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Bookmaker Limits

Bookmaker limits are the means by which sportsbooks will restrict and reduce either the maximum bet you can place or the maximum winnings you can take for any bets you make across the board. Generally speaking, a number of things need to take place on your account for this to happen although some bookmakers require nothing in particular to happen at all. Bookmakers deal with players who appear high risk to them in a number of ways. Some close accounts and tender immediate payouts. Others gradually or directly limit your stakes or winnings to fixed amounts.

Being limited by bookmakers can stagnate profit potential when arbing because it can prevent you from being able to place higher bets which generate higher yields for you. On this topic, we should start by pointing out that bookmaker limitation is in a lot of cases completely unavoidable. You probably won't be arbing for much longer than a few weeks before you begin to encounter your first bookmakers starting to apply their first limits to you.

A lot of sources which discuss sports arbitrage betting will suggest that after a while bookmakers across the board will limit you, crippling any potential you have for reasonable gains and the whole process will become less fruitless and no longer worth your time.

This is only half true.

Now, bookmaking websites will near on always catch on to your activity as an arber, or someone who may be a professional. When they do, it's possible that they limit you at that stage. However to suggest that because some bookies have limited you spells the end of arbitrage career profits for you is simply not true.

Their limits only hold you back from placing worthwhile arbs with them. And for every bookmaker that imposes limits early on, or who imposes harsh or early limits, there are others that simply do not. Being limited isn't something to be feared. It is nowhere near the end of the world that some have claimed it to be. In fact on quite the contrary viewpoint, being issued your first limits at a bookmaker is a sign you are maturing as an arbitrage trader. Furthermore, once limited, a loose analysis of your experiences will colour a guide for you on how to conduct your affairs with bookmakers in the future.

And why even limit yourself to playing only with bookmaker sites in the first place?

More on this below...

Operating Under the Bookmaker Radar (Avoiding Bookmaker Limits)

In this article we discuss methods and techniques intended to help you operate under the radar of by appearing less like a sharp, and much more like a casual player.

To do this, we'll be using some industry terms to talk about the different kinds of players bookmakers would expect to bet with them, and how they identify those players.

A 'sharp' is a bettor who, simply put, knows what he or she is doing. Sharps play in a characteristically professional manner. They know who to bet on, when to bet and how to bet and are very precise and direct in their approach. Sharps are also those who might be using a guaranteed formula (like arbitrage) to ensure overall profits. These are the high rollers and pros of sports betting. An arber is a form of a sharp.

A 'mug' by contrast is a term that refers to a non-professional gambler who poses little threat to bookmakers. A typical mug is the kind who places the occasional or regular punt in hopes of cashing in a few wins every now and then. They are not professional, they use no formula. They more or less play for the fun of it.

Bookmakers will hardline sharps with limits to protect their business interests and generally perceive arbers as a threat to their profit margins. There is very little hope for appeal or contacting them to convince otherwise once they've decided to impose limits upon you.

So put bluntly, once any particular bookmaker decides to limit you, it's pretty much a done deal. Practically irreversible. As such, our suggested strategies work with how you deal with your bookies early on, from your initial deposit onwards as you use arbitrage strategies. The suggestions below form part of a strategy which is designed to at extend your relationship with a bookmaker in the time before they might limit you.

Amongst these tips, some of them are optional. Others are unquestionably mandatory, and essential knowledge. All of it is absolutely guaranteed reading. So let's get stuck in:

Introductory Tip: Use Betting Exchanges

Before we go in to detail on how to be elate our best bookmakers and convince them we'll be of great value to them, I want to make a strong point of how incredible betting exchanges are to an arbitrage trader.

A betting exchange is a site where punters, independent bookmakers and all sorts converge to make and offer bets on sporting events. They work like a kind of like eBay but for betting, and they function exactly the same to you as a bookmaker site.

They are brilliant for any arber honestly, and I could not speak more highly of them if I tried. They are like an odds comparison service and a bookmaker in a nice, neat concise little package. Furthermore, they don't limit your account at all. No closed accounts, either. No worry about being detected as a practising arber at all! Every tip we give you below doesn't even apply to them. Betting exchanges will across the board also tell you exactly how much you will be allowed to bet before you try to place the bet. Which is needless to say, extremely useful!

Why restrict your lines of profit to just bookmakers? Diversity is key as it allows you the greatest potential to find the best odds available to you.

