Using TradeMate tool I noticed descriptions like Sharp and Soft bookmakers, which I was familiar with but actually never used on a daily basis. I would like to explain a bit in more details who are them. Also, will add two new categories from myself: “Mickey Mouse” and local bookmakers.
Sharp bookmakers. Quickest answer – bookmakers who are not limiting customers, accepting biggest bets on the market. Sharps release odds later than soft bookmakers.
Why they do it? Sharp bookmakers operate on high volume. They are happy to take billions and make 1-2% from overall turnover. Margin applied for games always will be lowest (1.5-2.5%) on the market hence you will see highest odds on sharp bookmakers. As we have bookmakers called sharp, we have customers called sharp. Sharp customers are always welcome at sharp bookmakers because they help them to set correct odds. Sharp bookmakers have own calculations of the odds, but of course, they do not have knowledge of every league in the world, that’s why they need help from aside – sharp customers. Once odds are dropping at sharp bookmakers be sure that someone placed big enough bet to move the odds. Not 200 or 300, but thousands. It doesn’t mean the game is fixed for sure, it means that some sharp customer found an edge against the lines set by bookmakers. Even he might lose this specific bet, in the long run, sharp customer will be a winner.
Fair to say that sharp bookmakers have the most correct odds on the market and you will never find sharp bookmaker sleeping and not updating odds within seconds. Once sharp bookies start dropping odds the rest is following. Once you see the price dropping at sharps – you can try luck to take better odds at sleeping soft bookmakers and locals. In the long run, soft bookies will not tolerate such behavior from you and your account will be limited. But enjoy while it lasts. At the same time, I am not suggesting that this is the best way to make money. Not every drop is a sure win. I have seen craziest drops which never resulted in a profit. You need to have some knowledge why odds are dropping and which leagues you should avoid. But about it next time. Maybe…
Sharp bookmakers are Pinnacle, Sbobet, IBC, ISN. All of them you can find on Sportmarket platform. One account, all sharps in one place. Can’t ask for more.
If you can make money in the long run at Sharp bookmakers, I salute you! You are good. Not lucky, not a gambler – but sharp guy. You are one in 100 betting people who are winning in sharps. Well done!
Soft bookmakers. Well known and lesser known European bookmakers are usually called soft. Soft bookies operate on higher margin and lower volume. They are happy to turnover millions/hundreds of millions and make 7+%. To make 5% or less would mean disaster for a soft bookie. They will accept much lower stakes on all games and limit winning customers. Softs will release prices earlier than sharps. Usually, most prices are from the same feed, so more or less prices will be similar at most soft bookies. Once sharps release prices, odds will be moving closer to sharp prices. It takes 10-15 minutes and it is possible to catch some good bets. But again you need to know if the initial price was wrong hence the move.
Like I mentioned all soft bookies are connected with similar feeds – once price moves others follow. There is one big player in soft bookies gang and obviously, it is bet365. No matter what is the opening price for let’s say a Slovakian football game, once bet365 release their price – others will update according to bet365. So, others don’t even try to hire compilers. Why? Anyway price will be set by bet365. So if the guy at bet365 have no idea about some low-level football league and just price up game according to stats, you have an advantage – if you know this league better. This is your chance.
A lot of times you will see the same odds on different websites. It is because the skin (website layout) is different but feed provider is the same.
10bet, betrally, comeon, sekabet – the same SBTech feed. Kambi is providing odds for Unibet, 888sport, 32redbet, leovegas and so on.
There is a group of British bookmakers – William Hill, Ladbrokes, Skybet, Betvictor, Betfred, Coral. William Hill I rate as a quite solid soft bookmaker. Others will limit you in seconds, especially if you are coming from Eastern Europe/Balkans.
Irish Paddy Power is another old school bookmaker. I do not consider it usable for higher than 50 stakes, but they have my respect as long working bookmaker. Not the one who opened 2 years ago using feeds only.
Is it easier to make money on soft bookmakers? Yes, no doubt. Even with worse odds and higher margins you have more opportunities.
Biggest problem – limited and closed accounts. Soft bookies do not like winners and deal with them accordingly and quick.
“Mickey Mouse” (MM) bookmakers. It is my term for no name bookmakers who will limit, close accounts after 2 bets. And you will have a hell of a problem even to receive your money back. They are so scared to have a customer who can win 300 that would rather close account than let customer play a bit.
Once you win few hundred and try to make a withdrawal, be ready to provide pictures of yourself holding passport next to your face and 2-3 bills. Can’t stand such pricks! The customer should never feel like he is a prisoner.
MM bookmakers will charge you for deposits and withdrawals, trying to reduce their expenses. Check their Terms and Conditions in advance. Normal bookies will never charge you for deposit/withdrawal via Skrill/Neteller.
If you are just testing new MM bookmaker, do not transfer big amount. Just transfer money for one bet. Because you could be limited straight away, and once you ask for withdrawal you might need to rollover your stake to have free withdrawal. It is not easy, once you are limited to 2 euros stake.
Be aware that some of MM’s will have “specific” terms and conditions like this (read lines marked in red):
To be honest just was shown this few days ago. Never seen something similar. Are they joking? 7-folds only? Yeah, right.
MM bookmakers (they shouldn’t even be called bookmakers) – use only automatic feed and do not even bother to create something valuable: players cards, corners, points or any other specials which require some knowledge.
From my experience, I would class as MM’s: titanbet, vulkabet, slbet, winners, olybet, betcity, vbet. Be aware, of new names appearing on oddsportal too.
Resume: do not touch them with a bargepole. Not worth the hassle.
Locals. Most European countries have locals – shops. Cashiers do not care what they accept, have no clue about betting (in the UK could be a bit different picture). They are just paid to take the money and print the ticket. Easy.
Some UK locals started to install machines where you can print ticket yourself with decent limits. Even better.
Locals are usually the last to update the odds and you can find good value here (if you live next door).
If you can make money from locals, do not think that you are sharp. You are just playing not in your league. Anyone can beat local. Nearly anyone. Nevertheless, if you can make a quid or two, why not? Every little helps. It could be your start to build your bankroll and later enter higher league – softs first and sharps in the end.
If you can’t make money in locals – stop right now. Betting is not for you.