Last Updated on December 11, 2020
Everyday more and more people look to alternatives to their jobs and try to make a living online. I’ve been doing it successfully since 2013 with arbitrage betting and i wish i had a guide like this when i started. It would have saved me a lot of time and painful learning experience. So, what is this arbitrage betting thing?
Arbitrage betting is a method for placing bets on all the possible outcomes of an event, and with the correct odds, ensures that one always makes profit. It’s also known as matched betting, surebet, or simply arb. Its also referred to as dutching but this is a different thing.
Arbitrage betting: what we will learn in this guide:
Why arbitrages exist
The most common reason why arbitrages exist is because of delays from bookies on the odds update process. Different bookies have different response times to the latest news. Usually the bigger the game, the faster they react because more money is being involved. As you can imagine, odds for a Real Madrid vs Barcelona are updated much more frequently that for some random second league Portuguese game.
Sometimes they make mistakes. On some bookies it can be dangerous to place bets on clearly wrong odds, while on others, it’s ok. We’ll look into this more in detail in the pro tips section below.
The second most common reason for arbs to exist is, as you might expect, difference of opinion between traders. We’re all humans and our views are influenced by biases and external factors so prepare yourself to find some games where it’s hard to achieve consensus. This i great for arbitrage betting!
How much can you make from arbitrage betting
There is no right answer but if you ask me it’s surely the best way to bet.
I can give you some examples of people i personally know but my own example is probably more accurate.
I’ve been placing bets since 2000 and using arbitrage betting since 2013. I keep an informal journal on my betting endeavors and i my monthly profit average for the last 7 years is around 1000€. I understand that for some of you guys this might not be much but consider this, i only do this 2 hours per day, from Tuesday to Saturday. Also i live in Portugal and for the last 5 years is extremely hard to find good betting opportunities due to low odds because of the current gambling legislation in my country. I personally know people that easily double that average with around the same work hours and I’ve seen reports of people doing 3000€. I know that for example in the UK that’s a number quite easy to achieve due to the quality and number of available bookies.
Time spent on this process
You may ask why i only spend a couple of hours daily doing this process and there are several reasons for that but the two more important ones are:
First, it’s exhausting! Believe it or not, spending more than a few hours concentrated on searching odds can burn you out!
Second, it’s more efficient! From my experience, most arbitrage opportunities occur in the morning (europe time). I can’t say anything about the us markets but i assume it’s identical because i’ve seen some good arbs in the afternoon for baseball and american football.
Types of arbitrages
The way i see it, there are three “types” of arbs:
- Back Lay
- Dual outcome
- Triple outcome
Technically they mean the same: You bet on all possibilities with the right odds and you assure some profit regardless of the outcome.
1. Back Lay
Here, the principle is that you pick an outcome, for example a particular horse on a particular race, say it’s a horse called “Donald Trump”, on some bookie like William hill, you bet on “Donald Trump” with a 7.00 odd, and on the exchange you lay that horse win an odd for example of 6.00.
Laying an outcome means betting against the outcome!
When you bet 100€ on the horse with the 7.00 odd you stand to gain 600€. Whet you bet the same 100€ against the horse with an odd of 6.00 you stand to gain 100€ but you can loose 500€.
This is the most common technique for taking advantage of bookies with welcome bonus.
2. Dual outcome
This one is easy. You find a market with two outcomes, like over/under 2.5, or maybe a tennis match, and you place a bet on each outcome.
For example, on a tennis match between Nadal and Federer you might see these odds:
1.70 – Nadal
2.80 – Federer
If you bet 62.22€ on Nadal and 37.78€ on Federer, you come out with a profit of €5.78, regardless of who wins! I’ll give you a second to use an arbitrage calculator to check those numbers! 😉
3. Triple outcome
Easy! Same principle as before but now you have to place 3 bets instead of two!
Here’s an example:
How to do it
You probably already realized from the above examples how it’s done but i need to clarify a few things and resume the all process step by step.
- find a market with an arbitrage opportunity (you can do this manually or use a tool but i’ll get into it in a moment)
- open a browser tab for each outcome. I use two screens on my computer and you should too because it helps a lot in preventing me from making mistakes.
- Check that each bookie still has the correct odd necessary for the arbitrage. It’s not uncommon to find that the bookie already updated the odd and there is no arb anymore.
