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Express Sport takes a look at every team's chances of winning the 2018 World Cup in Russia

My love of horse racing began almost half a century ago. My late father, a freelance writer, took me to see Arkle race in I was just eight years old, but watching the greatest steeplechaser of all time had me hooked. Today I still love the athleticism of the magnificent racehorses. I admire the courage of the undernourished jockeys. Most of all I love the thrill of a bet, pitting my wits in a gladiatorial contest between punter and bookmaker.

I bet on form, not inside information. Over the past four decades I suspect that, like most punters, I have lost more than I have won. Yet was — by my modest standards — a remarkable year: The email from BetVictor read: My experiences are not unique. The news that bookmakers refuse to accept wagers from winning clients was met with incredulity by my non-gambling friends. In fact, refusing to strike a bet at their advertised odds may break the spirit of the regulations, but it does not break any law.

Bookmaking can be traced back to the late 18th century in the UK. However, the punter-versus-bookmaker battle has been raging in earnest ever since the Gaming Act was passed in In the past two decades, however, the industry has changed significantly with new technology resulting in the spread of internet gambling and this, in turn, has made it easier for firms to identify winning punters than in the days when bets were mainly placed anonymously in smoke-filled betting shops.

Like all businesses, bookmakers need to make a profit and no one denies them this right. But today, they make the rules, set the odds hugely in their favour and, with all these advantages and having already made healthy profits, they then increasingly refuse to take a bet. Is it any wonder that so many punters feel they are getting a raw deal?

Barney Curley , now 75, is a legendary punter and former trainer, who has masterminded several seven-figure betting coups over the past 40 years. By placing a succession of small bets at advertised odds, Curley can, for a time at least, avoid suspicion that someone is planning a raid on the bookies. By the time firms wake up to the fact that they are facing huge payouts on one or more horses, they have to honour the bets already struck. There is no one who will upset the applecart and say: Curley no longer has any bookmakers willing to lay him bets with accounts in his own name.

I retired from training because it was so hard getting any money on my horses. In fact, bookmakers have rarely been under such scrutiny as they are now, after a series of complaints that they are ripping off punters in other ways, too. Allegations were made publicly that off-course bookmakers were manipulating the system to the detriment of punters, though these were denied. Last updated on 5 Sep at 3: Pros Void bets can help cut down your losses Your stake will be refunded even when you have backed a wrong player An unexpected event can turn a losing bet into a void bet Cons Bookies can cover their own mistakes with void bets Winning bet can also be turned into void bet.

Visit 1 Betting Guide arrow. Soccernews Recommends View all 15 bookmakers. Watch TV Watch mobile. Top Picks for your Location Mr Green Mr Green is a new addition to our list of premium sports betting websites, but they are fully deserving of their place. William Hill has long ago become a household name and many believe they are the very best bookmaker in the business.

We definitely agree with the assessment, and so do millions of sports bettors that have been placing their bets with William Hill all these years.

Established over a century ago, Ladbrokes is one of the leading sports betting operators in UK and Europe, providing its customers with a safe and secure gaming experience, great online and in-play betting console and Ladbrokes TV live stream service. Processing over 15 million bets each day, Betfair has set the bar high in the online gaming industry.

The omnipresent spirit of innovation follows you every step of the way, while you place your wagers at some of the best odds on the market. One of the world's most reputable bookmakers consistently offers the best prices on Premier League football and also impresses when it comes to horse racing events, while high betting limits and live streaming service only add to the appeal.

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