If you’ve ever spent any time trawling through some of the thousands of sports betting related pages that the internet has to offer, then you’ve probably come across something called ‘Arbitrage betting’, which on first hearing sounds like it might be a little complex. The reality is that it’s very simple to both understand and perform. For those unfamiliar with ‘arbing’ as it’s often known, we’ve put together a simple guide that tells you everything you need to know.
An Arbitrage bet, commonly referred to as an ‘arb’, is where a player exploits price discrepancies between different betting companies, betting on all possible outcomes of an event, guaranteeing a profit regardless of the outcome.
Arbitrage betting is also, for rather obvious reasons, known as ‘sure betting’ or ‘surewin’. Punters who execute arbs bets are often referred to as ‘arbers’.
As mentioned briefly above, arbers can use software to help them in their quest for opportunities. In short, arbing software sifts through many betting sites, covering all sorts of sports and events, looking for viable arbs. The software is built so that it will calculate the profit margin of an arb before alerting the user. Naturally, using software cuts down the length of time that an arber needs to spend trawling the internet for bets, while it also finds many arbs that a manual search wouldn’t necessarily uncover.
Using arbitrage software is very straightforward. Once the software identifies a bet, it will not only calculate the stakes required in order to secure a risk-free profit, but a simple click on a bet button should send the arber straight through to the necessary pages of the required betting sites, so that the bets can be quickly and easily placed.
Like betting sites, there’s no shortage of arbitrage software out there. Again, as is the case when it comes to selecting the right betting site, selecting the best software for the job can be a reasonably tricky task. Of those that are available, BreakingBet, Betburger and Rebelbetting are all highly recommended.
Newer than most of its main competitors, BreakingBet has achieved a lot in a relatively short space of time. Popular because of it’s affordable price, this arb-finder probably isn’t the absolute best in terms of software quality but it is still more than a match for others that are far more expensive. By covering 41 bookmakers and 12 sports, BreakingBet isn’t quite as all encompassing as some other software, though it is certainly usable, particularly if you’re new to arbing. For less than £15 a month, there really can be few complaints.
One of the oldest arb finders, Rebelbetting is unlikely to let you down, especially if reliability and few errors is what you’re after. Rebelbetting scans close to 100 betting sites and exchanges, searching for bets from up to ten sports. It is quite pricey, though the fact that so many arbers use Rebelbetting despite the price is testament to how useful it is.
Created in Ukraine in the early part of the 2010’s, Betburger’s arbitrage finder is a viable alternative to the two more popular models above. From a usability point of view, it runs smoothly and does everything necessary to make the arb-finding process straightforward. There is a free version, though there are quite substantial operating delays, so it’s only really worth using to get an idea of the way Betburger works. One stumbling block is the price, which is over £200 per month, though for this price, customers get a software that scans 100 bookmakers and 38 sports, which is very good.
For a simple comparison of the three arbitrage software described please see below.
Some sports, such as tennis, are more suitable for arbitrage bettors than others, but there’s no concrete answer to this question. It’s more a question of which markets are better? Markets with just two sides are generally the best for successful arbitrage bets, so sports that typically feature such markets are generally best for arbitrage bettors.
For example, a singles match in tennis features two players, so when betting on the winner of the match, there are only two choices and thus there are only two possible outcomes. Likewise, ‘Over/Under’ in tennis or football is a market that by design is ideal for arbers. Again, this is because there are only two outcomes. The game either goes over or under. Markets with several outcomes, such as ‘First Scorer’ in football, or the ‘Win’ market in a horse race, make life much more difficult for arbers, as it’s nowhere near as easy to cover everything, which means that guaranteeing a profit is tough.
In the UK, there is no law against arbitrage betting. As an arber, you don’t have to worry about receiving punishment from anyone other than a bookmaker. Unfortunately, arbing is hugely frowned upon by bookmakers, so much so that they have taken dramatic steps to prevent punters from securing risk-free profit. After all, nobody hates losing money more than the bookmakers, who’re most certainly not in the business of making it easy for their customers to pocket a few quid.
Bookmakers have become more and more aware of arbs betting, so much so that arbs are now no longer easy to find. Betting sites have taken extra effort to make sure that they don’t leave themselves exposed to those punters that seek simple, risk-free profit. Essentially, accounts are monitored, and if a betting company does suspect that a customer has been partaking in arbitrage activities, then they will likely heavily restrict, or even close the account, immediately.
Previously, an arbitrage bettor would have had to use two traditional bookmakers. Nowadays, with the rise in popularity of betting exchanges, this is no longer the only option. Betting exchanges offer the arber increased possibilities.
The person-to-person nature of an exchange means that punters can adopt a role previously reserved for the bookmaker. By offering odds to other people, you can lay bets, which essentially means you’re betting against something by offering a price to a player with the opposing opinion. This is perfect for arbing. For example, should the odds permit, you can bet on a tennis player to win with at a traditional sportsbook, before betting on the same player to lose on the exchange, guaranteeing a profit regardless of how the match turns out.
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Arbitrage betting, though essentially risk free if done properly, isn’t exactly a route to quick riches, and as with anything, there are of course both pros and cons.
The golden era of arbitrage betting, from a punters point of view, is sadly over. Fortunately, if you’re willing, arbing is still an option, though using just traditional bookmakers is no longer the best way. Covering part of the trade with a traditional sportsbook and the remainder with a betting exchange is now preferred. In fact, it is the most viable option. The three betting exchanges covered above are the exchanges that we consider to be the best for arbitrage bettors.
Yes and no. Arbs betting is not a difficult concept to get to grips with. Even an inexperienced sports bettor should have little trouble following the basics. However, arbitrage betting, especially nowadays can be time consuming if performed manually. There’s a shortage of arbitrage opportunities, or rather there’s certainly a lot less than there used to be. Therefore, it can take time to find suitable arbitrage bets. Fortunately, the use of arbitrage software and calculators, many of which are free to use, have simplified the process.
It can be difficult to identify arbitrage bettors, but bookmakers have employed numerous techniques to snuff such players out. It cannot be denied that betting sites are now constantly on the lookout for arbers. Plus any other players who may be looking to grind out a profit.
There is no law against it, but there’s also no law against bookmakers stopping punters from betting in this way. If the betting patterns of a player cause concern, then betting sites will likely act by restricting or closing accounts. This often happens with little or no warning.
It offers plenty of profit potential, though it’s certainly not a case of becoming rich overnight. Firstly, the profit that a typical arb yields is miniscule, usually around 1 or 2 percent, sometimes smaller. Keeping this in mind, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that a large bankroll is required if anything other than small profit overall is to be made. So, to put in simply, there’s money to be made from arbitrage betting, though unless your bankroll is hefty, the profits will be modest.
Arb bets is when we bet on both outcomes of an event with two separate bookmakers, at odds which guarantee a profit regardless of the outcome. Matched betting is the same in principle but differs in that it relies heavily on free bets offered by bookmakers.
Freelance sports betting writer, focusing primarily on football in the form of match previews and betting strategy. Over the last few years, Bradley has written for numerous publications, including popular UK newspaper Racing & Football Outlook.
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