Well, bookmakers aren’t multi-million-pound businesses without reason. Anyone who regularly bets on any sport – including dogs – will tell you that the bookie always wins.
Always? Well, not always. But they’re not daft and they know exactly what it takes to keep their profits healthy.
There are some methods, however, of turning the tables on the bookies and one of them is arbitrage betting.
Abritrage betting – or arbing as it’s known – involves placing multiple bets to guarantee a profit no matter what the outcome.
It is closely related to matched betting because some of the software and principles are the same.
By most, matched betting is not seen a form of gambling or betting. It’s simply about following a process to earn some extra money. It’s particularly popular with full-time parents and seen as a way to make money as a student.
The difference with matched betting is that the punter’s profit is generated from the bookie bonus, rather than the arb.
Arbitrage opportunities crop up when bookies make a mistake or cannot agree on the odds of a market.
Bookies will almost always factor in a profit margin when pricing a market – known as the overround or vig.
Arbitrage opportunities crop up when the combined odds from different bookies across all the outcomes produce a negative margin. It is then possible for the customer to cover all outcomes and guarantee a profit.
Problems with arbing
For a start, you probably need access to some software such as an oddsmatcher, as manually finding arbs can take hours – and then you face the risk of the odds shifting.
The other main problem is that most bookies don’t like it because it costs them money. If you arb regularly, you are likely to be caught out as bookmakers will pick up on your behaviour.
What matched bettors do
Most matched bettors don’t use arbing because of the risk of having accounts restricted.
Because the profit comes from the bookie bonus – for example a free £10 bet – matched bettors are happy to take a small qualifying loss on the initial part, where they place their stakes on the two opposite sides of the bet.
Arbitrage betting tips
Keeping track of your transactions is advisable – because you will have several bookie accounts, keeping track of your money is difficult. Use a spreadsheet or diary. Check the odds before placing both sides of the bet. Even if you have used software to find the arb, the odds might have shifted and that could be costly.
Cover your tracks. Don’t visit odds comparison sites or a betting exchange like Betfair immediately before the bookie’s page as they can see where their traffic is coming from.