What is arbitrage betting and surebet – how to make money on sports

How to use arbitrage betting to have a steady income? All the tricks of arbitrage betting are based on real feedback arbitrage examples.

What is arbitrage?

Arbitrage betting (arbitrage situations) is a betting strategy when a player places their bets on one event at different bookmakers. These bets are made for mutually exclusive outcomes so that their coefficients give the player a guaranteed profit whatever the outcome is. In other words with sure bet you always win at gambling.

An example of arbitrage betting

Let’s give a simple arbitrage opportunity example for better understanding of how arbing works

Match: FC Barcelona – LA Galaxy

For the sake of simplicity let’s imagine it’s Champion’s League final, so there cannot be a draw. There are only 2 possible outcomes:

  1. Barcelona wins
  2. Galaxy wins

Bookmaker 1 sets the following odds:

Barcelona wins
Galaxy wins
1.5
3.0

Bookmaker 2 sets the following odds:

Barcelona wins
Galaxy wins
1.7
2.4

This is where arbitrage opportunity comes from!

Arbitrage opportunity

Let’s see what happens if we bet at these odds (we have $100 on our deposit)

OutcomeResultNet profit
Barcelona wins$64 * 1.7 = $108$8
Galaxy wins$36 * 3.0 = $108$8

Each of the 2 possible outcomes brings us $8 profit, which means that we enjoy profit regardless the result of the match.

$64, $36… Where did those numbers come from? We calculated them using a special formula (see the formulas review with arbitrage examples and a calculator in the next clause).

If you don’t believe this can happen in reality — here’s a screenshot of a real hockey arbitrage betting between 2 famous bookmakers:

Sports arbitrage

Arbitrage trading

$100 deposit:

OutcomeResultNet profit
Draw (X)$25 * 4.20 = $105$5
Columbus Blue Jackets wins
or New Yorks Rangers wins
$75 * 1.40 = $105$5

Sports arbitrage surebets for double outcome in football, hockey or basketball should be placed not only for winning of either team. It can be as follows:

  • TO 2.5 / TU 2.5
  • One of the teams wins / draw
  • H1(1.5) / H2 (-1.5)
  • , i. e. mutually exclusive outcomes

You can also stumble upon cross market arbitrage – it’s a case with mutually exclusive outcomes on different markets.

For example, H1(0.5) equals to “1X”, so in the end we can achieve cross market arbitrage with 2 legs respectively: H1(0.5)-2

There are also sports surebets with triple, quadruple, etc. outcomes.

Examples of sports arbs with triple outcome:

  • 1X2 – Team 1 wins / draw / Team 2 wins;
  • Arbs with totals in tennis (playing up to 2 sets):
    score 2:0 / score 0:2 / 3 played sets in total

Triplearbs exist not only for 3 mutually exclusive outcomes, but also in these cases:

  • When 2 outcomes out of 3 win;
  • When there are 1 or 2 canceled bets (in the case of handicap and totals in football).
    A simple example TO(1) / TU(1.5) / TU(0.5). In case 1:0 scores, TO(1) stake is canceled and TU(1.5) stake wins.

You can find the full list of arbitrage sure bets only at our website.

Arbitrage betting calculator

An example of arbitrage with quadruple outcome

  • Outcomes in tennis, when 2 first sets are played:  2-0 / 2-1 / 1-2 / 0-2

There can even exist six-way outcomes

  • In tennis sets, if 3 sets are played: 0:3 / 1:3 / 2:3 / 3:0 / 3:1 / 3:2

Is arbitrage legal?

Arbitrage is absolutely legal, since you’re simply using the opportunities offered by bookies themselves (you can draw an analogy with stock market, you’re unlikely to be accused of anything in case you sell your Apple stocks for higher price than you bought them a few years ago – this is also arbitrage by definition).

The thing is that not all the bookies encourage arbers. It’s fair, because every company is free to use their own client policy. What can be done in this situation and which bookmakers are arb friendly? These questions are covered further in this article.

Arbitrage betting formula calculations with explanations

There’s an arbitrage formula to calculate the arbs

V = 1/C1 + 1/C2 + 1/C3

V – a value reflecting whether there is or there isn’t an arbitrage opportunity.

