Guide to Arbitrage Betting

By Alex Smith, Last updated Mar 23, 2024

Arbitrage betting follows a pretty simple concept. The general idea is to place a series of bets which cover all the different outcomes of a sporting event. You place your bets using a combination of different odds and stakes to achieve this. These wagers should be placed in a way that guarantees you a profit regardless of the event’s actual outcome. Sure, it may sound quite complicated, but arbitrage betting is surprisingly easy once you understand the basics.

Many people mistakenly assume that arbitrage betting sounds too good to be true. While it might not be as easy as some claim, arbitrage betting is a simple strategy that works when done correctly. Almost all sporting events you can bet on online today allow you to place arbitrage bets. This means you can make guaranteed returns from your bet. However, as with anything in life, there is a little more to it, and it is certainly not a get-rich-quick scheme.

On this page, we will be exploring what arbitrage betting is. We will take a look at how it works and why it’s possible – and, later on, we will show you a step-by-step breakdown of how to use arbitrage betting. To finish this article, we will examine some of the pros and cons of arbitrage betting. To get started, let’s look at how arbitrage betting works.

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How Arbitrage Bets Works

Arbitrage betting involves placing a wager on all the possible outcomes of a sporting event. These bets should be placed in a way that guarantees you a profit. For example, if you were betting on a ping pong match, you would need to place two bets for each of the different players to win the match. If you were betting on a football match, for example, you would need to place three bets; two bets on each team to win and a bet on the match being a draw.

However, if you know anything about bedding odds and betting sites, you will realize that placing these Arbitrage bets at the same sportsbook simply wouldn’t work. That’s because all bookmakers set the odds to ensure they have a small profit – regardless of the bets you place. For example, if you bet on a tennis match between Andy Murray and Roger Federer, both might offer odds of 1.87.

If you were to place a $100 bet on Andy Murray to win, if it were a winning bet, it would return $187 – including the initial $100 wager. So, if you bet $100 on each player, you would be selling a total of $200. However, the most you could win would be $187 – so it’s a losing bet regardless of what happens. This would result in your actually losing $13.

As a result, Arbitrage isn’t as simple as betting on all the different outcomes you can. If it were this easy, everyone would be doing it, and bookies simply wouldn’t be able to exist! What you do need to do is find bookmakers offering different odds on the same event. Doing this means placing bets that guarantee a profit, known as ars in the industry.

It’s important to understand that when you’re Arbitrage betting, you need to be able to work out the optimal stakes. At first, this can be quite hard and daunting. Thankfully, however, with a bit of practice, it becomes effortless – and there are also free online tools that you can use to help automate the decision-making process.

Why Placing an Arbitrage Bet is Possible

Many people question why arbitrage betting is actually possible. We should point out that arbitrage betting is only possible in certain circumstances – and things need to line up correctly for it to be made possible. For example, the odds available on sporting events regularly change between bookmakers. Still, for arbitrage betting to work – and to guarantee you a decent profit – there needs to be a sufficient difference for an arb to exist. As a rule of thumb, there are two reasons why one of these differences will appear. Firstly, you will find some bookmakers simply have different views on the potential outcome of an event.

For example, in our tennis match example between Andy Murray and Roger Federer, different bookies may have different opinions on who is most likely to be the winner. The second reason they exist is that bookmakers adjust their odds to create a balanced book. For example, even if a bookmaker’s initial odds may accurately reflect their opinions about the outcome of an event, they will be required to adjust the odds they are offering based on the wagers they have taken.

For example, if a bookmaker accepts many wages on a particular outcome, they will need to reduce the odds on that specific outcome. This is to protect them financially and ensure their liability is manageable. On the other side of the coin, bookmakers will need to increase the odds on the other outcome if not enough people are betting on it. This helps a bookmaker lower their overall exposure to financial risk, which is handy for you as it creates opportunities to bet on the same markets at different prices.

When you get into the more technical side of arbitrage betting, you will also find that there are other reasons. However, these are the two most common, and 99% of arbitrage bettors will find the above two reasons more than sufficient to help them bet profitably.

How to Find Arbs

While arbitrage betting sounds quite simple, one of the biggest challenges most people face is finding suitable betting options. While they do appear quite often, one of the other problems is that arbitrage betting odds generally don’t last for very long. This means that you need to be fast; this should be a core part of your arbitrage betting strategy.

Another factor to be aware of is that today, there are more people looking for arbitrage betting opportunities than ever before. For example, thousands of people search “guide to arbitrage betting” daily – which means that arbs are more in-demand than ever.

Unfortunately, because a betting exchange and sports betting platform work, once a few arb bets have been placed, the odds will likely change. Because of this, you need to act fast.

When it comes to finding arbitrage opportunities, there are three main arbitrage betting example options you can choose from. Below, we will take a look at what these three methods are.

