Most, if not all, bettors wager to try to turn their love for sports into a profitable venture. However, sports betting can be challenging, making consistent wins difficult. That's why many players turn to well-known and successful betting strategies to help them - one of which is arbitrage betting.
But, what is arbitrage betting? Well, with arbitrage betting, you basically wager on both outcomes of a specific market to secure a small profit - regardless of how the game plays out. Most successful arbitrage bets usually involve two different sportsbooks, but it’s possible to find arb bets within the same platform as well.
Still, arbitrage betting does come with its drawbacks and risks. That's why we are here to help! This full guide to arbitrage betting will provide you with a thorough understanding of how arbitrage bets function, the advantages and disadvantages, and the steps you can take to become a successful arbitrage bettor today. So, read on to uncover all you need to know about this unique betting strategy!
Arbitrage Bets - How It Works
Arbitrage bets are a unique type of bets. These bets are also known as sure bets, because they ensure you come out with a profit. To put it simply, an arbitrage bet can happen on a market with two outcomes, such as over/under betting. For an arbitrage bet, you hunt down the best odds for each outcome on two different sportsbooks. Voila! Arbitrage betting in action.
For example, if you bet the “over” on one and the “under” on another, then you’ll make a profit no matter how the match ends (provided you wager the right amount of money). Let’s have a look at a few specific examples so you can better understand how arbitrage betting works.
- Consider an NFL game between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. One sportsbook puts out its odds with the Jets being a +120 underdog, while another lists the Patriots as a +105 underdog. So, if you bet on both outcomes at these sportsbooks, you’ll either earn $5 or $20 as profit for every $100 you wager. Or, you can bet $96.47 and $103.53 respectively, and make a fixed profit of $12.24. However, if the first sportsbook gets a lot of action on the Jets at +120 or realizes it has made a mistake, the odds could move significantly to the point where the Patriots become a +105 underdog. This is another type of arb bet on the same platform that can guarantee you a profit.
- Arbing can also occur on specific prop bets, such as how many wins an NBA team gets throughout the regular season. For instance, one sportsbook may have the over 52.5 wins for the Phoenix Suns as a +115 underdog, while another might have the under 52.5 as a -105 favorite. If you put these odds in an arbitrage calculator, you’ll see that you can earn a net profit of $2.31 for each $100 you put into the arb bet.
Is Arbitrage Betting Legal?
Arbitrage betting is a perfectly legitimate strategy, and you don’t risk any legal repercussions as long as the online sports betting apps you use are legal. But, as you can imagine, sportsbooks don’t really like you taking their money with no risk involved.
That’s why they constantly check their wagering numbers on certain markets and can void your bet if it seems like an arbitrage. Additionally, it’s easy for a sportsbook to just limit your maximum bet sizes, so your arb bets are essentially fruitless.
Finally, if the betting apps or platforms prohibit arbitrage betting in their terms and conditions, they can just ban your account indefinitely and even prevent you from opening new ones - similar to casinos kicking out and blacklisting card counters in blackjack.
Where Can I Find the Best Opportunities for Arbitrage Betting?
In the past, arbitrage bets used to be very easy to find. Now, online sportsbooks have become a lot better at spotting and preventing them. To find arb bets consistently, you need to note when sportsbooks release their odds and jump on them immediately, as most mistakes occur during the first few hours of the odds being released.
If you know a particular league or specific team well enough, you’ll easily be able to tell if the odds for a certain market are way off, which is a good starting point for an arbitrage bet to occur.
Here are some common instances where you can find great opportunities for an arbi bet:
- Significant odds movement - Big odds shifts" can happen for various reasons. It might be because a sportsbook made an error, or it could be because a lot of people are betting on a strong underdog, causing the odds to change drastically, sometimes even turning the underdog into the favorite. In this case, if you got in early on the “dog”, you can also bet on the other team for an easy arbitrage bet.
- Mistakes in totals and prop bets - It’s often the case that sportsbooks falsely calculate odds for over/under bets or prop bets, which leads to opportunities for arbi bets. If you see the over being an underdog on one platform and a favorite on another, then you have a nifty arbi bet in your hands by betting both the under and over on the different platforms.
- Sportsbooks trying to make a difference - Sometimes, a particular odds trader may have a strong opinion regarding the favorite and underdog of a specific match, deviating significantly from the general public. As a result, they may release odds that align with their unique perspective. Other times, sportsbooks offer better odds than others to attract more players. In both cases, it’s the arbitrage bettors who win, as these behaviors can lead to some very profitable arb bets.
What Are The Risks of Arbitrage Bets?
So far, arbitrage betting seems like a great strategy for all sports bettors, as it guarantees you a profit with very little investment of time and effort. However, there are a few important risks that come with arbitrage bets you should be aware of:
Let’s start with the most obvious downside to arbitrage betting: getting banned from one or multiple sportsbooks. While it’s not technically illegal to place arbitrage bets, sportsbooks really dislike arbers and do their best to keep them away from their business.
Most sports betting apps and websites will have specific terms that prohibit betting on both outcomes of the same market, preventing most arbitrage bets. If they catch you placing arbi bets, sportsbooks might limit your bet sizes significantly or outright ban your account.
Mistakes can happen anywhere from time to time, and arbitrage betting is no different. If you’re calculating the odds and bet sizes for arbitrage bets on your own, you might make an error and wager the wrong amount.