If V>1 – no arbitrage opportunity,
If V<1 – there is an arbitrage opportunity.
C1, C2, C3, C4, etc. – coefficients or odds on mutually exclusive outcomes; there can be as many odds as there are possible outcomes.

Let’s do some math:

1/1.7 + 1/3.0 = 0.92 (from this point on all the numbers will be rounded for the sake of simplicity)

0.92 < 1 – this means this is an arbitrage opportunity

Arbitrage profitability can be calculated by the following formula:

Profitability in % = 100 – (V*100)

In our example it is 8%:

100 – (0.92*100) = 8 %

Now we should define how much money should be bet on each outcome. There is a special formula for it as well:

A = (1/C/V)*S

A – amount of the bet on the outcome,
C – coefficient/odds on the outcome,
V – the arbitrage value calculated in the first formula,
S – total sum for all outcomes of the event or the amount of money you want to bet on arb.

Let’s assume we have $100

Calculation of the stake on Barcelona: 1/1.7/0.92*$100 = $64

Calculation of the stake on Galaxy:  1/3.0/0.92*$100 = $36

Here’s a table we already know well

OutcomeResultNet profit
Barcelona wins$64 * 1.7 = $108$8
Galaxy wins$36 * 3.0 = $108$8

It’s also worth noting that we are free to redistribute the stakes so that the winning at more likely outcome (favorite’s win) would show more profit, while betting on less likely outcome (outsider’s win) would produce secure zero profit

How to calculate surebets — Online Calculator

To keep your mind safe from all these formulas and avoid hand calculating it all you can find an online calculator here that will help you find best arbs:

2 way outcome calculator

back lay arbitrage calculator

Here you can find all online arb calculators: 2 way, 3 way, 4 way, 5 way and back lay arbitrage calculator.

Why do arbitrage opportunities appear?

  1. Competition. The higher bookmaker’s odds are compared to other bookies on an event, the more clients it attracts.
  2. Different opinions. Every bookmaker has their own experts responsible for setting initial odds, that’s why there can be different opinions on the same event.
  3. Lack of capacity to spot all the variations of other bookmakers’ odds, because there are thousands of them around the globe.
  4. Professional arbitrage betting at big bookmakers. Looking ahead, we can reveal that there are bookies that encourage arbers, as well as bookies that ban arbers.

How professional betting can create sports betting arbitrage opportunities and how bookmakers manage to profit off of it?

It’s no secret that there are bookies earning money on arbers, as well as those who block them in every possible way. (We will deal such problems and ways to solve them further in the article.)

Imagine a match with an odds-on favorite and an obvious outsider. For example, most bookies’ odds look like these:

Favorite’s winningOutsider’s winning
1.25.0

At this point professional bettors with plum money and insider information about the favorite’s guaranteed winning place their bets on the favorite at a big office such as Pinnacle or Sbobet (because it’s safer). As a result, it imbalances this bookmaker’s odds.

Say, this way:

Favorite’s winningOutsider’s winning
1.17.0

This is when online arbitrage opportunities at smaller bookies appear

1/1.2 + 1/7.0 = 0.97

Arbers grab such arbing opportunities and place their bets.

This is the way it happens:

  • Bet on favorite’s winning – at any other bookmakers office (it acts as a donor);
  • Bet on outsider’s winning – at this big bookmaker.

In the end the big bookmaker collects bets on less possible outcome (in the case with the insider information – on the impossible outcome), while the donor pays off the winning bets to arbers.

To put the cherry on top of this scheme professional players with pretty penny are not obligatory – such influence on the favorite can be made by the bookmaker with his own money.

How to find arbitrage bets?

We already learned how to calculate arb betting using formulas, but it’s inefficient to find them manually – it would take months of wasted time.

There are a number of services and apps to find arbitrage bets online, they scan bookmakers’ websites by script programs and automatically find sure bets.

All of them are paid-for services, BUT almost every app or website offer finding up to 1% arbitrage bets for free. Some of them (i.e. Search Forks) offer over 1% sure bets free during a trial period.

