Dutch betting does not involve Vincent van Gogh, illegal drugs, the oldest profession in the world, Total Football, tulips, canals or any other Dutch stereotypes you might be familiar with. In fact, perhaps a little surprisingly, it has nothing at all to do with the country of the Netherlands, or Holland if you prefer, or even the concept of paying one’s own way by “going Dutch”.
In this feature, we will explain what it is, how it works, when you might use it to your advantage and even where the name comes from. In fact, let’s start with the name…
If we wanted to play it safe we would say that nobody really knows where the term comes from. However, we will gamble just a little and say that this piece of gambling terminology is derived from a man called Arthur Flegenheimer. Flegenheimer was a mobster in New York at the start of the 20th century who was involved in a wide range of criminal activities.
Born in 1901 in the Bronx, Arthur was more commonly known as Dutch Schultz, a nickname he probably got when he worked with Schultz Trucking, though it doesn’t entirely make sense, because of his German roots. As well as racketeering, burglary, bootlegging and smuggling, extortion and more, Schultz was a keen gambler.
Whilst many sites will categorically state that Dutching is named after him, there is very little in the way of real evidence or sources to support this (though it may well be true). With that in mind, we know even less about how exactly the jump from his name to the gambling technique came about.
Where the Name Originates
According to the Telegraph it was because Flegenheimer “coined the term Dutching as he looked for a way to edge the bookmakers at the races.” However, their gambling content is provided by a third party and we do not believe it to be wholly reliable, not least because they claim he was Al Capone’s accountant, something we believe is definitely untrue.
Based on information available on Schultz, specifically looking at a book on New York crime, The Five Families, we have inferred that it could have been due to a numbers racket that the mobster ran. This involved Schultz betting on horse races in such a way as to secure a net win on a related numbers racket and this could certainly have led to his name being used for a loosely similar betting technique.
How Does Dutching Work?
However it got its name, the bigger and more important issue concerns how Dutching works and what it is. Well, in the simplest terms possible, Dutching entails backing all possible outcomes at odds that secure a win overall. To many that will sound too good to be true and the old adage about such affairs will have alarm bells ringing.
However, Dutching is not too good to be true and is indeed possible. It can be seen as a form of arbitrage betting, known as arbing, though that is normally done by backing one particular option and then using an exchange to lay that same option. In even more basic terms, you make a bet at one price and then take other people’s wagers on exactly the same selection but at shorter odds. This creates a margin for you and means that, in theory at least, whatever happens in the race, match or tournament, you walk away in the black.
Linked with Horse Racing
Dutching is most closely linked with horse racing, or certainly that is the sport where its origins lie. In actual fact, horse racing is not a particularly convenient sport on which to employ Dutching. This is because when you Dutch you make separate bets on all possible outcomes. In general, most horse races have at least five runners and quite often eight, 10, 12 or even more.
FA Cup Final Example
Betting on all of those horses is a slow process and requires more complex calculations than a sport or market with fewer possible winners. The simplest example of a Dutch is a good place to start so let us consider the FA Cup final and imagine that Liverpool and Man City have made it to Wembley.
Whilst the standard match odds bet offers three outcomes – both teams, plus the draw – if you placed a wager on the outright winner of the FA Cup, there would be just two options. Let us imagine that the final is perceived to be very, very even and that most bookies are offering odds just under evens on City and the same price on the Reds. However, amongst the dozens of online betting sites out there, you find one that favours City and another that makes Liverpool the favourites.
The firm that thinks City will win will offer longer odds on Liverpool and vice versa. If one bookie has one of the pair at evens, and the other bookmaker has their opponent at any price higher than evens, there is the potential to Dutch the market. If both were priced at evens you could place a £10 bet on each side and break even whoever lifted the cup. However, let’s imagine Man City can be backed at evens but the best price on Liverpool is 21/20.
With the odds above and the stakes mentioned you would only win a small amount. However, any win that is assured, bar human error (you make the wrong bet, or for the wrong amounts, or do not notice that the odds have changed), is still fine by us. And of course, this is just an example: most people who use this technique regularly place far larger bets and often at more lucrative odds.
However, if you were betting around £20 in total at odds of evens and 21/20, you would want to stake £10.12 at evens and £9.88 at the longer odds. If City win the game at evens, you win £10.12 and lose the £9.88 bet on Liverpool, clearing 24p overall. If the Reds win, the £9.88 bet returns £20.25, leaving you 25p to the good once you allow for the £10 loss on City.
Clearly, this would be quite a lot of hassle just to win 25p but let us look at a more lucrative example. For this, let us look at a three-way Dutch. This could be on rugby, horse racing or any number of sports but let’s stick with our FA Cup final instead.
- Man City to win in 90 minutes – 19/10
- Liverpool – 21/10
- Draw – 5/2
At these odds, staking around £20 in total would yield a return of 98p which, again, is not a lot. However, on a bet like this, especially on a big cup final, punters who use advantage betting techniques such as Dutching might stake hundreds or even thousands of pounds. If we up the overall stake to £1,000, you would make the following bets:
- £361.79 on City @ 19/10
- £338.45 on Liverpool @ 21/10
- £299.77 on the draw @ 5/2
This would deliver a positive return over and above your £1,000 (actually £1000.01) of more than £49. To many average recreational punters, the idea of staking £1,000 might seem impossible or too risky. What’s more, they may question whether doing so to win less than £50 is worth it.
