Betting Strategies
30.05.2023, 07:34
28.05.2024, 14:11

Arbitrage Betting: A Comprehensive Guide to Risk-Free Wagering

Arbitrage betting, also known as "sure betting" or "sports arbitrage," is a strategy where a bettor takes advantage of the differences in odds offered by multiple bookmakers to ensure a profit regardless of the event's outcome.

The concept of arbitrage arises when the odds for all possible outcomes of an event collectively create an opportunity for a guaranteed profit. By placing bets on all possible outcomes across different bookmakers, the bettor can exploit the variation in odds and secure a profit.

However, it's important to note that many bookmakers have measures to detect and restrict arbitrage betting. In some jurisdictions, including Nigeria, the bookmakers' terms and conditions explicitly prohibit arbitrage strategies. Engaging in arbitrage betting in such cases can lead to penalties, including suspending or closing accounts.

Arbitrage betting requires careful analysis, quick execution, and access to multiple bookmakers. Experienced bettors often employ it with the resources and knowledge to identify and capitalise on these opportunities. It's important to understand the risks, limitations, and legal considerations associated with arbitrage betting before attempting to use this strategy.

Arbitrage Betting: A Comprehensive Guide to Risk-Free Wagering

Who are "Arbitrage bettors" or "Arbitrageurs"

"Arbitrage bettors" or "arbitrageurs" in the context of bookmakers refer to users who profit from arbitrage situations. These bettors place bets on mutually exclusive outcomes and guarantee a profit regardless of the match result.

Arbitrage bettors conduct thorough analysis and comparison of odds, using specialised software and services to automate the process of finding arbitrage opportunities. They strive to be swift and react promptly to place their bets before bookmakers adjust the odds discrepancy.

However, it should be noted that bookmakers do not welcome arbitrage bets and may impose restrictions on the accounts of arbitrage bettors. This can include limitations on maximum bet amounts, temporary or permanent account closures, or other measures aimed at curbing the use of arbitrage opportunities.

Bookmakers continually enhance their monitoring and bet analysis systems to detect and prevent arbitrage situations. Nevertheless, some arbitrage opportunities may still exist, and bettors continue to seek them out, albeit with certain risks and potential limitations

There are three types of arbitrage opportunities distinguished in the strategy of betting:

  1. Based on the number of outcomes:
  • Full arbitrage, where a bettor covers all possible outcomes.
  • Partial arbitrage, where a bettor excludes one or a few unlikely outcomes.
  1. Based on the timing of the bets:
  • Pre-match arbitrage involves identifying and exploiting discrepancies in odds before the event starts.
  • Live arbitrage, where opportunities arise during the event.

Arbitrage opportunities are more commonly found in live betting markets, although identifying them without the assistance of specialised software can be challenging. Bettors often rely on dedicated arbitrage software or services to efficiently locate and capitalise on these opportunities in real-time

To earn money through arbitrage betting, a bettor must calculate each outcome's probability. The odds a bookmaker offers reflect their perceived probability of a sports event occurring. The probability can be calculated as follows:

P = 1 / odds * 100

For example, in a Super Cup football match, the bookmaker offers the following odds:

  • Odds for Manchester United to win: 1.53
  • Odds for Chelsea to win: 5.81
  • Odds for a draw: 4.47

Calculating the probability for each outcome:

  • Probability of Manchester United winning: 1 / 1.53 * 100 = 65.36%
  • Probability of Chelsea winning: 1 / 5.81 * 100 = 17.21%
  • Probability of a draw: 1 / 4.47 * 100 = 22.37%

The sum of the probabilities amounts to 104.94%. A result above 100% indicates the bookmaker's margin embedded in each odd. In the Manchester United vs. Chelsea match, the margin is 4.94%.

The goal of an arbitrage bettor is to place bets on mutually exclusive outcomes in different bookmakers, ensuring the total probability is less than 100%. By exploiting the differences in odds, they can secure a guaranteed profit regardless of the outcome.

Players place bets on the same event with different bookmakers when placing arbitrage bets. The number of bookmakers used depends on the mutually exclusive outcomes the bettor wants to cover.

It's important to note that bookmakers consider arbitrage betting a violation of their terms and conditions. They actively monitor for arbitrage bettors and may take actions such as blocking accounts or limiting bet amounts.

