Everything you need to know about Advantage Gambling
We all know the majority of the online players lose money from casinos and sports betting in the long run. The reasons are obvious – the gambling operators have a predefined edge. The average user simply can’t beat it to make money. In this guide I will be talking about Advantage Gambling including estimated value theory.
However, it’s not impossible to be profitable. You have to rely on the so-called “advantage gambling” or “advantage play”. This is an approach that relies on mathematics and positive expected value. It allows you to find spots where you turn the tables and actually have the edge against the casino or the bookie. It’s not easy, but it’s doable. I will show you how to achieve advantage gambling in this post.
Advantage Betting In Sports
Let’s start with sports betting. Before I discuss specific advantage gambling strategies, let’s see how the bookies actually make money.
Bookie odds and betting margin
The first thing you need to learn is how the sportsbooks determine the odds they offer. The process may slightly vary in the different bookies, but the fundamentals are the same.
For a start, each operator has an army of traders that work with all the data you can imagine, as well as the best tools for analysis out there. They come up with the mathematical probabilities for each game based on processing the information they have. I would say the bookies are pretty good in this and it’s close to impossible to find a better way to evaluate any event they offer.
So, they now have a pretty good idea what to expect. It’s time to add the next factor – the cash projections. Simply put, the sportsbooks want the money of the punters to be spread in such a way that they have similar profit whatever happens.
The easiest way to achieve that is to skew the odds based on their cash projections. This means offering a better price for outcomes where fewer players are expected to bet and vice versa. Once the odds are live, they follow the distribution of the bets and act accordingly.
The betting margin
There is one final step that actually makes it so hard to beat the bookies. After all is set and done with the odds, they actually add an additional margin which guarantees their profits. It varies between 2-3% and 10% depending on the sportsbook and the event.
The easiest way to see how the betting margin works would be to take a closer look at a random market. For example, let’s take the over/under 2.5 goals in football. You will often see odds like 1.90 for both outcomes. If you place an equal bet of £10 on each of the two options, you will get £19 back whatever happens. Since your total wagers were worth £20, that’s a profit of £1 or 5% for the bookmaker.
Such an advantage for the sportsbook is part of each betting market you can find. When you combine in it with the ability to correctly evaluate the odds and the control over the cash flow, it’s easy to see how the bookies make money.
Advantage betting strategies
We now know how the bookies operate in order to achieve profit. But is it profitable to actually find a way to beat them? The short answer is yes, it certainly is.
One of the main reasons are the many promotions available to the players. The sportsbooks are forced to give something back because the competition between them is fierce. There are other factors that could help, but let’s move on to some concrete ways to find value and apply advantage gambling:
Probably the best way to make money from sports betting is if you manage to find an arbitrage or sure bet opportunity. The main idea is to find odds that are high enough to ensure a profit no matter what happens in a certain match. I have written a full guide on arbing here.
For example, you see a price of 2.10 for Under 2.5 goals in bookie A and 2.05 for Over 2.5 goals on the same game in bookie B. Covering both would mean a guaranteed profit that doesn’t depend on the match result. It’s a sweet deal and even a couple of percentages in returns are enough, because there is no risk involved.
Unfortunately, there are some downsides in arbitrage betting. For a start, the bookies really hate it and are doing their best to prevent people from taking advantage. As a result, your accounts could easily get closed or gubbed (limited). This makes arbitrage betting somewhat hard and time-consuming. Another popular form of arbitrage is Each Way Arbing.
Some of you probably know what matched betting means and it’s one of the best examples of advantage gambling. This strategy has different ways to work, but the most common one is related to the welcome offers of most bookies.
Similarly to the arbitrage betting, you once again cover all possible outcomes but combine that with a free bet/welcome bonus which brings even better profits. For example, you claim the free wager in the bookie and place it on the certain game. At the same time, you lay the same outcome on Betfair and lock the profits before the match has even started. At the end of the day, you always win.
