What is Arbitrage Betting — How It Works?

Arbitrage betting (sure betting or arbing) means a betting strategy designed to wager 2 (usually) bets at 2 different bookies on different outcomes of the same event resulting in a win for a bettor, regardless of the result. Such a strategy uses discrepancies in odds set by different bookies.

[!] In this article, the Arbitrage situation term is equal to the Surebet term. These are equivalent concepts.

Why Arbitrage Situations Appear in Sports Betting

There are many reasons for the occurrence of arbitration situations sports in betting. One of the main ones is competition between the bookies. To attract a potential bettor, the bookmakers set inflated odds for some sports events, and that is how the surebets occur.

Several Reasons For the Occurrence of Arbitration Situations:

  1. Promotions for attracting bettors. The bookmakers deliberately inflate their odds as part of their advertising campaigns to attract new bettors;
  2. Delays in time. In the case of the Live mode (mostly), some bookmakers change their odds with a delay, it’s resulting in an arbitrage situation;
  3. Market imbalance. Sometimes, too many bets can be wagered on one of the outcomes of a sports event, resulting in an adjustment of the odds in said bookmaker, the event not being properly addressed by other bookmakers in time.

The Essense of Surebet. Types of Surebets.

A surebet means a situation occurring in sports betting due to discrepancies in odds set for opposite outcomes of the same sports event by different bookies. Such situation may result in such an occasion that, having found a discrepancy, the bettor will be able to wager on all possible outcomes of event and, regardless of the outcome, win.

How Surebets Appear in Sports Betting

You can calculate a surebet quite easily, using a proper formula. But the manual searching for surebets with wagering bets in time is quite a difficult task. That's why we have special software designed for scanning for surebets, BetBurger. With the help of this service, you will be able to get full access to thousands of surebets in a matter of seconds.

[!] We also recommend to read the “What is the EV Betting?” article.

Types of Surebets

There are two types of surebets, quite different in their operation with:

  •   Prematch, the type of surebets resulting from the differences in the odds set for the same event, arising before the start of the event. This type of surebets is the easiest to find and can be sometimes found by the bettor unassisted. Unfortunately, these surebets are most often detected by the bookmakers, resulting in said bookies limiting your account.
  •   Live surebets generated in the events taking place in real time. Do not try to scan for the Live mode surebets on your own, you simply won't have enough time to wager your bets due to the quick updating of odds in this mode. It is better to use the BetBurger surebet scanner.

How to Find an Arbitrage Situation, Search Example

Let's take a look at a Hockey match between Team 1 and Team 2. Suppose we've found the following odds at 2 different bookies:

Team 1 The BO Team 2
1.22 Bet365 3.7
1.44 William Hill 2.89

1. Let's calculate the inversion (L) for every outcome of the event:

Bet365: L = 1 / 1.22 + 1 / 3.7 = 1.089
William Hill: L = 1 / 1.44 + 1 / 2.89 = 1.040

Based on the calculation, we've found that the profit (margin) of Bet365 = 8.9%, and 4.0% of William Hill, regardless of the outcome.

2. Inversion (L) for both Bet365 and William Hill:

Let's suppose that Bet365 suggests the win of Team 1, whereas William Hill - the win of Team 2: 

L = 1 / 3.7 + 1 / 1.44 = 0.964

Having calculated the inversion, we can see that L is less than 1 for opposite bets. This means that both outcomes are suitable for us. Let's proceed with further calculations.

3. Now let's calculate our stakes.

Let's say we have $1,000. We need to calculate how much to wager in Bet365 and in William Hill:

V1 = 1,000/(0.964 x 3.7) = $280
V2 = 1,000/(0.964 x 1.44) = $720

To get guaranteed profit, we must wager $280 on the win of Team 1 (at Bet365), and $720 - on the win of Team 2 (at William Hill).

4. Let's calculate the profit.

Now we can calculate our profit from the total stake.

