Many people betting through bookmakers believe that they are playing against the bookmaker and that therefore the bookmaker is the enemy. In that the bookmaker is the one that takes the bets, sets the odds, and takes the money from losing bets; the notion of the bookmaker being the enemy is easy to understand. This is why many people dealing with bookmakers adopt an adversarial perspective, "beating the bookmaker" and so on. However, this is a completely mistaken impression based upon a misunderstanding of how bookmakers work and what their goals are.

When an individual makes a bet with a bookmaker, the goal is to win the bet and make some money. However, the goal of the bookmaker is not to win any particular bet, but to keep his books balanced ensuring that every bet is offset with an opposing bet of equal value. The bookmaker makes his money through fees and commissions, not through winning or losing bets, therefore the bookmaker's goal is altogether different than that of the individual bettor.

A "perfect win" for a bookmaker is a situation in which every bet made is offset by a bet of equal value going the other way. So ideally, for every bet the bookmaker wins, he also wants to lose another bet of the same value. Since the bookmaker charges fees and commissions, as long as the books are balanced the bookmaker is assured of a small profit on every bet made. This means the bookmakers have no vested interest in seeing any individual win or lose a particular bet; their interest is in making sure that all money paid out is evenly offset.

In order to accomplish this, the bookmaker has to take a whole series of rather complex factors into account. His odds and point spreads have to be designed in such a way that he will attract bets both ways, he has to make sure that his odds are reasonable enough to attract business, and he has to ensure that he can cover all of the bets taken. A bookmaker that adopted a confrontational attitude toward his customers would quickly go out of business because no bettor in their right mind would do business with him.

Despite the fact that the bookies take the bets, set the terms, and will collect the money from losing bets; they are not the enemy. They are playing an entirely different game than the individual bettor is with totally different aims and definitions of success. How well an individual bettor does is based upon his skill and knowledge, not on the bookmaker's efforts to take his money. A legitimate bookmaker is just as happy to pay out fairly won winnings as he is to take the money from fairly lost bets. In his ideal scenario every bet won is also lost, so he has no prejudice regarding individual wins or losses. Viewing the bookmaker as an enemy is silly and shows a lack of understanding about how the system works.