Mug betting is the act of placing bets on markets that don’t have offers.  This helps us to appear like an average punter and increases our chances of keeping our accounts open and unrestricted.

Just like any other company, all bookmakers have a business model and if a customer doesn’t satisfy that model, bookmakers will restrict their accounts (this is known as ‘gubbing’). It makes good business sense to do so.

The aim for the bookmaker, is to seek out the profitable players who hurt their bottom line and ensure they retain their best customers, those that consistently lose money and improve their bottom line.


How are we monitored?

All bookmakers have a risk-management team. These people are specifically employed to distinguish between ‘clever’ punters and ‘mug’ punters.

It’s believed that punters are assigned a score from 0 to 100, based on their betting patterns. A score of 100 means that the punter is able to place the maximum bet that the bookmaker is willing to take and as the score decreases, so does the maximum stake a punter is allowed to place. A score of 0 would represent a complete ban.

It’s understood that some bookmakers have identified groups of arbitrage bettors, but instead of closing their accounts, they actually use them to identify other users that may be doing the same. Any punters that place the same bets as those groups within a certain timeframe, will see their scores drop and their maximum allowed stakes drop accordingly. The lower their scores drop, the more attention their accounts will receive and if they continue to place value bets, it won’t be long before their accounts are closed.

Our accounts aren’t just monitored as a whole. Each and every sport and market we bet on are monitored. So if we are winning on football but losing on tennis, the bookmaker may increase our staking level on tennis but reduce our staking level on football. It’s all part of their risk-management objective, which is simply to restrict our profitability and encourage our losses.

Along with our betting activity, bookmakers also automatically monitor a few other factors, such as our IP addresses. If you ever try and create another account using a family member’s name, that uses the same IP address as your account, this will be flagged up immediately. The same principle applies to bets. If bets are placed on different accounts using the same IP address, bookmakers will be aware. Bookmakers also monitor personal details like name, date of birth, address and device ID to ensure that people are not holding and using multiple accounts.

Cookies are another way bookmakers keep tabs on us. Cookies record information such as the time a website was visited, page clicks, length of session and even the links that we have hovered over. Not only do they use this information to risk-assess us, they also use it to keep us engaged by offering us specific promotions that fit our profiles.


Which bookmakers are most likely to restrict our accounts?

The smaller a bookmaker is, the less active customers they will have. This means they will be taking less bets and therefore their risk is far less spread out than that of bigger bookmakers. These smaller bookmakers cannot afford to be taking big hits from matched bettors and so they have to prioritise risk-management to avoid bankruptcy.

We can get a good indication of how big a bookmaker is by checking their Alexa rank. Alexa assesses every website worldwide and provides a ranking based on popularity.

Bookmaker UK Ranking Global Ranking
Bet365 120 416
Sky Bet 170 4272
Paddy Power 235 4639
Stan James 2223 86209
Betway 2523 39258
Boylesports 3850 35877

As we can see from the figures above, smaller bookmakers like Betway, Stan James and Boylesports are far more likely to restrict our accounts than bigger bookmakers like Bet365, Sky Bet and Paddy Power.

It’s understood that a handful of the bigger bookmakers don’t actually restrict accounts, due to the vast amount of bets they take. They receive so many bets that matched bettors don’t affect their bottom line enough to merit spending the money on identifying and restricting them.


What factors arouse suspicion?

As matched bettors, we are organised. We know when our qualifying bets have to be placed by and we know when our free bets will be credited to our accounts. Placing a bet on the horses the night before a race is far more noticeable to a bookmaker than a bet struck just before the race gets underway.

We all know matched bettors love offers, particularly those that are most profitable. From a bookmaker’s perspective, if a punter is seen to be betting only on markets where there are promotions, it’s pretty obvious what their intentions are.

In general, there is usually a minimum stake required to qualify for an offer. Matched bettors have a tendency to only place the minimum stake required, as it makes sense to minimise our qualifying losses. Again, from a bookmaker’s point of view, if a punter is seen to be repeatedly placing the minimum stake required to qualify for offers, it’s pretty clear that they are abusing bonuses.

Placing free bets on obscure markets, simply because the odds are good is a sure fire way to arouse suspicion. If one punter places a £10.00 free bet on Chelsea to beat Liverpool in the Premier League and another punter places a £10.00 free bet on Pattaya United to beat Songkhla United in Thailand Division 1, which punter do you think will have his card marked?

