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Why are they called "Bookies"?
Well, bookies, or bookmakers, sometimes known as Turf Accountants, are called Bookmakers because they make "books". Not that they are book-writers or book-makers as in book binders. The "book" that bookmakers make is a book of figures, a mathematical table where the amounts of money which are wagered on different outcomes, potential winners in a horse race or football match for example, and added up in conjunction with odds, so as to calculate new odds to offer.

The idea of the bookies calculations is so that whatever the outcome, the book always adds up, and the bookies always makes a profit. Some punters will win and some will lose, but the bookmaker will almost always win. What's interesting is that because most people bet in a mostly arbitrary way, and bookmakers need to make a profit, it's quite possible to bet in clever ways which allow you to make a profit too. You are winning versus other punters' poor choice, not versus the bookies.

One interesting upshot of this is that the odds are very little to do with the actual probability, and are much more of a democracy-based thing, where it's the opinion of the punters and bookies which shapes the odds. Therefore there exist odds being offered by bookies which are much better than the real probability, and which, if you could spot them, you could consistently win a lot of money! What's more, if you did, the bookmakers would not mind. They don't mind if you win or lose, provided the average win/lose in the punter population leaves them in profit. They call this the bookmakers over-round.

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If you decide to put some of this to the test, try out my free UK bookies betting links, for example Coral bookies offer a free £10 bet when you open an account at corals bookies, good luck!

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