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Arbitrage betting, pros and cons


Arbitrage betting is something advertized and discussed a lot on the net, easy to understand as the idea for guaranteed profit no matter of the result of some event is always tickling. Actually it is not betting in the common term but exploiting the opportunities given by the betting market.

What is it?

Arbitrage situation (shortly referred to as "arb" or "surebet") happens when in some moment two or more bookies have too differing odds on the same event, this allowing the player to make profit no matter of the result of the game by covering every possible outcome with properly sized stakes.

Example: Bookie A offers 1.90 for home win and bookie B offers 2.25 for X2 (double chance). This gives a sure profit of 3%, let`s say if you place 54.22 EUR in bookie A and 45.78 EUR in bookie B (100 EUR in total) either of the bets winning will bring you 103 EUR in return and 3 EUR net profit.

How to find arbs?

Obviously, you need a platform to compare odds. Most of the odds comparison sites as Oddsportal, Betbrain, BMbets, Oddspedia, Odds.am etc. have "sure bets" sections which are free but not so good referred to paid solutions as Rebelbetting, BetBurger, Oddstorm, Betslayer etc. costing 100 - 150 EUR per month.

With so many bookies and betting options these days there are dozens of arbs in any given moment. Sounds like money are rolling on the floor and you just have to pick them. Actually it is quite hard and just few can do it. Why?

First you need to invest really a lot of time into this. Usually "sure bets" bring small net profit, meaning you have to make a huge number of successful arbs to see some notable result at the end (minus the fee if you use a paid arbing platform). Besides that arb situations are gone very fast and you must be very fast too in spotting and placing your bets while being careful not to make mistakes in the hurry. This requires quite serious operational skills and patience.

Next, you need a big bankroll. Going with 40-50 EUR into an arb for 50 cents profit is probably not what you want. Besides that you need to keep well-funded accounts in at least 10-15 bookies to act right away, when an arb occurs there is no time to waste it for moving money.

The biggest problem come with bookies. It must be said why arbs happen at all. Generally bookies are divided into "sharp" (quite a few such as Pinnacle, Sbobet, IBC and the betting exchanges) and "soft" (all others). Sharp bookies earn by shaping and offering the right price with a minimal profit margin (so odds can be still higher than elsewhere), the process is automated while soft bookies target at the average players betting for fun and not considered as a big threat. So the odds of soft bookies are often not 100% adequate with the market, usually the updates are done manually by traders and moving slower. Arbs between two sharp bookies happen very rarely, there is at least one soft bookie involved and most often two.

Soft bookies don`t like arbers, same as casinos don`t like card counters. Once you are labeled as an arber which can happen very fast your stakes will be cut to almost nothing. There are lots of "tips" on other sites how to stay below the radar (rounding your stakes, making "stupid" bets sometimes etc.) but it is all useless, nothing can hide the fact you are regularly taking value odds with considerable stakes. Once getting limited many people open new accounts with a different identity which is however quite dangerous and not our advice. Having multiple accounts is against the bookie rules and it can easily result in your account getting locked and balance taken away. Most of the complaints from bookies you can read in various forums come exactly from people having multiple accounts (for whatever reason - arbers, bonus hunters, sharp players) although they will never admit it.

Many other problems can occur too - when you try to place a bet the bookie to respond with a lower max. stake than the needed or lower odds than the announced. Not quite fair but some operators do it. Cancelling bets is also a serious issue, it may be for "palpable" error of the bookie or because the rules (e.g. with player retirement situation in tennis, some bookies count bets as valid if the game has started, others need one set to be completed and the rest working only if the match has been completed). All this can end with one of the bets in the arb losing and the other void meaning a serious loss for you.

Anyway, if you still have decided to try arbitrage betting, good luck!

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