Arbitrage sports betting is a way to get regular risk free profits from the massive online betting market. In a way it is like a swoop and scoop of regular small profits from pitting one betting bookmaker against another. To make using this guide easier we have made a table of contents below. If you have an intermediate level of knowledge of sports arbitrage betting you should visit our guide to arbitrage sports trading, which takes a more in depth look at the techniques behind profitable sports arbitrage betting.
What is covered by this sports arbitrage betting guide?
Sports arbitrage betting takes it’s origins from arbitrage trading in financial markets. In financial markets an arbitrage trade exploits the difference in the price of a listed company on a stock market in different countries. In the world of sports arbitrage betting it is differences between the price (odds) of bets that are exploited for profit.
This guide will investigate what sports arbitrage trading is, what sort of budget you need for sports arbitrage betting, how sports arbitrage exploits pricing inconsistencies between betting bookmakers, what types of sport arbitrage trades there are, why sport arbitrage bets occur, the basics of how to be successful at sports arbitrage betting and which betting bookmakers are best for online sports arbitrage betting.
Sports arbitrage trading is where someone regularly trades price inconsistencies between bookmakers on the same sporting event. After all bookmakers are only human and they make mistakes. These mistakes can be exploited by someone who can spot them.
Sports arbitrage trading has been explained in more detail in this section of the website. It is important to learn how to set up arbitrage trades properly from the beginning to prevent mistakes and allow the trader to profit straight away. We recommend visiting our sports arbitrage trading guide after reading this page.
In truth a lot of betting bookmakers don’t want you to know sports arbitrage exists…. but sports arbitrage betting is legal and doesn’t harm the bookmakers business in any case. The returns you can expect from sports arbitrage trading are dependent on various factors which will be visited in these pages. The main investment needed with a ‘sport arb’ is the betting stake. Investing in a sports arbitrage trade is almost risk free… another important point that will be visited in these pages. To increase the returns and profitability of sports arbitrage betting the trader may wish to invest in additional services and technology to help performance.
If the trader starts with a small budget the focus should be on adding profits to the betting bank. As the betting bank increases the stake level can also increase. With a small budget of less than say 5000 pounds or currency equivalent the arbitrage trader should only trade part time until the betting bank is sufficient to sustain a proper income.
Each time you stake money you need to decide what proportion of your betting bank you will use. A typical sports betting professional using a betting strategy may only risk 4% of the betting bank on each bet.
Sports arbitrage betting is slightly different. Sports arbitrage carries much less risk than traditional betting. As such, a typical sports arbitrage bet will use a larger proportion of the betting bank. The reason being that, if you set up a sport arbitrage correctly there is no risk of losing any money.
Sports arbitrage trading is all about spotting inconsistencies between different bookmakers’ prices. Pricing inconsistencies occur regularly and are produced by differences in bookmakers odds. What happens is that an underround occurs on the sporting event.
The under round forms the basis of a sports arbitrage bet. Simply the under round is when the total number of probabilities priced by the odds on that event are below 100%. A typical under round is where you would have to invest £96 to get the bookmakers to pay you £100. Using this example a sports arbitrage bet would return £4. The typical return for each sports arbitrate bet is between 2 and 4%.
A sports arbitrage betting involves placing bets in order to win what ever the outcome. That could mean betting for both players in a tennis match to win or both sides of a football game. This is one of the reasons sports arbitrage betting has a popular following.
There are two types of sports arbitrage bets. Sports arbitrage bets come as back / back bets or back / lay bets. Lets examine how sports arbitrage bets might look.
This involves backing something to happen, for example a win, or some other outcome. Like tries, goals, touchdowns, and the list goes on.
When the bookmakers disagree on the likely winner. The difference in opinion is expressed in the odds offered by the bookmakers on their website. When the conditions are right it offers sports arbitrage traders the chance to profit.
First lets look at an example of a tennis arbitrage bet using two of the world’s most popular UK regulated bookmakers. In a tennis match between Lleyton Hewitt Vs Fernando Gonzalez there was a difference in odds that generated a profit of about 3%. At this stage it isn’t necessary to know how to calculate everything just to get a feel for what’s happening.
William Hill priced Gonzalez at 5/4 and Stan James had Hewitt at 9/10. A reasonable amount of money to bet per trade would be £1000. This is how the trade breaks down.
A bet of £457.83 at 5/4 on Gonzalez wins £572.29. Of course the bookmakers would also return your stake. (stake + winnings)
=£457.83 + £572.29 = £1030.12
A bet of £542.17 on Hewitt at 9/10 wins £487.95. Plus the stake.
=£542.17 + £487.95 = £1030.12.
Again it’s not necessary to know how to work out the stakes. In fact many sports arbitrage services will do the sums for you.