- Open an arbitrage calculator to calculate the necessary stakes. The tool you’ll be using to find arbs will probably provide a quick link for you to make this calculation.
- Place each bet individually. I suggest starting with the bookie that updates the odds faster in order to avoid surprises. You’ll find out who is who in time.
- Rinse and repeat!
Tools you need for arbitrage betting
You may try to find arbitrages manually but you’ll go nuts! And there is no need for it. There are free tools out there! A quick search on google and you’ll see quite a few. There are also paid ones and as you might expect they will be better.
I suggest that you start by using a free tool. It’s great for getting used to this process and honestly it’s more than enough. After using free tools for a few weeks you’ll may want to try some paid ones but that’s up to you. Trust me, there’s no need for them. I use a few free tools which i’ll show you and a paid tool. I only use the paid tool because it provides specific bookmakers that interest me and it’s so darn cheap that i don’t mind paying for it and sometimes and don’t even use it for weeks.
Start with oddsfetcher. It’s free and it’s quite reasonable! It has data from around 30 good bookmakers which should be more than plenty to start. For each arb you can see a tiny calculator that redirects you to page to calculate the necessary stakes for your arb.
The paid tool i use is surebet. It costs me around 20€ a month and it also has a free version where you can see surebets with up to 1% profit. It has a great service and provides data from more that 50 bookies.
There are other very interesting (and expensive) tools out there that provide data from hundreds of bookies and some of them are so fast that you can get arbitrages in live games and therefore you can place higher stakes. Imagine the money you can make with that! I don’t use them because, like i said, in Portugal there are only a few bookies and it’s not worth it to spend money on a great service if i can’t use it to the fullest.
I’m not gonna get into details on these pro services because when the time comes that you may want to use them, you’ll be such a pro in arbitrage betting that you won’t need any guide!
Using arbitrages to make the most out of bonuses
Most bookies offer first deposit bonuses on a regular basis. I won’t go into details on each bookie because each country has many different ones.
Here’s a tip for making the most from bonuses and free bets.
On a high odds bookie, just treat your bonuses like regular money. With this arb technique it’s super easy and super fast to complete the required rollover to be able to withdraw profits.
On the other hand, with crappy odds bookies it can be a nightmare to complete the rollover requirements. My suggestion is, instead of waiting for great opportunities, just do the normal arbitrage process with negative yield of 1% or 2% max. You’ll be loosing a few cents on each bet but you’ll be making big bucks overall because you’re doing it with bonus money!
Pro tip: before registering on a new bookie, add it to the oddsfetcher filter for a few days. This way you can find out if the bookie has good or bad odd and if it has constant opportunities or not.
Mistakes to avoid on arbitrage betting
There are a few common mistakes that happen to every arber out there. This comes from my personal experience and you might do some completely different mistakes but keeping this list in mind can make you avoid lots of pain, and losses.
- Always double check the odds! When you start gaining confidence and you deeply know the tools you’re using, youk now that certain bookies are sure to have the correct the odd! But sometimes they don’t…. I’m guilty of this even these days.
- Read the terms if you receive any bonus. It’s not uncommon to be placing normal bets and the bookie requires you to place multiples in order to meet the rollover requirements, and then you find yourself with a short deadline to do it.
- don’t forget the fees! Betting exchanges charge a fee on winning bets. The arbitrage calculators usually have this in consideration but has you starting becoming a pro you do this on your head and sometimes forget that on betfair, matchbook and the likes, it’s not all profit!
- If the odd seems completely off, i mean like completely the other way around, it probably is a mistake and depending on the bookies you might have you bet voided. This is not very common to happen and it’s easy to spot. Don’t be greedy. If it’s clearly a wrong odd it’s not worth the risk of loosing your stake. (this can be a mistake on the tool or on the bookie)
- If possible check first the maximum you can bet on each outcome. Some bookies let you know you can place a maximum bet of X on that outcome, while others don’t. It’s annoying to want to place a 100€ bet and finding out you can only bet 50. This comes mostly from experience and at the beginning of your journey you will probably be able to bet whatever you want but try to keep that in mind.
Bookies that “like” arbers and bookies that don’t
In your journey to become a pro, you’ll try a lot of bookies. Some for a long time and some for a very short time. Some take forever to find out you are an arber, some just don’t care, and some will kick you out fast! Don’t worry, they won’t take your money. In seven years of arbitrage betting i only lost my balance once, it was on a shady Russian bookmaker that went bust so you are most likely safe.
