Last updated in October 2020
Many matched bettors wonder if mug betting does work. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on this matter and it is hard to distinguish facts from myths. If only there was a way to find out the truth for certain.
If mug betting does work, it could be a great way to enhance the lifetime of your accounts and, therefore, dramatically increase your profits. However, if it does not, you could be wasting your time and money.
Table of Contents
Does mug betting work?
What is mug betting?
Mug betting is a term used in matched betting to describe bets that are not associated with any promotion. Essentially, it is a bet that you make no profit from in the hope that it prolongs your account life and prevent restrictions.
Mug bets can be laid or unlaid. The important factor is that the bet has to be of poor value. Normally, matched bettors look for 95%-99% matches for trigger bets. There is no general consensus over the value of a mug bet, but it should probably not be over 90%.
Unlaid examples for mug bets include virtual bets, at least six-fold accumulators, and other bets that have no lay market.
Why do accounts become restricted?
Being restricted (gubbed) means you are no longer eligible for promotions from a bookmaker. You can still make money from them though.
Bookmakers are likely to restrict your account if you take to much money from them. While matched betting, the profit you make from a bookmaker is their loss. Naturally, bookmakers aim to make a profit themselves so you are in their way.
To prevent you from making more money, the bookmakers will restrict you. This can have many forms, you could:
- Be unable to partake in promotions
- Become stake restricted
- Have your account closed
How do bookmakers decide who to restrict?
Bookmakers look for specific patterns and behaviours. Nobody, aside from the bookmaker, fully understands all of them. What is known is that they try to identify matched bettors and other people trying to take value from them.
Thus, bookmakers will look for people who
- Deposit only the minimum amount needed to qualify for a promotion
- Bet/wager just the amount needed to qualify for a promotion
- Bet only on close matches
- Bet on obscure matches for no other reason than that the odds are close
- Break their normal betting pattern for a promotion
- Repeatedly take advantage of price boosts
- Often use arbitrages (arbs)
- Never bet on anything unrelated to a promotion
- Withdraw large sums exceeding £1,000
- Use the live chat to enquire about free bets or free spins as soon as a promotion is over
But they do not look through these data manually. Instead, bookmakers use algorithms that flag suspicious accounts. Based on anecdotal evidence, accounts are graded into different levels. Those are categorised as gamblers will receive more email reloads.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, those who are identified as unprofitable accounts for the bookmaker will become restricted.
The evidence for mug betting
The theory is that by mug betting, you can deceive the algorithms and keep your accounts healthy for longer. This idea is widely debated as there is no rock-solid evidence for mug betting. People just form an opinion based on their personal experience which may not be applicable to others.
1. Mug betting is a waste of time
Evidence level: Strong
When you are mug betting, you are spending time and money on something that is not profitable for you. To make up for this, you have to complete more promotion. Plus, eventually, you will lose your account anyway.
2. Mug betting keeps your accounts profitable for longer
Evidence level: Intermediate
Personally, I have been gubbed by Coral for over a year. Yet my Ladbrokes account is still happy and they even occasionally send me reloads. I do think that this is due to the fact that I keep punting their £1 free bets on ridiculous accumulators with odds of ~20,000.
And there is more scientific evidence for this. Beating Betting conducted a study during 2019 with 20 matched bettors. One group was required to mug bet, whereas the other was forbidden to do so. In the end, the mug bettors had fewer gubbings than the non-mug bettors (11 vs. 31).
Notably, 20 people are not a lot so there could still be bias in the result. However, in the absence of other studies, this is by far the best evidence for mug betting.
3. Mug betting will give you more email reloads
Evidence level: Weak
From my own experience, mug betting can help with keeping your accounts healthy. I have been accidentally mug betting after not realising a promotion was over (although I took close matches only). As the offer had high variance, I did not notice for a while.
During this time (after the promotion ended and before I noticed), I received two email reloads and this is from a bookmaker who is not known to be generous. However, overall, the value of these reloads did not cover my qualifying losses.
Conclusion: Does mug betting work?
There is truth to all three arguments and none is either right or wrong. Equally, there is no hard answer to the question of whether mug betting does work. Mug betting can preserve your accounts but will also take time and money. In the end, the decision of whether you want to mug bet is a personal one.
If you are in it for the long term, there is certainly value in mug betting. However, there is currently no evidence for the exact time point after which the additional profit you make due having accounts for longer will outweigh the effort invested in mug betting.
