Arbitrage Betting Explained – How to Arbitrage Bet Online

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Written by Adam Haynes

Updated: 07:29 am EST, 10/07/2024

Arbitrage betting is a strategy for securing profit by exploiting price differences in betting markets. Also known as “arbing” or “sure bets”, this guide explains how it works in more detail.

How Does Arbitrage Betting Work?

Online sportsbooks offer various lines depending on their interpretation of the outcome of an event. Arbitrage betting is when you wager on all outcomes of a single sports event, often at different sportsbooks, and make a profit whatever the outcome.

For example, you could back the odds for Team A to win at one of our top offshore bookies as well as Team B to win elsewhere. Whatever happens, you make money.

Here’s a quick run-through of how a positive arbitrage betting opportunity is executed.

  • Identify the Betting Event for ARB
  • Find the Best Odds for All Outcomes
  • Convert All Odds to Implied Probabilities
  • Calculate Arbitrage Percentages
  • Back the Highest Odds for All Outcomes
  • Guaranteed Profit is Attained

The arbitrage gambling strategy requires no sports handicapping knowledge – it all comes down to probability and math. You compare lines for the same event across several bookies and back all outcomes when the odds guarantee a profit.

Both odds conversion and betting arbitrage calculators can help you work out the sums necessary for spotting an arbing opportunity. But you will need the odds for all outcomes, as well as your stake for each bet, to arrive at an expected profit calculation.

Examples of How to Arbitrage Bet

We recommend using calculators and arbitrage sports betting software when looking for sure bets. You can use formulas for manual calculations but this can be very time-restrictive when comparing large volumes of betting odds online.

Here are some arbitrage sports betting examples to get you started.

Arbitrage Betting Example 1

The easiest way to explain how it works is by using the coin toss scenario. Five bookies offer odds for heads and tails, but you notice something that can be exploited in the only set of plus and minus odds below.

Betting Site Heads Odds Tails Odds
Sportsbook A +100 +100
Sportsbook B +100 +100
Sportsbook C +100 +100
Sportsbook D -110 +110
Sportsbook E +100 +100

There’s a 50/50 chance that heads or tails will appear on the next toss. So, by betting a unit size of $50 each on both at Sportsbook A, you’ll see a $50 return either way. But if you bet $50 on heads at Sportsbook A (+100) and $50 on tails at Sportsbook D (+110), you are guaranteed a profit of $5 if the latter wins.

This is a very simplistic example. But one that is important for establishing the foundation for how arbitrage wagering works.

Betting Example 2

It’s typically easier to find expected value and arbing opportunities in betting markets without a draw outcome. This example takes advantage of differences in odds for two outcomes in a tennis match between two tennis stars.

Betting Site Djokovic Win    Zverev Win
Sportsbook  A -130         +125
Sportsbook B -155         +140
Sportsbook C -145         +150

So, this arbitrage in sports betting example is based on backing both Djokovic and Zverev winning. But making a profit either way, of course. You have noticed the best odds for Djokovic are at Sportsbook A (-130) and his rival at Sportsbook C (+150), identifying an arbitrage opportunity.

The implied probability for a Djokovic win at odds of -130 is 56.5%. Zverev’s IP at odds of +150 is 40%. Combined, this makes a total implied probability of 96.5%, which is less than 100%. This can be exploited to make a profit backing Djokovic and Zverev, regardless of the outcome.

Working Out an Arb Bet

  • $115.38 Stake on Djokovic to Win at Odds of -130 at Sportsbook A ($204.13 Total Returns with $88.75 Profit)
  • $100 Stake on Zverev to Win at Odds of +150 at Sportsbook C ($250 Total Returns with $150 Profit).

Regardless of the result, you have made a profit by finding expected value.

Example 3

You spot a -145 moneyline bet for Canelo Alvarez to beat Terence Crawford at your favorite sportsbook. Three other betting sites offer different odds for outcomes in the fight, suggesting there may be potential arbitrage opportunities from a $100 bankroll.