Here’s a list of example bookies that will tell you to f**k off really fast:
Now here’s a few examples of bookies that are more arber friendly
- pinnacle (these guys welcome winners)
- william hill
Keep in mind that some bookies will place limits on your account but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a profit there. On good example of this is bet365. If they see you as an arber they won’t offer you any more bonuses and limit your stakes but not on everything, On some matches you can place high stakes!
I call them clone bookmakers because they are made from the same software provider, use the same traders, and therefore have identical odds.
A good example of this if 1xbet. They have lots of clones like melbet, dafabet, 1xbit, etc…
This means you can add 1xbet to your filter and even if you don’t use 1xbet, chances are you might have the same odd on the clones.
I’ll be making a list of clone bookies and i’ll link to it as soon as it’s ready. Just check back later.
Is arbitrage betting legal?
This is a funny one and i get asked about it many times.
Keep in mind that some countries might require you to pay taxes because after all, you’re making a profit. You should consult with a local accountant for more info on your particular country but i believe that in the vast majority of countries, there is no tax implication. I know that there isn’t in Portugal and the UK, simply because the bookies already have huge taxes.
I understand why people ask this all the time. This question has two main reasons.
First, that’s because almost all bookies have some sentence in their T&Cs saying something like “we can close your account if we find out you’re using any techniques that allow you to bla bla bla…”. You get the point.
Second, every technique for making money online seems too good to be true (and usually is!) and therefore people tend to believe it’s a scam, it’s somehow illegal or whatever. This is no scam. It’s been my paycheck for the last 7 years and i’m just teaching you, not asking for your money!
Practical examples of arbitrage betting
Despite being a simple technique, i think people tend to grasp it faster with a few examples. Hey! Some people may have some difficulties in understanding it. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m so dumb that it took me for ages to understand how the heck does a lay bet works. Trust me, i’m that dumb! If an idiot like me was able to learn this, i believe anyone can! So let’s dive into it.
Example #1 – Back to Lay
In this example we found an arbitrage between melbet (or a clone in this case) and betfair.
We use the calculator to check how much to bet on each side:
Now that we know the values, we place our back bet (for maardu) on the bookie:
And the lay bet (against maardu) on betfair:
And it’s done!
Example #2 – Two possible outcomes
Here’s an example of a match with two outcomes. A League of Legends match between Brute and Sampi.
Same process: calculate stakes and place bets on both bookies!
Now we just need to place a bet on Brute at Melbet with 37.23GBP.
And a bet on Sampi at pinnacle with 52.33GBP.
Example #3 – Three outcomes
In this example we bet on the draw at 1xbet.
We bet on Arsenal at betfair.
And we bet on Tottenham at smarkets.
Here’s the individual stakes:
Regardless of the game outcome, we come out with 5.98€ profit! Neat!
Some final considerations regarding arbitrage betting
- Start slow. Start with low stakes or even with no stakes at all. Just try the free tools out there and open a tab with the bookies to check that the odds actually exist. Trying to jump right into it and wanting to become rich super fast is the fast lane for making mistakes.
- Arbitrage betting can be exhausting. Doing this for a few hours straight burns you out. Once you start doing this full time i suggest you also try doing other stuff from home, like building your own blog or something like that.
- Find a friend to also do it. You will learn a lot. I still do to this day.
- Pro tip: when you clearly see an odd going down don’t just do the arb. Instead buy the odd on the delayed bookie and wait a few hours before placing the lay bet. Most of the times you’ll get a much better deal and your profits will sky rocket. I don’t expect you to do this from the beginning but keep that in the back of your mind. Takes a while to fully grasp it but it’s worth it. I do most of my profit this way.
Arbitrage betting is a fun journey. If you haven’t done it before, i envy the excitement you are about to start having!
I hope you learned enough with this article to start making money and beating the bookies. Believe me, it’s a good feeling!
Let me know if you have any questions, no matter how stupid they might seem. I’m always happy to help a friend!
Have fun and best of luck!
Disclaimer: This is not financial advice. The author of this article declines any responsibility from information contained in this blog. You should do your own due diligence in regards to any laws you may have to abide to and to any specific terms and conditions of the websites you might use.