Requesting Your Own Odds and Bets
Many online betting sites, and even high street bookmakers, are now providing punters with services that allow you to request odds for almost any outcome you can think of. This is certainly an exciting new feature for bettors, and used well can also be highly valuable. Being honest bookies have always given you prices on request, the difference now is you can ask for odds almost instantly (allowing you to request odds in play for example) and also share those new markets with other customers on the site.
The question is, are these odds request services worth it in the long run? There are many factors that go into setting odds and, in general, any prices you request, especially for more obscure occurrences, will carry higher commissions than typical 'out of the box' wagers. This doesn’t mean you shouldn't place these bets, particularly if you think you know something the bookie doesn't, but it is worth bearing in mind that these features are run at a premium.
Below I recommend some of the better odds request features and talk about some of the benefits and pitfalls to asking to price your own markets.
Best Bookmakers For Requesting Bets
Are Bet Requests Good Value?
If you just look at the numbers then the vast majority of price requests offer poor value to the punter. This is all relative though, poorer value odds for many people are better than no odds at all. When you want to back an outcome that isn't listed in the main fixed odds book then requesting prices may be your only choice.
Bookmakers set their prices based on many different scenarios. The ideal situation for any bookie is to create a balanced book, this means all possible outcomes are backed in a proportionally equal way that ensures the operator makes a profit whatever the result. This is easy for big events that attract a lot of interest, e.g. a big football game, and within that the easiest lines to balance are those with limited outcomes; win / draw / win markets for this reason tend to offer the best value.
The more obscure the market is, and/or the more permutations there are (e.g. first goalscorer vs full time result), the harder betting sites find it to balance the book. Betting sites do use 'wholesale' companies (that you will never have heard of) to offset exposed lines, just like bankers and insurance companies do, even this however can only go so far, and in many cases sites still end up with unbalanced books. For wagers that are harder to ensure profit from bookies will therefore tend to introduce higher margins, or commission rates, to compensate for possible loses on skewed markets.
The biggest factor that helps keep the prices low, as with any industry, is competitiveness. Sites will often end up giving odds that could potentially leave them at a loss in order to beat their competitors prices and so shopping around as a punter really does pay off. The ultimate issue with requesting your own odds therefore is the lack of competition. If you are requesting a bet that no body else is offering then the bookmaker has licence to give you whatever price they want and as they are unlikely to be able to balance that market (by attracting opposite bets) the margins will tend to be quite high. You can read more detail about how bookmakers set odds on our dedicated page.
Using bet request services should be done sparingly but they are still a useful tool for bettors. If you have a strong inclination that a player will score, be booked and take their shirt off, then you are not going to see these odds in the main sporstbook. Therefore your only choice is to use the odds request features. Just make sure you have a good reason to request the bet that outweighs the higher commissions inherent on these lines.
Hold On: Don't All Bookies Offer Prices on Request?
Yes, pretty much all betting sites and high street bookies do offer prices on request, and have done for decades. The difference with the modern bet request services (as shown in the table at the top) is about speed of delivery.
In the old days if you wanted to get odds on a specific outcome you would need to contact the bookmaker, by phone, email, or in writing. They would then need to send the request away to an odds trader who would then feed back to you and you can decide whether to accept or reject them. This means you need a lead time of over 24 hours prior to the event to guarantee getting your requested bet on in time.
Twitter and mobile apps in particular has changed all of this. Now, with a select group of operators, you can request odds on selected outcomes within minutes, meaning you can place the wager you just thought of right up to the event. There are teams of dedicated odds traders to deal with these applications and with some sites you can even request some bets live in play.
The beauty of these services is most bookies make available odds requested by others. This means you can see what markets other people have already asked for prices on, you can then choose to back someone else's prediction or modify it to create your own. The other advantage of opening up these markets to all users is it also helps to make the prices more competitive as the bookie is able to better balance various lines.
How To Request Odds
The easiest way is to get yourself a Twitter account after you've signed up with the bookmaker (remember there are introductory bonuses and free bets you can take advantage of first).
Follow the bookmaker in question and then then you've got a request simply send them a message with the correct hash tag (see table at the top of the page). Usually within minutes the team will get back to you and either directly message you the price, send you a link to where you can place the bet or most commonly will list the market and odds directly on the site in the relevant section.
You can then go and place your bet when you wish. Bear in mind this may be time limited (e.g. with Betfred you must request all odds prior to 30 minutes before the start of an event).
The other option (other than sending an email and waiting for them to get back to you) is to use a mobile feature. Coral also have a mobile app version called Player Bets that can be used specifically for player bets in football.
The example above shows how easy it is to create a bet through Sky Bet's Request-A-Bet mobile package. Once the market is priced up it will show up in the relevant section and you can back it. Alternatively sending them a tweet will result in the same.
