How to Win Big at Soft Sportsbooks in the US Without Getting Banned

Inside a Casino Sportsbook, Pile of Money
You may have heard that sportsbooks ban winners. This widespread belief isn’t always true across the board.

However, it does hold a lot of truth at “softbooks.” What exactly are softbooks and why are they so fast to ban winners?

With the 2020 XFL season in full swing, it’s important for all bettors to understand the way all bookies work. If you’re looking to bet on the XFL, be sure to always only use the safest XFL betting sites.

Now, I’m going to discuss the basics of these types of sportsbooks below. I’ll also cover how you can win at them without being banned.

What Is a Softbook?

A softbook (a.k.a. squarebook) aims to serve recreational bettors. They like the recreational crowd because it poses no threat to their profits.

Squarebooks, however, don’t like serving real money professional bettors, which are often referred to as “sharps.” I’ll get into the details later on why these bookmakers dislike pros.

Another characteristic of softbooks is that they feature softer lines than many other bookmakers, hence the name. These operations don’t make the market; they just react to how “sharpbooks” move odds.

Regarding the latter, sharpbooks set the trends in terms of how lines move. They’re more than happy to cater to professional bettors.

These bookmakers actually use sharp money to help shape their odds. As a result, they’re able to offer the most efficient lines in the market.

As you can see, squarebooks are on the opposite end of the spectrum from sharp bookmakers. They only like amateur customers and will use any means necessary to protect their business model.

Advantages of Softbooks

The primary benefit to gambling at squarebooks is the friendly lines. You can find more value within these bookmakers’ odds.

Again, squarebooks don’t dictate the market. They wait to see how the sharpbook handicappers move lines, then act accordingly.

Of course, soft bookmakers can be slow to adjust their odds. They’re merely watching what other sportsbooks do and aren’t always able to move their lines quickly.

Football Field End Zone View, Sportsbook Moneylines

Another advantage to squarebooks is that they offer more bonuses on average. Considering that they primarily serve recreational gamblers, they use bonuses to entice their customer base.

You can often get free bets and possibly deposit bonuses at online softbooks. For example, you might receive a $25 free bet after making your first deposit. Assuming you lose the first wager, you’ll have an opportunity to win these losses back.

How Soft Bookmakers Typically Treat Winners

Squarebooks don’t treat most winners very well. This is exactly why they have the reputation for banning all winners. The reality, though, is that the sportsbooks don’t ban everybody just for being successful. But they do take action against consistent winners who cut into their profits.

The most basic thing that softbooks do to discourage winners involves imposing strict betting limits. Even with liquid markets like the NFL or NBA, squarebooks may only allow up to a $1,000 or $2,000 max wager.

Considering that some sharpbooks allow up to $100,000 bets or more on liquid markets, these stakes are extremely low.

Softbooks will also limit max bets for individual gamblers when they feel it’s necessary. If they see that somebody is consistently winning $1k wagers, they might limit their max bet size to $200 or less.

Another measure that softbooks take against successful gamblers involves restricting their markets. Assuming somebody wins regularly at soccer betting, then they might be restricted from placing wagers on related leagues.

A softbook’s last resort is to ban anyone who keeps winning big. Such action can give a bookmaker a bad name, but it’s also a simple solution.

Why Don’t Softbooks Welcome Most Winners

The main reason why squarebooks don’t like successful bettors is that they want to limit their exposure. Assuming these bookmakers had both soft lines and incredibly high betting limits, then they’d get crushed.

Most softbooks don’t have the liquidity to handle big wagers from the pros. Therefore, they do everything in their power to ward off sharps.

It’s important to distinguish that there are different types of winners, too. Squarebooks generally don’t have a problem with people who win at small stakes. They’re not going to freak out over somebody who’s winning $25 wagers.

They do, however, get worried about big winners and those who engage in certain types of real money betting. Regarding the latter, arbitrage betting (arbing) and steam chasing can both hurt squarebooks.

Arbing is the process of wagering on every outcome of the same match at different sportsbooks. This process requires bookmakers to differ enough on the odds to work.