Experienced bettors offer the following recommendations to avoid having your account blocked:

  1. Focus on one sport.
  2. Avoid betting on lower-tier leagues or less popular events.
  3. Bet round amounts to avoid suspicion.
  4. Do not exploit obvious pricing errors.
  5. Avoid using widely known arbitrage opportunities found on the internet.
  6. Do not excessively request withdrawals.

It's crucial to remember that while arbitrage betting can be profitable, bookmakers may have measures to prevent and discourage this practice.


Let's consider an example calculation for an arbitrage situation in the final of a volleyball tournament between Cuba and France.

  Cuba wins, odds France wins, odds Bet size, ₦ Possible profit, ₦
Bookie 1 2.05   500 1 025
Bookie 2   2.10 500 1 050

The customer will spend ₦1,000 on two bets.

Depending on the match's outcome, the player's profit will be ₦25 or ₦50. The user will make a profit regardless of which team wins the match.

How Bookmakers Create Arbitrage Opportunities

  1. To find arbs or sure bets, players often use specialised software or websites that scan multiple bookmakers' odds and identify discrepancies that can lead to arbitrage opportunities. These tools continuously monitor the odds across bookmakers and alert users when a potential arb is detected.
  2. Players can also manually search for arbs by comparing the odds different bookmakers offer for the same event. This requires much time and effort, as they constantly monitor and compare the odds across multiple platforms.
  3. It's important to note that arbs can be time-sensitive, as bookmakers quickly adjust their odds to minimise the potential for arbitrage. Therefore, acting swiftly is crucial to taking advantage of these opportunities.

How to Find Arbitrage Opportunities

Bookmakers are aware of arbitrage opportunities and actively monitor the odds offered by their competitors. When they detect a significant difference in odds that could lead to an arbitrage situation, they adjust their odds accordingly to eliminate the possibility of arbing.

Arbitrage Betting Software

Due to this vigilance from bookmakers, arbs tend to exist for a short period. Manual searching for arbs can be time-consuming and challenging, especially considering the speed at which odds can change. Therefore, many bettors use specialised software or websites to scan and identify potential arbs across multiple bookmakers quickly.

Finding Arbitrage Betting Opportunities on Your Own

For independent arb finding, players use the formula:

  • Sp = 1 / K1 + 1 / K2 + ... + 1 / Kn, where:
  • Sp - the sum of probabilities;
  • K1, K2, ..., Kn - odds for each outcome;
  • n - number of outcomes in the event.

If the result is less than 1, an arbitrage situation has occurred.

For example, let's calculate it using the odds from the volleyball match "Cuba" - "France":

1 / 2.05 + 1 / 2.10 = 0.488 + 0.476 = 0.964.

However, it's important to note that not every situation with equal betting on each outcome will guarantee a profit. To determine the bet amount on each outcome in an arbitrage situation, the following formula can be used:

  • S = 1 / K / Sp * B, where:
  • S - bet amount on one outcome;
  • K - odds for that outcome;
  • Sp - the sum of probabilities;
  • B - total bet amount on all outcomes of the arbitrage.

This formula helps calculate the appropriate bet amount to ensure a balanced distribution of bets across all outcomes and maximise potential profits.

For example, in the football match Barcelona - Real, the bookmakers offer odds of 2.00 for Barcelona's victory, 4.50 for Real's victory, and 4.00 for a draw.

The player sets aside ₦2,000 for the arbitrage.

Calculating the sum of probabilities: 1 / 2.00 + 1 / 4.50 + 1 / 4.00 = 0.5 + 0.222 + 0.25 = 0.972.

Calculating the bet amount on each outcome:

  • Barcelona's victory: 1 / 2 / 0.972 * ₦2,000 = ₦1,029.
  • Real's victory: 1 / 4.5 / 0.972 * ₦2,000 = ₦457.
  • Draw: 1 / 4 / 0.972 * ₦2,000 = ₦514.

Regardless of the outcome, the player will receive a profit from the bookmaker:

Bet size, ₦ Outcome Odds Profit, ₦
1 029 FC Barcelona wins 2.00 58
457 Real Madrid wins 4.50 56,50
514 draw 4.00 56

Arbitrage Betting in Live Betting

Arbitrage situations occur more frequently in live betting because bookmakers update their odds at different times.

Players can use classic methods to search for arbitrage opportunities, such as scanners when placing live bets or calculate them manually.

