BookieBowl December 2019:

Ever wondered which of Britain's high-street bookies have the lowest house edge? We decided to put them to the test!
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Welcome to the first round of BookieBowl – where we test the odds of the online bookmakers.

BookieOverroundVisit
Bet Victor4.56%Visit Bookie
Bet Fred4.88%Visit Bookie

When we say, “test the odds”, we don’t mean whether Ladbrokes offers Liverpool odds of 2/1 to beat Everton, whereas William Hill only offers 5/4.

When we say, “test the odds”, we are interested in how much profit online bookmakers build into their overall odds for any particular match, and across all the matches they cover.

These profits come out of their customers’ accounts – and the job of BookieBowl is to determine which online sportsbook leaves the most profits for you, the sports bettor.

The level of profit bookies build into their odds has several names – overrounds, house edges, the vig, the juice, and a few other wacky terms.

But it all means the same thing – the guaranteed profit the bookmakers build into their odds structures.

If you want to learn more about overrounds, then we encourage you to read this excellent overround primer.

If you are comfortable with the concept of overrounds, and just want to find out which bookie offers the lowest overround (and leaves the most amount of money for their customers), then read on.

Test details

For this first round, we will test the four major high-street brands in the UK, namely: –

  • Ladbrokes
  • Coral
  • William Hill
  • Paddy Power

We are going to test these bookies on their football (soccer) odds only, because the reality is that 90%+ of online betting is on that sport. Sorry rugby fans.

We will test the odds across several footballing club competitions which take place in August 2019, namely: –

  • English Premier League
  • English Football Championship
  • Scottish Premiership
  • Champions League Qualifiers
  • German Bundesliga
  • Spanish La Liga
  • Italian Serie A
  • French Ligue 1

Finally, we will test the odds across several time periods where football betting activity is known to be heavy. These are: –

  • Friday evening
  • Saturday lunchtime
  • Sunday lunchtime
  • Midweek

This will allow us to build up a complete picture of how these bookies perform across the whole month.

We won’t test every match in every competition, but try to fit in the big games, as these should attract the most betting action.

With those caveats and conditions out of the way, let’s get started.

1. The Friday Odds Test

Fridays are increasingly used to stage the first Premier League match of the weekend. On this particular Friday, it was the 9th August, it was the start of a new Premier League season, and a lot of punters were filling in their betting slip for the weekend. It was the perfect time to start testing bookies’ odds.

Please note that only one of these games (Liverpool v Norwich) actually took place on the Friday. The other 4 matches were spread over the Saturday and Sunday – but the odds themselves were captured on the Friday.

Liverpool v Norwich

EPL, Friday 9th August

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William Hill easily has the most attractive overround on this game, while Paddy Power has the least attractive overround.

West Ham v Man City

EPL, Saturday 10th August

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Again, William Hill has the most attractive overround.

Spurs v Aston Villa

EPL, Saturday 10th August

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This time, Coral had the most attractive overround, thanks mostly to relatively long odds of 1/3 on favourites Spurs to win at home against the newly promoted Villa.

Paddy Power once again had the worst overall overround – and this time it was a real stinker. An 8.71% house edge the night before a big Premier League game? That’s some truly horrible value. It’s almost double the overround offered by Coral.

Newcastle v Arsenal

EPL, Sunday 11th August

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William Hill returned back to winning form with the lowest overround on this fixture. Ladbrokes receives the wooden spoon for its 7.42% overround.

Man Utd v Chelsea

EPL, Sunday 11th August

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Paddy Power had the best overround on this fixture, although no bookie was offering particularly attractive odds on the biggest tie of the weekend.

2. The Saturday Odds Test

The following Saturday (17th August) we tested these 4 bookies once more. Again, we stuck to the Premier League, with 5 games under the microscope. Tests were carried out around lunchtime, to capture the odds of the early kick-off game (Arsenal v Burnley).

Arsenal v Burnley

EPL. Saturday 17th August

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William Hill had the most attractive overround on this game, with Ladbrokes ending up with the wooden spoon. A house edge is 7.79% is really disappointing from Ladbrokes, especially since the test was carried out just an hour before kick-off.

Southampton v Liverpool

EPL, Saturday 17th August

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Coral won this, with an excellent overround below 3%. Paddy Power reverted to its usual poor form, with an overround of 7.05% – that’s more than 4 per cent higher than Coral. Pure greed.

Man City v Spurs

EPL, Saturday 17th August

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Again, a clear win for Coral. Again, a shocker from Paddy Power.

Chelsea v Leicester

EPL, Sunday 18th August

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But in a surprising twist, Paddy Power had the best odds for this game, 24 hours before it kicked off. The odds-setters at Paddy Power seem to take a real scatter-gun approach to offering value to their customers.

Wolves v Man Utd

EPL, Monday 19th August

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Wiliam Hill had the most attractive overrounds here. And Paddy Power reverted to usual form, taking an eye-watering 9.07% house edge on a Man Utd game. Amazingly bad.

