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Bookmakers, Turf Accountants
now incorporating Bet.co.uk
William Hill *
Blue Square *
Bet Dash *
Betclic Sportsbook *
Surewin Racing Club *
Stan James * ()
Paddy Power *
Satellite TV company Sky TV is now a bookie!
Victor Chandler *
Bet Chronicle *
Form Genie *
My Bet *
Elite Horse Racing *
24dogs * (GONE)
Betworld Leisure Group * (possibly gone)
Also see the dedicated page about Ladbrokes
Do you think Jones the Bookmaker should be on here? No, because that's Jones the Bootmaker which is not the same at all!
Why are they called "Bookmakers"? Well, bookies, or bookmakers, sometimes known as Turf Accountants, are called Book Makers because they make "books". Not that they are book-writers (authors) or book-makers as in BOOK BINDERS. The "book" that bookmakers make is a book of figures, a mathematical table where the amounts of money which are wagered on different outcomes, potential winners in a horse race for example, and added up in conjunction with odds, so as to calculate new odds to offer. The idea of the calculations is so that whatever the outcome, the book always adds up, and the bookie always makes a profit. Some punters will win and some will lose, but the bookie will almost always win. What's interesting is that because most people bet in a mostly arbitrary way, and bookies need to make a profit, it's quite possible to bet in clever ways which allow you to make a profit too. You are winning versus other punters' poor choice, not versus the bookmaker. This is worth knowing! You could previously have seen In The Know Magazine, and more lately Inside Edge, the gambling magazine which is claimed might give you an advantage in smarter betting.
The expression "Turf Accountants" may seem like an excuse to mention Turf and Accounts, and it's not because trying to do your tax returns can be a sod. Bookies were known as "Turf Accountants" because they worked on books of mysterious figures (like accountants), and did the work of creating "The Book" at the scene of a racecourse, which is turfed.
Now let's take an example: Suppose you were a bookie offering odds in a horse race. To keep it simple, let's suppose there are only two horses in the race, Dobbin and Pegasus. Now because of the past reputation of these two horses, 90% of the money is on Pegasus and 10% on Dobbin. No matter what your own opinion of the outcome of the race, the fact is you've got to make money whichever horse wins, or at least not lose money. Therefore if you offer odds which are nine times less favourable for Pegasus than for Dobbin, then assuming you've got your maths right, whatever the outcome of the race you will be paying out less money in winnings than you have collected in bets.
One interesting upshot of this is that the odds are very little to do with the actual probability, and are much more of a democracy-based thing, where it's the opinion of the punters which shapes the odds. Therefore there exist odds being offered by bookies which are much better than the real probability, and which, if you could spot them, you could consistently win a lot of money! What's more, if you did, the bookies would not mind. They don't mind if you win or lose, provided the average win/lose in the punter population leaves them in profit.
If you decide to put some of this to the test, for example via my links to bookies at the top of this page, good luck!