Master the Art of Sports Arbing: Your Beginners Arbitrage Betting Guide

Updated: 7074 Learning

Unravel the savvy world and pitfalls of sports arbing. This guide details arbitrage betting tactics, tools, and tips to ensure a low-risk profit in sports betting.

Master the Art of Sports Arbing: Your Beginners Arbitrage Betting Guide
Nigel Skinner Blog Content Manager

Football Manager Expert and Political Betting Specialist across Exchange and Spread Betting Sites

Welcome to the strategic realm of sports arbing, a betting technique that guarantees profit, regardless of the event's outcome. This article illuminates the intricacies of arbitrage betting and the pitfalls, guiding you through its legal landscape, potential rewards, and implementation strategies. Perfect for bettors seeking a systematic approach to secure winnings in the volatile world of sports betting.

Secure Wins with Sports Arbing! 🚀💸

🎯 Dive into the world of Sports Arbing with our latest guide! Master Arbitrage Betting, turn odds in your favour & secure wins regardless of the outcome. Your betting game is about to change! 📈

Introduction to Sports Arbitrage Betting

What is Arbitrage

Arbitrage, according to the dictionary, is: 

The simultaneous buying and selling of equivalent assets or of the same asset in multiple markets in order to exploit a discrepancy in price. 

The keyword is simultaneous, so there should be no risk because you are placing both bets at the same time. 

Historical background

Arbitrage, as it sounds, comes from the French and denotes a decision or decision maker. It is widely used in financial markets, and its origins go back to the Middle Ages. 

Understanding the basics

Arbitrage is a strategy in which you aim to profit from varying prices for the same asset in different markets. 

The best betting sites worldwide are in competition with each other to attract your money, they do this by offering varying odds. 

In betting terms, the quick National Hockey League example below shows how this is achieved. 

Example 1

Vancouver Canucks vs Colorado AvalancheBookmakers
Over 6.5 Goals2.08
Under 6.5 Goals2.1
Profit4.3%

Two different bookmakers had the above odds, you could back both over and under (which are the only possible outcomes) and make a 4.3% profit whatever happens. 

Example 2

In a particular event with only two outcomes such as asian handicap betting 

  • Bookmaker 1 may offer odds of 1.25 on Outcome A and odds of 3.9 on Outcome B. 
  • Bookmaker 2 then may price Outcome A at 1.43 and Outcome B up at 2.85.
  • The arb here is in backing Outcome A at Bookmaker 2 and backing Outcome B at Bookmaker 1.
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To decide what stake to place on the higher-priced selection, multiply your stake on the lower-priced selection by the sum of the shorter odds divided by the bigger odds. 

In this case, if you wanted to place £200 on the Outcome A: £200 x (1.43/3.9) = Stake for Outcome B which would be £73.33

If Outcome A wins at 1.43, your return for a £200 stake would be £286; if Outcome B wins, your return for a £73.33 stake would be £285.99. 

Your total stake for this arb would have been £273.33, meaning you'll make a profit of £12.67 whatever happens. 

That might not seem like a great profit for such a big outlay, but it represents a 4.6% rate of interest for what should be a short-term bet that can't lose.

Arbitrage Rule

Arbers never bet on a single outcome, they always place bets on different outcomes to exploit the differences in odds.

How Sports Arbing Works

Look across the grid of prices on one individual betting market and you will see a range of odds. 

Bookmakers price up markets so whatever the result they make a profit, they do this by adjusting prices so their percentage odds come to more than 100%.

A market that is over 100% will always give the bookmaker a profit.

The arber is looking for stand out odds on the same event that will give them a profit whatever the outcome. 

Below is an example of a dice being thrown and the odds that would be supplied by a bookmaker. 

As we know there there are only six possible outcomes, with the true odds being 6.0 (5/1) but the bookies only offer us 5.5 (9/2).

Example 3

Side

True %

True Odds

Bookie Odds

Bookie %

1

16.66%

6.00

5.50

18.2%

2

16.66%

6.00

5.50

18.2%

3

16.66%

6.00

5.50

18.2%

4

16.66%

6.00

5.50

18.2%

5

16.66%

6.00

5.50

18.2%

6

16.66%

6.00

5.50

18.2%

Total

100%



109.2%

If you were to back every number with a bookmaker you would lose money. The betting percentage total comes to 109.2%, so for every  £100 they take in bets they only pay out £90. 

With arbitrage you are looking for different prices across bookmakers so you can find stand out odds on all the possible outcomes that come to LESS than 100%.