Popular services:

  1. Breaking-bet
  2. BetBurger
  3. OddStorm

Popular apps:

  1. RebelBetting
  2. SearchForks
  3. BetRinger (formerly — BetLinker)

It’s not nearly the whole list — you can find ratings and comparison chart with other website services and apps here: Full list of arbitrage betting software: free and paid.

Risks through arbitrage betting online

Learning the above mentioned information and arb betting forums raise the following questions: is it possible to make money using arbitrage betting system, how much one can earn and, damn, if it’s all that cool, why doesn’t everyone do arbitrage?

Why arbitrage trading can be unprofitable?

Usually it’s not all roses as it looks at first sight. There’s a set of problems created for arbers by bookies (not all of them do it, we will consider it further)

  1. Maximum betting limit. If a bookie suspects you’re an arber, they can set a very low maximum betting limit consequently limiting your profit. We will teach you how to not get busted by bookies hereafter.
  2. Misprint in a game line. It’s a canny move by a bookmaker who claims the odds you bet on to be a mistake, which lead to canceling the bet. As you understand, it beats the essence of the lossless strategy.
  3. Changing of odds during the process of sure bet online betting. You can discover that if the odds you need is changed, while you were placing your bet on the other one, it will result in annihilation of an arbitrage situation. We will teach you how to prevent it hereafter.
  4. Withdrawal commission. The fact that arbitrage betting is based on redistribution of your deposits between different bookies can result in paying off the whole profit for withdrawal commissions.
  5. Different opinions on the same outcome by different bookies. For example, one bookie can consider a sportsman’s injury as their rival’s winning, while the other bookie can simply cancel the bet

How to bet at bookies – arbitrage betting tips. How to not get busted.

What should be done? How to avoid the described above problems and to not gain a character of being an arber at bookmakers?

Best bookies for arbing

There are some tolerable to arbitrage betting bookmakers:

  1. Pinnacle
  2. Sbobet
  3. Numerous betting exchanges (for example, betfair)

These are the first to pick, but unfortunately arbitrage situations between these three bookies are very rare. That’s why you will have to work with other bookies as well. Your goal is to pick bigger offices so that your humble profits wouldn’t evoke suspicions. You can find bookies rating on sportsbookreview.com

You can also try to find arbitrage with online and offline bookmakers via the so called betting shops. If there are overstated odds at big offices tolerable to arbers, then chances are good that there are arbitrage opportunities at small shops (more info on it in the end of the article).

Maximum deposits

Don’t bet maximum of you deposits. Constantly betting all your money indicates your 100% assurance in victory. It’s an unusual behavior of an average bettor.

According to the statistics, a bettor wants to make it up and bets more after losing, whereas after winning they bet less being afraid to lose what was already gained.

Imitate an average bettor’s behavior as much as you can.

Rounded bets

Bet rounded up sums. Bets like $12.47 or $34.83 will raise suspicions. Usually people place round amounts of money.

Juicy arbs

Don’t bet on juicy arbs. Most likely you will be notified about a misprint in a line and your bet will be canceled.

Quite possibly such arbitrage situation was created on purpose to catch another wave of greedy arbers and mark them for further surveillance.

You have to be an expert in the sports you bet on to notice right away such inadequate odds.

Double stakes

Don’t double bet on the same event. An average bettor is supposed to place a bet and wait for the outcome. It looks strange if you constantly add money to your bet.

Adding money, withdrawal

Add and withdraw money to/from your account less frequently. Delicacy of arbitrage trading supposes redistribution of money between bookies.

An average bettor usually accumulates money on their account instead of withdrawing it after each bet.

Adding money to your deposit looks even more suspicious when bets are not played off yet. Usually they wait for the results to make up their minds on what to do next.

Popular events

Pick wide-known events, leagues, championships for sure bets. High stakes on football matches at women’s second division in Ethiopia together with local baseball competition in Uruguay look weird as hell.

Double check

Double check the odds before betting including on arbitrage situations. Scanners can make mistakes as well.

Commission

Get advanced warning on the withdrawal rules and commission fees (i.e. Pinnacle allows free withdrawal only once per months)

Different devices, proxy, VPN

It’s advisable to use different devices for scanning and placing bets at bookmakers, nothing should reveal you being an arber including your browsers cache and cookies. In case your deposit gets cut, your using proxy or VPN will guard you against your IP being put into a surveillance list and marked as an arber next time you try to place a bet.