Mug betting strategies
For mug betting, the early days of your bookmaker account are the most important. This is when bookmakers categorise your account. Unsurprisingly, they do this by profitability and risk (from the eyes of the bookmaker not yours):
- Not profitable
- Unprofitable and costing money
Matched bettors belong in the latter category as, obviously, bookmakers will not make any profit from you. Instead, you even take the profit from them… Nobody wants a customer like that. Therefore, if you land in this category, your account will be restricted or closed.
Profitable is the other end of the spectrum. Bookmakers make tons of money from people in this category. Therefore, they tend to shower these valuable customers with reload offers. Note that this does not mean these reloads will always be profitable for matched bettors.
So, ideally, you want to be placed in the profitable category or at least anywhere but the unprofitable category. To achieve this, ensure that your first bet is not on the closest match available. Instead, chose slightly below average matched bettor level matches (90-95%).
Once you are categorised, you want to make sure you stay in your category and do not move downwards on the spectrum. Doing so is not too difficult. All you have to do is to ensure you do not stand out. There are a few ways to achieve this:
- Always bet on popular matches e.g. main football league, big horse races
- Place your bet on the day of the event
- Bet regularly
- Avoid contacting the live chat
By doing this, you will look like any other bettor and blend in with the crowd.
Find yourself a favourite team
Most punters like to bet on their favourite teams. These people are well-liked by bookmakers because they bet regularly, are predictable, and continue betting even if the odds are poor or they continually lose.
Thus, you can copy this behaviour. If you already have a favourite team, bet small amounts like £10 on each of their major matches. Sometimes you may benefit from a promotion, other times you will not. The important factor is to be consistent.
If you do not have a favourite team, you may want to have a look at previous matches. Then, you can choose a team that is in the upper half of the league table but not at the top. This way, your odds will be neither too high or too low and the match odds should be reasonably close most times.
Manage you money
Money management is another area where you want to avoid raising suspicion. For example, many bookmakers require manual approval of withdrawals over £1,000. This means someone will have a closer look at your account which could potentially lead to restriction. Therefore, you want to keep your withdrawals to smaller sums.
If you bet odds sums of money, e.g. £12.53, you will also look really weird. Normal punters would bet in round amounts such as £5, £10, £20, £25, £50, £100, etc. Therefore, you should stick to these sums as much as possible.
Furthermore, the way you handle leftover money is also important. By this, I mean the odd few pence that you may have left in your account after betting. Matched bettors commonly just deposit a tenner and then withdraw everything. This is totally not what a punter would do! They would either punt the money or leave it. So you should do the same!
Place accumulator bets
Bookmakers seem to love accumulators (accas). And there is a reason for this. As these are multiple matches combined, they are often of poor value to matched bettors. Or in other words, bookmakers make more profit from them. Plus, they are more difficult to lay, meaning fewer matched bettors do them.
However, it is not like accas are impossible to lay. Most matched bettors just do not bother. Therefore, you can easily do acca bets without losing too much. You can either lay them sequentially, lay against premade accas on Smarkets, or not lay at all.
You just have to ensure that your acca is not associated with any promotion, otherwise, you would look just like any other matched bettor.
It is also worth occasionally punting your free bet on unlayable accas. This will make it seem like you do not care about the value of your free bet and look like a typical punter. I usually do something like a seven-leg horse accumulator.
Mug betting in the casino sections
Nobody looks more like punter than somebody spending a few quids here and there on slots. If you have some money left in your account or are given a cash refund/refund, sticking it into a casino slot machine may help make you look like a punter.
Of course, you should not always be using the slots with the highest return-to-player (RTP). Instead, try to use whichever slot is popular or featured by the bookmaker.
Note that this behaviour is expected value (EV) negative and you will lose money over time. Plus, you may be tempted to gamble and turn from a matched bettor to a gambling addict. This is exactly why bookmakers love casino players.
They just like to use every opportunity there is to drag matched bettor to the dark side of betting. And it is much easier to gamble on slots than it is to gamble on sports. Plus, the amount of money lost tends to be larger with the latter.
Therefore, it is important that you stay alert when playing slots. Never mug bet more than a few pounds and always set yourself a limit before you start. If you feel tempted to gamble, then it may be better for you to stay away from casinos, for a while or forever.
Does mug betting work? summary
Mug betting means betting on events that are not associated with a promotion. The objective of mug betting is to prolong your account life by avoiding being discovered as a matched bettor. To mug bet, you have to bet on a poor value or unlayable outcome.
There are arguments for and against mug betting. Based on the current evidence, there is merit in mug betting but is also takes time and money to do. Thus, everyone should decide for themselves whether mug betting does work for them.
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