What is arbitrage betting or sure betting?
Arbitrage betting or sure betting is the technique of covering each outcome on a betting market and making a guaranteed profit out of it. The opinion and information differences between bookmakers can cause significant odds differences.
Bettors who can spot these wrong odds can place a bet on each outcome with the right stakes and generate profits no matter the result of that event.
The activity of covering each outcome on the market with the help of sure bets is called arbitrage betting. Bettors who are actively practising this technique often refer to this as “arbing”. These sure bets or betting opportunities are also called “arbs”.
Arbitrage betting example
1. Football sure betting example
Can have many reasons why bookies offer wrong odds on even more significant events. A missing key player that is not noticed by a bookie, a fault while the match is in-play, or many other factors can cause opinion differences between bookmakers.
Bayern Munchen vs. Barcelona
Over 2.5 goals: 1.65
Under 2.5 goals: 2.30
Pinnacle odds (correct, sharp odds):
Over 2.5 goals: 1.55
Under 2.5 goals: 2.65
- You place a bet on over 2.5 on odds of 1.65 at Bet365 with a stake of 61.60 Euros.
- 2nd Bet at Pinnacle on under 2.5 goals on odds of 2.65 with a stake of 38.40 Euros.
No matter which outcome wins, you will win 100 Euros, and your profit will be around 1.7 euros.
In a typical case, arbitrage bettors need to use rounded stakes to avoid limitations. Instead of 61.6 Euros, I would use 60 at Bet365 and would cover with the stakes of 37.40 at Pinnacle (they are arbitrage friendly bookmakers, you can use any stakes you want).
2. Tennis arbitrage betting example
Rafael Nadal vs Daniil Medvedev
PaddyPower odds to win the second set:
Pinnacle odds (correct, sharp odds):
You place a bet on Medvedev at PaddyPower and cover the other outcome (Nadal) at Pinnacle. In this case, you can use the same odds for both outcomes. No matter who wins, you will make a guaranteed profit of 5% of your total stake.
Each arbitrage betting software has an inbuilt arb calculator for each sure betting opportunity. You don’t have to worry about calculating the right stakes manually on paper or on your phone.
I have tried and reviewed many of my favourite arbing software. You might want to take a look at my Breaking Bet Review or Surebet.com Review. Both of them are excellent for European, African, and Asian sure betting.
If you are looking for a great arbitrage betting software in the USA I would suggest checking my OddsJam Review. They are the fastest and well developed (also industry-leading) sure betting tool for US bookies.
Steps-by-step arbitrage betting guide
Many forums, blog posts, tutorials, and courses are already including tips and tricks for arbitrage betting. I was arbitrage betting for many years and decided to share some insights and other advice that I could not find anywhere.
1. Check if your starting capital is enough for arbing
There are many forms of arbitrage betting, but most of them cannot be practised without proper starting capital. The amount of money you need to start arbing is a case-by-case situation. If your goal is generating one or two hundred euros of profits per month, then a starting capital of 400-500 euros is enough.
But if you want to practice arbitrage betting seriously, based on my experience, a starting capital of 2000 euros is the bare minimum.
2. Make a list of the available bookmakers for arbitrage betting
There are many bookmakers that are excellent for sure betting. Bet365, WilliamHill, and PaddyPower are the favourites of many bettors.
But the majority of bookmakers are not available in each country. Each state/country has its own gambling laws and licenses for bookmakers. Many of them accept only 1 or 2 bookies, while in other countries, you can have over 100 betting sites for arbitrage betting.
Making a hit list of the best trustworthy bookies is one of the first steps for starting arbitrage betting.
3. Find a sure betting software that covers many of your local bookies
I have used over 10 arbitrage bet finders during my career. Unfortunately, most of them are scanning different bookmakers, and only a part of them is covered by all sure bet scanners.
Picking the right software is an important part of successful arbitrage betting activity. In many cases, using premium software that costs 130 euros a month is not necessary. Even a cheaper scanner can offer the same services if they cover the same bookies.
But in other cases, switching to a premium service for a faster In-play scanner can double your arbitrage betting profits.
So, making a decision and choosing one tool over another sometimes can make or break your arbitrage betting strategy.
4. Start with Pre-match arbitrage betting
Many bettors don’t have any knowledge about smart betting strategies such as arbitrage, value, or matched betting.
You can also take a look at my dedicated article about no-risk matched betting in the USA.
For arbitrage betting successfully, you need to place bets before they can drop. Many bettors practice sure betting, so the bookies became faster in correcting odds and lines.
With pre-match sure betting, you are not forced to face the odds changes that can be fairly fast during in-play betting.
On the other hand, most bookies accept bets instantly, while in-play betting, each of them has a delay of 4-12 sec before accepting them.
Pre-match sure betting requires less experience, and you can take slightly more time for calculating the right stakes, finding the markets, and placing the bets.