I stumbled upon a story online about an arber’s identification through UDI. After the arber’s account was canceled, the arber created another one for betting, but a pic’s UDI made by the camera gave the arber away. The account was put under surveillance with a note – “arber’s documents were photographed from this camera”.

Arbitrage leg

Important: always prioritize arbitrage legs. First, place a bet on the most possible outcome to minimize your loss in case the game line changes leading to arbitrage opportunity annihilation – the outcome is more probable.

Choose the right sports

You can find arbitrage in every sport, but the best sport for arbitrage betting is the one you are really good at, the one you are familiar with and know what’s what with betting calculations at every bookie. This knowledge removes the risks of overlooking a misprint in the line (like a “15” odds instead of “1.5” on an obvious favorite) or miss the odds in an event without arbitrage (for example, sets/game handicap in tennis, or totals accounting at a certain bookmaker)

Live betting arbitrage

Alongside pre-match arbitrage — the arbitrage situations arising before the event, there are also live betting arbitrage or surebet live – the arbs appearing during the event.

Live arbitrage pros compared to pre-match arbs

  • The number of arbs. There are much more arbs in this case, they also appear at bookies which previously didn’t have them;
  • Higher profitability of “safe” arbs. While a pre-match arbitrage with profitability over 3-5% is dangerous to bet on, there can exist “safe” live arbs with 10% profitability due to the fact that different bookies react at different rate to the event’s situations. Such arbs has major disadvantage though, we will cover it further;
  • Higher rate of turnaround. In case with pre-match arb you bet your money and you can’t use it until the bets are played off, while with live arbs the waiting time is much less for obvious reasons;
  • Most importantly you are much harder to be tracked down, because the game line constantly changes at all offices in real time, it disadvantages identifying arber patterns in your behavior.

Live arbitrage cons

Usually it’s not that easy though, there are also a number of weak points:

  • A live arb doesn’t live long, especially a juicy one. It usually takes several seconds to several minutes.
  • Here comes the next con: working with 3-way and 4-way outcome arbs gets real hard due to the lack of time for careful analysis, that’s why we advise you to sharpen your skills first learning how to surebet live with small amounts of money.

Some scanners has this function of betting on live arbs with going to coupon arbitrage, but to my opinion this move is too dangerous.

Arbitrage tip: how to manage to leg up in live betting on time

An interesting trick from practical experience: First bet on non-winning back outcome. For example, at current score 0:0 an arb appears TO 0.5 / TU 0.5. In case of betting TU 0.5 chances are good that while you’re placing the bet the team would score a goal and the arb will disappear. No arb as a result plus you lose your bet.

If you bet on TO 0.5 first, then in case of the goal the arb would vanish, but no big trouble – the first bet plays off. Another nuance in this example situation: you have to be very fast managing everything, because the TU odds will get smaller during the match. There’s another opinion worth considering – you’d rather bet on the decreasing odds first, which is TU in our case. It’s up to you according to each situation.

Arbitrage and value betting

Arbitrage often acts as the source of value betting. Gross outcome of an event equals to 100% at any time. It means that the fact that an arbitrage opportunity appeared means that one of the outcomes was overestimated.

For example, Favorite – Outsider match. Real possibilities are:

  • Favorite wins 70% (odds 1.42);
  • Outsider wins 30%(odds 3.33).

Suddenly a big bookie changes odds resulting in arbitrage opportunities:

  • Favorite 1.5 (66%)
  • Outsider 3.33 (30%)

Gross outcome doesn’t equal to 100%, so one of the outcomes is definitely overestimated. If you’re an expert in this sport, you will spot that outcome, so by betting on it in the long run statistically you have to benefit from it – this strategy is called value betting

Overrated middle arbitrage betting

Another arbitrage derivative is overrated middle arbitrage. Here’s an example of this strategy in a nutshell:

  • Bookie 1 set 2.0 odds on TO 0.5
  • Bookie 2 set 2.5 odds on TU 1.5

Consequently if there will be 0 goals or more than 1 goal, we win; if there’ 1 goal, then 2 bets play off bringing us excessive profit.

