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How to choose a bookmaker

There is a cold hard truth that needs to be recognised when entering sports betting. Bookmakers are out to make money. They aren’t there to do you any favours, they are there for you to try and beat because they aren’t just going to give money out left right and centre. So entering sports betting you want to find a good bookmaker, preferably one of the best bookmakers around because this will enhance your own experience of online betting and it all starts with market value. Here are some pointers to look for in how to choose a good bookmaker.

We only recommend bookmakers that live up to the highest standards of quality

Bookmaker Margins

Here we are again at bookmaker margins, the juice, the vigorish which bookmakers use to make profit. It’s is hard to find information on bookmakers sites about what margin they are running at. Not only that, there will be different margins running on different sports. In the Betting Odds Explained article in the betting school, we spoke about recognising margins and how bookmakers make their profit. With that you can calculate the margins that a market is running at yourself. When looking for a good bookmaker, you want to find the lowest bookmaker margins, because that means the operator is taking less profit from a market. If one bookmaker is running at 111% and another at 105% then go with the latter. Do your homework.

Customer service

Something which gets overlooked, but something which should be one of the main factors first looked at, is a bookmaker’s customer service offering and reputation. Try to find a bookmaker which operates customer service 24/7 because you may be up in the middle of the night betting and have a question that you want answered or an issue resolved for which you don’t want to wait until the next morning to sort out. Contact methods, withdrawal and deposit methods and fees, account management; these should all be taken into consideration when shopping around.

Welcome bonus

The famed welcome bonus of online betting. These can be fantastic but don’t get blinded by a great offer because that is not the basis of your regular betting experience that you will be looking for. You will need to check out the conditions of a welcome bonus because you may need to play through the free bet and the winnings two or three times before you can cash any of it out. The welcome bonuses are there to be enjoyed as they are free, but at the end of the day, value in the regular sports book is far more important.

Features and Market Value

There are stand out names in the sports betting world when it comes to market value, as you will generally find the bigger players like William Hill, Ladbrokes Betfair and Bet365 leading market prices. The more industry-leading prices that your bookmakers put out on your favoured sport, the more you can potentially profit down the line. But the beauty of online betting is that you can have an account with several bookmakers at once and then use an odds-matching tool (or by manually browsing) to see who has the best odds on a market that you are looking at.

Online bookmakers are jam packed with features like live in-play betting, asian handicap betting, cash out options, live streams, results services and promotions. These are all wonderful additions. Paddy Power for example are huge exponents of Money Back Special offers and are always rolling out new ones. Bet365 in contrast offer long-term value through their standing, permanent promotions like 100% acca win bonuses on football betting and 0-0 bore draw insurance on all matches. It’s a good balance, but any time that you can grab insurance on a market that you were going to bet on anyway, then do so. Getting a lost stake refunded can cushion the blow of losing a bet.


Without doubt, you are going to be spending most of your time in the sportsbook of a bookmaker. Ask yourself a few questions like how does the sportsbook operate, is it easy to navigate and find markets? Is there good market and bet type variety? Is the betting slip easy to handle? Is it easy to build multiple bets? Are the odds presentations easy to read? Finding a site that is easy to navigate and looks good on the eye, while not important when it comes to value, is always more enjoyable to be looking around an aesthetically pleasing site. The sportsbook is the crux of everything. Get this right and the rest is gravy.