Just as air is everywhere on Earth, we do not think about it, but it is all around us all the time, so in the bookmaking business there is a constant presence of margin, the interaction of the player with the fact of its presence. There is the same phenomenon here, each odds carries this “commission” laid down by the bookmaker’s office, but only a few professionals keep a close eye on it. Most average players, average laymen, do not pay attention to this, they often do not even know about the margin, do not adjust their actions in connection with it. Meanwhile, the margin is also not constant. There is no such thing, that it would be a single value, the same for all events and outcomes. This figure varies, it is not the same in different bookmakers’ offices, different sports, matches, types of bets. Moreover, the margin is different in the pre-match and in playlines, it changes over time. Understanding, tracking these changes gives the bettor more control over the game, allows you to make better bets, not to get involved in those markets and when the commission there is unacceptably high. In this review, we will take a closer look at the patterns, in connection with which the bookmaker’s commission, included in each odds, differs and changes.
So, the general points in connection with which may vary and change the size of the bookmaker’s margin, we have identified. Now let’s go build the structure to show the key patterns. Let’s start, as usual, with a brief excursion through the basics. We have already talked about margin in a separate article, but for this article to be autonomous we will briefly describe the essence.
The simplest market in sports is represented by a pair of opposite conditions for some condition. For example, a team will score a goal or not score, the total will be “kicked” more than 2.5 or less, and so on and so forth. More complicated markets can be broken down into 3 variants of outcomes, or more. We’ll focus on doubles for now, as the most massive and simple ones.
When we see the ratio of some condition, we should always consider it not as “spherical in a vacuum”, but in a clear connection with its antipode, the ratio of the opposite condition. It is by this pair that the margin on the specific market can be calculated. This is done very simply manually, if anything, you can use the many calculators available online. It is enough to divide 100% by the proposed decimal coefficient, and we will get a certain number in percentage terms. This is an estimate of the probability of the chosen outcome according to the bookmaker, plus the very same margin. To be precise, in one particular odds we encounter only a part of the margin, because the total commission in this market is distributed between two opposite levers. It is impossible to know how it is distributed. Usually it is assumed to be 50/50 for simplicity, but it is not always true. However, this is a maze, and for the time being we should deal with the “edge”.
So, 100% divided by one coefficient and also 100% divided by the quote of the opposite condition. We have two numbers in percentages. If we add them up, we will always get more than 100%. Exactly this difference above – and it will be margin on a particular market. For example, the classic parity option: 1.90 to 1.90.
- 100% / 1.90 = 52.63%
- 52.63% + 52.63% = 105.26%
- The margin at this market is 5.26%.
The smaller the margin, the better for the player. When the commission is minimal, it will lead the bettor into minus quite slowly. If you competently find bets with overweight and apply advanced financial strategies, it is much easier to cover a small margin than a big one. So it is always, all other things being equal, the task of a professional bettor comes down to making a bet where this percentage, the commission of the office is minimal. So let’s find out regularities in order to choose such optimal bets, and avoid knowingly and strongly unprofitable bets.
Different Bookmaker’s Offices
An attentive player may have noticed that even for equally likely outcomes according to bookmakers, different bookmakers give different doubles, identical odds. Somewhere the odds are rather “cheap” 1.89 to 1.89 or even 1.88 to 1.88. Somewhere we can find the more reasonable odds: 1.90-1.90, 1.92-1.92. Some bookmakers give 1.95 to 1.95, or even up to 1.961 to 1.961. We do not have the task here to PR on the parameter of the minimum margin for some specific bookmaker companies. Those, who have been in the field for a long time, know exactly which betting companies we mean. And if you are a beginner, run through the listings of the highest-rated international and best Russian betting companies, and you will understand everything.
So, 1.89 to 1.89. What is the margin of such a pair?
- 100% / 1.89 = 52.91%
- 52.91% + 52.91% = 105.82%
It turns out that the commission is 5.82%. If you take the half taken by one leverage, it is about 2.91%.