Back lay arbitrage

It’s commonly believed that betting exchange are really good for arbitrage, because you can act as a bookmaker by placing lay bets at more profitable coefficients, which you can choose yourself. To my opinion it’s just a myth – it’s even harder to find arbitrage at betting exchange than at an average bookmaker’s office.

Betting strategies at betting exchange

It’s worth noting that there is a strategy at betting exchange when you place a lay bet on an outcome and then you simply wait until a back bet gets higher resulting in an arbitrage opportunity.

This is how it looks in reality: you pick a match where many goals may occur in your opinion; you place a bet AGAINST draw (lay) before the match. After the beginning of the match you wait for the first goal, because after that the coefficient FOR draw (back) usually goes higher. By placing a bet on that event you will cover all possible outcomes and benefit no matter what outcome is.

It’s actually a doubtful strategy. In fact in all those articles and educational videos nobody mentions a scoreless draw (0-0 draw) – in this case you will lose without even a chance to place the second bet. By the way 6% of all matches in English Premier League 2016, which is usually rich in goals, ended with a 0-0 score.

Anyway, here you can find back-lay arbitrage calculator and other calculators

Each way arbing

Essentially, you have to place an each way bet on a certain horse in horse racing and 2 opposing lay bets for win and place. Whatever the outcome is 2 bets out of the 4 will win, it’s profitable if you choose an event with good odds (using scanners).

It also happens that at betting each way in horse racing a bookie offers more places than betting exchange does. As a result we are in a situation when 3 bets can win. For example, a bookie offers 4 places, while a betting exchange offers 3 places. In this case if a horse comes off fourth best, the place bet at the bookie wins and 2 lay bets at the betting exchange win.

Dutch betting or Incomplete arbitrage

Another variation called dutch arbs or dutching.

This is the case when we pick an event and bet on the most possible outcomes ignoring low possibility outcomes. You can use incomplete arbs even placing bets within one bookmaker.

This strategy is often used when betting on a particular score in soccer.

Negative arbitrage and Matched betting

Negative arbitrage – It’s the same arbitrage but resulting in loss.

What’s the point of such strategy?

It works great with bonuses from bookmakers: cashbacks, risk freebets, etc.

Consider an example of a free bet. The thing is that a bookmaker gives you a chance to place a bet using their money. In case you win you get the winning amount (minus the bet amount), in case you lose you don’t risk anything, because it’s kind of the bookmaker’s money.

How can this be used in arbitrage? It’s called matched betting.

For example:

  • You place a $100 free bet (2.46 odds) on the winning of Real Madrid;
  • You place a $100 bet (1.5 odds) at another bookmaker on the winning of Napoli or a draw, but using your own money.

Matched betting

Arbitrage betting

OUTCOMEWinningNet profit (by taking into account of the money you lost on another outcome)
Real Madrid wins$100 * 2.46 = $246$246 -$100 - $100 = $46
Napoli wins or draw$100 * 1.5 = $150$150 -$100 = $50

We get around 50% profit whatever the outcome is.

You can pull a similar trick with a cash back offer (cash back arbitrage) and other similar bookmaker’s special offers.

Attention: Always take your time to read all the special offer conditions; you might miss some important info marked with a gear in the pursuit of the money. For example, you might be obliged to turn the money around 3 more time in order to withdraw your winning. It’s not a big deal though – you can learn the way to get out of this situation further in the article.

Negative arbitrage often used as an alternative to average arbs, when these don’t arise to win back bonuses (wagers). It helps to turn the necessary amount of money as many times as you need without sufficient loss.

You don’t get it?

For example: Once you get registered at a bookie, they add $200 to your deposit as a gift, but they put those money to you bonus deposit, not the real one. Under the condition that the bonus will be transferred to the real account when the total turnaround of the money reaches $2000 with the odds not less than 2.0. The question comes up: how to make that turnaround possible without the risk of losing your money? Arbitrage can be the answer to it; if there is no arbitrage opportunity (due to the fact that you are now limited in choosing both bookies and odds), then you can use the negative arb (something is better than nothing). It will allow you to minimize your loss while turning around the money.

Additional information

Finally, here’s a Youtube video on sports betting arbitrage if the above mentioned information wasn’t enough:

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