Betting Site Canelo Win Draw Crawford Win
Sportsbook A -120 +700 +190
Sportsbook B -145 +800 +205
Sportsbook C -150 +750 +250

Using an arbitrage betting finder calculator works out whether there is scope for profit from a sure bet. Also, implied probability (IP) calculators can also be used to arrive at these sums necessary for manual calculations. But here are the basic formulas to follow.

Working Out a Sure Bet

  • Best Odds for Canelo to Win are -120 at Sportsbook A (IP of 54.5%)
  • Best Odds for the Draw are +800 at Sportsbook B (IP of 11.1%)
  • Best Odds for Crawford to Win are +250 at Sportsbook C (IP of 28.6%)

Sum of Implied Probabilities = 54.5 (Canelo) + 11.1 (Draw) + 28.6 (Crawford) = 94.2%

As this sum is under 100%, it indicates an exceptional opportunity for arbitrage betting. Now, your total stake amount of $100 must be split proportionately to cover a guaranteed profit using the best odds.

  • Canelo Wins – $59.50 Bet at Odds of120 = Total Return of $109.08 ($49.58 Profit + $59.50 Stake)
  • Draw – $11.35 Bet at Odds of +800 = Total Return of $102.15 ($90.80 Profit + $11.35 Stake)
  • Crawford Wins – $29.15 Bet at Odds of +230 = Total Return of $102.03 ($72.88 Profit + $29.15 Stake)

In this example, we see a profit returned from every scenario. But given the enticing odds for the favorite, we added a tad more onto Canelo’s stake to win. In some scenarios, the distribution may be better kept to lock a similar profit from the outcomes covered.

Also, the average return on investment (ROI) when arbing is usually below 2 percent. It is rare to find anything above this figure at new offshore betting sites or the more established ones.

Betting Arbitrage and Guaranteed Profits

Arbitrage betting can make you money in the form of guaranteed profit. Far from an advanced sports betting strategy, it simply requires an understanding of odds and math – as well as time effort to exploit differences in prices at different bookies.

There are companies out there that provide you with events to wager on for a paid subscription. They may also provide betting tools like arbitrage betting formulas to use when you pay. But all of this can be done for free once you understand the basics of how it all works.

Pros & Cons of Arbitrage Betting

There are upsides and downsides to this way of betting. The key is to understand the balance between them all.

Pros:

  • Can guarantee profit
  • No sports knowledge required
  • All outcomes covered mean limited risk
  • Based on math and probability
  • Not illegal

Cons:

  • Requires additional bankroll
  • Must dedicate time to find arbitrage opportunities
  • Bookmakers may flag accounts for suspicious betting practices
  • Opportunities can be tough to identify
  • Several online betting site accounts required

How to Arbitrage Bet Online

If you’re looking to get started with arbing, the first thing you need to do is to sign up for a sportsbook. While more than one sites are required to place several bets, the following steps detail how to register for any of the ones we rate on this site.

1. Choose an Offshore Betting Site

Check out our rankings of the best offshore sportsbooks and head over to their site.

2. Complete the Registration Form

You’ll be asked to provide details including your full name, email address, telephone number, postal address, and more.

3. Select a Bonus

Choose your welcome offer from the ones provided by the betting site you are joining.

4. Deposit Funds

You’ll need a positive balance to place parlay bets and other wagers, so choose your payment method and make your initial deposit.

5. Compare Odds

Now you’re signed up, check out the odds for the event you want to wager on and compare them across our other sportsbooks.

Effective Arbitrage Betting Tips and Strategy 

Here are a few top tips to help you get the most out of arbing online.

Use Calculators and Tools

An arbitrage calculator for betting online is essential. While you can perform many of these workings manually, finding a profitable opportunity means spotting differences in odds as quickly and efficiently as possible. Other tools like free arbitrage bet finders may also be worth exploring.