Here is our list of the best sports betting exchanges available on the internet:

  • Betfair - the world's largest Internet betting exchange.
  • Ladbrokes - Ladbrokes has an Exchange aside from their own sportsbook and it's one of the widest used there is.
  • Smarkets - Smarkets founded in 2008 and boasts the lowest market commission at 2%.
  • Matchbook - The largest American sports betting exchange community with focus on offering value back to its customers.
  • BetDAQ - UK only, but one of the most popular and coveted online sports exchange communities.
  • MyBet - sportsbook and online betting exchange catering for a Euro market.
  • RedBet - since 2004, catering for a Euro market and one of the best.

Bettng Exchange details provided live by SureBetBookies - the only arbitrage traders database.

Get acquainted with whatever sports betting exchange you can. Love them. They are a golden secret weapon in your sports arbitrage betting arsenal.

1. Always round your stakes

The simplest and most straightforward of them all… It’s no secret and should be one of the first things you learn. Put simply, betting awkward amounts like 53.44 makes it pretty apparent you are using some kind of mathematical formula to determine your stake amounts and are thus a sharp.

Bet even amounts rounded to the nearest five ten or hundred. The amount you round by should be consistent with the kind of amounts you typically place so if you normally bet a few hundred, round to tens or hundreds. Most arbitrage calculators can do this for you. If yours doesn’t, it’s time to get a new one!

2. Avoid Palps and obvious bookmaker errors

Palps are errors bookmakers have made while setting their odds. Every bookmaker has a term in their rules that states they have the right to cancel bets where they’ve made an error in setting their odds.

The consequences of betting on palps can be quite harsh for an arber. So if you place an arb successfully and a bookmaker invokes the palpable error rule, they cancel one side of your bet leaving you with an effective open, free-standing legitimate bet (as opposed to an arb). If you are notified of this in time, you then need to find another bookmaker to cover the other side of the arb to minimise your potential losses.

Regarding limitation, a bookmaker that notices you were the kind of hawk to come swooping in at a delicate moment for them to exploit their (obvious or not) error may perceive you as a threat and limit you for it.
Betting on palps where a bookmaker has made a doubtlessly obvious error like posting odds of 21.40 instead of 2.14 is a surefire way to get limited on the spot.

We have detailed article on identifying palps and avoiding palpable errors available here and it's definitely worth a read. Know how to identify the four most prominent kinds of palps and you'll know how to best avoid this situation.

The more dangerous kinds of palps can be avoided at large by riding the 3% arbitrage profit line.

3. Ride the 3% arbitrage profit line

Arbs that have a return of around 3% are certainly safest and best all round. Any arb with a yield above 3% should instantly arouse suspicion of there being a palpable bookmaker error involved and should automatically be considered to entail higher risk.

3% is happily, a pretty decent return and enough to make it worth your time. Arbs at 3% also hover closer to the line of being average market odds, so betting on them mainly will work in your favour to casually obscure the fact you’re an arber/sharp.

Until you are very confident with the bookmakers involved in an arb, we recommend hovering at around arbs with a 3% return.

4. Load your deposits steadily and in small amounts

Simply put, don't make your deposits intimidatingly large early on. Much like walking in to a casino with a ridiculous amount of money and placing ten grand on red at the Roulette table, you will get noticed!

So deposit as little as possible up front and early on, enough to redeem your bonus and maybe a little extra but don't go too overboard. Once you have done this, assume an approach of loading only enough money to cover yourself for a few bets a time. Smaller deposits work best while arbing by insuring that too much of your funds don't get locked up with one bookmaker instead of having a fairly even spread.

Happily, most bookmakers will cover the credit you the cost of credit card transfer fees if you deposit above a certain amount. If you are using an e-wallet, it's a good idea to check SureBetBookies for the applicable Skrill and Neteller deposit fee of any sportsbooks you are using to make sure. Most are free, but make sure you'll be in the clear to do this.

If on the odd chance you are arbing and do not have an e-wallet, are you mad!?
Follow this link to go and get set up with Skrill and Neteller. The amount of money you'll save on transfer fees is pretty exorbitant!

  • 97% of active bookmakers that accept Skrill support absolutely free deposits.
  • 94% of active bookmakers that accept Neteller support absolutely free deposits.

Bookmaker deposit information provided live by SureBetBookies - the only arbitrage traders database.

5. Handle the first withdrawal delicately, and for a small amount well below the maximum allowed

First, check SureBetBookies for the maximum withdrawal the bookmaker allows for your e-wallet. Make sure that, whatever the amount you request from your balance for your first withdrawal is, it should be way under the maximum. Your first withdrawal should also (ideally at least) not clean out your entire account. So keep playing your returns until you have a decent amount there if you can, and your first withdrawal should be for a relatively low amount.

Having your first withdrawal processed delicately is perhaps the most important to handle under the radar as it often involves going through all your security and identification checks. Manual checks every time... So if it is for an amount like £10k+ you are pretty much assured to get noticed! They'll see you are a big spender, and even though they actually really like big spenders, it's a risk to have them around unchecked.

