What makes a good bookie

WITH so much choice available to bettors about where they place their bets, bookies should be competing more and more on customer service.

WITH so much choice available to bettors about where they place their bets, bookies should be competing more and more on customer service.

Sadly, this isn't always the case. I have accounts with a number of bookmakers whose staff are rude on the telephone and seem to regard their clients as "the enemy". If you are a winning bettor, it is not that surprising that bookies don't delight in accepting your bets. But they should always be professional in their dealings and the advice is that if your bookmaker treats you badly, take your business elsewhere. And if you are a losing client then they really should treat you well.

I find the following makes a good bookmaker:

1. A good range of coverage and good odds

Some bookies only cover a limited number of events and offer uncompetitive odds on all of them. These bookies do not deserve to have customers. A bookmaker has a difficult job as they have to post odds on all sorts of events and then the bettor decides which bet to take. But that is why they are bookmakers and those bookies who only offer a limited service should be ashamed of themselves.

2. A willingness to take a decent sized bet

Too many bookmakers are not willing to accept anything but small bets. My view is that in competitive games - for example, live English Premier League, Italian Serie A or Spanish La Liga matches - bookies should accept straight bets of at least US$5,000 per side and perhaps as much as US$100,000 per side without changing their odds. Sadly there are many bookies - including some of the big names with tens of thousands of clients - who consider US$250 a big bet.

3. Good customer service

On the telephone, bettors should expect to talk to operators who have a good knowledge of betting markets. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to place a bet with someone who does not really understand what you are trying to do. On the Internet the site should be easy to navigate and it should not be possible to place bets by mistake. You should be asked to reconfirm your bets (this is a particularly annoying feature of the William Hill site, which does not have a reconfirmation facility).

4. Clear statements/accounts

Bookmakers should be able to provide you with a clear and simple print out of all the bets you have placed with them, going back over months (and even years). They should also tape all conversations you have with them on the telephone so if there is a dispute it can be easily resolved who owes how much money to whom. Mistakes happen a lot more often than you might imagine.

If you can find a bookmaker who offers these four crucial elements then it is worth sticking with them. It's amazing how few bookmakers actually are able to make four such simple elements work properly and offer a service that makes you happy to bet with them.