Arbitrage betting is a subject that draws a huge amount of attention from bettors for one good reason: the strategy promises a guaranteed profit. However, any arbitrage betting strategy does carry a number of risks ranging from account closures to loss of funds to complex maths, so it’s very much a case of “bettor beware” if you’re tempted to give it a try. In this post, we’ve delved deep into the subject, examining closely why arbing does live up to its hype – but involves a huge number of catches, too.
- Arbitrage betting involves betting twice on the same event
- A back bet is placed with a bookmaker; a lay bet with an exchange
- The odds at the bookmaker must be higher than the odds at the exchange to lock-in profit
- However, arbs are fleeting, and it’s all-too-easy to lose money
- More worryingly still, if a bookmaker suspects a player of arbing, they can limit or ban their account
An Overview of The Arbitrage Betting Strategy
The basic premise of an arbitrage betting strategy is to find what are referred to as “arbs” – specific bets where the odds at a bookmaker are higher than the odds at a betting exchange. In normal circumstances, one would expect the back odds for a specific outcome to be lower than the lay odds for the same outcome; arbs are rare, and can generally be seen as an oversight on the bookmakers part, as they have not tracked changes in the exchange odds accurately.
When an arb has been found, a bettor can use an arbitrage betting calculator to lock-in a profit. The significance of this profit varies depending on how good the arb is – i.e. how wide the gap is between the odds – but generally, arbers aim for around 4% profit per arb.
As noted, arbing involves placing a back bet at a bookmaker and a lay bet at an exchange. The back bet is a bet to say an event or outcome will happen; for example, you can place a “back bet” to say Team XYZ will win a football match. A lay bet is the opposite: you lay a bet when you bet that Team XYZ will not win a football match.
Arbing relies on this covering-all-the-bases approach to guarantee a profit, if all goes to plan with the bet-placing itself, without relying on a particular outcome. As the bettor has bets both for and against a specific outcome, and a calculation has been made to ensure a profit either way, arbers place their bets and then wait for them to settle – without even needing to check the result of what they have bet on if they are disinclined to do so.
How arbing works in theory
Is it really possible to lock in a profit with arbing? Yes; there is no denying the fact that arbing does work, as it simply seeks to capitalise on a difference in back and lay odds between bookmakers and exchanges. Here’s a look at how the calculation works in practice:
- Let’s say you find a back bet at a bookmaker with odds of 6.0 for Team XYZ to win a match.
- You go to an exchange and find the lay odds for Team XYZ to win at 5.0
- You’ve found an arb: the back odds are higher than the lay odds. So now you have to grab an arbitrage betting calculator in order to see how much the arb is worth.
- Using our example of back odds of 6.0 and lay odds of 5.0, your calculator would tell you that a back stake of ₹980 and a lay bet with a stake of ₹1176.30 would generate a profit of ₹196.05 regardless of the outcome.
- The above calculation assumes no commission at the exchange, which is unlikely; a lay commission of 5% (such as Betfair’s) would reduce your profit to ₹148.02.
Essential arbing facts to keep in mind
Arbing is often to subject to a number of misconceptions and misunderstandings, so here are a few essential facts about the process and how it works:
- An arbitrage betting strategy requires the use of (and familiarity with) decimal odds rather than the fractional or American odds format, as exchanges use decimal odds as standard. All arbitrage betting calculators are also formulated on the basis of using decimal odds.
- Arbing will only work if the back odds are higher than the lay odds. Without this important distinction, a back and lay bet will cancel one another out and result in a loss, not a profit.
- Arbing is not matched betting — it is an entirely separate endeavour. While similar in that both (theoretically, at least) can guarantee a profit if done correctly, matched betting relies on the use of bonus bets; arbing has no such requirements.
- Arbing requires the use of a bookmaker and an exchange; the back bet being placed with the bookmaker, the lay with the exchange. It is not arbing if two back bets are placed at different bookmakers, designed to cancel one another out; this is dutching, not arbing.
