Arbitrage betting is often thought to be a guaranteed way to make sports gambling profits. In some respects, it does live up to this billing.
Arbitrage betting, “arbing,” involves wagering on all outcomes of a game in a manner that ensures profits. Of course, you can’t just bet on all outcomes at the same bookmaker or you’ll lose when the juice is factored in.
You still need to find two or more bookmakers that differ enough on odds to provide the profits. Assuming you’re adept at this process, then you can make a fair amount of money.
Considering that sports gambling is very tough to beat, arbing sounds like the ultimate strategy. However, it does have some major downsides.
You certainly want to consider the pros and cons of arbitrage betting before jumping full steam into the matter. I’ll cover more on the benefits and downsides after discussing more on how arbing works.
How Does Arbitrage Betting Work?
The first step to arbing involves finding multiple bookmakers that differ enough on odds for a given match. You can arb the easiest with a game that only involves two outcomes, such as a football or basketball moneyline.
Here’s an example:
New York Yankees -200
Boston Red Sox +220
You bet $200 on the Yankees
You need to wager $93.75 on the Red Sox to maximize your arb
Your profit will be $6.25
Keep in mind that arbitrage betting can also be done with three or more outcomes. For example, you might wager on two sides of a soccer match, plus the draw.
The key in any circumstance is to find odds that allow you to effectively arb. The easiest way to do this is by using relevant software.
Some sports betting software is made specifically to hunt down online arbitrage betting opportunities. General sports gambling software can also do the same trick.
You can try to find arbs manually, but this involves a lot more work. You’re better off just using software to quickly spot profitable situations.
Also, you should use an arbitrage betting calculator to figure out how much to risk on each leg. These tools help you quickly calculate the necessary wager sizes to book a profit.
Pros of Arbing
Arbitrage gambling offers some distinct benefits over making wagers the old-fashioned way. You can experience the following advantages by using this method.
You Can Earn Guaranteed Profits
The best thing about arbing is that it provides the opportunity to ensure winnings. The only catch is that you must correctly arb in order to enjoy these profits.
You may find it difficult to consistently jump on arbs in the beginning. However, you’ll become better at this matter with experience.
You should certainly consider going this route if you struggle to win money and make regular bets. Arbing allows you to quickly go from being a losing bettor to a winning one.
You Don’t Have to Be a Great Handicapper to Win
Some gamblers have visions of winning big while watching the sports they love. However, bettors often abandon these dreams upon realizing the true difficulty in beating this type of gambling.
Successfully handicapping matches on a consistent basis is extremely tough. Only a very small percentage of gamblers actually win enough to beat the odds and juice.
Enter arbitrage betting, which doesn’t force you to excel at handicapping. Instead, it just requires you to monitor odds and act fast.
Plenty of Arbing Opportunities Are Available
Arbitrage gambling seems almost too good to be true. Therefore, you may think that only limited opportunities exist.
The reality, though, is that many arbs are available across the industry on a regular basis. You’ll have no shortage of chances to make money with this technique.
Bookmakers do their best to look across the industry and move lines in unison. However, one or more sportsbooks can be slow to make these changes. Your goal is to find these stragglers and capitalize.
Cons of Arbing
The sports betting industry would cease to exist if arbing was completely easy. Arbitrage gambling isn’t a cakewalk, though, for the following reasons.
You Aren’t Guaranteed to Win
You’ll see the word “guaranteed” thrown around a lot when it comes to arbing. I myself am guilty of using it several times in this post.
In theory, arbitrage betting is supposed to deliver sure winnings. But arbing isn’t a foolproof method every time.
You still need the perfect timing to win money. You may successfully place the first leg of an arb, for example, only to be too late on the second one.
In this case, you’re merely gambling on either outcome. You might even set yourself up for guaranteed losses when the second leg is factored in.
Arbing Profit Margins Are Slim
The mere thought of earning profits from sports betting might seem like a gold mine. After all, some pro sports bettors collect seven figures a year.
But arbing profits aren’t exactly glamorous. In fact, you’ll only earn a small profit margin worth between 1% and 2% of your total wager in most cases.
Assuming you bet $1,000 total on an arb, you’ll only collect a $10 profit on a 1% margin. You either have to bet big or take advantage of many arbs to earn serious money.
You Have to Put a Lot of Work Into Finding Arbs
Earlier, I discussed how the sports betting industry offers plenty of arbing opportunities. But sportsbooks don’t exactly advertise them.
Instead, you need to find each and every arbing situation. Doing so takes a lot of work, even with advanced software.
After finding arbs, you must act quickly enough to bet every leg before the odds move. Sometimes you won’t be able to get the last leg before the odds shift, which takes away the guaranteed money.
You Need a Large Bankroll
Again, you’ll be dealing with small profit margins. The most feasible way to boost your arb winnings is by making large bets.
But you can’t place these big wagers if you don’t have the bankroll for the job. You need at least several thousand dollars before engaging in this type of betting.
Of course, you can always make smaller arbs on a recreational basis. Just know, though, that you won’t earn very big profits in this manner.
Your Account Could Be Closed
Sportsbooks don’t like arbitrage bettors. If they find that you’re arbing, they’ll either limit or close your account.
Luckily, they don’t have a concrete method for detecting arbitrage gambling. But they do have several reliable techniques for spotting this type of wagering.
Some of the factors they look for include:
Consistent max bet sizes
Profitable wagers only (e.g. no parlays or bad prop bets)
Wagering often on smaller markets
Odd bet sizes (e.g. $64.53)
You can fly under the radar for a long time by knowing what sportsbooks look for and acting accordingly. You may even gamble at betting exchanges, which don’t care about arbing.
Nevertheless, you might find the markets irresistible at traditional online bookmakers. You’re taking your chances by arbing with them.
Conclusion: Is Arbitrage Betting Worth the Effort?
You can see that arbitrage gambling isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. You may be able to earn guaranteed profits with the right skills, but you’ll also need to deal with various drawbacks.
First off, you’re never guaranteed anything in sports betting, even with arbing. You might find a perfect opportunity, only to be late on betting the final leg.
Another problem is that you’re dealing with small profit margins. Very rarely will you find an arb so good that you earn anything above a 3% profit.
Therefore, you need a sizable bankroll to place the type of wagers that’ll bring decent winnings. If you don’t have at least a few thousand dollars, then you’ll be chasing pocket change.
You may not find arbing to be worth the effort in this case. After all, you’ll spend time finding lots of good arbs, only to earn minimal profits from them.
Even when you do everything right and have the necessary bankroll, your chances will become limited overtime. This is because sportsbooks limit or ban suspected arbers.
In summary, arbitrage betting is worth undertaking if you’re serious about sports gambling and want to make profits. But you also have to consider the downsides and work involved before jumping straight into arbing.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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