If you read our previous article on how to calculate bookmaker margins, you’ll now have an understanding of what the margin/vig/overround is and how you can easily work it out – helping you to identify better value bets.
If you haven’t read that post, it’s perhaps best to do now – it will make this following article a lot easier to understand.
But if you just want to know what the lowest margin betting markets are when punting on football, you’ll find your answers below.
First though, a quick caveat.
When you fire up an odds comparison site to examine each bookmakers’ prices, you’ll notice that more often than not, the best-priced firm for any given football betting market will be a ‘soft’ book, i.e. offshore firms that are far less price-sensitive.
You can take those odds, but note that you will be missing out on the perks of betting with a major bookmaking brand – not to mention the security and peace of mind of betting with a multinational corporation, rather than a firm ran from somebody’s garage in Curacao.
So instead, we’re focusing on odds supplied by five firms – bet365, William Hill, Betfred, Ladbrokes and Betfair – for two main reasons:
- They deliver the most widely-used betting sites/apps in the UK
- Their odds should be reflective of the general market (excluding the soft books)
We’re going to use a fairly generic Premier League game as our sample: Aston Villa vs Newcastle United.
When you compare the five bookmakers mentioned above, here’s their respective margins in the match result market:
- Betfair – 3.6%
- William Hill – 5.4%
- Bet365 – 5.6%
- Betfred – 6.4%
- Ladbrokes – 6.4%
Remember, this information is not presented as a way of comparing the bookmakers’ margin, because we’re only using a sample of one game – a firm can change their overround from one game to the next.
But for the purposes of this article, the average margin built into the Premier League match result market by some of the most popular bookmakers in the UK is 5.4%.
Half Time Result
More variance is expected in the Half Time Result market: an underdog might scrape through until the break with a draw or even manage to take the lead.
So we’d expected the margin for Half Time Result to be higher than for the Match Result market.
- Bet365 – 8.9%
- Betfred – 10.5%
- Betfair – 10.7%
- Ladbrokes – 11.3%
- William Hill – 12.7%
And so it proves, with the average margin across the five bookmakers climbing to 10.82%. This is a useful rule of thumb: the more unpredictable a betting market is, the higher the margin you can expect a bookmaker to implement.
The higher the margin, the more difficult it is for punters to find value bets to place….
Both Teams to Score
With just two outcomes – Yes or No – the Both Teams to Score market should be a good indicator of consistent margins:
Even by eye we can see that the margins are stricter in the Both Teams to Score market than the match result category, with the average overround equalling 6.85%.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Another two-way market that is popular with punters is the Over/Under 2.5 Goals category. This is a betting option that can be difficult for the bookmakers to model accurately – there’s much more variance in total goals, as opposed to the final result – so you’d expect a higher margin here:
- Bet365 – 5.55%
- Ladbrokes – 6.83%
- Betfair – 7.14%
- William Hill – 7.20%
- Betfred – 9.85%
As you can see, there’s a wide divergence on the part of the bookmakers when it comes to pricing up the Over/Under Goals market, with some 4.3% separating the best-value book and the worst in our mini-sample.
Overall, the average overround on the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market for this game is 7.31%.
Draw No Bet
Unsurprisingly, the bookmakers tend to be defensive in their pricing for ‘cover’ bets, i.e. where theoretical probability is on the side of the punter.
With Draw No Bet, you’ll land a full payout if your team wins and a stake refund if the game ends in a stalemate, so the bookies price those positions into their odds accordingly.
Is that reflected in their margin?
The average margin, 7.27%, is higher for Draw No Bet than some of the other markets we have examined, although it’s perhaps not as high as we were expecting.