Arbitrage Betting 2021 - How to Benefit from Every Possible Sports Outcome

Being a successful sports punter is all about gaining an edge over the bookmaker. In this sense, the bookmaker and the punter are locked in a dependant relationship. Bookmakers need punters and punters need bookmakers. And, as long as you are just that little bit smarter than your rival punters, you can profit while others lose. Betting is to an extent about the survival of the fittest.

Punters can gain an edge in many ways. They can become experts in a particular sport or market. They can establish connections and contacts that enable them to learn about vital market-shifting news before others. They can even develop clever ways of turning bookmakers odds against them, by playing off one bookmaker against the other. This, in essence, is what arbitrage betting is about.

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Fast and Profitable

In many ways, the punter who specialises in arbitrage betting is like a predator, patiently waiting for an opportunity, and then pouncing ruthlessly when the prices are right. Arbitrage bettors have to move quickly, more quickly even than Live Betting specialists. A typical arbitrage bet involves five steps:

For example, to convert decimal odds of 4.0 to fractional odds, this is the calculation:

  • 1 Spot the arbitrage betting opportunity
  • 2 Check that you have sufficient funds in the relevant accounts
  • 3 Get both sides of the arbitrage bet on
  • 4 Wait for the markets to be settled
  • 5 Withdraw funds

Experienced arbitrage sports betting punters are able to speed through these steps with maximum efficiency, several times a day, often carrying out multiple arbitrage bets at the same time. It sounds demanding, but it can be extremely profitable, once you understand how it works.

Arbitrage Sports Betting Background

Arbitrage betting explained

The growing popularity of sports betting and the increasingly lucrative nature of the sports betting market has meant that competition between bookmakers is extremely fierce and getting tougher all the time. In the old days of retail sports betting there was less competition and it was a lot harder for punters to take advantage of variations in prices between bookmakers.

But the online revolution has fundamentally changed the nature of the relationship between punter and bookmaker. Now, it is possible for sports punters to see at a glance how the odds of various bookmakers compare by using odds comparison sites or simply by having multiple bookmakers’ sites open at the same time, and this tilts the playing field in favour of the astute punter.

Beating the Bookmakers at Тheir Own Game

How is it that bookmakers are able to profit consistently? The secret to success for bookmakers is to attract and accept bets in such a way that they are able to guarantee a profit on a particular event whatever the outcome. They do this by adding a small margin to their odds, but also by ensuring that they are not too exposed on any particular bet, raising or lowering their prices accordingly, to either attract more punters or to deter any more bets on a particular selection.

In theory, it would be possible for punters to replicate this strategy by betting on all the possible outcomes, just as bookmakers take bets on every outcome in a given event. But given that bookmakers add a margin to their prices, attempting to do this with one bookmaker’s odds would never be profitable. And that’s where the strategy of sports betting arbitrage comes in.

The Beauty of Arbitrage Sports Betting

Arbitrage sports betting punters profit by taking advantage of the large number of bookmakers operating in the modern online sports betting industry. No matter how competitive the industry may be, there will always be variations in prices between bookmakers, and it is those small variations that offer arbitrage sports betting punters their opportunities to profit.

If the odds quoted by different bookmakers on the same event vary enough, it is possible for the fast-thinking arbitrage sports punter to make a small profit. This is usually in the range of 2 to 5 percent, but in some cases, can be as high as 10 percent. If you are staking at around £100 a time, that means each arbitrage bet will be earning between £2 and £10, which might not seem very much, but it soon adds up, and unlike a normal bet, an arbitrage bet is essentially risk-free.

For the most successful arbitrage punters, this type of betting is more reliable and profitable than investing in the stock market, and there are many professional punters who swear by it as the most consistent method of making money from sports betting. Of course, it can take a while to perfect your arbitrage betting technique. Becoming a successful arbitrage sports bettor isn’t possible overnight, and like any other aspect of betting, it requires hard work and discipline.

How Does Sports Arbitrage Betting Work?

The best way to illustrate how Sports Arbitrage Betting works is through an example. In this case, we have used the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market, which is a typical binary market used by many football punters. It is possible to carry out a successful sports arbitrage strategy in markets with more than two outcomes, but the more outcomes there are, the harder the arbitrage becomes, which is why most sports arbitrage punters stick to markets with just two outcomes.

