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 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.
There is truth to all three arguments and none is either right or wrong. 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.
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 is worth it for them.
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