Still not sure how to start? Check my in-depth guide about how to find arbitrage bets.
Is arbitrage betting risk-free?
You might think that placing sure bets and covering each outcome does not hold any risks.
Arbitrage betting is not risk-free at all. In the long run, I would say the risk of not making profits is very close to 0%, but you can make some mistakes that can cause some losses.
Risks of sure betting
1. Not covering both outcomes on the right odds
I prefer arbitrage betting on markets with only two outcomes. By this, I’m trying to reduce any unnecessary risks.
Choosing which bet to place for the first time is crucial for sure betting. One outcome is fairly overpriced in most cases, so when the bookies spot this mistake, they will drop the odds immediately.
Knowing which outcome has wrong odds will reduce the chance of failing to cover both outcomes on the right odds. Using fast sports betting software can put you at a fair advantage against bookies and other bettors.
Active arbitrage bettors have to accept that making profits on each sure bet is not possible. You will face many bets when you place your bet on the first leg, and before you can cover the other outcome, the odds will drop.
If you are hedging your bets at sharp bookmakers, you can drastically reduce the chance of facing these cases. But even sharp bookies like Pinnacle tend to offer overpriced odds sometimes.
My advice: Never let a bet be uncovered if you are arbitrage betting. Even if you make a 10% guaranteed loss, don’t risk it.
2. Getting your max stakes limited
Only a handful of bookmakers won’t limit your account if you start sure betting. The majority of these are arbitrage friendly, even if you win larger amounts.
But most slower, soft bookies will limit your maximum stakes if they flag your account for arbitrage or similar smart betting strategies.
This can lead to:
- Not being able to cover an outcome with the desired stake
- Lowering your profits because of lower stakes
- Stopping your arbitrage betting activity
Is arbitrage betting still possible?
As long as the betting sites will get odds from different providers, betting strategies such as arbitrage betting will be possible.
At the moment, sure betting is possible and still very profitable in many countries. It’s important to emphasize that sure betting is not possible or is not worth the time in every country/state.
You need many bookmakers with high odds or a very slow reaction time for a successful arbitrage betting activity.
There are some exceptions to this rule. I know many countries where only a handful of bookmakers are available.
But if some of your local bookies make many mistakes but still can’t correctly flag arbitrage bettors (still possible in 2022), you can make thousands of euros even with 1-3 bookmakers.
I stopped sure betting in the past few years because I switched to more profitable betting strategies such as using value bet finders.
But I personally know at least five bettors who make a full-time income from arbitrage betting.
So, if you are not sure: arbitrage betting is still possible and profitable. This is true for many countries, not only the UK, where you can have access to many bookmakers.
Is arbitrage betting worth it?
Arbitrage betting is still possible, but the amount you can make with it depends on many factors.
Sure betting is worth practising in the long run if you have access to at least 10-15 trustworthy bookmakers. The answer to this question is an obvious yes.
If you can access enough bookmakers, you have a chance to arb for several months. With strategies such as multi-accounting, you can proceed with sure betting even after your accounts are limited (it’s your responsibility only if you try multi-accounting).
Arbitrage betting is worth it for you if:
- You have access to enough bookmakers (over 10-15 at least as I mentioned – for some months)
- Your starting capital is over 500-1000 euros
- You want a side income with no big goals
- Your goal is to practice arbitrage betting as a full-time job; you have access to 50+ bookies and a starting capital of over 6000 euros
- You are willing to try multi-accounting
We have to accept that almost every bookmaker limits winning players as soon as they can prove you are spotting overpriced odds.
So, if you want to practice arbing in the long run as a full-time job, you need the resources I mentioned above to make sure betting is worth it.
Can you make a living arbitrage betting?
Many bettors want to make a living with the help of sports betting. I know from my own experience that it is possible with strategies such as matched, value, and arbitrage betting.
The following arbitrage bettors can make a living with this strategy:
- Who has access to many bookmakers
- Those who are willing to try multi-accounting (arbitrage betting with the accounts of friends and family)
- Have a decent starting capital (over 6000 euros)
- Who can learn In-play arbitrage betting (fewer limits, more sure bets, more profits)
- Have access to bookies that don’t limit after 3-5 arbs like Marathonbet or sometimes even Sportingbet
How much can you make arbitrage betting?
If you want to figure out if you can make a living or not from arbitrage betting, the first thing you need to find out is the amount you can make with sure betting.
The profit you can make from sure betting depends on:
- The average profit % of your sure bets
- The number of arbitrage bets you can place in a month
- Your stake size
- If your practice pre-match/in-play arbitrage betting
1. Profit % of your arbitrage bets
Placing arbitrage bets with bigger returns is not a good idea in most cases. They can significantly boost your short-term profits, but they help bookmakers to flag your account for arbing.