Consider Multiple Offshore Betting Sites Accounts

You can compare online gambling odds for football games and tennis matches across our recommended sportsbooks. But if you see anything you like, you must have an account to take their prices. Another benefit of using multiple accounts is that you can claim several bonuses like welcome offers.

Target Major Events and Tournaments

One of the top tips for arbitrage in betting is to focus on action-heavy events. You’re far likelier to see greater odds movement and potential for exploiting prices in popular events and tournaments. Aim for the likes of the Super Bowl, FIFA World Cup, or similar markets that may lead to price discrepancies among oddsmakers.

Use Betting Exchanges

You’ll find a lot of activity in arbitrage betting tilting toward betting exchanges. Where possible, sign up with sites that allow you to lay and hedge bets. Betting exchanges are also far more liberal when it comes to arbitrage bets than traditional sportsbooks.

Differences Between Arbitrage Sports Betting and Hedging

Arbitrage sports wagering and hedging bets are distinguishable by a few key factors. Many wonder what is arbitrage betting and how it relates to hedging. Put simply, the differences can be explained by how these practices are executed.

Both arbitrage and hedging bets share the goal of minimizing the chances of losing. The former, however, is executed with the ultimate goal of securing a profit. Hedging, as a practice, is more concerned with mitigating risk.

Any valid betting example of an arbitrage opportunity shows potential for profit. Hedging, on the other hand, may be done when a bettor has a significant sum of cash riding on a bet. To reduce the chance of losing big, they may back the other side to balance things out.

Risks of Arbitrage Betting 

Gambling, by its very nature, involves risk. Even if you know how to arbitrage bet to the highest standard, it does not mean you are guaranteed not to encounter issues.

Sportsbooks May Refuse to Pay WinningsYour Action May be LimitedLost Time and EffortSmall Returns and ProfitsFinancial Risk

If a bookie suspects sports betting arbitrage wagering patterns, any winnings may be withheld. This can affect all money held in your account.

Offshore betting sites may impose restrictions on how much you can bet, or the markets you can wager on. Both can make arbing very difficult.

You must identify discrepancies that generate expected value/ EV in sports betting odds to make money. To be successful in the long run, you must invest sufficient time in things that may not pay off, such as beating closing line values (CLVs).

Above anything else, returns using this betting technique are rarely significant. This only makes arbitrage betting profitable over an extended period, or if you are prepared to stake considerable sums of cash on all sides of one event.

Speed, accuracy, and luck underpin successful arbitrage betting wins. If there’s a mistake or a last-minute change, bettors risk losing considerable sums of money.

Using Arbitrage Betting Calculators

Arbitrage betting calculators help by reducing the time spent crunching numbers and comparing odds. More importantly, they can be more accurate in a shorter space of time. Limiting errors and arriving at the numbers you want can promote efficiency.

It’s always a good idea to use betting calculators for arbing when you are dealing with a large sample size of prices. You can enter all pertinent odds and allow the software to do its magic.

How Betting Sites Identify Arbitrage Betting Patterns

Online betting sites rely on patterns to detect this practice. While using a bet arbitrage calculator is unlikely to get you flagged, consistently wagering on different outcomes may.

Arbitrage sports betting opportunities are unlikely to be found from odds taken at the same bookie. Sportsbooks use software algorithms to ensure their betting odds are balanced toward them making a profit, regardless of what you back. All rests on implied probabilities, which are rarely out of sync with prices on other sites.

While not an illegal form of gambling, many betting firms can cancel your account if they notice unusual patterns in your betting history. As such, placing wagers on events across different sites is key. You could also mix up your bets from time to time by diversifying the markets you wager on.

Ultimately, you should always try to resemble an average gambler. Many bookies avoid specifically targeting “arbitrage bettors” in their terms and conditions, instead opting to provide their services to “recreational bettors” only.

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