The software can help distribute the total bet amount across each outcome.


Match «Inter» – AC Milan».

At bookmaker "1", the odds for Over 2.5 goals are 2.03, and for Under 2.5 goals, the odds are 2.15.

At bookmaker "2", you can place a bet on Over 2.5 goals with odds of 1.93 and on Under 2.5 goals with odds of 2.07.

The client will profit regardless of the final goal count by betting on Over 2.5 goals at bookmaker "1" with odds of 2.03 and on Under 2.5 goals at bookmaker "2" with odds of 2.07.

Bookmaker Bet type Odds Bet size, ₦ Profit, ₦
1 ТБ (2.5) 2.03 500 15
  ТМ (2.5) 2.15 - -
2 ТБ (2.5) 1.93 - -
  ТМ (2.5) 2.07 500 35

The Pros and Cons of Arbitrage Betting

Advantages of arbitrage betting:

  1. Guaranteed profit: If executed correctly, arbitrage bets ensure a profit regardless of the event's outcome.
  2. Wide range of events: Numerous sporting events and markets are available for arbitrage opportunities, providing various options for bettors.
  3. Software assistance: The availability of software tools and scanners can help bettors identify and place arbitrage bets more efficiently.

Disadvantages of arbitrage betting:

  1. Bookmaker sanctions: Bookmakers closely monitor and may impose sanctions on arbitrage bettors, such as limiting bet amounts or suspending accounts.
  2. Challenges in live betting: There is a higher chance of making mistakes due to the fast-paced nature of placing bets quickly in response to changing odds.
  3. Need for a large bankroll: To generate significant profits in the long run, a substantial bankroll is required to accommodate the necessary bet amounts across multiple bookmakers.
  4. Cost of scanner tools: The most effective arbitrage opportunities are often found using paid scanner tools, while free programs may have limited profitability.

Risks Associated with Arbitrage Betting

The risks associated with arbitrage betting include the possibility of bet cancellation or the bookmaker refusing to pay out winnings. Due to the constant updating of odds, there is a chance that the second leg of the arbitrage opportunity may disappear while placing the bet on the first leg.

How Bookies Consider Arbitrage Betting

Most bookmakers consider using arbitrage opportunities as a violation of their terms and conditions. If a customer engages in arbitrage betting, the bet may be voided, and the account may be blocked or have its future betting limits reduced.

Bookmakers have security teams that actively identify arbitrage bettors. Suspicion may arise from:

  • Placing bets close to the maximum limits
  • Making multiple bets on the same outcome
  • Depositing a large sum of money when current bets are not settled
  • Regular requests for withdrawals of small amounts while having a large balance.


How does arbitrage betting work?

Arbitrage betting involves finding discrepancies in odds between different bookmakers for the same event. A bettor can ensure a profit regardless of the outcome by strategically placing bets on all possible outcomes with different bookmakers.

What causes discrepancies in odds between bookmakers?

Discrepancies in odds can occur due to various factors, such as differences in opinion among bookmakers, varying betting volumes, and adjustments made to manage the bookmakers' risk.

Is arbitrage betting legal?

Arbitrage betting is generally legal, but some bookmakers may have specific terms and conditions regarding arbitrage betting. It's important to review the rules and policies of individual bookmakers before engaging in arbitrage betting.

Are there risks associated with arbitrage betting?

While arbitrage betting guarantees a profit on paper, it comes with certain risks. Bookmakers may limit or suspend accounts of bettors they identify as engaging in arbitrage betting. Additionally, odds can change rapidly, making it challenging to secure profitable arbitrage opportunities.

How can I find arbitrage opportunities?

Finding arbitrage opportunities requires diligent monitoring of odds offered by different bookmakers. You can use specialised software or online services that scan and identify potential arbitrage opportunities across multiple bookmakers.

What is the bankroll requirement for arbitrage betting?

Arbitrage betting often requires a substantial bankroll to generate meaningful profits. The larger the bankroll, the more arbitrage opportunities you can pursue. It's crucial to allocate sufficient funds across various bookmakers to cover the necessary bet amounts.

Can I engage in arbitrage betting as a long-term strategy?

Arbitrage opportunities are becoming increasingly rare because bookmakers are more efficient at aligning their odds. As a result, arbitrage betting may not be a viable long-term strategy. However, it can still be used opportunistically to capitalise on occasional discrepancies.


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