A more moderate variant: 1.92 to 1.92 indicates a margin of 4.16% or 2.08 per shoulder. Well and a rare and perhaps extreme variant: 1.961 to 1.961 implies a 2% commission, 1% per side.
That is, choosing a bet from two equally likely in different bookmakers’ offices, you can get a difference of 1-2% on the level ground. It seems that on the scale of one iteration, this is nothing. However, at the distance, when you make hundreds of moves, it all adds up to huge amounts. Losing them just because you picked a greedy bookie is weird. So here’s one recommendation: among other parameters when choosing your pool of active bookmakers, you should pay attention to the margins. Just literally compare the quotes on the same markets (i.e. APL with APL, Champions League with Champions League, Bundesliga 3 with Bundesliga 3, not randomly different tournaments). All other things being equal, your priority should remain those BKs that aren’t too greedy, in terms of the commission built into the odds.
Pre-match and In-play
The next important aspect, in connection with which changes the size of the bookmaker’s margin is the point in time on the life of the line. The schedule for a particular sporting match appears on the bookmaker’s website either at different times before the start, from a few days to a few weeks. It is clear that the more popular the league, the more it is a “big market”, the earlier the line comes out. This is done in order to have time to accept more bets on the in-demand competition. On the contrary, all sorts of minor leagues can appear in a truncated version of the schedule 1-3 days in advance, and in a more detailed form only 1 day or even hours before the start of the event.
The entire lifespan of the line on the match lasts from the time of publication of its first version, and until the end, the last minutes of the game. That is, there is a division into two global stages: pre-match and in-play. So, even within these boundaries, there are changes in the amount of margin. To be more precise, it is noticeable increase in the live game. We literally conduct an experiment. We go to the pre-match line a few hours or minutes before the match, and write the odds for the main opposite events. For example, it could be “ТМ(2.5)” and “ТБ(2.5)”, and also a pair “П1 – Х2”. Calculate the margin on these markets. Then, after the start of the match open the live line, at least 5 minutes after the start of the event. Then we do the same thing, take the same markets, and calculate the margin. And we get an increase. In the random match we found, one of the popular Russian betting companies shows the following margin increase dynamics: “TM-TB” was 2.81% and in the live market it increased to 5.35%. On the market “P1-X2” was 4.68% and now it is 6.21%. And approximately the same picture is observed in all the contenders. The difference will only be in the percentage.
The conclusion from this is very simple. If you have the possibility to make a bet in pre-match and live betting doesn’t give you any advantage, then you should do it. There’s no point in waiting for you to just get a higher commission. On the other hand, of course, there are dozens of gaming strategies specifically for the live mode. Yes, you have to use them, despite the increased margin. And this is normal because the live strategies have a special algorithm, designed to give the bettor those advantages, the possibility to play such odds, which were not available before the match. For example, this applies to growing markets. If before the game a playable quotation over 1.50 could be taken only for a total over 2.5, in play, waiting, the same figure can be caught for TB(2) or even TB(1.5). Well, it is obvious that this one goal very often becomes the difference between winning and losing, profit and loss. Increased margin is not a reason to abandon the live game completely. You just have to make working in this mode justifiable. It cannot replace or simply duplicate the home bets, there must be a reason to play in the course of the meeting. It remains to recommend comparing the live lines in different bookmakers’ offices on the leagues and tournaments you usually bet on. Couple or three of such observations, and you’ll understand who is more greedy in terms of live margin, and who is more modest in this regard. Choose the latter sites accordingly.
Bookmaker margins differ in the lines for different championships and events. We have already mentioned the “big” and “small” markets, this is just about them. Popular tournaments, major leagues, top international matches, which gather the maximum audience of fans and betting players, are accompanied by minimal margins. This is done for competitive reasons. No matter how blind the “herd” of ordinary people are in general, even they will not want to bet at deliberately low odds. So that the office, which will moderate their appetite, will attract more players due to lower margins, will be able to earn more, due to turnover.
