Over the past couple of years a new type of acquisition tool has started to appear from the bookies: enhanced odds. We’re not talking about a simple price boost, where a 1/2 favourite gets bumped to 3/4, we mean the new customer only massive enhancements.
For example, one bookmaker is offering (at time of writing) 25/1 for Man City to beat Liverpool at home, up from 17/20 – an almost ridiculous 30x increase over the regular odds.
So there has to be a catch, right? No bookie is going to give you these kinds of odds out of the kindness of their hearts, they’d be bankrupt within a couple of weeks.
The Catch, Or Rather, The Catches
Yes, there are most definitely restrictions to these offers. Not because the bookie is trying to be malicious or devious, but because they can’t go around throwing money at people willy nilly.
What you need to realise is that these bets aren’t normal bets. For starters, they aren’t available to everyone – normally they’ll be restricted to new customers when they sign up meaning that at the very most you can only claim one of these offers from a particular bookie.
Second, there will be a maximum stake. And a low one at that. Generally speaking the bigger the enhancement the smaller the max bet. So a 2/1 bet becoming 10/1 may have a max bet of £5 but a 1/2 to 20/1 boost could be limited to £1.
And finally we get on to the subject of this article. The winnings – more often than not – will be paid in free bets.
What is a Free Bet?
Free bets are another tool used by the bookmakers to give their customers an incentive to sign up and sign around. They’re pretty much how they sound, it’s a bet you get for free. So if you have a £10 free bet, it means you can bet £10 on something without it costing you anything.
Quite often the free bets are not returned with your winnings, which is what normally happens with a cash bet. With cash if you bet £10 at 2/1 you would receive the £20 winnings plus your original £10 back. But with most free bets you would only receive the £20 winnings and the £10 stake would be removed. This isn’t always the case, but it’s more common than not these days.
Once received, your winnings are normally yours to keep. Some betting sites could implement further restrictions on the winnings – such as having to bet it three times before it gets turned into cash – but the better bookies will stick to the ‘one and done’ approach.
Winnings as Free Bets
Returning to the subject at hand, what does it mean when an offer is marked as being ‘paid in free bets’? Here there is a combination of offer types. The first is the enhanced odds offer mentioned at the start of the article. Let’s use the example given earlier – so you bet your £1 at 25/1 on Man City to win against Liverpool.
If you lose, you lose your pound – nice and simple. Although some bookies will offer you a free bet if you lose as a consolation prize. In this example there is a £5 free bet if your £1 bet loses.
If you win, you bet comes in at 25/1. You could be forgiven for thinking that this means you would receive your £1 stake and £25 in free bets, but it’s actually a little more complicated than that. What normally happens is the bet is settled at the regular odds in cash – using our example, that means your £1 gets paid out at 17/20 – and then the winnings are ‘topped up’ with free bets.
This means you would receive the following from your winning bet:
- Stake: £1 in cash
- Normal Winnings: £0.85 in cash
- Free Bets: £24.15 in free bets
- Total: £26 (£1.85 in cash, £24.15 in free bets)
The cash is yours to do with as you choose. Bet again, withdraw, spunk on roulette, whatever takes your fancy.
The free bets, however, can only be used to place bets on the site. Depending on the bookie this could be all in one go (so a single £24.15 bet) or you may be able to break it up into smaller bets. Either way though, that bonus needs to get wagered once more before you can see any true winnings from it.
And as we mentioned earlier, the free bet stake itself isn’t usually returned – so if you bet your £24.15 free bet at evens and won, you would receive £48.30 back in cash, but the stake would be gone.
Free Bets Either Way
We briefly touched upon the idea that often with these offers you’ll get a free bet even if you lose. you could be forgiven for being a little confused by this as it’s just made a very silly offer even sillier – if you win, you get a bonus and if you lose, you also get a bonus.
But if you think about it it makes perfect sense. The bookmaker doesn’t want you to come in, place your £1 bet, lose and then never come back. After all, they offered the bet it the first place to get your custom. By offering a free bet they’re giving you an incentive to come back and try them out again – the hope being that enough people will stick around and keep betting with them to cover the costs of the people who take the bonus and run.
Minimum Deposits: To Bet £1 You Must Deposit £5
An interesting quirk to these kinds of offers is the fact that you often need to deposit more than the maximum bet. The reason behind this is because the maximum bet is so low it’s smaller than the minimum deposit you can make to the bookie – with most minimums being between £5 and £10.
What this means is that after you’ve bet your £1 you’ll also have £4 in cash in your account. And here’s the kicker – the minimum withdrawal is normally the same as the minimum deposit (or greater) so you can’t actually withdraw that £4.
If your qualifying bet wins you’ll get your stake and regular winnings back in cash, taking your balance over the minimum. But if the bet loses you’ll most likely have a shortfall – unless, of course, you received a consolatory free bet and you win enough to take you back over the minimum.
On the other hand, if everything loses – your qualifying bet and your consolation bet – then you’ll be left with a balance to small to withdraw, meaning you’ll need to:
- Bet or play with the funds – but only do this if you were planning on playing or betting anyway
- Deposit additional funds so you can withdraw
Watch Out For Time Limits
One thing we haven’t mentioned yet, but is very important, are time limits. Free bets don’t last forever, so when you get one you need to use it quickly. The time frame varies from 24 hours to a month, but after that they will expire and you would have lost them. So don’t leave them sitting in your account for a week waiting for the next round of Premier League fixtures.
Is it all a Big Scam?
By this point you should have a better understanding of how these enhanced odds offers work, and what it means when a bookmaker says that winnings are paid in free bets. But one question remains: is it all a big con, or are these offers worth claiming?
For many people they aren’t aware of the terms because they haven’t checked the details of the offer properly. So when they receive the winnings they feel cheated as they were expecting all of the funds to be given as cash. But so long as you understand the offer and know what you’re claiming they can actually be quite profitable.
Going back to our example one last time, here you’re risking £1 to either get five times as much in free bets if it loses, or twenty five times your bet in bonuses. Whichever way you look at it it’s a pretty good deal. But only as long as you’re happy to take the free bets and continue betting.