XFL DC Defenders Logo, Houston Roughnecks Logo

Here’s an example:

  • Houston Roughnecks +235
  • DC Defenders -215
  • You bet $100 on the Roughnecks.
  • You need to wager $228.67 on the Roughnecks to maximize your arb.
  • Your profit will be $6.33

A steam move is when a group of professional bettors (syndicate) quickly place wagers on the same outcome at different sportsbooks. The “steam” aspect comes in when operators quickly move their lines to limit exposure to more pros.

Steam chasers don’t have the skills of sharps. However, they can take advantage of the pros’ knowledge by acting on the odds before they’re moved.

Most bookmakers will move their lines in time to avoid being taken advantage of by steam chasers. But there’s always the potential for a few stragglers.

Even at the best sportsbooks in the US this happens. For example, this is commonly done at the Westgate and MGM Grand sportsbooks in Las Vegas.

Arbitrage gamblers and steam chasers can win consistent profits. But the problem is that they’re not using any skills beyond a certain betting technique to win. Therefore, sportsbooks feel entitled to limit or ban the accounts of arbers and steam chasers.

What Can You Do to Keep Winning at Softbooks?

You can see that winning at squarebooks isn’t an easy matter. Bookmakers are on top of their game when it comes to banning certain types of winners.

However, you can still be successful at soft bookmakers with the right techniques. Here are some tips for how you can evade their detection while still collecting profits.

Make Smaller Bets

One of the biggest things that squarebooks hate is a consistent winner who places max wagers. After all, such bettors are truly capitalizing on their success.

Bookmakers dislike this, because they’re the ones footing the bill. They don’t mind a small stakes winner here and there, but they don’t want gamblers winning lots of $1k and $2k wagers.

Mix Up Your Betting Action

Successful bettors often go to the well too many times. They may wager on obscure markets (e.g. curling, darts) over and over again, where they can gain a bigger advantage.

Sportsbook, Man Holding Out Dollar Bills

Likewise, these winners will place the same type of bets (e.g. moneylines, point spreads). Any sportsbook that checks such accounts will be more apt to ban them for winning consistently in specific markets and/or with certain wagers.

You can avoid this problem, though, by mixing up your wagers a little. You can try different markets at lower stakes and also take parlays (disadvantageous bets) every now and then.

Don’t Chase Steam or Arb

Chasing steam and arbing are two of the surest ways to get banned from a softbook. Both of these methods can lead to guaranteed wins without requiring notable handicapping skills.

Sportsbooks see the point of betting as trying to out-handicap them. They don’t accept arbing and steam chasing as legitimate ways to win.

Bookmakers haven’t invented a foolproof method for catching such gamblers. But they can look at bet sizes, markets, and more to figure out if you fall into one of these categories.

Avoid Depositing and Withdrawing Too Often

The chances of you making a good living at squarebooks are very low. The conservative betting limits alone will prevent you from earning a fortune.

But you can still supplement your income, or even make a small-time living through softbooks. In either case, you’ll feel the temptation to move lots of money.

However, you should resist these temptations. Sportsbooks that see a lot of deposits and withdrawals will likely peg you as a serious real money advantage gambler.


All sportsbooks are in the business to make a profit. But they can differ on how they go about accomplishing this goal.

Squarebooks want to serve recreational gamblers while avoiding sharps, arbers, and steam chasers. Of course, they can’t identify the latter categories immediately.

Instead, they must use various methods to detect sharps, steam chasers, and arbers. They look for telltale signs, such as consistent wins, max bets, and wagering on obscure markets.

You can avoid being limited or banned by softbooks just by knowing what they dislike. Assuming you’re a successful bettor, you can make moderate bets, wager on a larger variety of markets, and occasionally mix in a parlay or two.

You may even be able to get away with arbing or steam chasing with the right knowledge. Of course, these discussions are for a different time.

The key is that you’re aware of why softbooks ban winners and how you can avoid getting the boot yourself. If you stay under the radar, then you have a better chance to win without being limited or outright banned.brade