We have a full and detailed explanation of how bookmakers work via the blog below.

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Let's take a tennis match where there are only two possible outcomes and a football match where there are three outcomes.

Example 4

You can see that the individual bookmakers odds all add up to OVER 100%, however by cherry picking odds from two different bookies we have found prices that total less than 100% and found an arbitrage opportunity.

PlayerBetwayBoylesportsSmarketsPaddy PowerBest Odds
Daniil Medvedev1.61.61.751.651.75
Grigor Dimitrov2.52.52.252.252.5
Total Book %102.50%102.50%101.59%105.50%97.14%

Example 5

In the (1X2) football marker with three possible outcomes arbitrage is still possible as long as the odds are big enough for the overall percentage to fall below 100%. 

TeamBetwayBet MGMSmarketsBet VictorBest Odds
Arsenal3.43.63.453.23.6
Liverpool2.162.12.22.12.2
Draw3.83.73.753.953.95
Total Book %102.02%102.42%101.11%104.19%98.55%

Hopefully the above gives you a clear understanding of what to look out for when hunting for arbitrage sports bets. 

Identifying Arbitrage Opportunities

Most  arbitrage opportunities will not be around for very long, you as a bettor will need to monitor the odds comparison sites and the individual bookmakers. Some firms DO NOT advertise on these odds comparison pages and that is where you may well find some better odds. 

Automated alert systems or software can help you stay updated on potential opportunities, some of these will be costly but there are a small number of free services. 

There are also websites that have sprung up that publish price discrepancies, but these prices are snapped up quickly.  

From the examples above you know what you are looking for so give yourself the best chance by being on the ball and having the tools to hand. 

The google store even has an arbitrage calculator.  

Calculating the Arbitrage Percentage

Every bookmaker price can be converted into a fraction.

9/4 (3.25) for instance represents 30.769%, how did I get to that percentage figure? 

Add the 9+4 = 13 and then divide by the 4 this gives you an answer of 3.25. 

100 (the %) divided by the 3.25 then gives you the 30.769.

Lets try 13/2 (7.5). 

Add the 13+2 =15 and then divide by the 2 gives you the answer of 7.5. 

100 (the %) divided by the 7.5gives you 13.33%. 

By adding the percentages of two sets of possible arbitrages then you know what profit you will make on the bet.

4/5 = 55.56% + 2/1 = 33.33%

Total = 88.89%. 


Fractional OddsDecimal OddsPercentage
1/51.2083.30%
2/91.2281.80%
1/41.2580.00%
2/71.2977.80%
3/101.3076.90%
1/31.3375.00%
4/111.3673.30%
2/51.4071.40%
4/91.4469.23%
40/851.4768.00%
1/21.5066.67%
8/151.5365.22%
4/71.5763.64%
8/131.6261.90%
4/61.6761.54%
8/111.7357.89%
4/51.8055.56%
5/61.8354.55%
10/111.9052.38%
21/201.9551.22%
EVENS2.0050.00%
21/202.0548.78%
11/102.1047.62%
6/52.2045.45%
5/42.2544.44%
13/102.3043.48%
11/82.3842.11%
7/52.4041.67%
6/42.5040.00%
8/52.6038.46%
13/82.6338.10%
7/42.7536.36%
9/52.8035.71%
15/82.8834.78%
2/13.0033.33%
85/403.1332.00%
11/53.2031.25%
9/43.2530.77%
12/53.4029.41%
5/23.5028.57%
13/53.6027.78%
11/43.7526.67%
14/53.8026.32%
3/14.0025.00%
16/54.2023.81%
10/34.3323.08%
17/54.4022.73%
7/24.5022.22%
18/54.6021.74%
4/15.0020.00%
9/25.5018.18%
5/16.0016.67%
11/26.5015.38%
6/17.0014.29%
13/27.5013.33%
7/18.0012.50%
15/28.5011.76%
8/19.0011.11%
17/29.5010.53%
9/110.0010.00%
19/210.509.52%
10/111.009.09%
11/112.008.33%
12/113.007.69%
13/114.007.14%
14/115.006.67%
15/116.006.24%
16/117.005.88%
20/121.004.76%
22/123.004.35%
25/126.003.85%
28/129.003.45%
33/134.002.94%
40/141.002.44%
50/151.001.96%
66/167.001.49%
100/1101.000.91%


 Tools and Software for Arbing

Automated alert systems or software can help you stay updated on potential arbitrage opportunities, as soon as a market is identified you are emailed or messaged with the information. 

