On Wednesday this week BBC 1 broadcast a documentary called ‘Can you beat the bookies?’
I first heard about this documentary on the forum of Profit Accumulator and I was curious as to how the BBC would approach the topic.
The documentary was hosted by stand up comedian Lloyd Griffith
Lloyd has a professional connection to the world of gambling after appearing in a Ladbrokes television advertisement a few years ago.
In that advertisement he played the character of ‘Gut Truster’ for which he took some flak from friends and fans via twitter.
At the start of the documentary Lloyd is given £7500 by the BBC to see if he can beat the bookies.
Nice to know our TV licence fees are being spent wisely!
He aims to double his money during the week he is making the documentary by using various methods to beat the bookies.
Along the way he looks for answers to big questions like ‘Are the bookies playing fair?’ and ‘Can you really win in the long term?’
So far so good.
But I will be honest, whilst interesting in parts I was disappointed with the documentary overall, especially its conclusion.
But first let’s look at the betting challenge.
The start of the challenge
Lloyd starts by asking the advice of his Aunt who has a £50 a week scratch card habit.
She advises him to bet on horses that have Jockeys wearing pink.
Lloyd backs the horses in pink and ends up losing all his bets.
But what about the people who put more thought into the bets they place?
Lloyd decided to enlist the help of some professional gamblers in his quest to double his money within the week.
The first pro gambler he meets specialises in Greyhound racing.
Although this guy spends hours studying the form of greyhounds it is the tip on a horse that helps Lloyd win some money.
Lloyd then goes to the greyhound track with the pro gambler but his tips are duds and Lloyd ends up losing more money.
The next pro gambler Lloyd meets bets mainly on football and spends 40 hours a week on research.
The long hours of research paid off as a tip on a St Johnstone reserves match won Lloyd a nice chunk of money.
Unsurprisingly, this large bet on an obscure football match led to Lloyd having his account restricted by the bookmaker.
This meant he could no longer bet more than £6 at a time.
As somebody who does matched betting getting an account restricted is familiar to me.
I have written a longer article about bookmakers restricting accounts which is also known as getting gubbed.
So what next for Lloyd after his experiences with the pro gamblers?
Lloyd decides to seek the help of a different kind of professional gambler and for me this was the most interesting part of the documentary.
Lloyd meets Joe who was previously addicted to Roulette machines but is now a ‘courtsider’.
This involves travelling around the world attending obscure tennis tournaments and betting in play on them with the help of a business partner back home.
This strategy helps Joe earn around £300,000 per year after deducting, in his words, ‘the humongous expenses’ of travelling around the world attending the tennis tournaments.
In his own words Joe describes this as basically cheating.
As a courtsider Joe would sit discreetly at tennis matches and exploit the time delays of a few seconds between a point being won or lost and the umpire inputting the score to an electronic device.
The score inputted by the umpire is sent to bookmakers to update their inplay odds.
Courtsiders share that info, quicker than the umpires, with a partner in crime.
This partner can then bet on something that has already happened and make a profit.
Mobile phones and headphones are now banned at courtside so Joe has grown his hair long to hide his bluetooth earpiece.
As part of the documentary Lloyd became Joe’s partner in crime.
Using the information that Joe sent to him Lloyd managed to win £2500.
But once again his account was restricted not long after withdrawing his winnings.
The end of the challenge
After helping Joe with the courtsiding Lloyd was up to £9000 from his original £7500.
He went on one last push to try to reach his target of £15,000.
He bet most of his money on 3 football bets in an attempt to make the £15,000 target.
Two of those bets were selected for him by the Pro Gambler and the other bet was his own choice.
All 3 bets lost and Lloyd was down to £4,500.
Instead of doubling his money he was down £3000.
He returned the £4,500 to the BBC having not beaten the bookies.
What the documentary got right
To start on a positive note the BBC did at least expose the fact that bookmakers do not play fair.
Every time Lloyd won any money via online betting he had his accounts restricted to very small stakes.
Those of us that already do matched betting are very familiar with such practices.
But the casual punter is probably not so familiar with how bookmakers operate.
Bookmakers like losers.
If you win on a fairly regular basis they will restrict you.
So respect to the BBC for exposing this.
What the BBC got wrong
The rest of the show was a bit lightweight and missed some obvious methods of beating the bookies.
Due to the fact that Lloyd ended up £3000 down the conclusion of the show was that it was not possible to beat the bookies.
Lloyd even described gambling as a one way street that the bookmakers make out to be a two way street.
But I disagree.
This website is about matched betting so I am biased in favour of matched betting.
But regardless of that I was surprised that a documentary about beating the bookies did not even mention the concept of matched betting.
When you do matched betting you have an advantage over the bookmaker.
Tens of thousands of people in the UK are active matched bettors and use the matched betting strategy to make some extra money each month.
But there were other things the documentary missed.
They did not even mention the existence of betting exchanges such as Betfair.
When Betfair was launched in the year 2000 it genuinely revolutionised the gambling industry.
Punters could now bet against each other rather than against the bookmakers.
The betting exchanges also allow people to do matched betting and arbitrage betting.
Admittedly both of these methods are likely to get your accounts restricted.
But the methods Lloyd explored in the documentary also got his accounts restricted.
Doing matched betting is more likely to give you longer term profits than any of the methods covered in this documentary.
I was surprised that this documentary did not mention matched betting as a way to beat the bookies.
Matched betting will not make you mega rich but it will make you consistent profits.
That is better then being a mug punter who keeps losing money to the bookmakers, dreaming of a big win that is unlikely to arrive.
So if you really want to beat the bookies, do not follow the advice of the BBC documentary.
Join a site like Profit Accumulator, start matched betting and then you really will be beating the bookies!