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How to Be Successful at Arbing – Arb Betting Explained

Arbitrage betting is a hot topic among gamblers, with its immense popularity mainly due to the prospect of making a profit at minimum risk. The term comes from the word “arbitrage” – used in the financial world to describe the process of simultaneously buying and selling assets or securities, which originated as a method in stocks and shares. Arbitrage has been a practice in betting for as long as sportsbooks have been around. It has been purported as “the only way to make a constant profit” and it’s not a practice that bookmakers seem particularly supportive of, with some having gone to extreme lengths in their disapproval, suspending the accounts of players practicing it. Regardless, it’s a technique employed by many bettors for whom it has proven to be very profitable. So, what exactly is arbing and why is it being prohibited by some bookmakers? In short, this is a technique whereby bettors, called arbiters, use the different odds among bookmakers to their advantage and by betting on every outcome of the event, they ensure a win regardless of the outcome.

The key to successful arbitrage betting – also called matched betting, miraclebets, or surewins – is finding two different bookmakers who offer opposing odds on an event. Typically, this is an event with two possible outcomes like tennis or American football but it can also be an event where there is a third option of a draw or a tie as in European football. In order to make a profit by arbing, bettors need to be willing to put in large steaks and a great deal of patience. Depending on the sports event, the possible outcomes, and other factors, the return on investment in arbing varies between 2 and 5%. Although many events offer the chance for arbing, it requires a lot of preparation and proper research which, combined with the large capital needed, is the reason why it’s not universally practiced.

A Little Mathematics Is Needed – A Lot Really

Let’s go into more detail. For the purpose of our explanation, it’s easier if we look at a game with only two outcomes – basketball, American football, ice hockey, and tennis all have no tie possible. Abring can, however, be applied to any event for which bookies are offering odds on an outcome. It’s essential that you find different bookmakers who offer significantly different odds. Not all bookies see the same outcome and they lay odds based on statistical analysis. There is a certain fluctuation in odds but since it’s constantly changing, arbers need to be able to quickly grasp the opportunity such fluctuation creates. With a little (sic) math, you can seize the right arbs, pick two significantly different ones and bet on each outcome, taking advantage of the odds offering profits. It’s a lot easier to use decimal odds as opposed to fractional to work out the sums here’s an example:

Bookie A

Bookie B

Team 1 Win



Team 2 Win




This is the boring bit bear with us. For each bookie the sum of the inverse of all results will always be more than 1 that’s the profit margin.

Bookie A 1.25⁻1 + 3.9 ⁻1 = 1.056 and Bookie B 1.43 ⁻1 + 2.85 ⁻1 = 1.05

The bookie A’s return rate is 1 – (1.25*3.9) / (1.25+3.9) = 5.34%

So your profitable arb betting would be that you take the odds from Bookie A for a Team 2 win at 3.90.Then you take the odds from Bookie B for a Team 1 win at 1.43. You put a stake of 100 with Bookie B on Team 1 and a stake of 100*1.43/3.9=36.67 with Bookie A on Team 2. You collect 143 whoever wins. Your stake totals 136.67 so you profit 6.33 (about 4.6%)

1.43⁻1 +3.9⁻1 =0.956

That’s the maths which doesn’t seem that complicated but it is easy to make a mistake. Recognizing the odds needed to make an arbitrage sports betting play is another ball game. This is a general look at things but it goes like this


Team A Win

Team B Win


more than 6


more than 4.33


more than 3.5


more than 3


greater than 2.66


greater than 2.42


greater than 2.25


greater than 2.11


greater than 2.0

This table will help you spot at a glance whether odds are favorable for an arbitrage play. Then, of course, you need to do the sums to work out how much to bet on each, hoping to clear well at the bookies.

Is Arbitrage Betting Even Legal?

Yes it is perfectly legal. But just like card counting in a casino, if a sports book suspects you are doing it, they will probably suspend your account. Why do they let it happen then? Well, as mentioned at the beginning – bookies don’t always agree on a match up for one thing. In fact, it’s very often that the arbing opportunities are intentionally created by bookmakers who have to balance their books. For a bookie to be guaranteed a profit they offer odds that level out the field. Their sums will always add up to over 1 which means profit for them. So, if one team is getting all of the action, they will make the odds on the other team more attractive to get action on them in order to balance the book. In an ideal world for the bookie they want to make the same payout on either winner, i.e. less than was staked. This is their balanced book and a profit. Bookies are in the game to make money – they are not sports fans and they have no interest in offering fair odds. This makes them open to the arb bet. And arbers are simply taking advantage of the differences in the market.

Surely It Doesn’t Happen Often?

YYou would be surprised there are literally thousands of opportunities across the world’s bookies. Most run in at around 4-6% profit but if you do it right, there are a few that can yield 10-15% profit. The hardest part is the effort involved. You need to be putting in hours of researching and then there’s the time-consuming maths. It is easy to slip up with the sums and miss the golden opportunity. This is the main reason why there are not that many doing it. The profit margin is slight and it requires a large amount of capital. In order to earn a decent living at a 6% margin, you are looking at around €25 000 start up cash. The risk of making a mistake puts a lot of people off the whole idea. It takes a lot of dedication, with long hours crunching the numbers, and a lot of patience as well because this is no get-rich scheme. A wise arber, however, will be able to capitalize on the arb opportunities. Also, technological advances are changing the way people bet and with the growing numbers of online bookmakers, arbing is on the rise. Now, there are even software services available to work out all of the maths involved. Couple this with alert services which scan the markets for arbitrage sports betting opportunities and some make a good living at it. As it stands, there are not hoards of bettors doing this but it is a viable business. The bets are completely legal and if you have enough accounts, you can stay under the radar. But get this straight – it’s not for the faint-hearted. A lot of your money is out there working all of the time, so a cool head and patience are essential. In addition to having access to different sportsbooks, you also need to be well-organised and keep to some basic rules like always betting in the same currency, never betting to the maximum stake, and staying away from long-term arbs.

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