This can lead to bets that aren’t optimized for maximum profit, which is the whole point of arbitrage betting in the first place, or even lose you money in the end.
Rapid Odds Movement
When it comes to finding the best arbi bets, being alert to odds changes and line movements is essential. If you spot a great opportunity for an arbitrage bet, you must act quickly to avoid losing the best odds on both bets.
This is especially true if you’ve already placed your first bet and are in the process of placing your second wager. If you don’t act fast enough, the line or odds could move against your favor, and you might lose the arbitrage opportunity.
Arbitrage bets can sometimes fall victim to cancellations for different reasons. The most common reason is one sportsbook catching your arbitrage betting and canceling your bets altogether. Another reason might be that you didn’t place your bet in time, although that’s more relevant in live bets.
Finally, if a player you’ve bet on doesn’t start the game, some sportsbooks may cancel your bet, while others might not, so you’ll be left hanging if only one of your two bets is canceled.
Tips & Strategies for Successful Arbitrage Betting
If you're aware of the potential risks tied to arbitrage betting and are still eager to dive in, we have some valuable tips and strategies to fast-track your journey to becoming a successful arbitrage bettor in no time.
Wager on Reliable Platforms
Placing your arbitrage bets on safe and reliable sportsbooks should be your number-one priority for a few reasons. For one, you must ensure the platform will pay out your winnings, as arbitrage betting requires large wagers to make a significant profit.
Also, you need to make sure your account has the proper betting limits for your arbitrage bets to work. Most sports betting platforms will have high max bet limits, but some may not allow you to bet more than a few thousand dollars on specific markets.
Let Calculators Do the Work for You
If you try to figure out arbitrage odds and wager amounts, you’re bound to make some costly mistakes. Instead, use an arbitrage calculator that will output the exact amount you need to bet, based on the odds you provide.
You can find several arbitrage calculating tools with a simple online search. These tools are built to give you all the necessary information, including how much you need to wager on each part of the arbi bet and how much profit you’ll earn. Alternatively, you can create your own by implementing an arbitrage formula into a spreadsheet.
Round Out Your Bets
The number one way sportsbooks catch arbitrage bettors is due to their suspicious bet sizes. If a platform receives a very precise bet with many decimals, it’s usually an indication of an arbi bet.
To avoid this, you should look to round out your bets to a more common number, even if it means sacrificing some of your profits and slightly messing up your bankroll management. In the long term, it’s better to fly under the radar and place multiple arbitrage bets with less profits than get your account limited or outright banned.
Disguise Your Arbitrage Bets
Speaking of flying under the radar, another strategy you can employ to avoid getting caught is to mask your arbitrage bets from time to time. If you use a sportsbook account to just place suspicious bets, it’s easier for the platform to limit you or close your account.
Instead, try placing some more “common” bets once in a while. For example, place a bet on a heavy favorite you expect to easily win or craft a large parlay bet from time to time, which will allow most of your arbitrage bets to go unnoticed in the long run.
Avoid Less Popular Sports, Leagues & Markets
One thing arbers often do that gets them caught is placing arbitrage bets on lesser popular sports, leagues, and betting markets. The issue is that sportsbooks know that these less common betting options get very low action every week.
If they suddenly see a lot of action that exceeds their wagering expectations, it will alarm them to examine the bets placed, which means they will most likely cancel your bets and even ban your account for arbitrage betting.
Get Access To Multiple Accounts
The safest way to ensure you can successfully place your arbitrage bets is to have access to multiple accounts on several different platforms. While having two accounts on the same sportsbook is prohibited, you can use a betting partner or relative to gain access to different accounts and use them alternately to avoid getting caught.
In fact, plenty of arbitrage betting groups play using unique accounts on multiple sportsbooks and find great opportunities for arbitrage betting.
Don’t Rely on Arbitrage Bet Finders
On that note, you should generally avoid relying on websites that promise you to find sure bets for you. While there’s nothing wrong with most of them, they’re usually a few hours late to post their findings, and by the time you see it, the opportunity might be gone.
Instead, your best option is to do your own studying and research to find the best arbitrage betting chances. If you familiarize yourself with a specific league and check the odds as soon as they come out every week, you’ll easily find plenty of opportunities for successful arbitrage bets.
Is Arbitrage Betting Worth It?
At first glance, arbitrage betting seems like the perfect strategy to ensure profits in sports betting. While it’s true that it can be a winning strategy, arbitrage betting comes with its pros and cons, just like any betting strategy.
✅Great way to ensure long-term profit in sports betting
✅If successful, it can even be used for extra income
✅Doesn’t require too much knowledge of a particular sport or league
❌Requires a large bankroll to be successful
❌ Produces very small profits (around 2-5%) on each bet
❌Runs the risk of banning your account & losing your investment
Getting Started With Arbitrage Betting
There’s no denying arbitrage betting is a successful betting strategy that many sports bettors use. However, implementing it isn't so straightforward and comes with a few significant cons, including a considerable upfront money investment and the risk of losing your account.
👉If you're keen on trying arbitrage betting, explore our sports betting communities. Here, you will find seasoned bettors with extensive arbitrage experience who will gladly guide you and share their success tips. You'll also discover top sports picks across various leagues and events so you can boost your betting profits!