The trouble with arbing
On the surface, using an arbitrage betting strategy seems like a no-brainer; who wouldn’t want to be completely confident of a profit regardless of a bet? However, anyone considering looking for arbitrage bets today should pause before they jump in, because arbing is an example of the phrase “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is”.
It’s entirely possible to have an understanding of arbing, grab an arbitrage betting calculator, and head out to place as many arb bets today as you wish. However, arbing is tougher than it may initially sound: the core principle does indeed work and can guarantee a profit, but there’s a whole host of issues that will inevitably present themselves if you decide to give it a try. Here’s a look at some of the problems arbers have to contend with:
Generally speaking, bookmakers will always try to ensure that their odds are not arbs; in fact, arbs are an aberration, a mistake that all bookmakers swiftly try to rectify if they notice them – often using very sophisticated technology to do so. As a result, arbs may indeed appear, but they vanish again in a flash, usually with bookmakers cutting their odds so as to render the arb unprofitable.
It’s not just bookmakers that change their odds when an arb appears, either – the odds can also shift at the exchange, as hundreds of arbers all jump on the same arb and push the price of the exchange odds up accordingly. If this happens when you’ve already placed your back bet, then entering the new lay odds into your arbitrage betting calculator will show a loss, not the guaranteed profit you were expecting.
Simply put: arbing requires lightning-quick reflexes that are capable of beating highly-developing arb detecting systems and a host of other arbers. As a result, while you might be able to initially find a few arbitrage bets today, they’re likely to be gone by the time you’ve opened up the relevant accounts, run your arbitrage betting calculator, and tried to place your bets.
Bookmakers do not expect, when they set their odds, that people will seek to use those odds for arbing purposes. As we touched on earlier, arbing is an oversight on the part of bookmakers, and one that they will quickly look to correct as soon as they notice the odds have changed and arb has developed.
As arbing falls outside of the “standard” betting patterns, bookmakers tend to take a dim view of those who engage in the practice. Arbing and the use of arbitrage betting sites is not illegal, but it is usually against the terms of service of bookmaker accounts. As a result, if your account is flagged for arbing – then you will likely suffer one of two fates: your account will be stake restricted (potentially to the point you cannot place a bet at all) or you will be outright banned.
Unfortunately, these restrictions are not a mere possibility: all arbers will eventually find their accounts restricted, rendering them null and void for normal betting purposes. It is in bookmakers’ interests to prevent and guard against arbing, as every arb costs them money on their overround (profit margin). Many bookmakers have therefore created systems which allow them to spot accounts that are arbing and, for the most part, these systems are incredibly accurate – which means account restrictions will always be a factor for those engaged in the practice. Due to this, we have to caution that even if you do decide to try arbing, it is likely to be a very short-term betting strategy at best.
The possibility (if not probability) of mistakes
If you do everything right, finding arbitrage bets today and generating a profit is guaranteed – but “if you do everything right” is far from guaranteed. In fact, due to the very nature of arbing, the likelihood of mistakes is very high.
Arbing is inherently stressful. The odds are jumping, you know time is limited, and you need to try and plug all the odds and stake information into your arbitrage betting calculator before the chance slips away. The pressure is always on – and pressure is never good when you’re trying to avoid mistakes on arbitrage bets today.
Even the most seasoned of arbers will make errors; as time ticks down, one calculator mishap or slip of concentration is all it takes – and when they happen, such errors can be extremely costly. All it takes is one misplaced decimal place, one sudden odds shift, or one mistake on an arbitrage betting calculator to lose a huge amount of money, regardless of the theoretical benefits of your arbitrage betting strategy. Worse yet, most arbers tend to use large stakes, as on a profit margin of just 4%, they need to secure a worthwhile return should an arb cross their path; but these large stakes combined with a high error rate mean that the potential for calamity is exponential. Bettor beware, indeed.
