Agents and Deals for Bookies

As things get going in being a bookie you will start to form relationships with your customers.  Some of these may bloom into something much different than what they started out as.


The Agent– This is the guy who will have several people and that play through him or settle up through him.  Getting quality Agents is a critical element to building your business.  I believe good Agents are those that settle up on time and do much of the legwork for you.

A fair deal with a fair guy will turn a fair profit.
A fair deal with a fair guy will turn a fair profit.

Because of this, they may be worthy of certain deals with you.  An experienced Agent will often pitch you a deal.  Some of the typical deals are listed below.

  1. Percentage deal with a Makeup:  The Agent gets a percentage of any win from his players.  For example, an Agent has a 25% with a Makeup and his players lose 5k for the week, then his end would be 1250.  If his players were to win 5k for the week then he would have to “make up” that 5K before getting his 25%.  So if an Agent has a 5K makeup and his players lose 6K for the week then his end would be 250.  The percentage is something that would be agreed to by both of you.  I used 25% in this example because it’s fairly common.

    Doing the math
    Doing the math
  2. Straight Percentage Deal: The Agent will get a percentage of any winning week off the top.  This deal should be written up at a smaller percentage than that involving a makeup.  The reason is that the Agent will be making money regardless of how all his guys are doing against you historically.
  3. Straight Split: The Agent books a percentage of his players with you.    No percentage, no makeup, the Agent just wants to book some of the play with you.  This is fine and dandy but I’d make it a point to always hold more than he does and to try to get some of the site fees from him.

If you’re not discussing a deal that is like any of the above then I would be hesitant to agree to it.  Remember, the Agent may be more experienced than you and that he knows his players better than you do.   Often times he will be a former bookie.  Agents do not fall out of the sky.  Experienced ones have a history and have found you for a reason. Ask questions, find out why they came to you.  The best Agents usually will be groomed and developed by you over time.

Become a Bookie: Knowing Customer Types

As you begin to gain new customers and become a bookie, you will start to see that not all are the same. There will be some fundamental differences that will need some paying attention to.  It’s critical to get a grasp on the types that you will encounter.  I will describe below some of the more common types and their traits.

Garden Variety Player

Your typical player.  He’s going to play pretty steadily in football and some basketball.  He will taper off in baseball.  He will never beat you for too much nor lose more than he can afford.  This guy will often stay with you for years.  A good type to have plenty of.  Treat these guys right because they have other friends like themselves.

The Well Intended Degenerate

This guy often starts out as the Garden Variety.  Over time he may drift into a little more dangerous area for himself.  He is likely to be active all year.  He is a good guy and means well but gets himself into trouble by “chasing” to get out of the hole.  The result is that he will often lose more than he can afford to pay in one week.  He is usually good for it and worth keeping in action and allowing to carry a balance.  It could reach a point where he is perpetually in the hole and plays against his balance.  Making payments every so often to not get too far behind.  This is a good player to have when you become a bookie.  It could be argued that he is the best type, especially if he stays in action and makes those steady payments.  These guys can also stay with you for years.

The Nit

These guys are annoying but unavoidable.  They never lose much, they make few bets and never have any other guys to offer.  The good part is that they’ll pay their stain when they lose.  The balance is typically just a phone call away.  If that’s not the case then you’d have to consider if they’re worth keeping.  They can be a drain on your pay per head budget so be sure they are steady long-term losers and pay when prompted.

The Player/Agent

These types are the key to business expansion in becoming a bookie.  This customer is usually a guy that plays like the Garden Variety type.  What makes him special is that he has several friends that also play like him.

become a bookie and agent
Bud was a good agent.

He will often introduce these players over time.  After a while, he may have 6 or 7 of his friends playing with you.  He will often be the point man when settling up with his friends.  It’s possible that you may never meet the other players and settle through the Player/Agent.  This guy is going to save you a lot of time while also generating revenue. He will never be a drain on your pay per head service fee.  Under these conditions, a side agreement between you two for this work is in the best interest of all.  I will go into different types of deals for the Player/Agent in a later article.

The Whale

You may come across a player that bets higher than any of your other customers.  The term “whale” is relative but this player’s bet amount will give you a big decision on any game he plays.  His plays will often dwarf all others and dictate how your week will go.

The Whale
The Whale

If you find his plays are causing you too much stress, I would suggest finding another spot to lay off to. Do not get rid of the whale!  Keep him happy.  Who knows, he may become a Player/Agent down the road.

The Deadbeat

It’s been my experience that this guy will make you feel uneasy right from the start.  He bets a little higher than the Garden Variety guy, will often have a lot of questions about your rules, betting limits, credit amounts etc.  He’s trying to see what he can get away with.  He will always seem confident and carefree even when stuck a significant number.  He’s trying to relax you and make you feel that he’s ok with what he is down.  In reality, he is just trying to bet his way out of the hole.  If he doesn’t get out, get ready for the following.  Delays in paying, missed deadlines, lies, complaints about the Pay Per Head service etc.  This guy is bad news.  Often it’ll be best to take the loss and move on as quickly as possible.  When you ask around about him, this guy will be known by other guys in the business.  He likely will owe them money too.  Another key element in identifying a guy like this is that he will most often find you.  He looks for new places to play and pull these maneuvers.  Anyone that finds you deserves special scrutiny.

The Wiseguy

On the surface, this player will come across like the Deadbeat.  He will have a lot of questions about your pay per head site, bets, limits etc.  He will play higher than the Garden Variety but lower than the Whale.  He will probably find you.  He will also be comfortable when stuck a solid number.

wiseguy gambler
The Wiseguy…be careful with this one.

