Last Updated on January 3, 2021 by Ben Adams
Arbitrage betting (also known as arbing or sure betting) allows you to lock in a profit from two or more bets without any risk.
Like with anything that sounds too good to be true, you should make sure you understand how and why it works.
The term Arbitrage in economics and finance is the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets.
This concept is often used in the stock market and retail.
You may have heard of people buying a product from a store and selling it at Amazon for a higher price.
This is an example of retail arbitrage.
So, how can we use this concept in the world of betting?
I’ll cover everything you need to know about arbitrage betting here.
What Is Arbitrage Betting?
Arbitrage betting (Arbing) involves locking in a profit by covering all outcomes of an event.
Arbing opportunities, known as arbs or sure bets, arise when bookmakers have differing opinions.
This results in bookmakers pricing their odds differently.
When conditions allow, by placing one bet per outcome with different bookmakers, it’s possible to guarantee a profit regardless of the outcome of the event.
Arbing has become much easier with the introduction of betting exchanges such as Betfair.
Betting exchanges allow customers to bet against something as well as for something.
As a result, you can place one bet with a bookmaker and immediately bet against your bet at a betting exchange.
You are essentially buying a product (your bookmaker bet) and selling it for a better price at the betting exchange.
You would then get to keep the difference in price as your profit.
How To Find Arbs?
There are three main ways you can find arbing opportunities.
1. Search Manually
This method is suitable for arbs that come up between a bookmaker and exchange.
You can use an odds comparison website like Oddschecker to help you.
Oddschecker displays a long list of bookmakers and betting exchange odds.
They also cover most sports you can think of.
You can use their search function to navigate to the market of your choice.
The aim is to find a bookmaker offering higher odds than the betting exchanges.
The best thing about this method is that it’s free.
It’s possible to find arbing opportunities if you look hard enough.
However, the downside of using odds comparisons sites, is that their live odds can be slow to update.
You may find by the time you get to the bookmaker website or betting exchange, the odds have changed, therefore the opportunity gone.
2. Odds Matching Software
Odds matching software displays current, real-time bookmaker odds vs betting exchange odds.
The odds software I use is Oddsmonkey‘s Oddsmatcher.
This software is primarily used for maximising matched betting profits, but just as useful for identifying arbs.
All matched betting services will have their own version of odds matching software.
Using the Oddsmatcher will take all the hard work out of manually searching for arbs.
This powerful tool will instantly present you with a list of bets that are priced higher at a bookmaker than a betting exchange.
There are often many arb opportunities available at any given time.
This is due to bookmakers and exchanges covering thousands of different betting markets across many sports.
3. Arbitrage Betting Service
Services dedicated to sports arbitrage exist to specifically help members find and place arbs.
A popular arbing service is Rebel Betting.
Rebel Betting members have access to arb finding software that is typically faster and more reliable than regular odds matching software.
The software identifies not only bookmaker vs exchange arbs but also bookmaker vs bookmaker arbs.
This opens up more regular and profitable opportunities.
The Rebel Betting arb software often finds well over 1000 arbs available at any one time.
The service has plenty of features designed for speed to help members place arb bets as efficiently as possible.
How To Place A Bookmaker vs Betting Exchange Arb
This type of arb is certainly the easiest to place.
You will only need to place two bets, a back bet with a bookmaker, and a lay bet with a betting exchange.
As previously mentioned, we can use Oddsmonkey‘s Oddsmatcher to find arbing opportunities.
For this example, we’ll use an arb available on a football match between Bolton and Crewe.
This arb is rated at 110.38%, anything over 100% is an arb.
This means the back odds are higher than the lay odds as we can see here:
By clicking on the ‘i’ symbol, a matched betting calculator is opened.
Here, you can see all the relevant information for the arb bet.
You can change the back bet stake to see how it will affect your profit.
It’s important to make sure you have enough funds in your betting exchange to cover your liability for the lay bet.
– Place the back bet
It’s important to place your back bet first.
This is because some bookmakers will have a stake limit.
You don’t want to place a lay bet first and then find out you can’t place the required back bet to lock in profit.
Furthermore, it’s much easier to adjust to a change in the lay odds as oppose to back odds.
To find your back bet, you can either navigate manually or simply click the bookmaker link from the Oddsmonkey calculator.
Clicking the link will take you directly to the correct market.
This will save time and reduce the chance of the odds changing before you’re able to place your bet.
Check the odds are still the same and place your back bet.
– Place the lay bet
Navigate in the same way to the lay bet at the betting exchange.
Check the odds are still the same and place your lay bet.
If the odds do change, you can simply go back to the calculator and change the lay odds.
The calculator will instantly work out your new lay stake.
– Where does the profit come from?
You can use the information on the calculator to understand where the profit comes from.
By using a £100 back stake, it’s possible to lock in a guaranteed £10.38 before the match has even started.
By placing the back and lay bet correctly:
If Crewe win, the bookmaker bet wins but the exchange bet loses = +£10.38
If Bolton win or the game ends as a draw, the bookmaker bet loses but the exchange bet wins = +£10.39
How To Place A Bookmaker vs Bookmaker Arb
This type of arb bet can be a bit trickier.
This is because bookmakers can be quick to cut their odds, so speed is essential.
This type of arbitrage betting will typically involve placing two or three bets to cover all outcomes, depending on the market.
As I mentioned earlier, we can use Rebel Betting‘s arb finding software to help us.
Using Rebel Betting, we can find an arbitrage opportunity and then quickly place all back bets needed to lock in a profit.
You can use the software to select a bet as seen above.
This opens up an information bar (highlighted) with all the details of the arb opportunity.
If you are happy with the arb, you start by clicking the blue ‘play’ symbol in the top left corner of the software.
This will open up a separate window that will automatically take you to each bookmaker you need.
You can pre log in with all your available bookmakers to speed things up even more.
The software allows you to view all the bookmaker sites simultaneously.
This is so you can check and compare the odds are the same as the software displayed.
If all the odds are looking good, it’s simply a case of placing the bets using the correct stakes suggested by the software.
Completing this process correctly will result in locking in a risk-free profit regardless of the outcome.
Is Arbing Too Good To Be True?
I’m sorry to say, yes. Well, kind of.
Bookmakers don’t like you doing this at all.
They don’t want you to take advantage of them. Which is pretty ironic when their sole aim is to take advantage of you!
Bookmakers will monitor bookmaker vs exchange odds.
If your account flags up as one that is only placing high-value arb bets, they won’t allow you to do it for too long.
Therefore, if you take too many arbs, bookmakers will likely restrict your stake size.
The restricted amount you will be allowed to bet will effectively render your bookmaker account useless.
With all that said, it can be appropriate to do arbing sometimes.
There are times when it makes good sense to use certain bookmaker accounts to place arb bets to maximise your profits, as I explain below.
When To Arb And Not To Arb
Arbs are a relatively easy way to make a quick profit.
Beginners may be tempted to jump in and start placing these bets.
However, you can make much more use out of your bookmaker accounts by first focussing on matched betting.
My advice is to wait until a bookmaker account gets gubbed, meaning you can no longer benefit from promotions and incentives.
Then, consider using that account to place arbitrage bets in order to squeeze as much profit as possible out of the account before you get stake size restricted.
There are also some bookmakers that are only good for their new account offer.
After that, they don’t run many worthwhile promotions to do matched betting with.
So, it can be a good idea to use those bookmakers for arbitrage betting.
Arbitrage Betting Final Thoughts
Arbitrage betting is a great way to make guaranteed profits if done correctly.
However, I would tread carefully.
Be sure that you have maximised profits from matched betting before considering placing arb bets.