This is the most common matched betting technique, but there are other options as well. You can check my other posts on the topic, if you want to find other advantage gambling matched betting strategies to make money.
Advantage Gambling In Online Casinos
Let’s see how to make money with advantage gambling when it comes to online casinos.
Similarly to the last section, we’ll start by dissecting the way each casino secures profit first. Pretty much any game offered has a fixed house edge that makes sure the operator has a positive expected return in the long run at the expense of the players. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular games out there:
Slot machines attract by far the most players when it comes to online casinos. Tons of people pick them because of the exciting gameplay and opportunity to win big in a heartbeat. However, the house edge in slots means you will be losing under normal circumstances.
There is a metric called Return to Player or simply RTP. It shows what percentage of the money placed as bets is returned to the player as prices on average. Most online slots have an RTP of between 90% and 97%. As you could imagine, this means losing about 3-10% of the money you bet each time. The percentage is usually much higher in land-based casinos and can sometimes reach 20-25%! A great deal … for the operator.
There are different variations of blackjack available online, but the fundamental rules are similar. The game is quite popular for a number of reasons and the low house edge of about 0.5% is one of them.
However, Blackjack actually does require the proper strategy. Unlike other casino games like slots and roulette, your decisions during the hand dramatically change your expected value. If blackjack is your choice, make sure to check the rules and google the best strategy for this particular set to give yourself the best chance.
Another popular casino game with a relatively low house edge is roulette. In the traditional European roulette, the operator has an advantage of 2.7% thanks to the zero sector of the wheel. If you place French roulette, this could even go down to 1.35% for the even odds markets. A set of rules you should always avoid is the American roulette, where there are two zeros and the house edge is over 5%.
The video poker variations are among the games with the lowest house edge out there. The number could be down to even 0.1% in certain variations. However, there is strategy involved once again. I recommend you to try and find it for the game you picked, as the best decisions possible are available on many websites.
I won’t go into too many details, but I only want to highlight games like Keno and scratch cards. You should be aware those come with some of the highest house you will find online. I’m talking about something 10-15% or even 20%.
Advantage Gambling Casino Strategies
Making money from online casinos seems impossible based on the information so far. But there are people who are profitable thanks to advantage gambling. Once again, the promotions of the gambling operators are your best friend. I’ve written a detailed post about exploiting casino bonuses here.
Sometimes, you will be able to find casino promotions that involve no risk at all. It doesn’t happen too often, so make sure to take full advantage.
A good example would be no deposit bonuses that intend to promote a new slot machine, for example. The casinos will often give you a small amount such as £5 or £10 to try the game. You won’t become a millionaire from such deals, but it’s literary free money.
Another option would be promos where you get your money back if you lose. For example, bet £10 and get up to £10 back if you don’t win. Of course, you should always check the terms and conditions of such offers, as sometimes there are strings attached that remove your advantage over the casino.
Advanced Advantage Gambling Strategy
The advanced gambling techniques I showed you so far don’t require much of experience. They involve no risk for the player to lose which makes them perfect for every player out there. However, there are two issues. The first of them is that the maximum profit you can get is not that big. On top of that, you won’t find that many opportunities for simple advantage gambling.
If you want to make even more money, there are some advanced advantage gambling strategies that are the real deal. They usually require more effort and there is some risk involved. However, if you are smart and patient, you could make a lot of money. Let’s move on and see how they work:
Casino deposit bonuses
Most casinos bonuses are designed in a way that will benefit the casino in the long term. Furthermore, most players don’t really dig deep to find the best approach possible and eliminate any chance they might have to actually make money from such promotions.
However, some of the deals actually represent a great opportunity for advantage gambling. The most important thing is to learn how to recognise which bonus has a positive expected value. It’s not that hard if you know what are the main factors:
Bonus cash and wagering requirements
All welcome bonuses come with certain wagering requirements. This means you will have to place a certain amount of money, before you unlock the bonus funds for a withdrawal. It’s critical to understand exactly how much cash you get from the bonus and how much you will be required to wager.