Matched betting calculators can be utilised to help with staking

There are also websites that have sprung up that publish price discrepancies, but these are snapped up quickly.  


Advantages of Arbitrage Betting

Risk Management

When attempting arbitrage you need to identify potential risks before placing your bets.

 Are there any external factors that could affect your bets? 

You need to set limits on how much you are going to place. 

You need an understanding of the impact on your betting bank 

How will a large loss affect overall confidence going forward?

Guaranteed Profits

Arbitrage betting can guarantee profit before a ball is kicked or serve made.  No bet is ever risk free but arbitrage betting is the closest you will ever get. 

Sports Arbing as an Investment

If you regard arbing as a long term investment, with small percentage gains on each bet then you can end up with a decent overall Return On Investment

By the very nature of arbitrage you will be lucky to return more than 8% on an individual trade, but those percentages do add up over the year. 

Steps to Placing an Arbitrage Bet

You will have to be both patient and alert. 

Your patience is needed because arbitrage opportunities do not come along that regularly, but when they do, you need to be alert to the chance of a profit. 

Once identified, you must have enough funds in the correct account or add funds to that account immediately. 

You will need to calculate (as above) the right amount of the bet to secure the most significant profit and then simultaneously place both or all bets.

 

From a legal standpoint arbitrage is perfectly legal. Some argue that exploiting errors (as opposed to differences) in bookmaker pricing is unethical; a staff member may have inputted the wrong digits and published those odds. 

However, these are rare and should not trouble arbers' thoughts. 

Bookmaker Policies on Arbing

Understandably the bookmakers are not keen on punters guaranteeing a profit. There is rarely any mention of arbitrage in their terms and conditions but they know it goes on. 

They are in business to make money, not give it away and can come down hard on those they suspect of arbitrage. 

It is likely they will always be fully  aware of arbitrage opportunities and may either cut their price to come into line with others OR not allow you to place the bet, especially if they have noticed that you are regularly placing single bets with unusual amounts. 

Betting Amount

Once you have calculated your arbitrage bets it can be advisable to round up the figure you bet. The bookmakers will be alerted that you are an arber if you regularly place unusual amounts (£19.23 or £47.58 as opposed to £20 or £50).

Some bookies may feel your custom is not commercially viable and will give this as a a reason to close your account. 

To read about AVOIDING bookie restrictions check out the article below. 

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Opening Accounts with Multiple Bookmakers

To be in with a chance of placing winning arbitrage trades then you will need to have access to multiple bookmakers. 

Without multiple accounts you will not be able to place bets at the prices you need. 

The good news with this is that you can take advantage of any free bets  on offer when opening your account. 

Free Bets

When opening an account why not take advantage of their generosity and place an arbitrage bet that will guarantee you a return.

On OLBG we have a daily updated list of the bookmakers with account opening offers.  

Arbitrage Timing

Many stand out odds will not be standing out for very long, bookies will be alerted to either other punters taking advantage of a price or be alerted internally.  

Timing is crucial and  you need to be aware of what time of the day prices are first posted. 

Placing bets too quickly after a range of odds have been released may also see your account flagged as an arber, you need to be shrewd. 

Different time zones of both bookmakers and where the events are being held need to be considered. 

Withdrawing Funds

When you withdraw funds the bookmakers will look in more detail at your betting history. Be wary not to withdraw too often if you want to continue using that specific bookmaker, and especially not as soon as a winning bet has been settled. 

Key Strategies and Tips for Successful Arbing

Maintaining Discretion

As much as we all like to be praised for our betting brilliance it would be wise not to publicise your arbitrage style. Bookmakers are all over social media and can see when someone is boasting about what they have achieved. No bookmaker likes to be shown that their odds were too generous and that you made a successful arbitrage trade. 

Bankroll Management

As in life you need to make sure that you have enough funds to carry out your day to day activities. If you see an opportunity you need to strike and do not want to be messing around with different bookmaker wallets. You need to keep funds in a range of accounts that are ready to go.

Continuous Education and Practice

You have chosen arbitrage as a course you wish to take and need to know everything about the practice. You should keep up to date with any innovations in the market and look at posts and blogs by seasoned players. Bookmark all the websites of interest and read as much as possible. 

When starting, why not "paper trade"? With paper trading, you simulate arbitrage bets to test new strategies, evaluate the performance of different trading approaches, and gain experience without risk.

You may be able to use a simulated trading platform. If not, just test your arbitrage strategy utilising a spreadsheet.