Being greedy in this business will lead to fast account limitations and, in many cases, big losses. Arbs with a big profit % tend to disappear faster. These sure bet opportunities are
2. More arbs more profit
Increasing the number of sure bets placed can be fulfilled with different methods:
- You need a bigger starting capital
- For pre-match arbitrage: try placing sure bets on matches that will start in a very short time. Placing an arb with a profit of 1% that will start in 6-8 hours is way more profitable than one with a profit of 2.5% that starts in 24 hours.
- Try in-play arbitrage betting if you already have some experience: the bets are finished faster, higher arb % in average, higher maximum stakes, and less risk of getting your account limited.
3. Stake size in sure betting
The rule of don’t put all of your eggs in one bucket applies to arbitrage betting as well. I often became greedy and placed my whole balance on a single sure bet that had a bigger return.
Sometimes it is a better decision to use only a smaller part of your balance. This way, you can avoid getting your account limited right away and will also have some funds for a better sure bet.
4. Pre-match/In-play arbitrage betting
Pre-match arbitrage betting is beginner-friendly, as I already mentioned. But placing only arbs before the match is like putting a betting account on fire. The bookies will flag your account way faster.
In-play arbitrage betting requires you to be very fast. The odds are dropping in seconds, and you don’t have too much time to place arbs. Some markets like the next game, next set bets on tennis, and next half bets on football can offer great betting opportunities.
If you are fast enough, you can place several times more sure bets on in-play events.
From arbitrage betting, you can make a profit of around 1%-4% of your wagered funds on sure bets. If you have access to more bookmakers with a larger capital, the number of profits that can be made from arbitrage betting can easily be over 2000 euros in a month.
Is arbitrage betting legal?
Arbitrage betting is legal in every country and state where sports betting itself is legal. If you are using betting sites that have a license in your country/state taking advantage of overpriced odds and wrong betting lines with arbitrage betting is not regulated in any country.
Sure betting is one of the most popular betting strategies that can generate a guaranteed profit. This is the main reason why many people might think of it as an illegal act.
The bookmakers don’t like this betting technique because it will reduce their profitability. But arbitrage betting in sports betting is very similar to arbitrage opportunities in commerce.
Sure bettors are buying betting outcomes on prices that are above the market price and cover the other outcome to secure their edge over the bookies.
Best markets for arbitrage betting
1. Match winner market
Match winner markets are not offering the most opportunities, but they are one of the best markets for arbitrage betting. The odds are fairly high at most bookies, and the maximum stakes are also the highest in this market.
2. Goal/corner totals and handicaps markets for arbing
They are my favourite markets for arbitrage betting. The bookies are making many mistakes on these, and the maximum stakes are also fairly high. On the other hand, your betting activity won’t be suspicious if you use these markets.
3. Set/quarter/third markets on tennis, basketball, hockey
Betting on the winner, totals, and handicap markets in these periods is also a favourite choice of many normal bettors. If you don’t get greedy and bet on very high arbitrage bets on these markets, you can avoid limitations for a while.
These markets are offering insane betting opportunities while the sports events are in play. The odds are moving fast, and the bookies are making mistakes in almost every market.
4. Smaller markets for tennis and basketball
Both sports are excellent for in-play arbitrage and value betting. Minor markets such as next game on tennis, handicap, or total points on basketball in a quarter are one of the weakest lines at bookies.
It’s not uncommon to find arbitrage over 10 arbitrage opportunities on a single match if you use these markets.
Best odds for arbitrage betting
Based on my experience, the best odds range for arbitrage betting is between 1.40 and 4 in decimal odds.
Placing arbs on lower or higher odds will cause big fluctuations in your balance. Arbitrage bettors want as small attention as possible.
If you start placing arbitrage bets on high odds, it is very likely to get a very large balance at a soft bookmaker in a very short time.
This will require you to withdraw a part of your funds. This process will draw attention to your betting activity and account too. In most cases, this is the point when many betting accounts get limited.
Using the odds range advised above, your arbitrage activity can be practised for a longer period without withdrawing your funds.
- Arbitrage betting in the USA
- Arbitrage betting Canada
- Arbitrage betting Nigeria
- Arbitrage betting India
- Arbitrage betting Kenya
Arbitrage betting is the technique of covering each outcome on a betting market and making a guaranteed profit out of it.
Arbitrage betting is still possible in many countries/states where sports betting is legal and many bookmakers have a legal license for operation.
Every betting strategy can be practised only by accepting some level of risk. Arbitrage betting is not risk-free, but the chance of being profitable even in the short run is guaranteed.
Bettors who have access to at least 15-20 bookmakers and have a decent starting capital of at least 2000 euros should try sure betting. For these bettors, arbitrage betting is worth it even for a longer period.
Arbitrage betting is legal in every country/state where sports betting itself is legal. You can practice sure betting at bookmakers that have a legal license in your country.