Sports betting is risky by its very nature. You win some, you lose some, and the goal of most punters is to win more than they lose. But what if there was a way to avoid all that? A risk-free football betting strategy that always wins if done right? Well, good news! There is such a strategy – though it does come with disadvantages as well.
In this article, we’ll take a close look at how betting arbitrage works and how you can successfully pull it off.
What Is Betting Arbitrage?
Betting arbitrage is a strategy in sports betting that exploits the price differences at different sportsbooks. It involves placing two bets on the same market in such a way that you earn a profit regardless of the final outcome. To do so, you’ll need at least two different bookmakers. That’s why this technique is mostly reserved for online sportsbooks.
That’s the gist of it, but the whole betting arbitrage calculation can be a lot more complicated. How does covering every possible outcome guarantee profits with betting, you may ask? Well, it only does for some wagers. Finding the right ones is the first step.
You probably already know that different bookies often offer different odds for the same market. A 2.10 might be, say, a 2.15 on a different site. The reasons behind this are complicated, but it has to do with how bookmakers set prices in the first place. Bookies generally have varied methods for pricing, which is why you might see discrepancies. Moreover, the bookmaker margin plays an important part in why odds end up slightly higher or lower. It’s also why we recommend using multiple top betting sites to get the best odds.
To explain how to find arbitrage bets, we’ll use an example. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll use a binary market with only two possible outcomes. We’ll also want to focus on who wins the match rather than things like the number of goals. Making predictions is much easier that way. As such, we’ll use a +0.5 Asian Handicap bet. This wager doesn’t change the outcome of a match – it merely eliminates the chance of a draw. For our example, it doesn’t matter which side you choose to put the handicap on. Just make sure it’s the same team with both bookies.
Arbitrage Bet Example
Let’s imagine a football match in which the favourite is not quite clear. The teams’ forms are comparable, which means the odds for a +0.5 Asian Handicap are close to 2.00. Let’s say Bookmaker A considers Team 1 to be the slight favourite. Their victory is priced at 2.09, while the price for Team 2 is 1.85.
Conversely, Bookmaker B feels differently, pricing a Team 2 win at 2.08, while Team 1 sits at 1.86. These prices also account for the bookmaker margin, which on average sits around 5%.
A difference in odds this big is what some punters call an “arb.” In other words, it’s a fairly obvious opportunity for betting arbitrage predictions.
Let’s say you put up £100 on a Team 1 win with Bookmaker A. You also put up the same amount for Team 2 with Bookmaker B. So you have £100 odds placed at 2.09 odds on one end, and £100 at 2.08 odds on the other. That’s a total stake of £200.
If Team 1 wins, you’ll win £209. If team B wins, you’ll win £208. It’s quite literally a win-win situation.
Of course, £8 is quite a small haul for a £200 stake. That’s one of the obvious downsides of this soccer betting strategy. But hey, it’s guaranteed profit in football betting, which is not something you see every day. You don’t need to worry about who will win, or betting value, or even watch the game. You can sit back, relax, and count your money.
Advantages and Disadvantages
We won’t spend too much time touting why people try arbitrage betting. It’s essentially free money. Well, “free” if you don’t account for the work that went into finding the arb.
So what are the downsides to arbitrage betting, then?
First of all, opportunities are quite rare. You won’t see many real-world instances of something like our example above. More often than not, you’ll need to scour the listings for hours on end for a proper chance. And remember – this involves multiple sportsbooks across different sites and all possible markets.
Additionally, your betting arbitrage tips probably won’t be as convenient as our example. Sometimes, you can even run into eight-way arbs in markets such as Winning Margin. The odds on these are vastly different, but occasionally you can find places where betting the right amount on each possible outcome turns out a guaranteed profit. You need to know how much to bet on each option, obviously, which can be a nightmare. Betting arbitrage calculators exist, but it’s still quite a task. Especially because you need them to figure out if the bet is good for arbitrage betting at all.
As you’ve seen, the profit margins are quite small too. Unless you’re putting up tens of thousands, it will be hard to get some real money with arbitrage bets.
And last but not least, bookmakers hate betting arbitrage. They can often figure out what you’re doing, too, by spotting certain patterns in wagers and stakes. For instance, arbitrage in 1X2 bets usually involves strange, non-round stakes. Arbitrage is unfortunately often grounds for suspending your online sportsbook account. The exceptions are exchanges like Betfair. They get their cut either way, so you can arb your bets to your heart’s content.
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