Betting On Large vs Small Markets: Pros and Cons

big weight and small weights on a balance scaleWhen it comes to placing bets, you’ll find that there are two different places that punters can look for their wagers: big markets and smaller ones. Big markets include the likes of Premier League football, the Rugby World Cup, the golf Open Championship or Wimbledon. They are the markets that everyone wants to bet on and that most bettors understand because they’re regularly in the sports sections of newspapers or because they’ve watched them for most of their lives.

Smaller markets are ones that are more niche in terms of coverage, meaning that fewer people are inclined to bet on them. This section includes sports such as volleyball, Gaelic football, table tennis and Australian rules football. It’s not to say that no one is betting on them, but people who do bet on them will usually know the sport relatively well.

There are also big and small markets within sports.  Betting on the match result of a football game is a major market, betting on the number of throw ins in the next 10 minutes is a minor market.  Bigger markets are more competitive and often better value but smaller markets can be more variable and savvy punters can take advantage of that.

There are pros and cons to betting on each market, such as different pay out limits, which it’s always good to be aware of.

Difference Between Big and Small Markets

people standing on different sized piles of moneyHead to a standard bookmaker’s homepage and the first thing that you’re likely to see is a list of horse races that you can place bets on. Scroll down a little and the day’s football matches will be next on the list of things that you can consider placing a wager on, with popular sports like tennis and cricket following that and greyhound racing often not far from the action. These are the sports that bookies know that the majority of punters want to bet on, so the markets are often quite big.

Whilst specific tournaments of other sports will likely also be flagged up as they’re ongoing, there are staple sports that bookmakers consider to be big business. Then come the sports that tend to have less interest for British markets and are therefore much smaller in nature. There will be some people in the United Kingdom that absolutely love Australian rules football, for example, but there are far fewer than will be interested in betting on a Champions League match when it rolls around.

That’s the difference between the two types of markets that you can place bets on and it essentially boils down to popularity. The more popular a sport is, the more people will be betting on it and the more money there will be involved in the outcome of specific events. Look towards lesser-known sports, however, and the sheer volume of bets being placed will be much lower and therefore there will be less money involved when the events are taking place.

Tighter Margins

margin under a magnifying glass

The main thing to bear in mind when you’re looking at what to bet on is that popular sports, which make up the biggest betting markets, tend to have much smaller margins. Their popularity ensures that the majority of bookmakers, if not all of them, will offer odds and therefore they need to be much more competitive in order to ensure that they don’t lose customers to a rival firm. It’s also much easier to balance the books on big events, meaning bookies can keep the margins small.

On the flip side of this is the world of less popular events that make up the smaller markets. The fact that fewer people are betting on them means that the margins are likely to be a bit wider, which presents a canny bettor with an opportunity. Margins vary from bookmaker to bookmaker, so a bookie that specialises in the sport that you’re thinking of betting on will probably have smaller margins than a more generic bookmaker will be able to offer.

Different Payout Limits For Different Markets

SportBet TypeMaximum Payout
Cricket Test MatchMatch Winner£250,000
Cricket Test MatchAny Other Market£25,000
PDC World Darts ChampionshipMatch Winner£100,000
PDC World Darts ChampionshipAny Other Market£25,000
World Snooker ChampionshipMatch Winner & Tournament Winner£100,000
World Snooker ChampionshipAny Other Market£20,000
Champions LeagueMatch Betting, Total Goals, FGS, Correct Score, Asian Handicaps, Handicap Betting£1,000,000
Champions LeagueAny Other Market£100,000

Virtually all bookmakers have limits on how much you’re able to bet on something, either in the form of the maximum stake you can bet with or else in terms of the maximum payout that you can receive. Rather than have a flat rate for everything, most bookies will have different limits depending on what it is that you’re betting on. These limits differ not just from sport to sport but even within sports depending on the bet that you’re looking to place.

As an example, the table above shows what one major bookmaker has as its limits on a number of different sports and the various bet types within those sports.

You can see just how much the maximum payout varies from sport to sport and within the same sport, with the more niche sports, such as darts, having a smaller maximum payout than particularly popular sports like Champions League football. This is something that you need to think about when considering what to bet on, because opting for a sport that you know well might immediately seem like a good idea but you might be restricting how much you can win.

Pros & Cons Of The Markets

Pros and Cons

There are good things and bad things about each of the market types, which you’ll have to weigh up when you consider what you want to bet on. We’ve already spoken about the limits to how much you can win that come with the market types, but what about how well you can use your knowledge? You might be one of the most knowledgeable people in the world about Premier League football, but bookmakers know that topic pretty well too so the odds will rarely be generous.

If you decide to bet on a more niche sport that you know really well but bookies won’t necessarily be all that clued up on, the amount that you can be paid out might be limited but your ability to exploit a market will make it worth considering. The smaller markets will usually offer worse value bets than bigger markets, but being able to use your own knowledge to good effect will likely negate the downside of that particular scenario.