In case of the win of Team 1

P = 280 x 3.7 - (280 + 720) = $36

In case of the win of Team 2

P = 720 x 1.44 - (280 + 720) = $36.8

Your total winnings will be $1,036 regardless of the winner of the event. The net profit will be 3.6% of the $1,000 stake. We advise to take this into account when betting with surebets, because your bank may charge a bank fee for depositing and withdrawing funds (usually, it is not higher than 1%), reducing the final amount of your profit.

Why it is Better To Use Special Software for Automated Arbs Search

Using the manual method of surebets search, you greatly reduce your options of finding really profitable ones. In this case, you simply cannot calculate all real-time surebets on the market, for a lack of time (the odds change quickly). 

We recommend using BetBurger's automated surebet software. Using our service you will get quite a lot of advantages: 

  • a large variety of surebets;
  • more than 80 bookmakers from all over the world (+400 clones);
  • Live mode surebets;
  • no delays in updating odds;
  • fully automated process of searching for surebets.

We have made a detailed guide on how to operate with surebets using the BetBurger service here, check it out!

How Bookmakers are Struggling With Arbers

Surebetting is completely legal. But bookmakers have their rules prohibiting wagering bets with surebets. To struggle with arbers, the bookies use various types of bettor behavior analysis:

  1. If a bettor wagers the bets on all kinds of sports events, not adhering to the type of events traditional for the bettor's country (for example, if a bettor from California bets on an exotic African league), then the bookmakers will rightfully suspect such bettor, and perform a more detailed analysis.
  2. Bookmakers look at wagered bets. The regular bettor usually bets whole amounts ($100, $150, $300), while the arber can place chaotic bets, like $184 or $258.
  3. Sometimes bookmakers deliberately generate some surebets. Then they analyse bettors having wagered bets on these events. Such bettors will be blocked if the bookmaker finds more signs of operating with surebets
  4. Account verification. Often the surebettors use fake data when registering an account. To identify such accounts, the bookie may request of you to confirm the authenticity of the uploaded documents via video call. Read more in the article.
  5. Bank card verification. Bookies only allow the use of a personal bank card. Therefore, they have the right to request verification of your bank card (to send a bank account statement for the last 3 months with all your financial transactions).

The Main Methods to Punish the Arbers By Bookies

  1. They can specifically limit the highest possible betting stake amount for an arber even to $0.01.
  2. Blocking the bettor's account. The worst option is to get your account blocked, with freezing all funds in said account.
  3. Odds adjustment. Bookmakers monitor atypical bets. If they find such bets, they can make the assumption that they are surebets. As a result, they reduce the odds, leading to the "removal" of the arbitrage situation.

[!] Read more on this topic here: Arbitrage Betting Software

TOP 5 Tips For a Newbie Arber

  1. Round up your bet amounts. For example, based on the calculation, you may need to wager a $135.4 bet, wager $135 instead. This may greatly reduce the risk of being detected.
  2. Don't withdraw money after every event. The less often you withdraw your funds, the lesser the chance of being detected.
  3. Wager your bets on 2-3 kinds of sports, or less. The bookies analysts are well aware that a bettor cannot be interested in more than 2-4 sports.
  4. Bet on popular events. Even if you could not find a surebet there, we still strongly recommend to wager some bets on popular sporting events from time to time.
  5. Beware of fake surebets. Often, the bookmakers specifically generate some surebets to catch the surebettors.


What is an arbitrage betting?
Arbitrage betting means a betting strategy where a bettor makes a profit regardless of the outcome of a sports event.
How much can you earn by betting on arbitrage situations?
Usually, the profit from surebets is limited to 5-10% of the betting stake amount.
Is it legal to bet on arbitrage situations?
De jure, yes. But from the point of view of the bookies - no, because it violates their terms.
Can the bookie block a bettor?
Yes, the bookie is able to block the bettor, along with its account. Alternatively, it may limit the bettor's highest possible betting stake amount. Read more on this topic in our article.

Used Literature, References

Artur Polianskyi
For today Artur has 12 years of betting experience, and he kindly shares his knowledge with the readers of our blog. In his articles, you will find many useful tips for different strategies and learn more about all types of bets.
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