What’s the main reason for visiting an odds comparison website? The obvious answer is to simply observe which online bookmaker offers the best odds on a bet you’re about to place. But you shouldn’t use the odds comparison only to choose a suitable bookmaker. In fact, an odds comparison website should be one of your main visits before placing a bet, even if you have an account on a single online bookmaker and you don’t intent to sign up on a different one.
The offered odds and their comparison don’t function only as a matter of competition among the online bookmakers. They could give you accurate and concentrated information about the match and the global bookmaker’s view for the bet in question. This information can prove to be extremely valuable, guiding you to more winning decisions, as long as you know how to decode them.
The decoding procedure is not as easy as the odds comparison sites try to display. Many of them push you to use various tools, such as the odds average or the highest odds by bookmaker, supposedly to help you make the right decision. But these tools are utterly useless, if not misleading, when you like to conclude what’s going on on the match you're checking. Unfortunately, analyzing odds is not as simple as just glancing at the highest odds or the trending moves by the bookmakers and picking the decreasing odds.
If you’d like to deal with odds comparison to get additional information about a bet, you need to follow the 5+1 steps listed below. Before you do it, you need to keep in mind that during the last couple of years the odds differences are minimizing and seldom exceed 0.15 (Decimal Odds) especially in matches where the favorite’s odds are offered below evens (2.00). You’ll find some differences that seem significant in outsider’s odds, but this doesn’t mean you’ll have to focus only on upsets to get advantage of this.
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Writing off the rake
It goes without mentioning that every online bookmaker keeps a different percentage of your stake for himself, the so-called rake. Some bookies’ rake is as slim as 1-2%, on the contrary some government-held betting shops go as high as 15-17%. To better understand a bookie's real opinion about a match you have to subtract the rake percentage from the odds and then compare them in an equal basis. If you do this, you’ll notice a completely different look to what you see in a normal odds comparison website.
Not counting the betting exchange
This is an obvious option. Betting exchange odds could distort the average and should be taken off before you count the bookie’s view about a bet. Not only because their commission percentage is nonexistent (they get some 5% from the winnings, but don’t incorporate the commission in starting odds), but also because the betting exchange is basically a platform, where two or more bettors are matching bets, and not a bookmaker offering specific odds. If the amount of money matched on one bet is small, the odds could be far more different than those on other online bookmakers.
Observing bookmakers' habits
In general, online bookmakers have nearly the same attitude on almost any match. In a global market where things change with every passing moment, it’s really hard for a bookie to form a different policy than the others. Still, there are bookies that traditionally offer better odds on favorites and others, who shorten favorite’s odds to offer higher prices on outsiders. Some others count on special bets odds, on minor leagues odds or on live betting odds.
Isolating national betting shops
Apart from international bookmakers, the various odds comparison websites include odds from national lottery companies, some of which are not available to other countries. These “national” bookmakers could be useful to your research, as their compilers have accurate information about the national league matches, making their “odds cutting” procedure more effective than other leagues. You should isolate the national bookmaker’s odds when you’d like to bet a match from a specific league and give them an additional point if the odds are somewhat different than the global bookmaker’s websites.
Counting your own average
This is a somewhat uncomfortable option, as it demands some additional work from you. Instead of just looking at the average odds on odds comparison websites, you’re advised to choose a bookmaker from the list (usually the most popular ones) and make your own average. The reason is simple: Every odds comparison website is comparing in most cases about 60 to 80 different bookmakers. But some (if not many) of these bookmakers are in fact mirror websites, following the odds changes according to big bookie’s view. Containing a lot of these bookmakers, the average could garble too much, so the bookie’s opinion about the match could be blurred.
Additional tip (5+1): This is for punters who are paying attention to the slightest details in their bid to go pro. You have to identify every bookmaker’s attitude about every league. We should mention that odds are not the same in every match, and there are some bookmakers who have traditionally better understanding than others in specific leagues, based on their starting odds. With systematic observation you’ll notice a lot of things about how a bookie treats the various leagues and when you’d like to bet on a specific match.