Websites and Forums

Websites and forums are excellent methods of finding arbitrage betting opportunities. In fact, today, there are several websites that specialize entirely on showcasing arbitrage betting opportunities. Some forums, for example, have dedicated users who search out arbs and then post them once they have identified them. However, there are some downsides to doing this.

Firstly, you generally won’t be able to find the most lucrative arbs this way. Sure, they will all offer guaranteed profit – but it’s pretty likely that the odds will be worse when you place your wager. Secondly, the best guarantee profit arbs will generally be kept secret by those who discover them.

You also need to be fast. These websites and forums are VERY popular today, meaning that many others use the same sites and forums as you. As a result of this, you do need to act fast to be able to take advantage of the best odds and profit opportunities.

Software & Alert Services

Today, advanced tracking software is available that will automatically work to find arbs on your behalf. These alert services usually work on a subscription basis, and they can be pretty helpful – albeit expensive at times. These subscription services are ideal for arbitrage bettors, and they’re straightforward to use.

Doing Your Own Research

While the two methods above can be instrumental, there are few better methods for finding arbitrage betting opportunities than doing your own research. Of course, the downside of doing it this way is that it takes time. You must look for arbitrage opportunities at many online gambling websites and sportsbooks.

Pros and Cons

When it comes to arbitrage betting, there are, in our opinion, two key advantages. Firstly, when you take advantage of arbitrage betting, you can create situations where you’re guaranteed to make a profit. This profit can be guaranteed, regardless of the outcome of the event. Some people would even go as far as saying this isn’t even gambling. There is literally zero risk involved when you manage to create such a situation.

The second significant advantage, in our eyes, is that arbitrage betting is really easy to implement. Once you understand how arbitrage betting works, how to place an arbitrage bet – and, most importantly, how to find guaranteed profit bets – it’s really easy to take advantage of arbs where you can find sports betting websites.

However, as with most things in life, arbitrage betting isn’t without its risks. Firstly, while it’s pretty easy to take advantage of arbs, getting your hands on the correct information can prove tricky when you eventually find them. Today, there are thousands of bettors just like you looking for them, and unless you manage to get your hands on arbs as soon as they’re released, the odds will change VERY fast – and you may not even be able to place a bet at a betting exchange for a guaranteed profit!

To combat this, you must be quick – and act FAST. To make consistent profits from arbitrage sports betting, you must spend most of your time searching online through the different betting markets.

Secondly, arbitrage betting requires you to invest quite a lot of money. Most arbs offer a potential return of between 1% and 3% – and, to be honest, this is relatively low if you’re betting with small amounts of money. To combat this, you should try to enter the arbitrage betting industry with as much money as possible. A large bankroll is generally required if you want to make serious money from it.

For example, GamblingSites.org says:

Let’s assume you could find two good arbs a day on average, each with a return of 2%. You’d probably need to be betting full time to achieve this, and you’d need to bet a total of $5,000 on an arb to make $100 from it. That’s $10,000 across the two opportunities, and you’d want a bankroll of at least twice that amount. You’d make $200 daily, but you’d need a minimum bankroll of $20,000.”

That’s a significant chunk of change – and, realistically, you’ll probably need even more than that to be successful. Finally, the last downside of arbitrage betting is that you need a lot of different accounts with different bookmakers. This in itself brings a wide variety of challenges. We will look at some of these challenges below.

Potential Negative Consequences

One of the biggest misconceptions about arbitrage betting is that it’s risk-free. There are, in fact, some areas of risk, although this risk comes before you have placed your bets. Before you place an arbitrage bet, however, there are some risk factors that you need to take into account. There is a wide variety of things that can go wrong, but there are three main things to be aware of. Below, we will look at what these issues include.

Change in Odds

If you want to be able to take advantage of arb betting, you need to be able to place at least two bets at different bookmakers. However, usually, it’s unlikely that you will be able to place multiple bets at precisely the same time. As a result, there is always the chance that the odds will actually change once you have placed your first bet, but before you can place the second bet.

This can result in your arb vanishing; getting the guaranteed profit you had a moment ago is no longer possible. This means that you then need to take a gamble and let the first bet run – hoping that it wins – or place the subsequent bets anyway and make a slight guaranteed loss.

Making Mistakes

Human error is another factor that you need to be aware of when arbitrage betting. When you’re arbitrage betting at sports betting sites, you need to be able to move quickly; as a result, you can make mistakes, even when you don’t mean to. For example, you could find yourself making mistakes or errors when you’re trying to make calculations – to then go ahead and place a bet that simply doesn’t give you guaranteed profit.

Some players also report that they end up placing bets on the wrong markets or players – something that is bound to happen from time to time when you’re placing fast bets in a high-pressure environment.

