What is Arbitrage Betting? How Does Arbitrage Betting Work?

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What is Arbitrage Betting?

Arbitrage betting, also known as arbing, is when a bettor places a wager on both sides of an outcome in order to guarantee profit no matter what the result is. Understandably, most people hear that something guarantees a profit and immediately roll their eyes and assume it’s a scam, but in this case it’s not. There are some risks which will be detailed later, but arbitrage betting results in a profit 100% of the time.

It is a form hedging, and it requires a sports bettor to place their bets roughly at the same exact time on opposite sides of the same bet. 

Arbitrage Betting Examples

There are 3 different types of arbitrage bets, with the first and second options being the most common.

  1. Two different sportsbooks are offering different prices or lines on a bet at the same time, so you bet both sides to guarantee a profit.
What is Arbitrage Betting? How Does Arbitrage Betting Work?

The screenshot above is taken directly from the arbitrage betting tool on the OddsJam website. In this example, the play is on the total over/under 33.5 on the Bills and Jets game.

If you bet $100 on the over 33.5 points on BetMGM at -250 odds you will get a payout of $140.

On the other side, if you bet $36.84 on DraftKings at +280 (risky to use decimals, though. I’ll detail this later) on the under 33.5 points you would also get a payout of $140. 

So, using this example, you would risk $136.84 between both bets, and you would have a guaranteed payout of $140, with a profit of 2.26%, or $3.16. Obviously, the more you risk the more profit you will make.

  1. Two different sportsbooks are offering different prices on a moneyline at the same time, so you bet both sides to guarantee a profit.

This is similar to option 1, but instead of betting on a total or prop you would bet on the moneyline of each team.

What is Arbitrage Betting? How Does Arbitrage Betting Work?

So, using that same Bills/Jets game as an example. Lets say that the Bills moneyline was -300 on BetMGM, and the Jets moneyline was +330 on PointsBet. 

You would bet $100 on Jets moneyline at +330 to get a payout of $430.

The other side you would bet $322.50 on Bills moneyline at -300 to get the same payout of $430.

The profit % on this one would be at 1.74%, but total profit would be $7.50 because you would have a total stake of $422.50 and a total payout of $430.00.

  1. A line moves after you place a bet, so you can now bet the other side to guarantee a profit.

This is the least common, and not a very analytical approach either. It would be risky to rely on this when originally placing the bet, but something to keep in mind if odds change, especially in live betting.

For example, let’s go back to the same the Bills/Jets game before and say that you bet on the Bills moneyline at -300 and the Jets were at +250 at that time. Then, the money starts to pour in more and more on the Bills, moving the Bills moneyline to -400 and the Jets to +350. That would create an opportunity to arb.

Arbitrage Betting Strategies

Overall, arbing is a good way to guarantee profit, but it’s generally not advisable to only arb bet as a sports better. For starters, it’s hard to win any significant amount of money if you are solely betting arbitrage opportunities. The profit margins are small (generally no greater 2.5%), and you would need to invest a significant amount of money in order to make any meaningful profits. 

But, with that said, there are still important strategies to help you effectively and efficiently arb. 

The most important strategy is to avoid betting an uncharacteristically large amount of money when arbing. Not surprisingly, sportsbooks don’t appreciate players that arb.

You should also be using as many sportsbooks as possible, and keep track of which ones you use the most often.

Another beneficial way to successfully arb is doing so when you get an odds boost, free bet, or site credits. Odds boosts specifically are a nice way to get a high percent of profit without having to have a large amount at stake. For example, for the college football title game Caesars Sportsbook had an odds boost on Georgia moneyline from -150 to +100, with a max 25. Conversely, the Alabama moneyline was +133. 

What is Arbitrage Betting? How Does Arbitrage Betting Work?

Using the OddsJam Arbitrage Calculator in the screenshot above, this would have given you a profit % of 7.07%, or $3.46. This may not seem like much, but there are always going to be odds boosts such as this to take advantage of.

Free bets or site credit is another way to use arbing to your advantage. Whether you are taking advantage of a sign-up bonus or you just received a free bet for another reason, it is common for people to hedge these risk free bets by arbing on another book. 

The logic is the same as a regular arb – you would find a situation where you can bet both sides where there is an odds discrepancy, such as that Bills/Jets total from earlier, but the main difference being you could possibly get the best of both worlds. Let’s say you used your free bet on the under and the over hits. You would get your winnings from the over side of the bet, but you would have also not lost any money on the under bet losing.

Also check out our betting strategies guides:

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