What Is Arbitrage Betting?


In the world of sports betting, bettors are always on the lookout for strategies that can help them gain an edge and maximize their profits. One such strategy that has gained popularity over the years is arbitrage betting. Arbitrage betting, often referred to as “arbing,” is a method that allows bettors to take advantage of discrepancies in odds offered by different bookmakers to guarantee a profit, regardless of the outcome of the event. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of arbitrage betting, exploring its principles, benefits, risks, and the techniques required to become a successful arber.

What Is Arbitrage Betting?

Arbitrage betting is a strategy that involves placing multiple bets on all possible outcomes of a sports event to ensure a profit, regardless of the result. This strategy exploits variations in odds offered by different bookmakers. The idea behind arbitrage betting is simple: find a combination of bets where the total implied probability of all outcomes is less than 100%. When this condition is met, it creates an opportunity to bet on all outcomes and guarantee a profit.

Types of Arbitrage Bets

  1. Back and Lay Arbitrage: This type of arbitrage involves placing a back bet (betting on an event to happen) at one bookmaker and a lay bet (betting on the same event not to happen) at a betting exchange like Betfair. By doing so, arbers create a risk-free scenario, ensuring a profit regardless of the outcome.
  2. Surebet or Pre-match Arbitrage: Surebets involve placing bets on all possible outcomes of an event before it starts. This is the most common form of arbitrage betting, as it allows for precise calculations and minimizes exposure to sudden odds changes.
  3. Live or In-play Arbitrage: Live arbitrage betting takes place while a sports event is in progress. Arbers quickly respond to changing odds during the game, locking in profitable opportunities as events unfold.

Identifying Arbitrage Opportunities

Arbitrage opportunities typically arise due to several factors:

  • Bookmaker Errors: Bookmakers may occasionally make mistakes in setting odds, creating a mispricing that can be exploited.

  • Market Delays: Odds can fluctuate rapidly as new information or events unfold, leading to temporary discrepancies between bookmakers.

  • Differences in Bookmaker Margins: Bookmakers apply different profit margins to their odds, leading to variations that can be exploited.


What Is The Kelly Criterion?

Benefits of Arbitrage Betting

  1. Guaranteed Profit: The primary benefit of arbitrage betting is the ability to secure a profit, irrespective of the event’s outcome. This risk-free approach attracts many bettors seeking consistent gains.
  2. Neutralizing Bookmaker Margins: Arbitrage betting helps bettors negate the bookmaker’s margin, making it possible to earn more money over time by betting smartly.
  3. Diversification: Arbers can place bets on various sports and events, spreading their bankroll across different bookmakers and markets, reducing risk.
  4. Access to Varied Markets: Arbitrage opportunities can be found in a wide range of sports, from football and tennis to niche markets like eSports. This diversity allows arbers to explore different betting areas.
  5. Funneling Bonuses: Many bookmakers offer bonuses and promotions, which can be used to increase potential profits through arbitrage betting.

Risks and Challenges

  1. Limited Profit Margins: Arbitrage bets generally offer low-profit margins, making it necessary to place large wagers to achieve substantial profits. This can be challenging for novice bettors and those with limited bankrolls.
  2. Rapid Odds Changes: Bookmakers closely monitor their odds and quickly adjust them to counteract arbitrage opportunities. As a result, arbers must act swiftly to lock in profitable bets.
  3. Account Limitations: Bookmakers frown upon arbitrage betting and may restrict or close the accounts of arbers who are consistently profiting. Therefore, it’s essential for arbers to maintain a low profile.
  4. High Capital Requirement: Successful arbitrage betting often requires a significant bankroll, which may not be accessible to everyone.
  5. Mathematical Precision: Precise calculations are crucial for arbitrage bets to guarantee a profit. Mistakes in calculations can lead to losses.

Steps To Place Arbitrage Bet

Example: Let’s say you find a soccer match with the following odds:

  • Bookmaker A: Team A wins at odds of 2.00
  • Bookmaker B: Team B wins at odds of 2.20
  • Bookmaker C: Draw at odds of 3.50

Step 1: Convert odds to probabilities.

  • Probability for Team A = 1 / 2.00 = 0.50
  • Probability for Team B = 1 / 2.20 = 0.45
  • Probability for Draw = 1 / 3.50 = 0.2857

Step 2: Calculate the total implied probability.

  • Total Implied Probability = 0.50 + 0.45 + 0.2857 = 1.2357

Step 3: Calculate the arbitrage percentage.

  • Arbitrage Percentage = (1.2357 – 1) * 100 = 23.57%

Step 4: Determine the wager amounts.

  • Let’s assume you want to wager $100 in total.
  • Wager Amount for Team A = $100 / 0.50 = $200
  • Wager Amount for Team B = $100 / 0.45 = $222.22 (rounded)
  • Wager Amount for Draw = $100 / 0.2857 = $350 (rounded)

Step 5: Place the bets.

  • Bet $200 on Team A at Bookmaker A.
  • Bet $222.22 on Team B at Bookmaker B.
  • Bet $350 on the Draw at Bookmaker C.

Step 6: No matter the outcome, one of the bets will result in a profit, securing your arbitrage winnings.


Arbitrage betting is a fascinating strategy that allows bettors to make a consistent profit through the careful analysis of odds variations. While it offers several benefits, it also comes with risks and challenges.


Note: Keep in mind that this is a simplified example, and real arbitrage opportunities may involve more complex calculations and multiple bookmakers. Additionally, odds can change quickly, so be prepared to act swiftly to secure your bets.


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