Betting Exchanges Closing your Accounts

Unfortunately, betting exchanges and sportsbooks don’t like arb bettors. If they think that you are arb betting, they are very likely to suspend – or limit – your online gambling account. When you have a limited account, you may have a cap on how much you can wager. This, effectively, renders your ability to place arb bets null and void.

Of course, if a bookmaker closes your account, you won’t be able to bet with them at ALL in the future. This can completely ruin your betting strategy, and it’s one of the reasons why, as an arbitrage betting advocate, you will need to have multiple online gambling accounts with many different bookmakers.

Bet Cancellations

In rare situations, bookmakers can actually cancel your bets once they’ve been placed. This is one of the WORST things that can happen to arbitrage bettors. Of course, you will receive your stake back – sometimes alongside some free bets – but the damage will have already been done. You will be exposed to a level of risk regardless of whether you want any risk.

To make matters worse, if one of your bets is canceled, you might not be able to place the canceled bet again with another bookmaker – and, even if you are, the odds may not be favorable to you, so the matched betting concept is entirely out of the window!

Arbitrage Betting Tips and Tricks

If you decide to go ahead and try arbitrage betting for yourself, you will be happy to learn that there are some matched betting strategies you can take advantage of to improve your chances of profiting. Below, we will look at some of the different matched betting strategies you can use.

Stick to Two-Outcome Events

The most effective thing that you can do to improve your chances of profiting at arbitrage betting is to stick to two-outcome events. Sure, this will mean that you will miss out on specific events, but two-outcome events are the best option if you plan to improve your chances of profiting from arbitrage betting.

Thankfully, there are tons of two-outcome events to choose from. All tennis matches are perfect for this, and if you can find good odds, you can also take advantage of draw-no-bet football matches.

Try to Locate your Own Arbs

Another highly effective technique for arbitrage betting is to try to find arbs on your own. Of course, when you use alert services, tracking software, or arbitrage betting websites and forums, the process is quite simplified. However, there are some problems with using these methods. Firstly, there will be MANY people just like you using them. This means that the arbs are going to vanish really fast. The odds will also change really quickly.

Secondly, if you can spend your own time finding arbs, you will be able to benefit from better prices. Ultimately, this will allow you to earn even more money. This is one of the reasons why professional arbitrage betting experts tend to only rely on their own arbs. Sure, they have a lot of experience finding them, but it can be well worth the time to do this.

Double-Check your Calculations

One of the most common ways for arbitrage betting experts to lose money is by miscalculating their bets. Arbitrage betting is a fast-paced, action-packed environment. This means that mistakes WILL happen from time to time, and you’ll have to get used to this fact. However, to try and reduce the number of mistakes you will make, we recommend taking some extra time to double-check your calculations.

This may sound time-consuming, but it’s an excellent way of ensuring you aren’t making any silly, easy-to-rectify mistakes. If you live with a partner or with friends, you can also reach an agreement with them to have them quickly look over what you’re doing. This will help to ensure that you are looking out for each other. Getting into a good routine like this is very important.

Use Betting Exchanges where Possible

As a general rule of thumb, you should try to use betting exchanges for your arbitrage betting where possible. Betting exchanges allow you to both lay bets and match them. While this can make arbitrage betting slightly more complicated, when you understand the basics and know how to do it, it becomes much easier to do this successfully.

It can also be very profitable. Of course, we would strongly recommend doing your own research to know exactly how to lay bets correctly. Once you’ve mastered this skill, you can easily add upwards of 40% to your arbitrage betting profit margins. Your bottom line can increase significantly!

Keep Money in your Betting Accounts

As we mentioned earlier, arbitrage betting requires you to hold accounts with many different online bookmakers at once. To ensure that you are ready to place bets when needed, we strongly recommend keeping some of these accounts funded. This ensures that you can place any bets as soon as you find an arb without worrying about making deposits. Sometimes, you may need to add payment methods last minute, which can significantly impact your ability to take advantage of arbs before the prices change.

We also recommend having dedicated payment methods for arbitrage betting. Some banks (especially in the UK) have taken quite a negative stance on arbitrage betting. To help combat this, we recommend having dedicated payment methods that you only use for online gambling. This will help to ensure that you don’t mix your everyday transactions with online gambling ones, and it will also help to ensure that you can keep everything separate.

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Form or Join an Arbing Team

There are a wide variety of advantages to joining an arbing team. Firstly, you will find that you have more time looking for arbs, as there are many of you working at once towards the same common goal. Secondly, you will also be able to maximize your potential profits. Another significant benefit of being part of an arbing team – which not many people think about – is that you benefit from having more betting accounts with different online gambling websites, too.

This is because each member of the arbing team can open their own online gambling account. This helps to protect against the negative effects of account limitations and closures.

Of course, it’s really important to join an arbitrage betting team you trust. Ideally, you can do it with friends – but if not, take some time to get to know the other members of the team, so that you don’t rush into anything.

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