Comparing Sports betting firms is not as complex as it may appear at first glance. While the various sign up bonuses and free bet offers may be tempting, and the promise of enhanced odds or money back offers seem to suggest good betting value, is the real test of a bookmaker a much more simple check?

sports betting comparisonThere is a whole stream of promotional material for each and every sports betting firm, and customers looking at opening a new account could easily get caught up in the promise of ‘enhanced prices’ and short term free bet offers and the like, but the real long term test of any bookmaker is to see what margins they operate within – ultimately, it is this which will have the biggest impact on whether a customer can be profitable long term or not.

What is the margin?

The margin that a Sports Betting firm operate with is the additional percentage that they add to the ‘book’, on top of the true probabilities of all the possible outcomes. That sentence may not be immediately clear, so here is an example – a coin toss.

Assuming all things are equal, and there is no foul play or outside influences, a coin toss will see heads come up 50% and tails the other 50%. So the “true odds” of both outcomes is even money, or 2.0 in decimal odds. Any Sports betting firm offering those odds will make zero profit – the money they take on the losing bets, they return on the winning ones (assuming stakes were equal on both). So their odds will total more than 100% – and the additional percentage will be their margin. This is also referred to as the ‘over-round‘ or edge, and this is how bookmakers stay in business.

So one firm may offer 10/11 (1.91) on each outcome (heads or tails). This suggests a likelihood of 52% for each outcome. This would mean a total of 104% once all possible outcomes are considered. This 4% on top of the true odds is the bookmaker’s margin and expected profit. It is this margin that allows the most important sports betting comparison for punters looking to take their betting seriously and make long term profit. A rival firm offering 20/21 (1.95) on heads or tails would have a margin of 2%, and the firm going 4/5 (1.8) have a margin of 10%.

Those closing examples of price differences are an accurate reflection of the difference in margins between rival sports betting firms in the real world. The differences are significant. It is also worth noting than none of the above prices offer any value, but then you knew that…

Which Sports Betting firms offer the lowest margins?

Pinnacle Best odds Premier LeaguePinnacle operate with margins around 2 to 2.5% depending on the market. That is considerably smaller than any rival firm. This is why Pinnacle are best price more often than not. There is no gimmickry with Pinnacle, they simply offer the lowest margins and the best prices. They are also one of very few firms who will not stop or limit profitable players. They are the smart choice for punters aspiring to maximise betting returns over the long haul.

Betfair operate with a different model to traditional bookmakers, being an exchange. Their exchange odds generally have a margin of 1 or 2% at most – but there is commission to pay on top. Regular customers can reduce that commission but it needs to be considered when comparing sports betting firms and it therefore means Betfair come in a close second where margins are concerned. One advantage of the exchanges is the ability to trade however, and that ability to easily lay selections can be crucial for some customers.

So both Pinnacle and Betfair offer customers the best opportunity to make a profit from their betting. Neither go for eye catching bonuses are short term offers as both realise that over time, customers will seek out the firms who are best price most often – and that will be the Sports Betting firms operating with the lowest margins.

Join Pinnacle here.

Join Betfair here.