Free bets are a huge part of modern bookmakers’ marketing efforts. They’re alluring, and they know it. For someone that’s experienced with betting, they know how important it is to take any extra value from the bookies whenever it’s offered. And, beginners, they’re captivated by the idea of trying out a new strategy with no risk. The free bet is a cornerstone of the best betting offers.
What is a free bet?
A free bet is exactly how it sounds. Basically, the bookmaker provides you with a token to place a bet equivalent to a certain cash value, like £10. But of course, this money doesn’t yet exist, it’s just a token.
We can place this token on a bet, and we will now either win the bet and get to keep the winnings, or lose the best and have wasted that token. In neither scenario do we risk our own cash.
Limitations of a free bet
All of this “token” talk is important. If it was actual money, we could divide it up. £10 can be spread across 10 different £1 bets. But with a free bet, it cannot be divided up, it must be bet as a whole unit on one bet.
Beyond this, there may be some other limits placed by the bookmaker. Often, the free bet can only be used for a single event bet, and not as a stake for an accumulator.
Sometimes, there will also be minimum odds requirements, though this is less common.
Benefits of a free bet
Obviously, having all the upside but none of the downsides is the main benefit, but there are some implications to that too.
The main one is that it can be a way for us to experiment with new strategies. Starting a new strategy incurs higher risk because it’s not yet tried and tested, therefore a free bet is a perfect stepping stone to putting it to the test.
Secondly, it can be a way to keep our bankroll going. Bankroll management is really important, and we may have limits on how often we can deposit. If we’re in a rough patch, a free bet can be a chance to get out of this without breaking our own self-imposed bankroll rules.
Risks of a free bet
The main risk of a free bet is that if you get too many of them, it may change the way you bet. It could skew the way you perceive risk, and begin to build some bad habits because you’re less used to assessing risk properly.
Another risk, although it’s not a big risk per se, is that they can be quite easily wasted. Some people see it as an opportunity to make a silly underdog bet that they don’t really believe in, just because it’s not their money.
Or, they want to capitalize on the opportunity so badly that they make a very short odds bet on the favourite. But of course, we don’t get our stake returned to us because it was a token. So a £10 successful free bet on an event that was 1/4 means we are returned £2.50. In some situations, this is a wasted opportunity