Factoring & Knockbacks – A Tale From Both Sides
OK, here goes….I’ve been wanting to write about the topic about factoring of accounts and the laying of bets by bookmakers within the current betting industry for while now, but it can be a tricky subject to broach. Most punters these days have a strong view about how companies treat their customers and if you trawl the subject on social media forums such as twitter, facebook and youtube you can find some truly shocking examples of how ‘genuine’ clients are treated by firms with regard to their betting. At the same time, through 12+ years of working on the other side, many, many hours of which time was to do with dealing with the management of customers accounts, I can clearly see from a business perspective that factoring is absolutely crucial in order to run an efficient product and prevent some clients from abusing the betting limits in place.
I will fully admit that I may sound quite hypocritical during this article as many things I have complained about in the past as a trader, I will be suggesting as a working practice to punters now. First things first though, the factoring of genuine punters accounts is a problem at present, and it goes without saying that they are many more accounts being limited now than was the case 15,10 or even 5 years ago BUT there is far more to it than just an over-zealous risk-manager willfully slashing away at any person with a winning account, dodgy looking post-code or Scandinavian sounding name.
Most firms now have specialized departments whose sole job is to look at accounts and decide what the business is likely to be of worth to the firm long term…This includes both pre-match and in-play business. The main problem for me is that although many of these departments have very skilled, experienced individuals who know the workings of trading and betting, there are also many less-skilled and junior guys who find themselves in this role now too. As such the consistency of their work and resulting actions can very poor and this can be one reason for customers to see frustrating knock-backs, on some occasions when they just don’t make sense. This is most noticeably seen when live internet bets are sent through to a referrals/overask function. Depending on who is sat in the office at the time of the bet being asked for, can dramatically change the amount you are laid. Indeed there have been times for me personally where I have asked for two differing bets separately within a few minutes with the same firm (eg 2 bets of 20 quid at 50/1 on separate selections), only to be allowed 50% on one bet and yet knocked-back fully to 0% on another bet….or even to try for a bet and it to be rejected, only to attempt the same bet 30 minutes later, and for it to go through after being ok’d by the referrals desk.
Now, to counter-act the complaints of aggrieved punters about not being able to get their full stake away and that bookmakers don’t show a level of respect to their customers by laying them a bet of a respectable size, I will say that, that unfortunately has to be the case as punters have in their armoury these days many many ways of getting around the limits with bookmakers and getting their desired stake on, from shadow accounts, to shop runners, to employing ‘false’ account management on new accounts to mislead the traders/risk managers as to the possible profitability of your account.
In an ideal world there would be a level of courtesy provided to the ‘sharper’ clients from firms, such as was the case in past decades, where they would be laid a bet of a respectable size and used as a guide for the firm to trade the market by. On the whole, that practice has given way now due to the the increase in numbers of these ‘sharps’ making it unsustainable for firms business model. This in part is due to data being more easily accessible in the public domain via the internet. In terms of betting, the net was a great advance for bookmakers in general as turnover soared, but a great leveler for the average punter to attain a level of knowledge on a sport comparable to the sports traders and compilers.
Another reason for the increased number of factored accounts has to do with how the product of a bookmaker has changed over recent times. In this day and age the ability of make a profit from betting has increased in the punters favour dramatically. Gone has the 9% betting tax (and previously 10%) the customer had to pay on his bet stake, gone (in general) has the high margin applied to many 2-way and 3-way match markets. Younger guys reading this won’t even remember a time when if you wanted to bet on a non-live football match it had to be in a treble or upwards. Now all football matches, in all pretty much all leagues all around the globe are offered with singles available, also with an extensive range of prop markets. If you want to bet half time-full time in an Eqyptian premier match then there are several firms there to offer you odds.
Another thing which is very much in the favour of punters these days is the amount of sports a bookmaker will cover. While many niche sports such as handball, bandy, volleyball, water-polo etc will be run off a ‘feed’ these day where there is little trader involvement, there are also some other sports such as cycling and athletics where the trader in charge of the product will manage that sport as a side-sport in addition to their main sport/s. As dedicated as the trader may be, if he is too stretched for time, then it is inevitable there will be created good betting opportunities for a sharper knowledgeable punter to take advantage of. I am fully aware of this first hand, as in my last trading role I was responsible for the snooker, darts, athletics, cycling and aussie-rules products combined, and while I had sporadic help, it still left me with barely enough time to focus on a product efficiently.
Finally one more thing that is helping make betting easier for the regular punter and that is the appearance of the latest fad ‘request-a-bet’. Here the customer can customize his bet and request a price from a trading member at the firm. Now, I know many will say that these traders will factor in a massive percentage into their compiled price and this can indeed be true, but remember these traders/compilers are trying to put a price on a one-off market where there is a only a small amount of data about relating to it and also many of these traders lack the experience and in some cases common sense to come with a even half-accurate price.
