Arbing Principles – How to Find Arbitrage Bets
For people unfamiliar with sports betting or financial trading, arbitrage betting sounds too good to be true. Yet people have been using this idea for hundreds of years.
Learn the principles of arbitrage betting, and you are ready to make risk-free, guaranteed profits – no matter what happens in the event you’re betting on. And most of the time, you will have secured your profitable position before the event even starts.
What is arbitrage betting?
Arbitrage betting (also known as “arbing”) is capitalising on a difference in prices to guarantee a profit. With dozens of bookmakers pricing up thousands of sporting events, price mismatches pop up regularly. Arbitrageurs take advantage of these.
Arbitrage originated in the financial markets where savvy investors profited by buying and selling mispriced contracts for precious metals. All of the largest financial institutions today still have departments dedicated to finding arbitrage opportunities. In a world where making returns usually involves taking a risk, the attraction of risk-free profits is understandable.
When it comes to sports betting arbitrage, there are many opportunities to make guaranteed profits. In this article, we’re going to cover how to find them and what you need to do to extract money from them. Some are simple, some require multiple bets of varying stakes but, once you’ve absorbed the principles, you’ll know what is required.
Before we go any further, let’s look at basic sports betting arbitrage example, so you understand what an arbitrage bet looks like and get to see the potential for making decent money.
Newcastle United are playing Watford in the Premier League and are available to back at odds of 2.20 with a particular bookmaker.
Checking around at other sportsbooks and betting exchanges, you find that the price on Smarkets is much lower. Newcastle can be backed at 1.97 and are available to lay at 1.98.
If you’re familiar with sports betting arbitrage your eyes will light up at this big price difference. By backing Newcastle at 2.2 for £200 and laying them at 1.98 for £224.49, you guarantee a net profit of £20 whether Newcastle win or lose. You can just place your bets and return at the end of the match to withdraw your winnings.
Working out the stakes required for the perfect sports betting arbitrage is easy to. Just search ‘free arbitrage calculator’, and you will find loads of ready-made calculators that work everything out for you.
Arbing: Snowball Small Profits!
Most of the time, the price differences in arbing are fairly small, so you won’t be making huge amounts per bet. For punters used to doubling their money in a single bet, the returns might not seem worth it. But that would be a mistake.
This is a guaranteed profit. Once your bets are matched, there is no chance of a loss. Compare this to standard sports betting where your stake is risked every time.
With arbitrage betting, you might find yourself having to bet £100 just to extract a £4 profit. The good thing is that your £100 is not at risk. You can use the same money again and again, regardless of what happens in the match. Find a lot of these arbs, and your bank account will just keep growing.
Taking losses is part of the process in regular sports betting, and these losses can lead to emotional reactions like trying to win back your money by placing much larger bets than you should. These usually lead to even bigger losses. When you consider that most sports bettors lose money long-term (mainly as a result of uneven stake sizes and failing to spot value bets), arbitrage betting suddenly looks very attractive.
Regular small profits soon mount up. If you bet £100 to win £4 ten times in a day, you will increase your bank by 40% – in just one day. The next day you will be betting £140 to win £5.60; the following day £196 to win £7.84 and so on. Consistent profits soon snowball into big money!
The Difficulties of Arb Betting
Of course, you have to put some work in to get these guaranteed profits. There are some obstacles to be overcome too. Nearly every bookmaker monitors the type of bets their customers are placing. If they notice you are only betting on mispriced events, they may move to close your account.
(Once they’ve accepted your bet, they will honour it, but if a flurry of bets on that event alert them to the fact it’s been mispriced, they will watch your future bets carefully.)
Because most sportsbooks aren’t keen on arbing, there are a few steps you can take to stay under the radar when placing sports arbitrage bets.
The first one is not to be greedy. Instead of placing £200 to win £20, consider a £50 bet which will return £5. If you keep placing large bets on arbitrage opportunities, the sportsbook will either limit the size of bets you can place or close your account.
Another recommended tactic is to mix up your bets, so it’s far from clear that you’re arbing. Make yourself look like a regular punter by placing similar sized bets on certain teams, regardless of the odds.
As these bets will usually be seen as profitable for the sportsbook, they will be happy for you to keep making them and won’t close your account. You can always lay off these bets at the betting exchange so you will only lose a few pence on them.
To be successful at sports betting arbitrage, you’re going to need accounts at many different bookmakers, so you’re ready to take advantage of their prices. This also means your arb bets will be spread around, making it harder for the sportsbooks to see what you’re up to.
The Importance of an E-Wallet with Arbitrage Betting
Using an e-wallet such as Skrill, NETELLER or PayPal is a big advantage with sports betting arbitrage.
Getting your money in and out of a sportsbook as quickly as possible will help you move your funds around from bookmaker to bookmaker. You don’t want to be in a situation where you see a great arb opportunity but can’t bet on it because you’re still waiting for your money to be refunded to your bank account.
You should be keeping track of your arbitrage betting results in a spreadsheet; it’s a good idea to record where your money is after every bet too.
If you’re using Skrill or NETELLER, the large number of transactions means it won’t take long for you to reach VIP level and enjoy the added benefits that brings too.