In this case, we are looking at a game between Manchester United and Arsenal, and comparing the odds available in the Over/Under market with two online bookmakers:

Bookmaker A Over 2.5 goals 2.6
Under 2.5 goals 1.51
Bookmaker B Over 2.5 goals 2.13
Under 2.5 goals 1.75

In this case, both bookmakers have arranged their prices in this market to ensure that it is not possible to generate an automatic profit by backing both outcomes. For example, if you convert the odds of the prices offered by Bookmaker A into probabilities, and then add them together, you will get a total of 1.047 or 104.7 percent. This additional 4.7 percent represents the bookmaker margin.

But you will also notice that there is a discrepancy between the two sets of prices. This is what the sports betting arbitrage punter attempts to exploit. In this case, we can guarantee a profit by making these bets with the two bookmakers mentioned above:

Bet 1 Bookmaker A £40 on Over 2.5 goals at 2.6
Bet 2 Bookmaker B £60 on Under 2.5 goals at 1.75

The total stake in this arbitrage bet is £100, but it is essentially a risk-free bet, which we can see when we look at the potential outcomes of the event:

More than 2.5 goals Bet 1 Profit = £64
Bet 2 Loss = £60
Overall Profit = £4
Fewer than 2.5 goals Bet 1 Loss = £40
Bet 2 Profit = £45
Overall Profit = £5

So, if there are three or more goals in the game, you would profit to the tune of £4, and if there are two or fewer goals in the game, your profit would be £5. The profits are small, but the key thing to note is that they are risk-free. Whatever happens in the game, you will make a profit. This is the essence of arbitrage sports betting and the reason why so many sports punters value this betting approach.

Complications Punters May Encounter

Arbitrage betting complications

If this method of sports betting sounds like a great idea, it is important to remember that there are complications. Sports betting arbitrage punters have to work very hard for their profits, and one of the main reasons is that bookmakers are alert to the arbitrage strategy and will try to foil it if they can.

To put the strategy into effect, you need to open accounts with as many bookmakers as possible. This is easier in the UK, which has a long tradition of sports betting and a wide range of bookmakers, but the principle remains the same wherever you are betting.

Bookmakers will close your account if they suspect that you are employing an arbitrage betting strategy, and they don’t have to give you a reason for this. This may seem to be unfair, but it is part of the game that bookmakers and punters play, and sports arbitrage punters have a number of ways of reducing that risk. By taking care to spread your arbitrage betting around as many bookmakers as possible, and avoiding too many arbitrage bets in the most popular sports betting events, it is possible for sports betting arbitrage punters to stay under the radar to an extent.

Another tip is to try to use a betting exchange where possible for one of the arbitrage bets. Betting exchanges operate on a different principle to mainstream bookmakers and have no problem with arbitrage betting, nor will they limit your stakes if you are a profitable punter.

Additional Information about the Risk-Free Bet

Many people who are new to the concept worry that arbitrage sports betting is in some way illegal. But there is no reason to be concerned. No aspect of arbitrage betting is illegal. It may be something that bookmakers are unhappy about, but all you are doing is exploiting inefficiencies in the sports betting markets, something that is a mainstay of stock market investing.

The downside of arbitrage betting is that it requires a lot of work and consistent efforts to build up a profit. The amount of money you make from each arbitrage bet is relatively small, so you will need a fairly large bankroll, to begin with. You will also need to exercise patience and discipline and be prepared to cope with occasional setbacks, such as when one bookmaker’s price changes before you can make the second bet.

In this case, if you can’t get the first bet cancelled by contacting your bookmaker, you have to make the second bet at an unfavourable price, cancelling out your profit or even incurring a small loss. This is obviously not ideal, but it is better than risking a bigger loss by letting the first bet stand without completing an arbitrage. Having the discipline to accept an occasionally unprofitable arbitrage bet can make the difference between long term profit or loss.

To Conclude

Like in other betting strategies, to be a successful sports betting arbitrage punter takes discipline, quick thinking and a dose of ingenuity, and isn’t for everyone. But for those who can make it work, this betting approach offers the ideal for a sports punter: a risk-free profit.

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