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Sports Arbitrage - Long Term Bookie Bashing.

This internet gambling loophole is the fascinating world of sports arbitrage, sometimes known as arbs or surebets.  They're perhaps the ultimate in bookie bashing because they provide longer term profits, but they're probably not for the faint hearted. We've tried to best explain them by the frequently asked questions below, followed by our full tutorial at the bottom of the page

What is sports arbitrage?

A sports arbitrage is a situation where different bookmakers odds differ so much that by betting on all outcomes of the event at different bookmakers you are guaranteed to profit risk-free.  It's a "surebet" - exactly what it says on the can!  Win, lose or draw - you celebrate receiving your risk-free cash.

On what type of sports events can you find arbs?

Well, any sport really.  But in terms of simplicity it is easiest to keep it to events that have 3 outcomes or less (i.e. football which has home-draw-away).  Aside from football, the American sports and tennis are probably the next most frequent events to show arbs.  But really this is not restricted to sport either as anything from election results to Oscars night could throw up an arb.  In fact TV reality shows often show a number of arbitrage opportunities.

Can you give an example?

Of course we can.  We give you a real recent example from 2012, found on a popular NHL Ice Hockey match.  Match details, and bookmaker odds from home win, draw, and away win are listed below;

Washington Capitals v Carolina Hurricanes
Ice Hockey - USA - NHL - 07/03/12 - 00:05 GMT
1 - 3.30 - Bet365
X - 4.10 - Centrebet
2 - 3.15 - Unibet

This gave an arb with a guaranteed profit of 14.69%.  Not bad for being money for nothing!!  And remember by investing in this we were not gambling because the profit is guaranteed irrespective of the result.

 How did you work out how much to invest?

We used our free calculator spreadsheet to work out the investment amount for each outcome.  Please see the screenshot below which details the example just described above. 

23-05-2012 10-37-42

Above you can see that we have transferred the best odds from each bookmaker to show a clear profit of 15.69% - we just need to decide how much to invest overall so that the stakes could be calculated.   For example, we may have decided to invest £500 which, if we follow the stakes recommended by our calculator, will guarantee a profit of £78.44 no matter what the result turned out to be.  You could have of course invested more in this, or any other arbs, to make even more risk-free profitBut seventy odd quid is not bad for just one trade considering it is risk-free guaranteed money for nothing


Is this type of investment legal?

Of course it is! It is both legal and tax-free .  In essence the different bookmakers have offered to sell you each part of your investment at their advertised odds.  You are simply accepting this "invitation to buy" - but doing this at all the different bookmakers to guarantee your profit.  The only restriction against this is that you must be of legal age to place bets in your geographical location and that your country/US state does not prohibit gambling.   All citizens of the UK aged 18 and over can legally profit from this investment technique.  

Where can I find arbs then?
Equipped with your own copy of our spreadsheet calculator and after reading our tutorial you can start to visit the specially identified bookmakers and look to see if you can find any arbs yourself.  This approach of finding your own investments can prove to be very fulfilling (and financially rewarding) for some people.  Others may have neither the time nor the patience to look for them all themselves.  They may prefer to follow links to odds comparison websites where it can be possible to frequently find arbitrage situations, and our Oddsmatcher software now also identifies a selection of back/lay arbs.  Finally, we have some recommended paid subscription services that for a small monthly fee e-mail live active arbs to their members as soon as they find them.  We only list services we have tried and tested and feel represent value for money for the number of arbs they supply.  This last option is obviously the most expensive but you should find that they will supply arbs you may not find elsewhere due to the bookmakers they use and the (sometimes obscure) events they find them on.
How long do arbs last for?
It's tricky to say.  It all depends on the sporting event as to how much betting activity the odds can withstand before they change.  For example, an arb you find on a Premiership football match will most likely last for longer than on a tennis match at a small tournament.  The latter could last for less than half an hour.

How much money can I make?

This really depends on the time you wish to spend investing in arbs and the amount of capital you have available at any given time.  If you recall our example of a sample arb with a profit return of 15.69% - if you had £500 available to invest (remember you can use our matched betting method to easily build up a bank of this level first) you could return over £75 profit.  In a month, if you could make three of these investments then you've already gone above the £200 mark.  In truth most arbs won't always give as high a profit as our example, but every arb of any percentage is a risk-free profit after all, and you will find plenty of smaller return opportunities.  Given these facts it is easy to see that, whilst most arb investors conduct their activity as a supplement to their regular income, it is possible for high-rollers to make £1000's.

How much capital do I need?

You'll probably need a minimum £100, as most arbs are around the 1-2% profit mark.  Any lower a bank and your individual arb profits would be less than a £1 which might not be too encouraging for a beginner!!  That said, all profit counts, and every profit grows your bank which can be reinvested to make even bigger profits, and you can create a decent starting bank by doing the matched betting method first.

Are there any costs involved?

In most cases your net profit will be the full amount of the arbitrage investment profit.  Some betting exchanges such as Betfair charge a small commission on net winnings if their bet is sucessful, which you should consider to make sure an overall profit can be made.  A small number of bookmakers charge various cash handling surcharges (mainly for example a bank transfer) - you would need to consider this charge or use a different deposit method such as a debit card.  However, the vast majority do not levy any charges.  We would suggest that as part of organising yourself with the different bookmakers details that you keep a record of possible charges that could be levied to ensure a profit is still possible - which it normally would.

Are there any hazards?

There are some rare hazards to avoid when placing your investments but these occur through carelessness in locating or placing of an arb.  We will give you instruction in the correct method to use to avoid these potential mistakes.  The most important advice is to make sure you are organised and free from disturbances when making your investments.  You need to organise yourself so that you know what your login details are for the different bookmakers, so that you know what your funds are and where they lie, as often the best arbs don't stay there forever!  You may also need to do a little research on some events such as tennis to ensure that the bookmakers you are placing bets with have the same rules in the event of any unusual circumstances.  That's why at the start we said this method probably wasn't for the faint hearted.  Other than that there are few other obstacles to stop well organised people gaining those risk-free profits. 

What's the catch?

Erm, there isn't one!  Crazy as it sounds this technique is simple, frequent, and legal.
How do I get started?
We've split our sports arbitrage tutorial into four bite-sized chunks which you can read one at a time by following the links below.  Please make sure you do them in order, and don't progress to the next lesson until you've fully understood the one before it!!
Your Sports Arbitrage Tutorial

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