Maximise Your Profits with Arbitrage Betting Software
As fantastic as arbitrage betting is, finding arbing opportunities can be very time-consuming. And if you’re only finding 1% returns, it’s soon going to drag.
This is where arbitrage betting software comes in. Tools like these are a complete game changer and should be used by anyone interested in sports betting arbitrage.
Arbitrage betting software runs in the background of your computer, monitoring prices from dozens of bookmakers and exchanges and sending you a notification as soon as an arb appears.
You can set filters such as the sportsbooks which you would like to use and the size of the arbs (percentage returns) that you are interested in so you only get alerted for worthwhile bets.
Some sports betting websites offer arbitrage betting software as a paid-for service too.
Don’t forget that other people will be using the software as well, so you have to be quick and get the bets on as soon as the notification comes up. The betting activity will alert the bookmakers, who will usually change the price within a few minutes, and the arb will disappear.
The great thing about arbitrage betting software is that it will flag up literally hundreds of arbs over the course of a day giving you the quantity of bets you need to make a decent return.
And don’t worry if you miss an arb opportunity – they’re like buses! Another one will arrive soon enough. Just make sure you’re ready to take advantage of it. You can help yourself by having enough funds in the bookmaker/betting exchange to place a bet when the opportunity arises.
Get Familiar with the Sportsbook Layout
Being familiar with the layout of each sportsbook you use will help too. You don’t want to miss out on an arb because you couldn’t find the market in time.
In sports betting, arbitrage opportunities can and do appear in all markets. It won’t just be match odds in football matches. Horse-racing, “to place” or HT/FT markets are just as likely to present a profitable arb bet.
Most bookmakers (and betting exchanges) have a search facility on the homepage. Type in the name of one of the teams, players or horses here and you should narrow in on the correct market quickly. Make sure your preferences are saved at each bookmaker too so you can be sure you’re getting the right price. If you know you want to back at 2.74 but the sportsbook displays 7/4 you might not know whether you’re getting the right price.
What About Arbitrage Betting Tips?
The nature of sports betting arbitrage means opportunities appear and disappear in minutes. It’s all about finding them and getting your bet on quickly.
We’ve already mentioned our best arbitrage betting tips, but we’ll recap them here.
First of all, get some arbitrage betting software. Without it, you’re just not going to be able to identify enough arb bets in a day to make the kind of money you want. As long as you get your bets on quickly, arbitrage betting software pays for itself – and saves you a ton of time and stress!
Next, make sure you have funds with the sportsbooks you use most often. If you have to spend a couple of minutes depositing funds, the chance may be gone.
If it’s not a feature of your arbitrage betting software, make sure you have an arbitrage calculator open in your browser. This will tell you exactly how much you have to lay off at the exchange to lock in the desired profit.
Finally, do your best to keep your accounts open with each bookmaker! Place other bets with them besides your arbitrage bets. By laying them off at the betting exchange, you won’t lose any money on them (maybe a few pence) and it will enable you to keep taking advantage of that bookie’s future mispriced markets.
Arbing Matched Betting with Bookie Promotions
Matched betting works in a similar way to arbing but allows you to make much bigger profits by taking advantage of the free bet offered by the bookie.
It’s tempting for punters to bet on nearly anything just so they can extract guaranteed profit from the free bet.
However, if you can use the free bet on an existing arb, your profits will be even greater, so it is worth waiting until an arb opportunity arises. For example, a £25 free bet can usually be bet and lay in such a way that you get £18-19. Find an arb, however, and you could get the full £25.
If you’re arbing matched betting, adjust your sports betting arbitrage calculator to allow for the fact it’s using a free bet. This will often be described as “Free Bet (SNR)” with “SNR” standing for “stake not returned”.
Is Arbitrage Betting Worth the Effort?
Sports betting arbitrage is definitely worth it… as long as it suits your personality and temperament. Whereas regular sports betting involves balancing big wins and losses and the feeling of being right about how a match is going to go, arbing is very different.
You have no interest in the result of the match or race. You will get exactly the same profit no matter what happens. The excitement of a big win is gone too; you might be looking at 4-5% of your stake instead of potentially doubling your money.
It takes time, and there will be days where you don’t find any great arbitrage betting opportunities.
However, arbitrage betting has many, many positives too. You can have your arbitrage betting software running in the background while you do other things. Once an arb bet appears, you place your bets and get back to what you were doing, safe in the knowledge that you’re guaranteed to make money.
There’s no stress in watching the match, hoping the opposition doesn’t score a last-minute equaliser.
And you don’t need thousands of pounds to get started, a couple of hundred will do, and you can start with much less than that if you want to test it first. There are professional gamblers making huge amounts from arbitrage betting, and there’s nothing stopping you from building yourself up to that level.
Follow the arbitrage betting tips we’ve given in this article, and you’re well on your way to success.
Read More Detailed Betting Guides:
- Kelly Criterion
- Understanding Betting Odds
- Expected Value
- Over/Under Betting
- Exchange Betting
- Monty Hall Problem
- Confirmation Bias
- Moneyline Bet
- Parlay Betting
- Staking Plans
- Asian Handicap Betting
- Each Way Betting
- Spread Betting
- Pari Mutuel Guide