True Cost of a Tout or Runner

What is the actual cost of a runner or tout if you are paying a fee on a per game basis expressed as a price or final cost/return ratio of the bet made?

In the case of the runner, it is most likely for him to be paid a fixed percentage of the bets he makes. Most commonly this is 1% or 2% of the bet. We’ll use 1%. An $1100 bet would earn the runner $11 if he were on a 1% deal. In the case of the tout we’ll say the pick costs $50 for the standard “Pre-March Madness Ohio Valley Conference Inside Info Game of the Week” and the player is the same dime bettor.

For the runner, a common mistake is to just add the fee into the outlay and simply use the 1111/1000 as the actual bet for accounting purposes. That would make the actual terms of the bet for the player a -111 proposition. This is where the miscalculation often takes place. Assuming this fee can be accounted for as if it were just additional vig is an easy mistake to make. The touts love to use this method of calculation as well because it works deceptively in their favor. Many touts don’t even realize they are calculating it wrong though so can’t be too hard on them in this case. Unfortunately, it just happens to work out to their advantage to present it that way.

The obvious reason it can’t be added up as just extra vig is because you get back your posted up vig when you win a bet. In both the runner and the tout cases, you do not get it back. An easy way to correct this is to also take it off the win amount. So in the case of the runner, the actual terms are 1111/989 or a smidge more than -112. The player who paid a tout $50 for his pick is laying 1150/950 so he lays -121. Hopefully, our player using a runner is not also paying a tout. If he were, he’d be laying 1161/939 or -123.6.

Bottom line – if you are paying for a non-refundable service in order to make a bet, you must treat it as a fee and not additional vig. I see this mistake made all the time, especially via tout-speak, so account for it properly before making a decision. If nothing else, it will sober you up as to what a truly costly expense it can be to pay for a pick.

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