Getting The Best Prices When Requesting Odds
Compare Multiple Price Requests
When you request a price there is no obligation for you to actually place a bet. Therefore why not request odds for the same line from multiple bookies and see who gives you the best prices first? This way you can ensure that you are getting the best possible odds at least. In fact, bookies request odds secretly from each other (to their great annoyance) to get a feel for how each of them are pricing a given market.
If you want to bet on something more than a day in advance consider using both the new social media based price request services as well as more traditional requests through direct contact. Get a price form ten different operators and then go with the best one.
Stake and Pay Out Limits
Beware of limits for requested bets as these may not be as high as traditional markets. For example, BetVictor's PriceItUp request market has a maximum payout of £5,000 per customer per bet. This will include multiple bets, so bear this in mind if placing a requested bet in an acca.
It is worth asking what the pay out limits are when you request any wager.
Many bets cannot be combined together due to a thing called related contingency. This states that if two betting markets have related outcomes (e.g. goalscorer and correct score bets on the same game) that they cannot be combined together in a straight multiple.
Markets such as the scorecast (predict goalscorer and correct score) and wincast (goalscorer and team to win) offer punters a way to bet on commonly related markets, however these are limited in range. Requesting your own odds means punters can now get prices on a far wider range of related contingencies than ever before. For example, you could request a bet such as "match to have over 3.5 goals, player X to score, player Y to be sent off, 10+ corners in the match", these are all related markets and you would never find them in a normal sportsbook.
Check Existing Markets
As pointed out above bookies have many in house betting markets that cover numerous linked events, especially for big football games.
It is worth looking at the markets a site is already offering before requesting a bet. I've seen very recently a bet available with one bookie as standard (a game to have 4.5+ goals an a player to score) at 40/1. The same market on an odds request market with another bookie was 25/1 - significantly worse. Only use price requests if you cannot find an existing market that will likely be better priced.
Using Inside Information
In general you are only going to request a bet if you think a scenario not already listed on the site has a good chance of occurring, perhaps you've got some intel or just a feeling it might happen.
Let's say you've heard that a player has just split with his girlfriend because he was found having an affair, you think therefore he's going to be fired up during the match and so you want to bet on him getting booked. The guy is also the key central defender and with his love life on his mind they may concede a few more goals than normal. You therefore decide to request a bet for "player X to be booked and that team to concede 2+ goals". Despite the fact that bookie have higher margins with these bets you can still use small bits of knowledge to increase your edge.
This is very different to using actual inside information. If you request a bet because you have knowledge that something will happen then you could actually end up having your bet voided. Let's say you are a steward at Chelsea's training ground and you overhear the chief exec saying Jonny X will be transferred to Celtic this week. You therefore go and request a bet for that exact scenario. The bet comes off, great, and you might get paid out. Then again you may not, especially if you stuck a ton of money on it.
If a betting site suspects that you have used an unfair advantage (in this case working for Chelsea) to gain from the bet request they will very easily void your bet (but should return your stake). Even if you get away with it once, or twice, eventually if you are using insider knowledge to exploit the bet request system (or indeed any fixed odds markets) they will spot you and either ban you or limit your account.
You may say this is not fair, and in many ways you would be right, you are simply using your own knowledge to your advantage, and the bookies will do this to punters from their perspective all the time. When it comes down to it though these are all private companies and if they want to void you bet before it settles, dispute a pay out, ban you or limit you, then in reality there is little you can do.
Use Your Own Data
Odd traders set odds based on how often a scenario happens statistically, what prices other companies are offering, and how many people are backing a market along with how much money they are staking. The final thing that an odds trader will sue to set odds is their own instinct. In the absence of reliable or robust data therefore odds traders are more reliant on their own instincts and this means more human error can creep in.
If you want to request an obscure bet, especially something that doesn't occur very often and other bookies have not set a price for, then you stand a chance of beating the odds. If you have access to data or information that suggest something has a one in ten chance of occurring and a request bet service is offering you odds of 10/1 or better then this is a no brainier.
This is another good reason to ask several bookmakers for odds on a scenario and then going with the best.
Seek Out an Offer
Offers are common with bet types that have poorer margins (think of the number accumulator deals) and features that are new. Odds request platforms tick both of these boxes and so if you search around you may be able to find a deal to turn the wager in your favour.
For big weekend football games I've seen offers such as "place a £10+ odds request bet, get a £5 free bet request" and also specific price boosts on other peoples bet requests that can turn an OK price into a good one.
Consider Alternatives - Exchange Betting
Betting exchanges allow you to become your own bookie, as well as back bets that other punters propose. Sites earn a standard commission from all stakes and therefore prices tend to be better value in exchanges.
You can use an exchange to propose a bet. Therefore if you think a team will lost by 3 or more goals and a player will see red, for example, instead of requesting the bet you could lay the opposite of this on an exchange (team to concede less than 3 goals and no red card). This in effect gives the same result but will generally be better value.