For example, an online casino could offer a £200 bonus for a deposit of the same amount. Then, you will have to wager both the deposit and the bonus 20 times prior to a withdrawal. This means you will have to place bets worth (£200 + £200)*20 or £4,000.
Be careful with the calculation. Some online casinos require you to wager only the bonus. Other will include the initial deposit. As you could imagine, the difference is crucial.
The best house edge possible
The next aspect you should explore is the house edge of the games included in the offer you’re targeting. Check the terms and conditions to see what’s accepted by the casino. Most of the time, you will be limited to slots, keno, and scratch cards.
This is why I will give you an example with slot machines. Let’s say the casino will accept 100% of your bets on slots towards the wagering requirements. With a little help from Google, you will be able to find the slots with the best RTP which means lowest house edge.
The final EV calculation
You now have all the ingredients, so it’s time to see what’s your expected value. For that purpose, you must calculate your potential losses after the wagering requirements are done. You can find that by multiplying the overall amount you have to wager by the house edge of the casino.
Basic EV formula: –
Estimated value = Bonus – (wagering requirements x house edge)
There is a more accurate way to calculate EV however it requires a simulator to do the calculations for you. To keep this guide simple I’m going to use this basic formula.
For example, if you have to wager £3,000 and the house edge is 2%, you will lose £60 by the time you cleared the requirements. So, any bonus that is worth at least £61 in this scenario would mean you have a positive expected value. Since you will be able to find bonuses for £100 or even £200 with similar requirements, you will be able to make some good money from advantage gambling. The best way to find value casino bonuses is using a Matched Betting Service to locate them for you.
You should never forget that such an approach is not risk-free. Expected value doesn’t mean you will get exactly the same result. It means you have an edge over the casino, but a bad streak could ruin that.
This is why proper bankroll management is necessary. Make sure you have enough money to complete the wagering requirements, even if you hit a bad streak at some point. Placing about 2-3% of your bankroll or less would be a good start.
Even if you are extra careful, you can sometimes lose because of the standard deviation. However, you could also win more than expected. The important thing is you will be ahead in the long run and simply have to take advantage of enough offers with a positive expected value. The law of large numbers will do the rest.
I recommend risking no more than 1% of your bankroll on any casino offer. When you get in to the more advanced high risk offers then I’d recommend reducing that down to 0.5% and even 0.25% to give you a buffer.
Evaluating other casino promotions
The welcome and reload bonuses are probably the most common casino offers, but there are other opportunities for advantage gambling. You will often find refunds, free spins, and other deals. If you want to learn if they have a positive expected value, the process is very similar to deposit bonuses.
Simply find out the following: how much is up for grabs, how much you have to wager, and what’s the house edge. Once you have these, you can find the expected value of the offer. If it’s positive, go for it.
Sports betting advanced techniques
There are other opportunities besides arbitrages and matched betting in sports betting too. A lot of the time, they are related to certain sports offers like refunds / money backs. According to them, the bookie will give your money back if your bet loses and certain conditions are true.
For example, your correct score wager will be refunded if a football match from the English Premier League ends 0:0. When you see something like that, there’s money to be made. You can place a wager on any other score, then go to Betfair and lay it. You then have the chance to trigger a large refund by taking a small potential loss. If you balance the amounts right, there is a lot of money to be made in the long term.
There are plenty of opportunities related to price boosts, horse racing, and more. You can even make money from land-based bookies thanks to sharbing. The opportunities are endless if you follow one simple rule – always look for positive expected value. After all, this is how the bookies and casinos have been making money for ages.
As you can see, it’s not impossible to actually beat the online gambling operators. Since most people are losing money, there are pockets of positive expected value. The advantage gambling approach allows you to recognize them and capitalise. The best news is that both your bankroll and skill level will grow as you keep pushing advantage gambling.
The best place to learn advantage play strategies is using Profit Maximiser. All of the systems and strategies are layed out step-by-step so you can start profiting from bookmakers and casinos immediately.