Winning continuously at a bookmaker will undoubtedly draw attention to our accounts. Having an account limited for this reason is incredibly frustrating for a matched bettor as this is never our intention. The majority of the time, our bets at the bookmaker will lose and our cash will go straight into our betting exchange account. I’m unsure how true this is, but I’ve heard from a few different sources that withdrawal frequency can have a bearing on how closely our accounts are monitored.

Another indicator is our behaviour when on the bookmaker’s site. Matched bettors don’t tend to hang around for too long. The majority of the time, we log into our accounts, locate the market we want to bet on, place our bet and log out. An average punter may stay logged in to watch live football matches or a horse race they’ve just bet on. This is tricky for us, as the majority of the time we don’t require a particular result, so it feels pretty pointless watching.


What can we do to avoid being gubbed?

We rely on our accounts to keep the profits rolling in, so mug betting shouldn’t be a chore, it should be a big part of the matched betting process. It stands to reason that we should prioritise our most profitable accounts and give them special attention.

There are by no means any concrete rules of thumb for keeping our accounts open, but by taking on board the following tips, you should be well equipped to slide under the radar.

Mug bet regularly

Put simply, it’s all about trying to give the impression of a regular punter. We need to place regular bets on markets where there are no offers. This is the biggest tip I can give and we should all be doing it.

It’s all about timing

I appreciate that this isn’t always possible, but we should try and place our qualifying bets close to the start of the event. We don’t need to do this for every single offer we do, but by placing our bets at the same time as most regular punters, this increases our chances of blending in.

Don’t always place the minimum qualifying amount

It’s important that we mix up our bet stakes when qualifying for offers. If the back and lay odds are tight, we should place more than the minimum stake required. So if the minimum stake required for a free bet is £20.00, we should place £30.00. Then maybe next time £40.00 and then £20.00 and so on. We should also avoid odd stake amounts such as £13.89 and stick to round figures.  When mug betting, it’s important that we stake similar amounts to our usual qualifying bets.  It’s no good placing £20.00 qualifying bets and then placing £10.00 mug bets, as it’s pretty obvious what we’re up to.

Stick to popular markets and don’t always take the best value

We need to be placing free bets on mainstream markets, such as televised sports events that regular punters will be betting on. Don’t always take the best value and mix up your odds. So you might place a free bet at odds of 9.00 one week and then 4.50 the next. You might make a little less profit at lower odds but it’s worth it in the long run. It’s also a good idea, if you have a favourite team, to back and lay them quite regularly. This again helps you appear more like a regular punter. If you don’t have a favourite team, pick one!

Only withdraw when you need to

Try not to withdraw money from your accounts too often. This obviously depends on your financial situation, but if you can afford to, leave your money in your accounts and keep a record of where your money is. By leaving money in your account, it shows an intention to keep playing and avoids drawing the attention that withdrawing is rumoured to attract.

Watch the occasional livestream

If you’ve bet on an event and there is a livestream, play it. I’m not suggesting you sit there and watch every race you bet on, but it’s good practice to do this every once in a while. If you don’t want to watch it, you can always leave it open in another window.

Bet on price boosts and odds enhancements

It’s always worth keeping an eye on price boost and odds enhancement offers. We can back these occasionally and lay them off as it helps us appear more like a recreational punter. This kind of activity may also get us more reload offers as bookies will often give their best offers to their best customers. Their best customers being those that fund their bottom line.

Play it straight

Don’t make multiple accounts and clear your cookies regularly.

Resist temptation

If you’re about to place a bet and you’re in doubt as to whether or not it will draw attention to yourself, its better not to place the bet.

Use the casino and games every so often

It’s understood that activity on casino and games can also help our sportsbook accounts. If a player is winning on the sportsbook but losing at the casino, it may help keep his/her sportsbook account open. I’m not suggesting you start wagering loads of cash in the casino or on the slots but if you make a nice profit on a sportsbook offer, it certainly won’t hurt to occasionally wager £10.00 in the casino.

Think like a bookie

As a footnote, I suggest putting yourself in the shoes of the bookmaker. Think how you would monitor your players’ accounts and bear this in mind whilst using your own.

Matched betting is as big as it ever has been and is becoming more popular by the day, so it stands to reason that bookmakers need to be on their toes and be more vigilant than ever. Don’t be lazy and think you’ll get away without mug betting… You won’t!