners or coloured bookie icons to sign up to the bookmakers. Please read this article on bookmakers and affiliate links for more information about this subject, and in particular how not to end up with a poor free bet instead of the best one.
Most of these sites allow the facility to click through to the bookmaker site, either to sign up or to load a betting slip. Bookmakers can trace these links, and know that people who use these sites are likely to be looking for value. Although there is no direct evidence that using these clickthroughs results in faster limits, I would suggest only clicking through if there is no alternative, eg if the signup offer is the best around or if you cannot find the relevant market on the bookie’s site.
Remember that any software of this type is only as good as its programmer. It is quite possible for mismatches to occur – I have seen “arbs” where the back bet was for full time and the lay for half time, and other similar errors. Always check the odds and markets at both bookie and exchange before you part with any money.
Odds Comparison Sites
The best known of these are www.oddschecker.com, www.bestbetting.com and www.betbrain.com although there are others. They cover a multitude of different sports and the layout is based around comparing the odds at different bookmakers on the same event. They tend to get their feeds direct from the bookies but are often subject to some delay. Typically the best available odds on each selection are highlighted in bold.
This is extremely useful if you know exactly what you want to bet on and want the best available price on your selection. These sites are also useful for identifying whether the price at the bookie you are looking at is in line with other bookies or over generous (in which case it could be a palp). They also have a useful role to play in determining whether a bookie has reformed the market on a race after a non runner (see this article on rule 4).
Horse racing odds comparison site for Australian bookies:
When betting on horses at Australian bookies please be extra careful that the odds you are betting at are fixed odds – don’t automatically trust odds comparison sites, especially if you have found a large arb.
Odds Matching Sites
These are designed to help with matched betting, in particular the signup offers. Some also have odds comparison pages as above. The number of free odds matching sites is dropping and those which are available have a time lag, for example out free version of the sports arb finder http://www.juicestorm.com/oddsmatcher/.
Odds matching sites tend to get their odds via an odds comparison site (although ours gets them from the bookies odds feeds), and are therefore subject to similar delays and any problems with the odds feeds from the original site. They usually work on a very limited range of markets (eg football match odds), and often come with an inbuilt calculator to calculate your lay stake at the exchange. These sites are useful for finding the best match for a free bet or qualifier, or if you are tackling a WR. They are of limited use to arbers because of the delay.
Surebets and Arbs
Some sites have sections which find surebets (dutches) and arbs. This information is valuable and you will normally have to pay for good upto date information. However there are sites which allow free access, although they normally reserve the biggest arbs for their paying customers, and there may be a waiting list. We now have a dutching tool on the BetClub site from the same provider as our sports arb finder.
These sites list arbs across all the bookies covered and all the sports or markets covered, with the best arbs at the top. The more sophisticated (usually paid) ones have filters where you can choose which bookies to look at and whether or not to look at dutches as well as arbs, and may also cover many more sports and allow you to filter those too.
There are other arb finding subscription services such as ucantlose which send arb alerts by text or email. The problem with these is that so many arbers now have bots to help them find arbs that by the time you have read your email the arb will probably have gone.
If you are a serious full-time arber you may feel that the subscription fee to one of these sites is worth paying. I found that I could manage very well without paying, and certainly if you are not arbing full time a subscription to a good site is going to make a hole in your profits.
Some tips for using these sites
Many of these sites attempt to give an indication of how good the arb is by quoting a percentage. While this is ok as a general guide, I find it can be highly misleading, especially as you don’t know how they have arrived at it. I would strongly advise checking anything which is listed as an arb at all (even 0%), partly because the odds may have moved and partly because it will give you an idea of whether the bet is likely to be useful to you.
This is the most sophisticated of these sites with far more markets including some rather bizarre ones. If you stick to markets you recognize you will be fine. The screenshot below was taken at a time when they were showing all of the arbs free – the site is now only available to paying customers. I believe it scrapes the bookies itself rather than relying on 3rd party feeds.
Note the ticks in the boxes at the top right saying show only arbs and show only back-lay. These filters will remove a lot of weird dutches which will probably be no use to you. The popup shown appears when you click on a selected arb, and gives you the odds – in this case I have clicked on the top line. If you click on the market (left column) you also get the following popup, showing you the odds on this market at all bookies covered. There are also other tabs which show different markets on the same match. If there is an arb on the 1×2 market it is worth checking the HT and HTFT markets at the same bookie.
This popup is extremely useful – normally the best arbs do not show on the list, but if you find a near-arb at one bookie it might be a higher price at another so it is worth loading this popup to check. As usual the best odds on each selection are highlighted in bold so you can see at a glance where they are. I would advise all arbers to bookmark this site and use it regularly.
It is worth pointing out that you can also list bets at a specific bookie, so if you are doing a WR or a free bet you don’t have to wade through loads of stuff you don’t want. They do have some weird entries on the list, including UKC1 to 4, which are shop coupons : UKC1=Coral, 2=Ladbrokes, 3=William Hill, 4=Betfred.
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