Drift Betting Term Meaning


The word ‘drift’ is defined as the movement of something from one place to another. As a betting term, the meaning is the same and it references the odds of a particular horse, dog, team or player.

If the price on a particular selection is drifting, that means it is lengthening (getting bigger), which indicates that the bookmaker feels the outcome is becoming less likely to be correct. 

There are many reasons why odds would drift, but one of the main ones is as a reaction to the betting patterns of the public. Let’s look at an example.

  • West Ham are playing against Everton in the English Premier League
  • The odds on West Ham to win are 2.5 to win, while the odds on an Everton victory are 2.75. So, the betting is quite tight.
  • The day before the match, word gets out that West Ham’s in-form striker has the flu and he is a doubt for the match.
  • Punters now feeling Everton’s chances of winning have improved start to put their money on a Toffee’s victory.
  • As more money comes in for Everton, the bookmaker has to react by reducing (shortening) Everton’s odds. To attract interest back into the West Ham side of the betting market, the bookmaker increases the odds on them. This means West Ham’s odds are drifting (getting longer).
Bookmakers will often keep a close eye on some key punters, known as wise guys, and use them as an indicator of when to drift the odds on certain bet selections. Historically this has been especially true for horse racing, as tips get passed around between a core group of friends or associates. 

Wise guys are known for betting early and betting big when the odds are good, so if a number of known wise guys are betting on a particular outcome that’s a sign for the bookmaker to shorten the odds for that selection and drift the odds elsewhere. This can often occur shortly after the bets have been posted, so the bookmaker is able to alter the odds before the majority of the betting public has a chance to take advantage. 

This strategy is to protect the bookmaker from potential losses, but a savvy punter can use it to increase their bankroll. When the odds are drifting, a bit of research may uncover a worthwhile bet among the available markets. If you know the teams and know how they perform, especially against each other, you should be able to hunt down a good bet at the right odds and turn a decent profit.