Around 2013 I finally got fed up with betting with bookmakers, in fact it started way before then it was just that around this time I decided to seriously look at Exchange betting only. I suffered from all the anxiety you are probably feeling if you are used to making a few quid betting with bookmakers. The lack of liquidity in the morning on the exchanges will mean I wont be able to do what I am used to doing which is decide what I am betting on, check who has best odds and then proceed to bet with that bookmaker/s, occasionally even on the exchange to smaller amounts. It seemed that deciding what to bet on and then choosing the book with the highest price was a criminal offence in the eye of bookmakers and to legitimize their actions they would lump all such clients under the banner of arbers or filthy arbers as they like to call them. An activity which bookmakers of course never take part in.

So grumbles aside what is the best way to make this transition. These ideas are based solely on my experience and hopefully others will add comments. The first thing you could do is track what lies ahead with your current approach. Any smart punter who is winning with bookmakers should be preparing for the inevitable by additionally placing small breadcrumb bets at Betfair SP. Maybe £2 on all your current bets. This will allow you to gauge where you are in relation to your current activity and the exchanges. You may not even have to log these bets if you currently log all your bookmaker bets (you should be) as you can look up Betfair SP and insert the prices into your spreadsheet and see how you would have faired.

The reason for doing this is it will enable you to see whether your current methods need binning or perhaps just adding to in order to boost or hopefully boost profit.

So lets assume you have done the above over a period of time and you are making between 5% and 10% with Bookmakers but losing 1% with Betfair after commission. This is just an example, I am sure everyone will have different profiles and it is difficult to be specific. My personal conversion showed that my betting was profitable to BFSP but only to around +1% and given that I was having around 3,500 bets per year this meant a paltry 35 pts per year instead of my average 350 pts. It was clear that the market got smarter as time moved through the morning towards the off.

I realized that in order to make meaningful amounts I would have to shift my game up to a very high turnover activity with low ROI but decent returns and this would mean automation. I also realized that small return approaches which normally with bookmakers you would normally cast in the not worth the effort bin suddenly have a different value. If you can automate and some approach makes 0.5% per year then run it as it contributes to lowering your commission and helps keep you away from the despicable premium charge.

OK automation may not be within your skill set but their are off the shelf programs that can help with your automated betting. Maybe even consider getting together with one or two punters with a common need and hiring a programmer. It may not be difficult to find two or three people who all have the same basic need in terms of bet execution but are plugging their own files of daily bets into the software.

I am probably going to add more to this blog entry later but for the time being I will end on these notes. Talk to other exchange players, they are usually prepared to talk about general strategies if not specific bet choice methods. Also be prepared for increased variance. When you are down at the + 2%, +3% or + 5% ROI you are going experience greater shifts around the plus and minus marks. Are decent returns possible of smaller bet samples, yes I think so. I am currently running a Machine Learning model that in testing achieve around 9.5% ROI to BFSP and on live bets is currently running at just under this from 2,400 live bets after 7 months. This bet execution is automated along with a load of other stuff but the ML bets numerically are at the threshold of executing manually. Also let us not forget that the exchanges opens up a whole new side of betting that you previously had not dabbled too much in, LAYING. If you are good at finding value based winners then you should be good at finding value based losers.

One thing is for sure, if you are any good at betting you will be forced eventually to either pack up or consider the exchanges, it is better to consider them now along side your betting so that you are prepared for a successful switch over.

Please leave a comment if you have personal experiences to add with regard to Exchange switching.