Arbitrage betting is one of the most discussed topics in sports gambling. It refers to opportunities where you can wager on all outcomes of a match and win guaranteed money.
“Arbing” sounds pretty great, right? After all, it can lead to guaranteed winnings.
The key word here is can, though, because arbitrage betting doesn’t ensure anything.
One of the biggest myths surrounding arbing is that it produces automatic profits.
Arbing is also the subject of multiple other misbeliefs, too. That being said, I’m going to cover the seven biggest arbitrage betting myths and the realities behind them.
1 – Arbitrage Betting Is Only for the Pros
If you’ve wagered on sports for any measurable amount of time, you realize the difficulty in winning consistently. In fact, only a small percentage of sports bettors actually win in the long run.
Therefore, many commonly assume that only professionals can properly arb. The same crowd may completely avoid even trying arbitrage betting.
Throughout this post, I’ll stress that arbitrage gambling isn’t totally easy.
However, anybody can pull it off with the right knowledge.
The first thing to be aware of is exactly how to arb. This practice involves finding situations where you can bet on every outcome of a match and guarantee winnings.
Of course, you can’t take all of these outcomes at the same sportsbook. Instead, you must find bookmakers that differ enough on the odds to where you can lock in a profit.
Here’s an example of this:
- Cleveland Browns +195
- Pittsburgh Steelers -170
- You wager $200 on the Browns.
- You must bet $371.54 to maximize your arb on the Steelers.
- You earn an $18.46 profit.
The sports betting math behind arbing isn’t for laymen. But you can simplify the process by using an arbitrage betting calculator.
Of course, you need more skills than just entering numbers into a calculator. But at its most basic form, arbing isn’t overly difficult.
2 – You Can Find Arbs on Your Own
You can see that the process of arbing is fairly simple. You simply enter the odds and original stake into a calculator to determine how much you must wager to lock in a profit.
The real challenge to this type of betting is actually finding arbs.
After all, bookmakers don’t exactly advertise when they’re offering these opportunities.
Some gamblers begin looking for arbs on their own. They may constantly refresh different online sportsbooks on their phone in hopes of finding odds that are drastically different.
You can technically find good arbs through this method. The problem, though, is that your opportunities will be so far and few in between.
You’ll waste an incredible amount of time by manually looking for arbs.
That said, you must use some type of software that monitors online sportsbooks.
Relevant programs are designed to keep track of odds throughout the industry. They can alert you when there’s a potential arb available.
You really don’t have to do much work if you have a reliable software program. You just need to act timely when spotting an opportunity.
3 – You’ll Win Lots of Money from Arbing
Another arbitrage betting myth is that it leads to massive profits. Given that some professionals earn millions through sports wagering, arbing seems like it could also deliver big winnings.
The truth, though, is that arbitrage gambling offers very slim margins.
In most cases, you only earn between a 1% and 3% profit on a quality arb.
Assuming you’re a recreational bettor with a small bankroll, then you’ll barely win anything from arbing.
Here’s an example:
- Detroit Pistons +235
- Milwaukee Bucks -210
- You bet $25 on the Pistons
- You must wager $56.74 on the Bucks.
- You earn a profit of $2.01.
The only way to truly earn serious money from arbitrage betting is by risking a lot. You must wager thousands of dollars in order to collect significant winnings.
You can’t do this if you don’t have the bankroll for it. That said, you’ll just be arbing for fun if you don’t have much money.
4 – You’re Guaranteed to Win Profits After Finding an Arb
The word “guaranteed” is thrown out a lot with regard to arbitrage wagering. After all, an arb does deliver a win when done right.
However, you should never take anything for granted when using this method. You can still lose money if your timing is off.
Bookmakers take great care to move their lines together and eliminate potential arbs.
Some operators can still lag behind, thus offering an opening. But they do their best to try and move odds fast enough to close off possible arbs.
You may find a perfectly good opportunity and bet on the first leg. However, the odds could shift before you have a chance to wager on the second outcome (or any additional legs).
When this happens, you could possibly lose money. That said, you should work on your timing before placing bigger wagers.
5 – Arbitrage Betting Is Risk-Free
You can see from the myths above that arbitrage gambling isn’t foolproof. But a late wager on the second leg isn’t the only thing you have to worry about.
Bookmakers hate arbitrage betting.
They take plenty of steps to find arbers and limit or even ban relevant accounts.
A limited account means that you won’t be able to place large wagers (e.g. $1,000+) or bet on specific markets. A ban simply means you’re no longer welcome at a certain land-based or online sportsbook.
Yet another risk is that a sportsbook could cancel one of your bets. If this happens, you’ll be on the hook for the other leg(s) of your arb.
6 – Sportsbooks Don’t Have a Reliable Method to Catch Arbers
Bookmakers don’t have flawless AI programs that root out every single arber. Therefore, some gamblers believe they can arbitrage bet with ease and never get caught.
However, sportsbooks are very skilled at eventually finding arbitrage gamblers. Their business depends upon it.
One of the main things that they look at is bet sizes.
Assuming they see a series of large wagers or awkward bets (e.g. $92.37), they can likely tell that you’re arbing.
Another arbing sign, or some other type of advantage gambling, is only placing profitable bets. If a sportsbook checks your account and sees that you’re winning a high percentage of the time, then they’ll become very suspicious.
Bookmakers also look at the types of markets that people wager on. Assuming you place $5,000 bets on ping pong and field hockey, then you’ll draw more scrutiny than when betting on the NFL and NBA.
Sportsbooks look at your deposit and withdrawal sizes/frequency for yet another piece of the puzzle. If they see that you’re withdrawing $10,000 on a weekly basis, then they’ll feel like you’re a pro/semi-pro who’s hurting their business.
7 – Arbing Is Illegal
Bookmakers are completely within their right to ban you for arbitrage betting. However, some gamblers take this a step further and believe arbing is illegal.
Arbitrage wagering is just a form of advantage gambling. It can give you a long-term edge over sportsbooks. Given that advantage techniques are rare, arbing is highly desirable among bettors.
The good news is that arbing is also completely legal.
You’re not going to be arrested just for using this type of wagering.
Of course, sportsbooks are private businesses that have the option to protect their interests by any means necessary. If they feel the need to limit or ban your account, they’ll do so.
Every bookmaker includes an excerpt in their terms and conditions (T and Cs) that gives them the right to ban arbers. The terms use language like “recreational bettors only” or “no advantage play” when referencing this.
You can see that arbitrage betting isn’t specifically mentioned. However, it falls under the umbrella of advantage gambling.
Arbitrage betting isn’t exactly what it seems like on the surface. It’s not a guaranteed way to sports betting riches.
But it can certainly deliver solid profits under the right circumstances. You just need to understand more on arbing to find out if you’ll truly enjoy using it.
The first thing worth noting is that arbitrage gambling isn’t just for professionals. You can even arb with limited betting experience, because this technique isn’t overly hard to pull off.
But you do need the right tools to be successful. An arbitrage betting calculator is a good start, because it allows you to quickly determine correct wager sizes. You should also use betting software to quickly spot arbs.
Even with the correct tools, arbing isn’t the golden goose.
You’ll be dealing with small profit margins ranging from 1% to 3%.
You also need to consider that arbitrage gambling does involve some risk. Late bets and being banned or limited by bookmakers are two of the main risks.
Speaking of the latter, sportsbooks can look for plenty of signs to find arbers. Therefore, you should take steps to mask your arbitrage betting.
In summary, cutting through arbing myths is one of the most important parts to being successful with this technique. Once you know the realities behind arbitrage betting, you can cut straight to putting the work into finding favorable opportunities.