Arbitrage betting is the term used to describe what happens when a bettor find an exploit in the odds. You look for a specific market at two or more bookmakers and try to find a mismatch. For example, let’s say that New England Patriots were playing the Green Bay Packers. And let’s say that at two different books, you found the Packers at +110 and the Patriots at +110. From there, it’s just simple math to bet properly on each side, and you’ll win money no matter what.
This strategy guarantees the bettor a profit as the combined odds produce a negative margin, which is a margin that works in the bettor’s favor. Typically, the betting odds work in the house’s favor.
This strategy reinforces the idea that it makes sense to sign up with multiple sportsbooks in order to keep an eye on lines. You shop around and watch to find the best values that are available. You have to be fast, accurate and nowadays, a lot of tools can help. Even so, there are some pitfalls with this endeavor.
Let’s take look at the basics of the arbitrage betting strategy and how to use it to your advantage.
Everyone loves to find an arb because it’s a good way to stick it to the books. You’re also essentially guaranteeing a win. We’ll touch on the negatives later but let’s start out with why arbing is such a productive way to bet.
There Are Tons Of Tools Nowadays
Shopping around for lines used to be incredibly difficult. In the early days, you’d have to call or walk from sportsbook to sportsbook. Then in the early internet days, you had to manually eyeball the lines when you shop around. Nowadays, there are tools that do all of the work for you. You can pay for a DarkHorse subscription and it will bubble up all of the arb opportunities in the market. They’ll even tell you exactly how much to bet on each side and how much profit you’ll earn. This really makes your life so much easier.
You Can Guarantee A Win
Done right, arbing will guarantee you a win. While the amounts may not be all that sexy, a win is a win. Who says no to free money? Let’s say the Boston Red Sox are facing the New York Yankees. And let’s say you find a line of +105 on both teams at two different sportsbooks. You use a hedge calculator and place the proper amounts. That means that either way, whoever wins, you’ve locked in a profit.
The issue with arbing is that it’s not that exciting. You don’t have to watch the game as the result won’t matter. You’ll place a bet, have both sides covered and simply collect a profit no matter what happens. There’s no need for drama, emotions, chasing losses or anything else.
You Avoid The Gambling
Let’s face it: 95% of sports bettors lose money. They have the ego to think they can win but in the long run, the vast majority are big losers. That begs the question: why bother? If you can peacefully arb here and there, chip away and build a bankroll, why try to gamble?
Once you get good at arbing, you’ll remove the emotion from the equation. All you’ll do is place your bets and you don’t even have to watch the games. Is that a bit on the boring side? Maybe. Does it feel great to make money and beat the house? Absolutely.
It’s important to understand the potential negatives when it comes to the arbitrage betting strategy. On paper, this is a very lucrative type of betting. In reality, things can play out a little differently.
Sportsbook Might Ban You
Sportsbooks will notice situations where they made mistakes on given lines. If they see you’re hammering them, they might get upset and ban you. Yes, it’s annoying. Yes, it’s their fault. Even so, they are still in their right to limit you or ban you. They’ll likely feel like you’re hitting their bad lines and they won’t want you as a customer.
Keep in mind that a lot of arbs are in tennis or player props or wacky, off-the-beaten path stuff. If you do a lot of these arbs, you’ll get flagged. However, if you’re finding arbs on main lines and hammering away, all the power to you. That’s the absolute ideal situation.
Lines Might Move At The Last Second
These types of lines hurt sportsbooks. Nowadays, the best sportsbooks will be very quick to react. They won’t want to be caught on the wrong side of these lines. That means you’ll have to work quickly to lock in your arb. What happens if a line you bet has moved? Let’s say you had a +150 at BetOnline and -110 somewhere else. That looks juicy, right? Well let’s say you locked in the +150 but now the other book has adjusted. Maybe lots of people started hammering and they shifted the line to -200. Now you’ve gone from locking in a profit to locking in a loss.
You have to move fast but even in the best of times, you’ll get hurt by a moving line.
You Might Mess Up The Math, The Hedge
The main reason why bettors lose with arbs is because they’ve messed up the math. You can use a hedge calculator but even so, bettors will make mistakes. They might input the wrong odds or bet the wrong hedge amount. Or maybe they fat fingered a bet. Or maybe they hedged the wrong side by accident as they were rushing to lock in a bet.
These types of clerical errors can be costly. They’re one of the main ways that bettors lose with arbs.
Arbing Sportsbooks Works Well (These Days)
The arbitrage betting strategy is alive and well. It’s as good as it has ever been. In the past, it used to be a time consuming activity. Nowadays, there are tools like OddsJam and DarkHorse, which can make your life very easy. They’ll pull up all the arbs and even tell you exactly how much to bet.
As long as you have a strong attention to detail, use a good hedge calculator and can work quickly, the arbitrage betting strategy can be quite profitable.