I have digressed a little there, talking about how the overall experience for a punter these days is much more favourable than in years gone by, but I hope reading some of those things you can get an idea of why many sports product owners and risk managers have to react by factoring accounts even if you don’t fully agree with it. Talking earlier about the things punters have in their armoury to get there bets down, below is a few of the most recognized ways for punters who may have been factored can find their way around the system in order to get their stake on:
1. Shadow Accounts
The most used way of getting your money down with a firm where you may have been previously factored or closed is the use of a shadow account (also known as a beard). People who use a friend or relatives account should ideally use an account with a differing postal address as firms can easily spot linked accounts by postcodes. Obviously a different surname helps too!
2. Change Your IP-Address Frequently
Use of VPN’s to change your computers IP address is a good strategy. Firms can track linked business by IP address so is always good to mix them up. This is especially good in case you lived in shared accommodation with other people who may also have their business factored with the bookmakers.
3. Mask New Accounts With False Business
One thing some sharper punters like to do is to try and confuse a risk-management team with their style of betting on a new account. It can be worth depositing for example 200 euros into a brand new account and using the casino/poker site for a day or two, or by betting on high margin markets such as correct-score markets on football. Also, virtual betting, whether it be on the horses, greyhound or cycling products can give bookmakers a false view of the future profitability of your account. If after a month of betting these types of events, you then start betting more sharp lines, such a singles only on more niche sports, then you are more likely (though its far from a bulletproof method) to have an account that lasts rather than if you bet the same sharper singles stuff on your first few bets.
4. Don’t Always Take ‘Black-Type’ (Top-Price) With A Firm
I know this sounds a bit silly as taking less than the top price will cost you percentage in the long run, but if you take 9/4 on something in a 12/5 top-price market, yet you make the bet 13/8 yourself, then you are much less likely to get knocked-back, and there is a greater chance you will keep your account for longer, even if its a winning account.
Risk-managers at big firms are very sharp on black-type business. They will as a matter of course print off long lists of data that shows which punters have taken a price which is bigger than the SP price. and also if your business is consistently of selections which are best price with that particular firm. By taking a price which is slightly below top price (but also a ‘value’ bet compared to the percentage chance you make it) you can escape detection for longer.
5. Be Aware Who You Are Betting With
Like it or not, some firms are just very active with their client management. Firms such as 365 and Boylesports tend to factor quite heavily very quickly where as some other firms can more lenient in the short term and likely to give you a run. Personally I have found that Betfred have tended to have slow reaction times in relation to factoring. Same with William Hill who in the past have been happy to give a customer a bit of a run before they take a decision on the account.
Also don’t be afraid to bet with some of the ‘smaller’ euro firms. Their prices for sports such as snooker/darts tend to be just pilfered from data streams rather than individually compiled, but you can still get a few quid away for a period of time. Firms like betsson, marathonbet, betsafe, nordicbet, betclic, bet-at-home are all reputable enough and although accounts might not last for that long, you can usually get a few useful bets out of them
6. Betting Shops
A pretty obvious one is this, but not all betting has to be done online. Betting in the betting shops (obviously this applies to UK mainly) is a good way to get cash down. There is a (general) level of anonimity to it which makes getting your cash away easier. In addition the obvious plus is that in densely populated areas there can be numerous shops of the same firm in a small area, so repeat betting in the different shops is possible.
Shop betting can also have the same pitfalls as betting online, and you can become ‘tagged’ in a particular shop after a period of time. One option around this is the use of commissions agents / runners who will do the running around shops for you. Many take a small percentage of your profits but it is a better alternative than not getting on at all.
Finally just a word of warning that some punters wont know about the industry. There is a piece of software which allows a firm to type in a punters name / postcode or even IP address and see what his factor is at all his betting account throughout the industry. For example William Hills may have a customer and they have made 0.5 (a bet to win 50% of a standard account), but they will be able to see Ladbrokes have already made the same client at that particular firm 0.05, PP have made him 0.1 and 365 has closed him completely. They can use that information and factor the account even before the punter has has had the chance to make money from them as they know that over the long-term he or she will be virtually impossible to win against. My point is, that it is important to try and use the tricks above regarding IP/shadows to try and muddy the waters in order to preserve an account. As I have previously said, in an ideal world a bookmaker would lay a bet to all customers to a reasonable stake, and in turn the punter wouldn’t go about using aliases, bankers (the use of severely odds-on shots in order to get around limits) false IP-addresses in order to get around factors, but unfortunately this is the situation some genuine punters find themselves in, and it won’t be changing anytime soon.