So keep the first withdrawal for an amount not too large so as to not rattle the bookmaker too much.

6. Don't withdraw immediately after bets are settled

Money a bookmaker holds for you is money they see you likely as still yet to play with them. Playing your winnings through again is okay, but leave a modest buffer of time between settlement of your most recent win and a cashout request.

Bookies will consider a withdrawal request made immediately after settlement is characteristic of a sharp, at least as far as bookies are concerned. A true punter throws in a few here or there, and sometimes gets lucky but he probably has more important things to do and a life outside of following his sportsbook payouts live. A professional, obviously does this stuff professionally so it stands to reason that he might be around to do this kind of thing.

7. Don't withdraw immediately after fulfilling bonus rollover requirements

The above tip applies again here. Bookies obviously offer these bonuses in the form of free money to incentivise and encourage playing with them. If you exploit a bonus then try to disappear on them, bookies will get disgruntled at having perceivably just given money away. They're quite needy in this respect.

Bookies are mostly okay with paying out players. They realise of course that payouts for players are a necessary part of their business. All things considered, they'd still assuredly prefer in an ideal world to keep all the money, so this is an understandable position to hold... (I know it's the position I'd hold!)

So leave a buffer of a couple wagers and a fair enough length of time between fulfilling your bonus requirements and withdrawing if you can.

8. Have a static IP and use it at all times, avoid logging in from your mate's place

Mainly to prevent those who might seek to claim free sign-up bonus money endlessly, bookies near on universally have a rule in their terms and conditions which states that only one account is allowed per household, per IP address.

An IP address is a unique number tied to your internet connection that websites use to identify you. Your IP address is assigned to your connection each time your modem connects to the internet. A player who doesn't have a what is known as a "static IP" will identify itself with a different address every time you connect. Bookmakers are of course, aware at large that some people have IP addresses that change all the time but others can be confused or thrown off by it.

It is not unheard of in such situations that in particularly bad cases of this type of confusion, they may refuse to honour bonuses or in much rarer cases they may start to pose issues to paying you out promptly.

We are currently exploring VPN solutions to recommend for travelling traders and for traders who wish to protect their IP, and to appear to have a connection that identifies itself as always originating from any selected country or location. Stay tuned for more details on this later.

9. Never - but NEVER bet on the Russian Premier League.

For a couple reasons, doing this seems to be akin to writing a lengthy and needy letter to bookmakers, begging them to desperately have your accounts limited.

On that note, make a habit of avoiding obscure markets. A slight does of xenophobia will of serve you well. So if you can't assuredly correctly pronounce names of the teams you're going to bet on, or the average person from your part the world is unlikely to be able to pronounce the names of the teams you are going to bet on, then the chances that bookies will detect you as either potentially a sharp (or in the worst case, plain dodgy) are exponential. Reconsider placing that bet.

Additional note: The rule against betting on Russian Premier League also applies even if you are Russian, of course! And perhaps even moreso!

This is most certainly because sportsbooks are aware that there have been matchfixing problems with certain particular leagues in the past, and even though they offer lines for these markets they are generally unfamiliar with them across the board so it's really in their best interests to protect themselves from bets that are too risky for them to take on.

And finally, we arrive at our last tip...

10. Bet like a mug between arbs to obscure your arbitrage history

This is perhaps the least important of all tips and relies heavily on anecdotal claims from those who say it's a good idea, however betting for low gains can also be very useful for fulfilling bonus rollover requirements or clearing out/moving funds from a bookmaker when you need to.

It's usually pretty easy for a sportsbook to identify an arber just with a quick glance over a player's betting history:

  • An arber will almost always bet on odds that are lowered soon thereafter (above market odds).
  • An arber will always bet single bets constantly (an arb is a single bet to one bookmaker) instead of having a few on the same slip, like most punters would.
  • An arber will almost always bet a few hundred or more at at time.

These are, of course, sweeping generalisations but pretty much apply across the board.

And these reasons are a few of the larger reasons that limitation is certain...

So one suggested approach to address this is to attempt to obscure the fact that you are an arber, by mixing in arbing with betting in such a way that breaks these rules.

Of course you shouldn't just straight bet your money (unless it's for really small amounts) though the occasional 0% profit arb, or even an arb which generates a microscopically small loss, on a game that's happening the today or otherwise really soon (so you can get your money back as soon as possible) may give you an edge in appearing to be a more or less regular punter should a bookie analyse your betting history.

Betting for low gains can also be very useful for fulfilling bonus rollover requirements or clearing out/moving funds from a bookmaker when you need to.

Questions? Comments? Feedback?

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