I am frequently asked by Against the Crowd readers which bookmakers I recommend they bet with. The straightforward answer is this: the bookmaker who offers the best price and the best place terms on the individual bet you are placing (with some consideration given to which bookmaker offers the horse racing punter the most valuable free bets on opening an new account).

That stands to reason. The overall objective when placing any bet should be to maximize potential profits. Failure to pay attention to that outcome means you’re playing into the bookmakers hands. If you don’t take steps to get the best price, secure Enhanced Place Terms or get all the concessions and benefits available about every single bet you place then you are probably doing yourself out of money and giving the bookmaker custom he isn’t actually working hard enough to earn.

Giving yourself options and choices is a key part of the game. The bottom line is that it is very much in your interests to have access to as many betting accounts as possible – so that you can take advantage of the best options available at all times.

But, of course, very few punters want to be messing about with 20 betting accounts. The administration effort required becomes onerous. You’ve got to manage all the deposits and withdrawals – which can quickly become a nightmare.

And if your details change – your address, your phone number, your email address or your debit card details – you’ve got to update that stuff with all of them. It gets to the point where you have to take a day off work just to deal with it. It’s not what we’re looking for.

So, having been asked repeatedly which specific betting accounts I consider ESSENTIAL, I’ve outlined the details below….

First though, I want to address a couple of general points. I’m probably teaching mother how to suck eggs here, but whilst we’re on the subject of making your betting pay it is probably expedient just to reiterate what you already know….

Make sure you get on Best Odds Guaranteed (BOG)….

This is an absolute must. Most bookmakers (I’ve highlighted exactly what’s on offer from which specific bookmakers below) offer the BOG concession these days. It wasn’t always the case. But it has become part and parcel of the bookmaker’s racing product over the last decade.

Best Odds Guaranteed means exactly what it says. It means you get the best odds about the horse you bet – whatever price it was when you backed it.

If you back your horse and it subsequently contracts in price then all well and good – you’ve done the job yourself and bagged the best price available before the rest of the market rushed in. You’re on at the best possible price.

But if after you’ve placed your bet on a horse the price drifts and it gets sent off at a returned SP bigger than the price you took – then the BOG concession exists to guarantee that you get your bet settled (assuming the horse wins) at that bigger price. It’s a great bit of insurance when you take a price early-doors. You can take whatever the bookie is offering at that point in time, safe in the knowledge you’ll benefit from any drift as the day progresses.

As I say, most bookies offer this concession these days. Here’s what the individual bookies are offering in terms of Best Odds Guaranteed for Internet punters right now (Please note: what is available might change in shops and for telephone betting)….

  • Bet365, Betbright, Betfair Sportsbook, BetVictor, Betway, Boylesports, Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Racebets, Skybet, Stan James, Totesport & William Hill – all offer Best Odds Guaranteed on ALL daily racing in the UK and Ireland.

Don’t wait until just before the off to bet….

When I was just a betting nipper there was a school of thought that maintained that you should wait until the last possible moment to place your bet on a horse race – so that you could factor all possible information available into your thinking.

Fair enough. I get where that view is coming from. If a horse breaks into a muck sweat in the paddock or it gets loose and bolts off into the country, it’s the kind of thing that can reverse your decision to bet. Nobody wants to bet an almost certain loser before the tapes even go up or the stalls open.

But these days I think it pays to get on early and take the best price. If you wait until a few moments before the off to get your bet on then you’re almost guaranteed to get the worst possible deal on price because the bookies will be a long way into the standard process of shortening everything up in order to manipulate the SP and make it as short as they can get it (meaning they pay out the minimum they can get away with on SP bets, multiples and suchlike).

Of course, getting on early always holds inherent risks. If the horse gets loose and runs hard for a mile before the race even begins then you can’t get out of your early bet. If you’re on BOG as we’ve discussed then you will be covered for any drift in price, but the likelihood is you’ve done your money.

That’s the risk – or one of them – associated with getting on early. But taking that chance and swallowing the odd occurrence such bad luck strikes is probably – at least in my view – better than always getting stiffed on price by the bookies in the minutes leading up to the off.