There are 2 fundamental differences between him and the Deadbeat.  The Wiseguy will pay you, and often will try to pay early.  He wants to instill confidence in you.  He wants you to know that he pays.  Often, the Wiseguy considers you his customer. Believing that, he will do his best to take care of you.  The joker in the deck is that he will never play a bad number with you and may often be ahead of a line move.  If you’re just starting out and have not built up a solid customer base, I would suggest passing on this guy. Even with a big sheet, this guy still is a tough decision to take on.  Tread lightly for sure.

The Role of the Pay Per Head Service

Pay Per Head Site And Getting The Ball Rolling

As you begin your new venture, one of the first decisions you’ll make is what Pay Per Head service to use.  You’ll want to be sure that you’re customers have access to everything they need.  This would include….

  • betting lines on as many events as possible
  • Multiple bet type offerings
  • 24/7 uptime security-blog-post-imageA safe and secure online environment. Bookiebuddy is SSL protected and all passwords are encrypted on our servers.


The importance of flexibility

As the Bookie it’s important that the Pay Per Head site offer you some flexibility in a few different areas.  Useful features offered on would be…

Look for flexibility
Look for flexibility
  • Ability to offer 3 different sets of lines as well as edit any line offered on the site
  • Setting betting and credit limits per player
  • Show/hide any sport or its subtype
  • Send and receive messages to all or individual customers
  • Quick response from the Pay Per Head site operator for any issues or questions you or your customers may have

Cost effectiveness

Of course, all of the above is great to have but at some point we will have to weigh cost versus value.  It’s critical that the Pay Per Head service you use be able to understand your needs as well as your customers.  The best understanding will come from those that are also in the business or have had much experience.  Let’s face it, a guy that has been a mailman for most of his life is not going to know how to build a useful and effective Pay Per Head site.  It’s just not his field of expertise.  When you or your customers interact with the site operators, your issues should be understood and dealt with by a staff that understands what’s going on and how it affects the customer.

These features, as well as others, will make for a smooth experience for you and your customers.

How to be a Bookie: Using Bookie software and other tips.


Getting Your First Customers

The first thing you’ll need is customers.  The easiest ones to get will be any in your immediate circle that are already betting.  Chances are, they are playing with someone else.


You’re going to have to show them a viable alternative in to have them start playing with you.  It would be a good approach to offer them something they are not getting from their current guy.  Be sure not to give away the farm here.  Some harmless but effective ones may be giving him an account with a 2-week settle-up date rather than the usual one.  Another could be offering a small percentage back off of any paid losses.  Be careful not to offer a discount on “paper” losses.  Tie any discounts to an actual cash settlement.  This will save you plenty over time and incentivize getting paid.  I would suggest not letting them know that you will be the one keeping the bets.  At this point, there may not be much consumer confidence.

Another way to grab a customer is to wait to hear him moan and groan about how he lost a game by a point or a half point.  At that point say something like “Oh, my guy had 3 on that game and I actually won the bet.”.  That should get your foot in the door.

Getting To 10+ Customers

The Bookie's favorite sport.
Another Gronk TD.

After you’ve gotten 2-3 guys playing with you, you will start to feel a little rush.  You’ve finally gone from thinking about being a bookie to actually being one.  The goal now is to get together a good core of guys so that you can start to pay a few bills.  Chances are that you got into this for the money.  You’ll find that having the first few guys can be gratifying but it’s not the cash cow you envisioned.  Getting a second tier of customers is critical.  Always keep your eyes and ears open for potential new guys.  Watch the games yourself at a sports bar rather than at home.  Have guys at your place on Saturday or Sunday to watch the games.  Run a yearly football pool.  The key is to interact as much as you can with guys that like to bet games.  It doesn’t matter at all that they may be playing elsewhere.  Remember, most guys are open to having another bookie as an option.  If you are a regular at a sports bar or club, get to know the bartenders well. They can be invaluable when it comes to providing new customers.  They sit and talk with these guys all week long.  The same guys over and over.   A good idea here would be to kick him back a percentage of any paid losses from his guys.  You want to keep this guy happy and to put a few bucks in his pocket.  He will look to get you more customers if you can keep him happy.  It’s critical to have other generate business for you.  This will be how we go from 2-3 people to 20+.  Breaking through that ten customer threshold puts you in a position to earn.

Be Organized And User-Friendly

To know how to be a bookie, you’re going to have to get streamlined. In the older days, customers would call into you to make their plays between set times.  Using a Pay Per Head site like can save yourself a ton of time and headaches. No matter how few customers you have, getting onto a site like this is critical.  You want your current players to say good things about your operation.  Having a site that offers lines and betting 24hrs a day will do that.  Remember, we are always thinking about adding new people, having a good user experience will do that.


A Few Last Tidbits

Always stay in touch with your guys.  Don’t forget about them after they’ve been playing a while.  Settle with them as agreed.  Pay them early when they win.  Pay them with 100’s and not 20’s.

Show strength
The Bookie’s wallet.

Some guys will view getting paid with small bills as weakness.  Keep your betting limits reasonable.  You don’t want guys getting in over their head.  If this happens, they may feel unable to pay and this can lead to stress on both ends.  Open communication can get you both through these tough spots.  Do not make any bad deals just to add a few names to your customer list.  A smart guy once told me a long time ago that once you give something away, you can never take it back.  Don’t be in a rush to be some sort of Super Book.  If you start to give too much away, you will begin to attract unwanted customers.

One last thing, don’t be concerned about saying “no” to someone new or shutting off a current customer.  If you have thoughts or reservations about a guy, cut him loose.  Let him be someone else’s headache.  Think quality over quantity.  You can often avert disaster with this approach.

Good luck with your new venture.  I hope I have provided some insight on how to be a bookie.