Some sports bettors mistakenly assume that the only way to beat bookmakers is through skilled handicapping. However, gamblers can win at sports betting through other ways too, including arbitrage betting.
In fact, arbitrage (a.k.a. arbing) gambling is one of the most common ways to earn profits.
Anybody can make money through this method, regardless of their handicapping skills, by putting enough time and effort into the matter.
Arbing involves wagering on all possible outcomes of a game through two or more sportsbooks. But you can’t just bet with any two bookmakers, you have to choose ones that differ enough on the odds to guarantee you a profit.
Here’s an example:
- New York Yankees -165 (at Bookmaker A)
- Baltimore Orioles +180 (at Bookmaker B)
- You bet $100 on the Yankees at Bookmaker A.
- You must wager $57.36 at Bookmaker B.
- You’re guaranteed a $3.24 profit in this situation.
These winnings aren’t going to make you rich. But they do show that this strategy is effective, especially with larger wager sizes.
The problem, though, is that bookmakers don’t like arbitrage bettors. That said, I’m going to discuss more on how you can pull off this technique and avoid being detected by sportsbooks.
How Can You Take Advantage of Arbing?
The most obvious step towards arbitrage betting involves finding the right opportunities. Of course, this process is easier said than done.
You not only need to find bookmakers that differ enough on a game’s odds to profit, but also jump on these situations as quickly as possible.
You can attempt to accomplish this manually. However, you’ll have a difficult time monitoring various sportsbooks and finding lots of arbs on your own.
Your best bet is to invest in a betting software program that tracks arbing. These programs alert you to when a profitable opportunity is available.
The catch, though, is that you must spend money to purchase or subscribe to these programs. But if you plan to do a lot of arbitrage betting, then the $100 to $300 that you invest could be worthwhile.
Why Do Bookmakers Dislike Arbitrage Bettors?
Arbitrage gamblers cost sportsbooks money. These bettors look for and take advantage of profitable opportunities at the expense of bookmakers.
Of course, you might think it’s unfair that a sportsbook can ban somebody just for winning money.
However, bookmakers consider it unfair to bet in a manner that guarantees profits regardless of outcomes.
They don’t usually have a problem with winning gamblers who aren’t arbing or placing massive wagers. But they strongly dislike customers who bet in a way that ensures themselves profits.
It may seem like bookmakers shouldn’t care this much, given that arbing is spread around the industry. But certain sportsbooks can lose big when they’re picked on by one or more successful arbitrage bettors.
Bookies work with each other to identify such gamblers. They share information and security servers to minimize the problem.
Online sportsbooks include disclaimers in their terms and conditions that are aimed at arbers and other undesirable customers.
However, they don’t usually mention arbitrage betting by name.
Instead, they’ll note that their services are only for “recreational bettors” or something similar. Betting sites may also mention that they’ll limit or close accounts that are associated with “professional play.”
You don’t have to be a pro or semi-pro arber to get banned. Instead, you just need to exhibit this pattern (e.g. large bets, consistent wins) for your account to be closed.
How Can You Avoid Getting Caught With Arbing?
Sportsbook don’t have a foolproof method for catching arbitrage bettors. Therefore, you at least have a chance of getting away with this style of betting.
But you can still be caught and either limited or banned from a bookmaker.
That said, you should keep the following tips in mind to avoid the situation as much as possible.
Round Bets to the Nearest Dollar
Arbitrage betting often requires you to make some strange wager sizes to guarantee profits.
Take the following situation, for instance:
- Boston Celtics -135
- Brooklyn Nets +150
- You bet $100 on the Celtics.
- You must wager $69.64 on the Nets.
- Your profit will be $4.46.
The $69.64 wager is key to maximizing your profit in this situation. However, it’s also a bizarre-looking bet size.
Sportsbooks fully realize that strange wagers are part of arbing and they often use weird bet sizes as a way to catch arbers.
You can throw them off by rounding up your bets. Sure, you’ll sacrifice some profits, but these small sacrifices will help you avoid getting banned.