So, the return minus the expense equals our risk free profit. The arbitrage trade returns £1030.12 and costs £1000 to set up. That’s a risk free profit of £30.12.
An experienced trader would place around 10 of these trades each day: and a small profit turns into something quite worthwhile.
We recommend you read our sports arbitrage trading guide after reading this. It will help avoid common mistakes and find the best ways to find sport arbitrage bets.
With the advent of online bookmakers, there are now hundreds of bookmakers with online fixed odds betting terminals. They are all competing with one another and are located in various countries and time zones. The individuals responsible for pricing sportsbook must have a massive amount of knowledge of that sport.
To compete, bookmakers have to price lots of bets on many different sports. There is not the expertise to cover every one. They may have the relevant stats but they can’t possibly know every participant and every event. In short mistakes can and do happen. Taking this into account and the difference in time zones you get hundreds of opportunities for sports arbitrage trading every week.
As more bookmakers started operating online there has been increased competition in the betting market. Bookmakers trying to better the others with creating and promoting special and innovative markets. With a focus on different markets the bookmakers odds can produce arbitrage betting opportunities.
Think of how many sports you can bet on. Then there is the markets within those sports. That’s thousands of odds. A sports arbitrage bet required only two bookmakers to price odds differently to allow a profitable arbitrage bet.
Back / back sports arbitrage betting is the type commonly used in sports arbitrage trading. Possibly due to the regularity and relative ease of identifying opportunities.
Sport arbitrage bets can also be found between back and lay prices on a betting exchange for an event. Back / lay sports arbitrage betting has been made possible due to betting exchanges like Betfair. A betting exchange allows members to lay an event (e.g. for a horse to lose). A back / lay sports arbitrage bet occurs when the price offered by a bookmaker is higher than the lay price available on a betting exchange for the same selection. The difference between the two represents your profit. Often a bookmaker can be slow to change the price on a favourite when something has happened to reduce the odds. As the price drops on the betting exchange you profit by laying low with the betting exchange and backing high with the bookmaker. The same principle works just as well by backing and laying the same selection on Betfair only….without even involving a traditional bookmaker. A trading technique that uses back lay sports arbitrage on Betfair is called scalping on Betfair.
Book arbitrage or back / back arbitrage bets are more consistent, giving a distinct advantage over back lay arbitrage bets. Further more you need to know a lot about the sporting events to profit from back / lay sports arbs. The remainder of this arbitrage sports betting guide will focus on back back arbitrage, because it involves less risk and it is easier for novices to pick up.
Finding sports arbitrage bets can be time consuming if it is done manually. It is possible to ‘work out’ an arbitrage bet manually or by using sports arbitrage software. You just convert the opposing odds on an event to a percentage and see if they add up to less than 100%.
Instead of trawling odds comparison sites we recommend using one of the sports arbitrage services which are available, as well as spotting your own sports arb bets. There are companies that use software to search for sports arbitrage bets for you.
We recommend you read our sports arbitrage review after reading this. It will help avoid common mistakes and find the best ways to find sport arbitrage bets.
Sports arbitrage opportunities can spring up anywhere; a betting bookmaker in the UK, Europe, or Australia. Before anything else it is good to have a plan. Decide how much capital you are willing to use.
Learn how to spot sports arbitrage bets and where to find them.
It is also necessary to set up a few accounts with bookmakers. It is a good idea to have multiple accounts because you need flexibility. We have put together a selection of fixed odds bookmakers which we recommend you open. Opening an account is easy and only takes a few moments online. Most bookmaker we recommend will also give you a free bet which you can use to kick start your sports arbitrage betting bank (some bookies limit the sports you can take a free bet on). One easy method for profiting from free bets is to place an opposing bet on the Betfair exchange to ensure that the free bet produces a winning out whatever happens. That is called bonus bagging. Sign up to the newsletter on the home page for a free guide that explains how to do this.
After finding the bookmakers that are presenting a sports arbitrage opportunity log into your account with each bookmaker. Have the fixed odds betting terminal of each bookmaker open in a separate browser window. Enter your stake in each one. Click confirm quickly one after the other and your sports arbitrage risk free profit is secured. This process is explained in more detail in the arbitrage trading guide.
Okay, so what do we need to think about if we are sports arbitrage betting? You need the fixed odds bookmaker to accept high stakes on most sports. It is important that bookmakers accept high stakes because sports arbitrage bets normally make around 4% per trade. Sports arbitrage traders normally increase their stake as they increase their betting bank. As such you need a bookmaker that offers a high stake limit. Another important feature you need for sports arbitrage betting is reliability. You must ensure you are constantly connected to the fixed odds bookmakers web site. This is important because sports arbitrage betting relies on you being able to place your fixed odds bets quickly with each online bookmaker. We have highlighted some fixed odds bookmakers in our fixed odds bookmaker review that are good for sports arbitrage betting because they allow a high stake size.