Don’t forget the Tote and the Exchanges….

Plenty of Against the Crowd readers follow my Contrarian Picks and, as such, are often betting horses at big double-figure prices.

For reasons I don’t fully understand most seem to confine their best to the one or two betting firms they are familiar with. They won’t look further than those few bookies and they certainly won’t think about betting the Contrarian Picks on the Tote or on the Betting Exchanges.

It is a mistake not to at least have a look or to consider these options. Given the market position of many of the horses I put up as Contrarian Picks, better ‘to win’ prices are generally available on the Tote or on the Exchanges than you will ever get with an ordinary bookmaker.

I can’t force anybody down those routes. All I can do is point out that those markets often offer a better deal on my Contrarian Picks then you’ll get off the traditional betting firms. They are well worth having a look at and exploring further.

Must-have bookie accounts for Contrarian backers….

Okay – those are the basic points I wanted to make. Now let me highlight which specific bookmaker accounts I consider essential – given the way we play the big races (more-often-than-not at big prices)….

  • A Bet365 account is a must. In my opinion their customer service is head and shoulders above most of its competitiors - not flawless but well-above. But the key betting reasons for holding an account are their wide rage of offers, these are for 18+ only and T&Cs apply, no bet365account? Click here to open one now....

  • Ladbrokes have had to alter their approach to punters in recent years. There was a time they refused to offer anything to entice customers to bet with them. They appeared to take the view that their High Street presence was enough to win market share in a cut-throat market. It wasn’t. Having observed bet365’s success over the past decade they decided to adopt some of that firm’s blueprint and they’ve literally copied the C4 4/1 offer. That needn’t bother us. It’s just another welcome option to take advantage of. No Ladbrokes account. Sign up to today and qualify for a free £25.00 bet….

  • Betfair Sportsbook don’t quite share the largesse of bet365 and Ladbrokes but they do offer a free bet when you back a winner at 3/1+ in selected races. So it’s worth having an account with them to take advantage on an as and when basis. Sign up today, bet £10.00 and get £30.00 in free bets….

  • SkybetPaddy Power and Racebets are all accounts worth holding because these firms are amongst the most generous when it comes to delivering Enhanced Place Terms on big races – particularly the big-field handicaps where getting paid out on the extra place can make a big difference.

No doubt you will have your own ideas but those firms – for what it’s worth – represent in my view the best of what’s available in the fixed odds department.

  • Personally most of my betting is done on the Betfair Exchange platform – and that’s been the case for more than 10 years. Exchange betting is not for everybody. Some punters can’t get their head around how it works – though it’s not too difficult once you get going and there are plenty of free onsite tutorials available to help you get to grips with the layout, the decimal odds and how it all works. Personally I like the big win prices available about most of my Contrarian Picks (always bigger than I can get with the firms), I like being able to lay horses and trade out of positions if the mood takes me, I can ask for better prices if what I want isn’t available, I know I’m always going to be able to get on (whatever the stakes), I know I’m not going to have my stakes limited or closed-down if or when I win and the Betfair SP (generated to a neutral over-round of 100%) offers an alternative to industry SP betting. Get to grips with Exchange betting here….

Exchange betting has a lot going for it. The downside is you pay a commission on winning bets – but overall I prefer the exchange experience to dealing with tight-fisted firms. For me it’s the best betting option out there and one I wouldn’t want to be without – but that’s just my opinion of course.

Would you like to add anything?

If you’d like to add to this advice – whether it’s general race-betting wisdom or your take on which betting accounts are best – then please feel free to get in touch.

I’m all for an exchange of knowledge and views – because that’s something we all benefit from.

Just drop me a line outlining your thoughts and I’ll add the good stuff to the points above. For example, you might wish to offer your opinion on which boomaker has the best free bets offer for new account holders. Or you might have a view on which bookie offers the best prices. Or is first up most frequently with ante-post markets? It is your opinion that counts. And I want to hear it.  You can contact me directly right here.