What Is Arbitrage Betting?

Arbitrage betting

What if you could place sports bets that you knew would always payout? If that sounds like exactly what you’re looking for, arbitrage bets might be right for you.

The allure of arbitrage betting (also known as “arbing”) can be summed up in two words: guaranteed profit. This is why they’re called sure bets or even miracle bets!

Seasoned sports bettors know that different sportsbooks set different odds for the same game. Oddsmakers may create different lines if they make a mistake, overlook an important factor, or they simply disagree with another sportsbook. 

These discrepancies present opportunities for those who are quick enough to catch them.

Something that makes arbing unique from typical sports betting is that bettors don’t try to predict the outcomes of games. They look exclusively at potential profit margins that result from betting on all outcomes. Regardless of which team wins, they aim to come out ahead. 

In the financial market, arbitrage is used when someone buys a stock at one price, then sells it for a slightly higher one in a different market.

But when it comes to sports betting, how does arbing actually work, and is it a viable strategy? Let’s get into it:

Example of Arbitrage Betting

You’re enticed by the idea of gaining profits regardless of the outcomes of games. How do you do it? 

Before you place arbitrage bets, you need to calculate the precise profit margins to ensure that you aren’t losing money. These bets aren’t about beating the odds—they’re all about mathematics.

You’ll need to use at least two sportsbooks for arbing: the first to bet on one side of the game, and the second to bet on the other.

Start by identifying a discrepancy in the odds offered by two different sportsbooks. These days, it’s tougher to find big variations between platforms, but if you watch the lines closely, you will find chances. Sportsbooks set hundreds of lines each day, and they’re bound to make mistakes on a few of them.

The odds sets by sportsbooks indicate the probability of Team A or Team B winning—when you add those probabilities together, you’ll get a total that’s greater than 100%. This ensures that the sportsbooks always make a profit, regardless of game outcomes.

However, if that total is less than 100%, the sports bettor will come out ahead.

Let’s break it down with an example using American odds: 

Sportsbook 1 sets the moneyline at -180 for Team A (the favorite) and +150 for Team B (the underdog). First, you need to convert the odds into the implied probability of the game’s outcome. Use these formulas to convert American odds into implied probability:

  • When the odds are negative (Team A): 180 ÷ (180+100) x 100 = probability
  • When the odds are positive (Team B): 100 ÷ (150+100) x 100 = probability

In this example, Team A has a 64.3% chance of winning, while Team B has a 40% chance of winning. The total is 104%.

But when you’re looking for an opportunity to place an arbitrage bet, you need a total implied probability that’s less than 100%. 

You already know that Sportsbook 1 set the odds of Team B to +150—but what if Sportsbook 2 set them at +200? The implied probability of Team B would become 33.3%. Add that to Team A’s probability of 64.3% from Sportsbook 1, and you end up with 97.6%. Here, you have a perfect opportunity for an arbitrage bet. 

To make a return of 2.4%, you’d place a bet on Team A with Sportsbook 1, and Team B with Sportsbook 2. Regardless of which team wins, you’ll still turn a profit!

Are these formulas making you sweat? Most sports bettors don’t get into this hobby to brush up on their mathematics. There are online calculators that you can use to find successful arbitrage bets, but most charge a fee.

Arbitrage Betting Opportunities

After reading through the process of arbitrage betting, it becomes clear why this type of wager is so different from all the others. It completely ignores game knowledge, surrounding factors, or experience. Instead, arbing is all about taking advantage of variations in the lines set by sportsbooks.

If you spot any arbitrage opportunities, you need to act fast—the moment that bookmakers catch on to them, they’ll adjust the lines.

Make sure to create accounts on as many reputable sportsbook platforms as possible, and check the lines daily. If you’re really diligent, you can check multiple times a day. Hundreds of professional sports games take place each day, which means that you have plenty of opportunities for arbing. The faster you place your bet, the greater your chances are of getting in before lines are adjusted.

The Risks of an Arbitrage Bet

One of the main draws to this style of sports betting is that it limits the opportunity for losses. It’s often described as a “low-risk” bet. However, it has other drawbacks that might make you reconsider.

Games that can end in a draw are not good opportunities for an arbitrage bet. It leaves an opportunity for a third outcome; for arbing to succeed, it needs to cover all possible outcomes.

Just as a successful arbitrage bet guarantees that you win money, it also ensures that sportsbooks lose money. That’s why many platforms monitor betting activity to find arbing and penalize accounts for doing it. 

Most sportsbooks are strongly against arbitrage betting, and if they notice that your account is frequently arbing, it may be suspended, locked, or deactivated. Arbing is not illegal, but it’s something that sportsbooks need to avoid if they want to stay profitable.

Is Arbitrage a Viable Strategy?

That depends—how patient are you when it comes to making a profit?

With arbitrage betting, you won’t turn a hefty profit overnight. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme—you need to be in it for the long-haul. Instead of winning big on one upset, you make incremental profits that add up over time. These bets may earn you anywhere between 1-4%, but rarely more than that, and sometimes less. The key here is steady profits without losses, not massive gains.

If you want to maximize your profits from arbitrage betting, use these tactics:

  • Place bets often
  • Use as much of your bankroll as you’re comfortable with
  • Place a large number of bets
  • Act as quickly as possible when lines open
  • Bet on a range of different platforms to prevent suspicious activity on one website

Bottom Line

Sports bettors are looking for any opportunity to make a profit. One of the most reliable ways to do that is through an arbitrage bet. However, the profit margins are incredibly slim, which means you’ll need to bet up to the highest limit to make a buck. 

Sportsbooks are becoming increasingly savvy to arbing, so it’s tough to find opportunities. If you place too many arbitrage bets, your account could be banned! Keep your eyes on the odds to find a sporting event where arbitrage betting is a viable strategy. If you’re looking to make bigger gains, you might want to stick to traditional sports betting. Using Kyle Covers sports picks to place bets can help you beat the odds. With a VIP All Access package, you can view plays, parlays, supercomputer projections, and bankroll management from a professional sports handicapper. Contact Kyle Covers today!