Arbitrage betting is simultaneously placing proportionate bets on all possible outcomes of the same event, which guarantees profit regardless of the outcome. Also referred to as sure bets, or just arbs, arbitrage betting is the process of taking advantage of the differences in bookmaker prices to make a packet.
An opportunity for arbitrage betting arises when the bookmakers disagree on odds, or make a mistake when pricing a market, and is only possible when there is a large number of bookmakers competing.
Arbing is more of a mathematical process and is quite different from traditional gambling. Furthermore, most arbitrage bettors will admit to having very little or no interest in a sport they are laying a wager on.
Arbitrage Betting Examples
Usually, arbitrage betting is a binary bet when just two outcomes are possible, such as tennis. For instance, a bookmaker is offering a tennis player +105 (risk 1.05 to win 1.00) in a match. Another bookmaker is offering the competitor +105 too. If you place a bet of $100 to win $105 on each you are guaranteed to make $5 no matter which player wins. This is because the winning bet pays $105 profit, and the losing one costs $100.
Spotting an arbing opportunity may be much easier when dealing with a two-way market, such as the above-given example. However, it might be a lot more complicated to detect when dealing with multi-way markets. Let’s take an example from the English League One football match:
Coventy -161 (Coral)
Draw +350 (William Hill)
Crewe +632 (Pinnacle Sports)
In order to detect a possible arbing opportunity, you need to calculate the implied probability using odds converter (there are many available online). In this case, -161 is 61.69%, +350 is +22.22%, and +632 is 13.66%. If you add all three probabilities, the total will come to 97.57%. When the total is less than 100%, you know arbitrage betting is possible!
Arbitrage Betting Risks
Even though arbing is referred to as “risk-free betting” and “sure bets”, the terms are only true in theory. There are some crucial elements to consider before diving head first into arb betting.
While arbing is perfectly legal, most bookmakers restrict or close the accounts of arbitrage players. The main reason being that it costs them money.
One of the biggest risks of arbing is getting stiffed. Despite the fact that many legitimate sites pay 99% of their players, at times they may stiff the big players. They can steal winnings without violating the terms and condition, as most of them contain a section in small print that states that the site is for recreational players only (no Syndicates, Professional Players, and bonus abusers are allowed).
In most cases, arb players end up accumulating a large balance with a sports book. So when it’s time to withdraw their winnings, they will be closely reviewed, meaning the activities and betting patterns will be monitored for signs of steam chasing or arbs.
Additionally, a bookmaker can cancel bets all together when a mistake has been detected. Another thing to take into consideration is that to fully exploit arbing, you must invest a lot of time and funds into your many accounts with various bookmakers.
As you can see, arbitrage betting isn’t risk-free nor is a sure bet. But if you’re thorough and monitor your transactions, as well as double check the odds before placing bets, you may become a profitable bettor who can make a living from arbing.