by Laura Moffat on July 26, 2021

Arbitrage Betting in Sports – Pros and Cons

Arbitrage bets (also called surebets) allow you to make money in a bookmaker without risk. This type of betting is based on the fact that you use the difference in odds for one event in different betting sites. After all, quotes in different bookmakers may not be the same due to different market behavior. This creates good opportunities to get a guaranteed profit.

Arbitrage Betting Example

Let’s show with an example what arbitrage situations are: Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer reach the Tennis Wimbledon final. Bookmaker A gives the odds of 2.1 for Nadal’s victory. And bookmaker B gives the odds of 2.1 for Roger Federer to win. These quotes create a fork between themselves. You will bet $100 on Nadal at sportsbook A and $100 on Federer at sportsbook B. This will bring you a $ 10 guaranteed profit anyway.

If Federer wins: 2.1×100-100 = 10 and if Nadal wins: 2.1×100-100 =10.

This is an example of balanced odds that are “close” to each other in absolute terms.

Unbalanced Bookmaker Odds

The above example was simple. But arbitration situations are not always so obvious. We will give you another example. Let’s pick a random NBA meeting between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls.

  • Bookmaker A rates Cleveland’s odds at 1.2;
  • Bookmaker B rates Chicago odds at 8.

Is this an arbitrage situation in general? Another important question is how much should you bet to get a guaranteed profit? Now there are special programs on the market – surebets scanners. But for the general development and improvement of their qualifications, the player also needs to be able to see the “surebets” himself.

Definition of a Fork

One of the easiest ways to determine an arbitrage situation is to calculate the percentage probability. That is, you convert the odds for a specific event into percentages.

For example, a 2.1 odds for Federer to win means that he has 1/2.1 = 47.6% to win the match. Likewise, Nadal has 47.6% for winning a meeting (also the odds of 2.1). If you add up the two probabilities (as a percentage), then the total percentage will be 47.6 + 47.6 = 95.2%.

In all situations when the opposite odds for one event in the sum (percentage) give less than 100%, we can talk about a surebet. The lower the indicator, the more profitable the arbitration situation.

We can now return to our example with Cleveland and Chicago (1,2-8). Cleveland winning odds: 1 / 1.2 = 83.3%. Probability of winning Chicago: 1/8 = 12.5%. The sum is: 83.3 + 12.5 = 95.8%. Indeed, for the given quotes, a fork appeared.

Calculating the size of surebets for a guaranteed profit

In the example with the match between Federer and Nadal, it was obvious that it was enough to bet the same amount on both tennis players in order to get the maximum possible profit. This is because the odds were the same. But this is not often the case. To calculate the required amount of the bet you need:

  • Calculate the percentage probability of outcomes;
  • Calculate the sum of the probabilities;

Divide the percentage probabilities of individual outcomes by the sum of the probabilities.

Let’s go back to our example with Chicago and Cleveland. The probability of a Cleveland victory is 83.3%, the probability of a Chicago victory is 12.5%. The total probability is 95.5%.

Now the third stage, in which you need to divide the individual probabilities by the sum of the probabilities:

  • 83.3 / 95.8 = 86.952% (for Cleveland’s win)
  • 12.5 / 95.8 = 13.048% (to win Chicago).

To maximize your profit on the surebet, you need to bet 86.952% of the target amount or pot to win Cleveland at bookmaker A, and 13.048% of the pot to win Chicago at bookmaker B. Regardless of the outcome of the match, you will receive the same profit.

If you bet $ 1,000 (total pot), then $869.52 will be bet on Cleveland and $ 130.48 on Chicago. Your guaranteed profit will be approximately $44. The better bet, however, is $ 870 on Cleveland and $ 130 on Chicago. Because bookmakers are always suspicious of gamblers who bet “crooked” amounts.

Software for Surebets

It’s 2021 and the search for surebets/calculation of the size of arbitrage rates has long been automated.

For these purposes, special programs have been created – scanners. They analyze current quotes in a variety of bookmakers. The player can set up the desired set of offices, and the program will search for arbitration situations only in them.

The scanner immediately gives you the size of the surebet profitability and calculates the amount of your bet, depending on the bank. It is very convenient and fast, which is extremely important for arbitrage betting. Forks rarely live long, and they mostly play LIVE now. Therefore, you have very little time to search and calculate.

This can sometimes be helpful when insuring. The most advanced players may not even use scanners and specialized software, but carry out all calculations on the go. In any case, understanding how surebets work, in general, will not be superfluous.

Arbitrage Betting Problems

At one time arbitrage bets were a real reward for players. Bookmakers weren’t as fast, and the power of the Internet wasn’t as powerful. Now it is getting harder and harder to make money on “forks”. Let’s consider several key difficulties of this type of activity on a bookmaker’s website:

First of all, bookmakers are quick to understate highs for players suspected of arbitrage betting. If a client constantly bets on profitable odds or on erroneous quotes, then he gets into a risk zone. And if at the same time, he also bets on incomplete amounts like 101.16, then this is almost a guarantee of lowering the highs. Some players disguise themselves with regular bets, round up the size of the bet, or deliberately set “losing” leverage in bookmakers where they do not treat surebets badly.

Arbitrage betting is a rather time-consuming activity, while the profit is not the greatest here. In order not to arouse suspicion among bookmakers, players often play with only 2-4% surebets. Therefore, the bank is growing rather slowly. You need to constantly monitor the market and spend a lot of time playing.

Forks don’t last long. The players in the bookmakers quickly notice the gap in the form of profitable odds. That is, there is a natural load. You need to have time to use the fork while it is alive. There is also a rule in arbitrage betting that if the surebet has expired and you have placed one selection, then you need to close the rest. Even if you do it yourself at a loss.

Final Words

Knowing the basics of calculations in arbitrage betting, you will generally be able to better understand how the office works. Should you get into forks? You will probably answer this question yourself. This type of betting can be profitable, but only if you invest your time, money, and effort in it. No one can guarantee 100% winning strategy unless ou

By Laura Moffat

Laura Moffat

Laura is an active punter herself and enjoys betting on sports with her husband Jack. Both of them love sports. This is why Laura is the perfect addition to the Crypto Betting team as she writes different guides on betting strategies and sports reviews. Laura has knowledge of the most in-depth strategies that some seasoned punters may not have heard about. She even makes and has tests them from scratch alongside her husband. She has written many educational materials on the site based on her experience.

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