However, for some professional and semi-professional gamblers, techniques, such as Dutching and arbing can deliver a nice income, be that alongside a day job or as a standalone career. Even at the higher interest rates of early 2023, you might earn £30 if you left your £1,000 in the bank for a whole year.
With a Dutch such as this you are making far more in just a few hours, the majority of which you don’t need to do anything. If you find five such bets a week that’s a tax-free boost of around £13,000 per year. Not bad for what might only be two hours of work a week.
Dutching & Free Bets
All of our favourite betting sites offer new customers a free bet, bonus or some form of welcome offer. If you feel that the returns from Dutching are too low to make it worth your time and effort, you may still want to use the technique in order to benefit from these promos with as little risk as possible.
Let us return to our bet where the total stake was around £20, with City at evens and Liverpool a shade longer. If you had managed to find those odds with two bookies you were yet to sign up with, there would be a real opportunity here. Let’s say that one offered a £50 free bet for a £10 stake and the other offered £30 in freebies for the same £10 stake.
Rather than placing wagers of £10.12 and £9.88, you could instead place £10 on both sides. This would mean that rather than a certain 24p or so, you would win slightly more if Liverpool lifted the cup and would break even if City did. However, no matter what the result, if things went to plan (by which we simply mean you made these bets as stated) you would have garnered £80 in free bets whilst not losing a penny.
You could then use a similar technique with the free bets to ensure you ended up in the black, or you could simply see them as a free hit to have a bet with no downside. With £80 in free bets even a terrible punter would win some cash overall, on average. Combining the principles of arbing and/or Dutching with the use of free bets and bonuses is more generally referred to as matched betting.
It is beyond the scope of this article to look at that concept in any detail, but suffice it to say that literally thousands of people in the UK have at least dabbled with this. Many have made a few quid, or a few hundred, whilst dedicated souls have made thousands of pounds in this way.
How Do You Find Dutching Opportunities?
There are various ways that punters can find odds discrepancies big enough to create Dutching opportunities. The easiest is to pay to use a subscription service that will deliver regular updates. There are various downsides to this, which we will discuss shortly, not to mention the fact that you have to pay to gain access to these bets.
Perhaps the very best way is to build or develop your own software that will scrape the odds from all the bookies you want and automatically alert you when a Dutch is on. Of course, this is beyond the technological capabilities of most people, which is why many people resort to using tools provided by others.
Last of all, you can try to find such opportunities manually, though this is often time-consuming. This can be done by simply trawling through various betting sites, being able to spot that one or more bookies are consistently out of line with their rivals in a particular market or sport, or jumping on quickly when there is a major price movement in a certain market.
Is Dutching Too Good to Be True?
Short answer: no. Longer answer, it certainly isn’t for everyone and there are some issues, or dare we say risks.
The biggest risk factor is human error – i.e. that, quite simply, you make a mistake. Speed is of the essence when Dutching and with the added pressure of big stakes, mistakes can happen. Whether you forget to confirm a bet fully, back the wrong team or wrong market, or something else, if luck is not on your side when you make such a mistake, one wager can wipe out weeks of hard work.
In addition, it is very common for odds to change between you first spotting a Dutching chance and actually getting both bets confirmed. This can mean the bet no longer locks in a win and actually means you have wasted your time with the end result of a small loss. Or, worse still, in frustration at the odds changing you only place one part of the bet, hoping for the right result, but luck is against you. These techniques should only really be tried by those who are disciplined because if you might be tempted to just let one half of a Dutch ride, you could easily end up with a massive loss.
Part of the reason that odds may move is that other punters have spotted the same opportunity as you but have been a little quicker. This is particularly likely if you found your Dutch via a paid service, as that same bet may have been emailed to hundreds of others. 10 or even 20 years ago, far fewer people were aware of such strategies and things were much easier. Now, with hundreds of pairs of eyes looking at the same markets, Dutching chances are harder to spot and disappear far more quickly.
Bookies’ Red Flags
That brings us to both another general issue with this technique and also another downside to a subscription arb, Dutch, or matched-bet finder. When you place a bet of this nature it is basically assured that one or more of the bookies has odds that are out of line. By this, in simple terms, we mean they have overpriced the selection, or not yet altered their odds hen other bookies have.
Bets like this are a red flag to a bookie and can lead, in some instances, to your account being limited (in terms of stake size) or even closed, after just a single bet. A wager on a huge game like the FA Cup final is unlikely to see such drastic action, even with a substantial stake. However, if you place a £500 bet on Bolivian football at odds the bookie knows were out of line, there is a very decent chance that will be your last wager with that betting site.
Limited or Banned Accounts
Getting limited and ultimately banned is just a fact of life for anyone who uses techniques such as Dutching. Even if you don’t, the chances are that even a recreational punter may see one of their betting accounts at least limited at some stage. However, for anyone Dutching and arbing it is a matter of when, not if.
And, that “when” will be sooner if you are placing the exact same bets as lots of other people. Bookies have many ways of identifying customers they believe will hit their incomings long-term. Being part of, or being perceived to be part of, a syndicate or group will only make any red flag even redder.