“Small” markets are not that competitive, very few people bet on those minor leagues and unpopular tournaments, so the margin is usually much higher there. Another reason for such overpricing is professional players. They very often delve exactly into “smolmarkets”, in this context, minor leagues. Usually, these pros dig deeper than BC analysts. Those put out quotes mainly on the basis of bare statistics. Experienced players are more guided by local factors, lineups, news from the local press, team tweets, analysis of the provincial local sports media. This makes it possible to find serious discrepancies in the probability estimates with the bookmaker, the so-called favorable, valuables odds. In this situation, on the one hand, the bookmaker insures itself with an increased margin. On the other hand, the players themselves continue to work in such leagues, because it is realistic to cover this commission anyway. In popular leagues, such distortions and errors are extremely rare.
So it’s up to you to choose your direction. If you don’t know any of the minor leagues, they are the same for you as the major leagues, or even less familiar, then of course you should work with bigmarkets. If you have a plan, a system for gathering information on some minor leagues, then it makes sense to ignore the inflated margins and turn your focus there.
The “Big” and “Small” Markets Within an Event
The concepts of “big-market” and “small-market” don’t just apply to championships and games in general. Even within a single game, no matter what level it itself is, there are large and small markets. For example, the main outcomes wins, total totals, in general, everything that is usually put in the main part of the description – these are “bigmarkets”. Various additional conditions on handicaps, totals, goals are the middle markets. And all sorts of bets on statistics: corners, offside, yellow cards, the performance of individual players – it’s “smolmarkets”.
Here works the same principles as in the selection of leagues. If you are an amateur, playing on basic outcomes and totals, then you should not get into the maze of medium and small markets. There you will not have any advantages, but the margin will be higher. Well, on the contrary, if you can find a skew in the small markets, you will have to put up with the higher commission, but work with the types of bets where there is your critical advantage in understanding the game.
Different Values Within the Same Market
But the difference in margin doesn’t end at the above points either. This commission varies even within the same market, under different conditions. For example, in a block of bets on total totals, on the main pair, the closest to 50/50 values, the margin will always be lower than on other values. The same applies to the handicap block.
Let’s take one popular BK for illustration and compare the margins on totals. Let’s assume the base boundary total in a random soccer mat: TB(2.5) – 2.06, TM(2.5) – 1.85. Well and take some other pair of totals: TB(1.5) – 1.33, TM(1.5) – 3.20.
Well, we see that in the first case the margin is 2.6%, and in the second case it is 6.44%. Not a bad difference. So when dealing with non-standard values of totals, foro and other markets with a lot of variants of conditions, be aware of such margin increase. Somewhere it is justified, somewhere it is worth playing with more classic values with smaller margins. Somewhere it is appropriate to wait for even higher commission, but also catch a higher odds in play if you’re talking about a market that grows over time.
Margin Changes Over Time
In addition to the rough division into pre-match and live, betting commission varies and simply over time. This is especially true for the longer pre-match period. Here on the earliest version of the spread, the margin is usually slightly higher. This is due to the fact that it is the output line that professional players run into, taking favorable in their opinion odds. This way the line acquires a more correct configuration. Even if small, but the pro-loads organized by the pro players allow the office to optimize the spread by the time the main mass of betting fans pulls up. Thus, involuntarily, the two opposing camps, the bookmaker and the pro players act together. Well, to make sure the counterparties did not get rich at this stage, the betting shops supply the very first versions of the line with increased margin. Then, as the mass player influx, it is necessary to compete with other betting shops for turnover. So that’s where the minimum margin will be. Well, in play, when there is usually no time to calculate, it is also raised, as mentioned above.
You have to be flexible here. Of course, it is more profitable to play the early version of the playlist. So it is extremely useful to monitor this stage. If there are no clear profitable options, then there is no need to rush. What caught your eye out of moderately playable, you can play closer to the match, when the margin drops a little, or there is a prediction on the opinion of the crowd, the understanding that the overload will play to your advantage. Then they don’t hurry either, they wait for more favorable quotes.