To Multi Bet Or Not To Multi Bet

Multi betting is one of the most popular ways to bet. Punters see it as an opportunity to increase their returns without having to increase their stake. They do so by trying to predict multiple events in one wager. 

Let’s take a deeper look into the margins of multi betting and see when it makes sense.


Bookmaker Percentages

As you know, when betting with online bookmakers, they set the price for both sides of a sporting event (or the fixed price of a horse racing market). They also decide on how competitive their odds are. What we mean by that is that they determine the market percentage.

A perfect example can be seen in the round 8 2018 NRL match below. Both St George and Sydney are given the exact same chance to win the game.

(Odds correct at 3:30pm on 17/4/18. Ladbokes.com.au)

At $1.87 for each side, Ladbrokes have set a bookmaker percentage of 106.95%. If there was no margin at all, Ladbrokes would have both selections at $2.00.

If the Betfair Exchange rated both teams equally then you would see 2.00 for both options in the match odds.


How Do These Margins Impact Multis?

Stick with me, we’re nearly there.

The primary way to consistently win as a punter is to place bets at fixed odds that are less than 100%. For example, if you’re backing horses at a fixed price average of $3.50 but they shorten to a starting price (odds at the time the gates open) average of $3.00 then you’re betting into 86% markets and winning at 16%. That would make you an elite punter.

To break even as a punter, you would be getting average odds of exactly 100%.

To lose as a punter, you would be taking average odds which exceed 100%. That’s easy to do if you’re betting into 105-107% markets every week and don’t have an edge.

When you multi those same legs, you effectively increase the bookmaker margin, taking you exponentially further away from 100%.


How Does The Bookmaker Profit Increase On Multis?

Bookmaker profit increases because a multi bet, as the name suggests, multiplies each leg.

(Odds correct at 3:30pm on 17/4/18. Tab.com.au)

So, you can choose to see the above ticket as a multi bet of $1.90 x $1.90 x $1.90 = $6.85

Three home teams in round six of the 2018 AFL season.

Or you can choose to see a multi as 102.6% x 102.6% x 102.6% = 108.1%. We use 102.6% because each line bet has two options, with 2.6% margin each.

Whether that multi wins or not, you’ve placed a bet into an 8.1% profit margin market for the bookmaker. If you do this consistently over the long term, you’ll lose money. A five leg multi at these percentages creates a 114% market and 14% long term profit for the bookmaker.

How do you think that’s going to work out for you?


Without the Math, Let’s Use Some Common Sense

The percentage stuff can get a little confusing. All you need to know is that online bookmakers have profit built into both sides of a market. When you multiply them, the bookie profit margin increases.

Further common sense is provided in almost every “Specials” or “Promotions” section of an online bookmaker’s website.

Most corporate bookmakers encourage multi betting. Whether it’s NBA, NFL, AFL, NRL, tennis. Whatever time of the year, whatever bookie, punters are incentivised to bet in multiples.

Why would corporate bookmakers incentive this betting method if it wasn’t lucrative? They’re not a charity. They have a responsibility to their shareholders to maximise profit. What better way to do that than incentivise their most profitable products.


But When Should I Use A Multi?

The answer is almost never.

However, we know professional punters who use it for two distinct purposes.

The first is to make their account look less intelligent than it is. Seriously. If you’re a sophisticated punter who beats online bookmakers with a strategy, then you need to have other bets littered through your account history. That way you’re less likely to get your account closed or restricted when it is reviewed.

For example, if you win on the punt by exclusively backing generous promotions ($2 for Winx, max bet $50) and on AFL 24Up promotions, then you may need to have other bets on your account. If you can break up those successful $50-500 with $10 AFL and NRL multis each round, then your account will look less intelligent. It will make your strike rate and average bet size numbers come down as well as filling up your account history with bets that bookies love to see (multis!).

The second example is sharp horse racing punters who have a similar intention, whilst using the multiplication factor to their advantage.

If a horse racing punter is confident that their three best bets for the day are going to shorten significantly from their current fixed odds, then they can multi them together in different combinations. The bets will look less sophisticated and the punter can get his wagers accepted to win a higher amount than he would normally be able to do.

If the three horses are $2.50 but will start at $2 then you can see the punter’s profit compounding:

 

Two Leg Multi

Real odds (according to the starting price): $2 x $2 = $4.00

Professional Punter’s Multi: $2.50 x $2.50 = $6.25

 

Three Leg Multi

Real odds: $2 x $2 x $2 = $8.00

Professional Punter’s multi: $2.50 x $2.50 x $2.50 = $15.63

 

The professional punter is multiplying his considerable advantage over the market and getting odds that are 50-100% greater than the starting price.

Whilst this is an extreme and rare example you can see what some professional punters are able to with multiples.

The BIG thing to remember, however, is that they are beating the starting price with each betting option. You’ll find it almost impossible to achieve these returns on sports betting, where the markets are less volatile.


Conclusion

Online bookmakers love multi bets because it multiplies their profit margin. It’s so successful to bookies that they often allow you to get one out of four legs wrong and get a refund. They wouldn’t offer these generous incentives if it wasn’t in their best interest.

The only rational use for multis is to make your account look less intelligent and escape restrictions, or if you’re an exceptional horse racing punter who consistently takes fixed odds that exceed the starting price. The latter example obviously has a time limit to it as well as you’ll likely have your account closed.

We recommend betting where you have an edge. That generally means focusing on one niche, betting on one event at a time, and increasing your stakes when the strategy proves lucrative.


Related Articles

Promotion Arbitrage: The New Bookie

There’s a new corporate bookie on the scene and his name is Ned. He’s offering generous promotions to incentivise new ...

Read More

Promotion Arbitrage: How To Make Risk Free Profit

The TAB and Corporate Bookies are locked in a marketing arms race, fighting to the death using bonus bets, ...

Read More

Pricing Up a Market

Pricing up is where, before you look at what the Betfair market is offering, you assign your own odds ...

Read More