Things to Keep In Mind If You Try Arbing
At GamblingGuy.com, we believe straight-talking is essential, which is why we have been upfront about the fact that an arbitrage betting strategy is far from straightforward in practice. However, we understand that the idea of a guaranteed profit is always going to be appealing, so here’s a few tips to keep in mind if you do decide to give arbing a try.
Keep your stakes small
As we touched on above, arbing will always attract high-stakes bettors, but the potential for hugely costly mistakes means high stakes should always be avoided. Be cautious; it is preferable to secure a small amount of profit, and have to place a larger volume of bets, than go for a great result with a huge stake.
Try manual arb-spotting if you can
There’s a lot of software available that helps to highlight arbs, relentlessly scanning bookmakers and exchange sites and flagging any bets that are suitable. However, this software is far from ideal, as it flags arbs to every single user – which means the markets and odds tend to shift, and it’s more likely the arb will be picked up by bookmakers and the odds swiftly adjusted to compensate. Instead, try manually searching, scanning through a bookmaker’s site and then checking the odds at the exchange.
Be prepared to say “no”
Just because an arb exists doesn’t mean it’s worth having. For example, arbs with very small differences between the odds – say 6.1 at the bookmaker and 6.0 at the exchange – offer a minuscule profit, while still carrying all the risk of placing two bets in quick succession. Always evaluate an arb based on its actual merits rather than feeling pressured to seize every opportunity; this is definitely a scenario where being picky is likely to be the best course of action.
What other betting/casino guides and strategies are available?
As we have seen, an arbitrage betting strategy is undeniably tricky, so it’s well worth exploring your options. Thankfully, we at GamblingGuy.com IN are determined to highlight other strategies that you might like to consider, starting with the martingale betting strategy – and with many more to follow in the future.
Arbitrage betting is not for the faint of heart due to the problems it can pose both in terms of success rate and account health. While the idea of being able to lock-in a profit might sound outstanding, actually achieving this aim – and particularly achieving this aim on a consistent basis – is far more complicated than the “guaranteed profit” promise of arbing might make it seem.
If you do decide to give an arbitrage betting strategy a try for yourself, we can’t stress caution enough. Check and re-check your figures; be cautious, and always be ready for the risk of a bookmaker notifying you that your account has been closed.
Arbitrage Betting Strategy FAQ
💸Is arbitrage betting profitable?
The goal of arbitrage betting is to generate consistent profits, but whether or not this is actually achievable is a far more complex question. To find out more about arbitrage betting and how it works, visit GamblingGuy.com IN.
❔ What is the most profitable betting strategy?
There are a host of betting strategies that bettors can use, ranging from martingale strategies in roulette to the matched betting strategy for sports bets. There are a number of considerations that should be applied when deciding which strategy might be the most suitable – and potentially the most profitable – for you; you can find out more about these, and a range of other betting topics, by visiting the experts at GamblingGuy.com
For those interested in arbitrage betting, understanding the calculations required to generate a profit from a bet is a crucial part of using the strategy – but this process is far from straightforward, and can often involve the need for an arbitrage betting calculator. To find out more about arbing in general, read our guide at GamblingGuy.com.
✅ How do you bet without losing?
Anyone who has ever wondered how to place a bet online has likely also considered whether it’s possible to guarantee a win from the bets they choose to place. There are a variety of different methods available for those who are pondering this question to consider, such as in-depth research into a particular fixture, as well as comprehensive betting strategies for individual sports; all of which are worth learning more about if you are intending to place a sports bet.
🔍 How can I find arbitrage bets?
Arbitrage bets are bets where the back odds, usually found at a bookmaker, are higher than the odds found at an exchange. Unfortunately, finding arbitrage bets today is far from straightforward, as we have elaborated on in our complete GamblingGuy.com IN guide to arbing and how it works, as well as useful information on arbitrage betting calculator methods.