Arbitrage betting

What is sports arbitrage betting?

Arbitrage bet in sports betting is an activity where you simultaneously place bets on all possible outcomes of an event at odds that guarantee profit, whatever the result of the event will be. These bets are also known as surebets, miraclebets, surewins or just arbs.

Arbitrage betting is the only way to make constant profits from sports betting. You don't even need to have interest in sports or betting to take advantage of an arbitrage bet and make extra money online. Arbitrage is a trading technique that uses the difference in the price (odds) to make instant profit. It has been used for a long time in financial markets, which can be difficult for non-professionals to access.

How it works?

Normally, placing bets on all outcomes of an event at single bookie would result in guaranteed loss. However, if you take the best odds from different bookies, it is possible to make guaranteed profit.

Working example


Take a tennis match, for example. Let's go back in time and say it's Boris Becker versus John McEnroe.

Bookmaker A is offering odds of 1.6 on Becker winning, and 3.9 on McEnroe winning. Bookmaker B is offering longer odds of 1.9 on Becker, but shorter odds of 2.9 on McEnroe.

You place a £200 bet on Becker at Bookmaker B. You then bet on McEnroe at Bookmaker A, and you calculate your stake by multiplying 200 by the result of 1.6/3.9 (your shorter odds divided by your longer odds).

So in this case, £200 x (1.6/3.9) = £82. Your total stake across both bets is £282.

If Becker wins, you stand to claim winnings of £320 from Bookmaker B - a £38 profit across all your bets.

If McEnroe comes out victorious, your £82 stake wins you £319.80 - a profit of £37.80 across both bets.

As this example illustrates, the profits to be made from arbing are rarely very large, and there is a considerable amount of time and effort required in sourcing favourable odds and acting quickly enough to take advantage of them.

With these profit margins, one of the keys to arbing success is patience and a cool head. It can take a long time, a large amount of funds to bet with, and a lot of small wins to accumulate significant profits.

The kind of odds shown in the example above don't often occur in pro tennis, but a keen arber will seek them out and capitalise when possible.

Why arbitrage opportunities occur?

There are many different reasons why arbitrage opportunities occur but the most frequent are discrepancies between online bookmakers and bookie's necessity to maintain balanced book. The first reason, discrepancy between bookmakers, happens when bookmakers open the market or start accepting bets for particular sports event. Usually only several leading bookmakers lay or offer odds, while other bookmakers, who do not have the necessary knowledge or resources to carefully follow particular sports event, wait for the leaders to open the market before setting up their own odds. Leading bookmakers often disagree on the chances of the outcome of a particular sports event. Their discrepancy is expressed in betting odds, so when the market opens you will have the opportunity for an arbitrage bet. The second reason that leads to arbitrage opportunities is bookie's necessity to maintain balanced book (bookmaker's book is a record of accepted bets). By maintaining balanced book bookie makes a safe profit and protects himself against a potential loss. But people don't bet proportionally on all possible outcomes of an event. Furthermore, the bookmaker sometimes accepts extremely large bets on one of the outcomes of an event, thus creating an unbalanced book. In order to restore balanced book the bookie must change the odds. This is achieved by lowering the odds on the outcome that has received more bets and raising the odds on the outcome that has received less bets. Since there is no reason for the rest of the market to change, the bookmaker just created an arbitrage opportunity. So bookmakers necessity to maintain balanced book is another frequent reason why arbitrage opportunities occur.

Do bookmakers know about arbitrage?

The sportsbooks create arbitrage opportunities because they need to balance their book. Remember that you can't go to a single sportsbook and bet on all outcomes of an event without losing money. The sportsbooks are only interested in profit they make when they have balanced book. Their profit, so called margin, is amounts wagered minus the winnings and is between 2% and 8% of total stakes. Furthermore, sports arbitrage betting doesn't infringe any bookmakers terms of use and is completely legal method to make money online.
In practice, you should avoid betting very large sums and maybe make some randomized bets along the way so they don't suspect you are a professional punter. Having your accounts spread to family members/friends also helps a lot.

How often opportunities for surebets occur?

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