Taking Action in Sports Arbitrage Betting

Recap of the Risk-Free Betting Method

In summary, Arbitrage betting involves simultaneously taking advantage of price differences from bookmakers and betting exchanges to guarantee a profit. 

It is different from trading because you take multiple odds at the same time; you are not waiting to be matched.

Diligence and Patience

On an average midweek day in March at 10.00 am, I found three opportunities that would have resulted in profits between 2% and 7%, so you are not going to be inundated with arbitrage trades. Patience needs to be the watchword for this type of bet. 

Final Tips for Aspiring Sports Arbitrage Bettors

Arbitrage betting will not be for everyone; you need the right mindset. 

Will you be content with making small gains as opposed to life-changing wins? 

Are you disciplined enough to step in when the time is right and walk away if you have doubts after evaluating the chance? 

Remember, it can be done, but like most things worth doing, arbitrage will not be for everyone and is not that easy.

FAQ

  • What is Arbing?

    Arbing is also known as 'matched betting' these days. It involves placing bets on every possible outcome of an event with different bookmakers at prices that ensure a profit will be achieved. Profits are often small in percentage terms, but if stakes can be matched, profits can be made regularly.

  • Does Arbing get you gubbed?

    There is every possibility that you will get gubbed (having your account closed or limited) following arbitrage activity with a bookmaker. This is especially true if you are constantly using a promotion or odds boost with a single bookmaker on one side of your warning activity. You will be logged if only betting when best odds are offered, or a promotion taken advantage of. Expect to be dubbed pretty quickly too. It is worth taking some time to investigate ways to stop getting your account gubbed.

  • How do you place an arbitrage bet?

    The way to make an arbitrage bet is to first know what to look for. Finding two opposite outcomes that offer the opportunity is a must. Example - a tennis match where each player is available to bet at 2.00 (1/1) or above to win. Place the bets with the separate bookmakers, and wait for the event to finish, then go and and collect from the bookmaker with whom you placed the winners bet.

  • Is arbing illegal?

    Arbitrage betting is not illegal. The activity is simply buying odds from two different sources in such a way as to ensure a profit regardless of the outcome. As long as you are making the bets with honestly earned money and not ill gotten gains, then no laws will be broken.

  • Will i need lost of betting accounts to be succesful with arbitrage

    Yes, you have to be able to place a bet with the bookmaker with the best odds, if you do not have an account with that bookmaker you will need to open one. The more accounts you have the better chance of getting the odds required. 

  • Can i use a betting exchange for arbitrage

    Yes you can, if their are odds on offer for an event that you are interested in then take those odds. Remember though with an exchange there will be a commission payment for winning bets, this will affect your percentage return.  

  • Is sports arbing suitable for beginners

    As long as you undertake research and are fully versed in all aspects of how arbitrage works, there is no reason why you should not master it over time. 

  • Can arbing become a full time job?

    Ultimately, if you can open and keep enough betting accounts active, then there is no reason why you cannot accumulate enough profits via arbitrage to go full-time. 

    However, you will need a large betting bank, arbitrage software, and the right mindset. 

    This mathematical strategy will remove some "fun" aspects from your betting, with everything coming down to the numbers.

     

Responsible Gambling

Whatever form of gambling you undertake you should always gamble responsibly. The two articles below have been written to guide all readers to follow this responsible approach. 

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Author

This arbitrage blog was formatted and fact checked by OLBG Betting Expert Nigel Skinner. He has been betting, trading and arbing for over twenty years and brings his wealth of knowledge to these betting articles. 

Nigel Skinner

Nigel Skinner

Blog content manager

Nigel is one of OLBG's senior editors with 19 years of industry experience. Today he specialises in researching and writing about the betting angles to political and mainstream news stories and being the OLBG in-house expert on 'next football manager' betting markets.

Specialist Subjects🔬📚

⚽️👨‍💼 Nigel is an Arsenal fan first and foremost but has an unrivalled knowledge of English football managers at every level. Meticulously putting together our Next Manager articles, Nigel can quite possibly name you every manager of every club in the land, not to mention a pretty good eye for predicting replacements when changes happen. 

📈📊📉 A long-time exchange trader and spread betting fan, Nigel is our go-to for advice on the subjects and uses them daily in his own betting activity. 

🗳️💼 Finally, Nigel loves his politics and [some would say] has an unhealthy interest in the day-to-day events in the UK's political landscape, contributing to all our Political betting content and new pieces.

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