Avoiding Bookmaker Limits and Staying Under the Radar

You have finally sorted out your strategy and you’ve started to make profits, but then your bookmaker accounts are being closed or severely limited, one by one. Sounds familiar?

Unfortunately, this is everyday life for many sharp bettors.

The bookmakers have become more and more aggressive when it comes to limiting customers over the past few years and it’s not rare to hear of customers being limited after just a few bets.

This creates big challenges as a bettor and often it can feel like you spend more time on getting your money placed than the actual analysis. That’s why it’s important to know how you can stay under the radar and prolong your life at the bookmaker.

As I’ve worked with bookmakers for many years, I’ve limited thousands of customers myself. In this article I’ll try and explain the methods used by the bookies and give some advice on how to get around the limits.

The betting pattern is crucial

All bookmakers have different methods, but it’s my impression that most bookmakers use automatic generated lists, followed by a manual review.

This means a manager will generate a list with customers from the system and forward it to an odds-compiler, who will review the customers individually.

The compiler doesn’t care much about the profits of the customer. It’s all about the betting pattern. First of all, it will be determined if the customer bets on singles or combos. This is because the compiler can move on to the next customer in case all coupons contain 8 different matches, as it’s a strong indicator of the customer being a fish.

If the customer bets on singles, the compiler will look at which type of bet-group and which league. Obviously there’s bigger risk, if a customer only bets on English Conference than if they bet on the Premier League.

Afterwards, the compiler will compare the the odds taken by the customer to the closing odds. If the customer always bets at odds higher than closing odds, it’s considered a strong indicator of the customer being sharp.

When the compiler has gathered enough information, it’s time for classifying the customer and assigning a category/limit. It can both be higher or lower, but is always based on a percentage of the original limit. This is also the reason some customers experience odd maximum stakes, like 3,87 euro.

The odds-compiler has to go through quite a few customers on a weekly basis and it can often become a bit of a sluggish task. The customers can take advantage of this, so here’s the best advice on how to avoid the limits:

1) Avoid errors in odds

To take advantage of errors is often the quickest way to limitation. I’m not talking about traditional valuebets, where you disagree with the bookmaker on the odds, but about taking advantage of obvious errors.

For example, it happens that the bookmaker swaps around the odds, makes a wrong handicap or has a wrong starting time of a match. If the market has a 2,5 O/U line for Manchester United – Chelsea and your bookmaker offers 3,5 with similar odds, it’s an obvious error.

It’s important to use common sense, as the line between errors and traditional valuebets can be very fine in some cases.

If you decide to take advantage of errors after all, it’s important to wait until just before kick off. This decreases the risk of the bookmaker finding out.

2) Use combos and systems

Sharp customers usually only deal with singles, which means the bookmaker has less focus on betting patterns involving combos and systems.

That makes it important to combine your singles as often as possible. Of course, it can be difficult to find two valuebets at the same bookmaker simultaneously, but when the opportunity arises, you should take it instead of placing them as singles.

Alternatively, you can start your day by finding 1-3 bets with 0-value (or even where you lose a percent or two). You can use these bets to combine with the valuebets you find throughout the day and even if you lose a percent or two on the 0-bets, it will prolong the life of your bookmaker account, which is worth more in the long run.

3) Carefully pick your bets

Since a lot of the classification of customers are based on closing odds, it’s best to pick out bets that are hard to find closing odds on.

It’s incredibly easy for the odds-compiler to see if you’re sharp or not, if you’re only placing bets on 1X2 or O/U. It takes just a few seconds to look up the match and check the closing odds.

But if you pick the alternative bet-groups, it makes life a lot harder for the odds-compiler. Instead of betting on the home team, you could instead use “1st team to score”, “double chance” or “number of goals by home team”. Since these bet-groups are automatically generated from 1X2 and O/U-odds, they often also contain value provided the home team odds does.

The same applies to live bets. It’s not possible for the odds-compiler to know what the odds “should have been” at the time the customer placed the bet. This gives you an advantage.

4) Watch out for your stakes

If you only bet high stakes, there’s a higher risk of you being checked carefully. Instead, stick with stakes that fall into a leisure-category (100-200 euro), which will make you fly for longer.

It’s also best to stay off flatbetting (betting the same amount every time). This kind of behaviour often applies to people that has read up on money management, which indicates the customer is not a fish.

5) For the love of god, avoid manual review

I’ve always taken this as granted, but I’ve been surprised of how many customers send their stakes to manual review.

Manual review is a term for when you try to bet over the maximum and the rest of your stake is being sent to review by the bookmaker.

An odds-compiler is going through everything being sent through manual review and if your bet looks sharp (oddsmoves, syndicate or similar), your username will be noted down and checked at the first opportunity.

You also do a service to the bookmaker by sending your bet through manual review, as you make them aware of a valuebet, which results in them changing the odds. This ruins the odds for everyone else and is especially a problem when it’s a service sending out picks to a lot of people.

Some bookmakers get a notification every time a customer bets the maximum amount without sending anything to manual review. I recommend you to bet 10 euro under the maximum in order not to cause a stir.

There’s always a way

Despite some improvements in recent years (minimum stakes in Australia for example), elimination of limits are a long way off. If you’re serious about your betting, you’re going to have problems getting your money down at some point.

That being said, there’s always a way. Nowadays many countries have access to offline shops, where you can place your money anonymously (a list of offline shops in each country is on it’s way).

There’s also new bookmakers entering the market all the time, which is able to supply a steady stream of accounts without limits. And if you’re willing to take the risk, there’s always the option of opening an account in your mates name.

However, the best way is to be profitable at Betfair, Pinnacle or one of the Asian bookies. That would mean you don’t have to deal with all this hassle of avoiding limits.

Question: Have you had any problems with limits?


This piece originally aired in Danish on BetXpert (“Sådan undgår du bookmakernes limits”).

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