Extra Info: Why Bookmakers Gub You
When you go to a casino, you're betting against the house. The odds are set so that you will lose in the long run, but on any individual hand of Blackjack or Roulette spin, the house can indeed lose if they have to pay out all the punters.
A bookmaker, however, works very differently. They take in bets from lots of punters on different outcomes and traditionally would write them all down in a big book. They offer different odds on different outcomes, and adjust the odds on offer, with the aim that no matter what happens, the amount of money they will pay out on that market will be less than the amount of money they took in as bets.
It's easiest to see how this works on a market with only two outcomes, such as the Both Teams To Score market.
What this effectively means is that when you place a bet with a bookmaker, you aren't really betting against the bookie, but against the people who bet on the opposite outcome. The bookmaker is just an intermediary and takes its cut. Therefore, the bookmaker doesn't hugely care whether you win or lose, because their profit is the same either way.
(If you consistently win, they might block you, because if you can consistently place winning bets it reduces their margin on the market - but with average luck you won't run into that issue by a long way.)
When you use a free bet, the book becomes unbalanced, and the bookie will have to pay out more money than they took in on your part of the book. If you win, they have to pay you out without having received any stake from you. If you lose, they have to pay *someone else* out using the money that they would have received from you, had you paid your stake.
Effectively, a free bet involves the bookmaker putting their own money into their book to replace the money they would have taken from you as a stake. It makes no difference whether you win or lose - it costs them the same amount of money. And while they're happy to do that to encourage people to gamble, they don't like doing that for people who are just going to take their money off them.
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