3. The Sunday Odds Test

Sundays are when many of the big EPL matches take place these days, so on 25th August, we tested these 4 bookies for their Sunday odds. To make it interesting, we added games from the Scottish Premiership, English Championship and the German and Spanish leagues.

Tests were carried out around lunchtime, to capture the odds of the early kick-offs.

Swansea v Birmingham

EFL Championship, Sunday 25th August

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Coral was the clear winner here, with Paddy Power coming bottom. But surely the next game will see good value on offer from an Irish bookie…

Celtic v Hearts

Scottish Premiership, Sunday 25th August

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Nope, Paddy Power can’t even get below 7% for a Celtic game. Coral wins this one too.

Leipzig v Frankfurt

German Bundesliga, Sunday 25th August

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Coral narrowly has better odds than William Hil on this German league game. Paddy Power has the wurst.

Barcelona v Betis

Spanish La Liga, Sunday 25th August

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Spanish football is very popular in the UK, with Barcelona games attracting a lot of attention.

So it was a surprise to see that the overrounds on the Barca-Betis game were so poor – and that was true across the board.

What wasn’t such a surprise, however, was that Paddy Power’s odds were the least attractive with a total overround of 7.45%

Bournemouth v Man City

EPL, Sunday 25th August

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Just to keep things balanced, we included one EPL game in the Sunday test. Coral wins it again, and Paddy Power completes a Sunday of outrageously poor value odds.

4. The Midweek Odds Test

Football is often a 7-day-a-week affair these days, with domestic cups, Champions League and Europa League games all fighting for the attention of punters. So our odds tests need to cater for midweek action. On Tuesday 27th August, we examined 5 matches in the League Cup and Champions League qualifiers.

Tests were carried out in the late afternoon.

Red Star Belgrade v Young Boys Berne

Champions League, Tuesday 27th August

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William Hill had the best overround here, but it was a fairly narrow field.

Rosenborg v Dinamo Zagreb

Champions League, Tuesday 27th August

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Another narrow result, but this time Coral had the most attractive overround.

Leeds v Stoke

League Cup, Tuesday 27th August

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Another victory for William Hill, but OMG what kind of odds are these from Paddy Power? An overround of 9.44% on Leeds v Stoke is scandalous.

Crawley v Norwich

League Cup, Tuesday 27th August

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Ladbrokes had the best house edge on this tie, while Paddy Power offered poor value once again.

Newport v West Ham

League Cup, Tuesday 27th August

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This was the 20th (and final) game of the tests, and Coral had some awesome odds here – well below the 5% overround level.

Meanwhile, Paddy Power decided to go for broke, charging an unprecedented overround of 10.53%.

So that completes the 20 test matches. But which of these big-name bookies has the most attractive odds on average?

Final Average Overrounds Table

We added up every overround for each bookmaker, and then divided by 20. This was the final average overround for each bookmaker across the 20 matches.

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Performance Review

Here’s a detailed view of how each bookmaker performed, with strengths and weaknesses and whether they make the grand final.

BetFred

BetFred offered excellent odds, with an average overround of 4.08% across the 20 matches. This bookie has the best odds we have seen so far on UK competitions, including the EPL, League Cup, Championship and Scottish Premiership. Particular highlights include the sub 3% overrounds on West Ham v Man Utd and Chelsea v Liverpool. This bookie even performed well in the Champions League – in fact the lowest house edge recorded so far is the 2.94% on Chelsea v Valencia. Where BetFred isn’t so strong is in European leagues. An overround of 8.18% on the Milanese derby is bad value. But if you focus your betting on the UK and Champions League, then this bookie offers incredible value. BetFred qualifies for the Grand Final as group winner.

BetVictor

BetVictor also offered excellent value odds, with an average overround of 4.24%. This consistently low house edge held true across all football competitions, including European leagues – so if betting on La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga is as important to you as the Premier League, BetVictor should be a bookie to consider. This bookie qualifies for the Grand Final as runners-up.

Betway

Betway finished 3rd in the group, without doing anything spectacularly wrong. An average overround of 5.42% isn’t bad (it’s the same as William Hill’s), and the odds on offer were consistently around this level of value, and this was consistent across all competitions. If you bet on football with Betway, you can expect house edges to very rarely deviate from the 5-6% level, which is…OK in a kind of “meh” way. Betway is the Ed Sheeran of bookmakers. It’s inoffensive, reasonable quality, and the perfect backing track for a trip to the local gardening centre. But it doesn’t qualify Betway for the Grand Final. Maybe next year?

888sport

888sport is a weird one. An average overround of 5.46% isn’t that much worse than Betway’s. But where Betway offers inoffensive odds across all competitions, 888 have really rather poor odds on UK domestic leagues, but exceptionally good odds on European and Champions League games. On the Shakhtar v Man City tie, for example, 888 offered an overround of 3.03% – representing the best value in the test. On the Milanese derby, a house edge of 4.1% was also unbeatable. But that 10.08% overround on the Celtic v Kilmarnock game is just too high. And ultimately, that’s what cost 888 the chance to progress to the Grand Final. If we ever do a special tournament on European/Champions League odds, then 888 will probably do very well.

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