Don’t Deposit and Withdraw Money as Frequently
If you become good enough at arbing, you might start relying on it to supplement your income or even make a living. In this case, you’ll be more tempted to place deposits and/or withdraw money more frequently.
Arbers often make large deposits to fund their efforts. They also cash out plenty of times to enjoy the fruits of their efforts.
These frequent banking transactions are another red flag that can indicate arbitraging.
You’re better off only making occasional deposits and withdrawals so that you don’t draw sportsbooks’ suspicion.
Wager on the Occasional Parlay
Another factor that bookmakers consider when trying to identify arbers is what type of bets they make. If a sportsbook sees that a gambler only wagers on profitable opportunities, they’re more likely to ban or limit this person.
You have to take your chances with this matter to some degree.
After all, you can’t just place a bunch of bad wagers to fool bookmakers, or you’ll lose lots of money in the process.
However, the occasional parlay here or there can be enough to make you look like a recreational bettor. Successful gamblers don’t normally wager on parlays because they’re bad deals that give bookmakers more juice.
Use a Betting Exchange
Unlike a traditional sportsbook, a betting exchange doesn’t act as the bookmaker. Instead, it merely serves as a platform where gamblers can take either side of a wager.
One side acts as the standard bettor. The other gambler essentially acts as the bookie.
The betting exchange merely takes a small commission from the winning side.
Sometimes, they’ll also collect part of their commission from the losing side as well.
In any case, a betting exchange doesn’t care if you’re arbing. They make their money regardless of how you bet.
You should consider using two or more betting exchanges for your arbing efforts. Or you can use an exchange for one half of your arb and a sportsbook for the other. You only risk getting banned from the sportsbook in this scenario.
Don’t Make Max Bets All of the Time
The best way to maximize your arbing opportunities is to place the highest wagers possible. After all, you might as well take full advantage of the guaranteed profits.
But this is yet another sign that sportsbooks look for when trying to find arbers.
Somebody who consistently places max bets is asking to be banned.
You should still look to make large wagers if you have the bankroll to do so. However, you also want to avoid betting the maximum every time.
Spread Your Bets Around Different Bookmakers
You may not be thrilled with the idea of having your bankroll spread across several betting sites. But if you can put up with this, then you’ll be less likely to be identified as an arber.
After all, a sportsbook will likely take action if they see that you place a lot of suspicious-looking bets with them. On the other hand, they may only think of you as a recreational gambler if your wagers are more sporadic.
Avoid Betting on Smaller Markets 100% of the Time
Smaller betting markets, such as table tennis, darts, and water polo, are more volatile. Therefore, bookmakers can differ more on odds for these markets.
The majority of your arbing opportunities may come from less-heralded sports.
You can make plenty of money from smaller markets as a result.
However, frequent wagers on less popular sports are one more sign that can indicate arbitrage betting. You can avoid this problem by mixing up your arbing efforts among both small and large markets.
If you’re looking for a way to win more with sports betting, then arbing is definitely a worthy pursuit. It guarantees profits when done correctly.
You don’t even need much skill to pull it off. Instead, you simply need to know how to spot favorable opportunities and act quickly.
Of course, arbitrage betting does require effort. You have to pay attention to the industry to find winning situations.
This process is very difficult to do manually. You should invest in software that spots arbing plays if you’re really serious about the matter.
But being able to find quality arbs is only part of the battle. You also need to understand how to avoid bookmakers’ watchful eyes.
Sportsbooks don’t have finding arbitrage bettors down to an exact science.
However, they can guess if you’re arbing based on your bet sizes, deposit/withdrawal frequency, wager types, and/or favorite markets.
You want to understand how all of these factors can indicate arbitrage betting and act accordingly. For example, you should always round up your bets (e.g. $50 instead of $49.79) to avoid suspicion.
The goal is to make yourself look as close to a recreational bettor as possible. If you can do this, then you have a strong chance of successfully arbing without being caught.