Arbitrage betting is popular as it helps you lock in a profit regardless of the outcome of an event. Bettors take advantage of a discrepancy between odds whereby a profit can be made by covering all outcomes.
Arbitrage betting is the practise of exploiting price differences between opposing outcomes on the same event, in order to land a guaranteed profit. Usually the target profit margin when placing these bets is around 2-3%, so players will need large pots in order to land big wins.
Arbitrage differs from hedging in that bets are only placed when you will earn money no matter what the outcome is, whereas hedging is more commonly used to minimise or protect against potential losses.
An arbitrage bet is generally referred to as an 'arb', and those who place it are 'arbers'.
One method of arbitrage betting is to look at the odds of events in the hope of spotting discrepancies between bookies' prices, or finding useful special offers/money back triggers.
The hardest part of arbitrage is identifying potential opportunities. Under-priced underdogs or clear mismatches represent opportunities. Bookmakers are constantly updating their odds, often watching their competitors so arbitrage opportunities can sometimes only last seconds. You need to act quickly and have a number of funded online betting accounts to make this work
Let’s take a football betting example: Real Madrid are playing Bayern Munich in a Champions League match. One bookie has pre-match odds of 6/4 on Real, 19/10 on Bayern and 13/5 on a draw. Arbers would look for the highest odds on each outcome at a range of bookies in order to place bets that can't lose.
Football betting is tough for this kind of strategy, however, since there are three outcomes and betting volumes are high. A more fertile ground is in-play snooker betting. Snooker features several chances for successful arbs in say, a game played between two players who do not make frequent match-winning breaks. So, backing each player to win the frame when they are not at the table may yield sufficiently high odds to guarantee profit.
The key is comparing as many odds as possible or playing markets with quick price changes, to capitalise on the shifts.
What many gamblers don't realise is how flexible arbitrage is. Comparing odds for value discrepancies isn't just about speculatively comparing prices and deals, it's about being creative with the markets.
A simple example from football betting is mixing match goals and clean sheet market. If you back the home team to score more than 0.5 goals, and the away team to keep a clean sheet, both at odds in excess of evens, you're guaranteed a profit.
But the number of markets that can be mixed and matched in order to make that profit is potentially huge, and will vary from sport to sport. It's even possible (though slightly more risky) to mix pre-match and in-play bets in order to track price changes.
Examine the markets available at Betfair Sports to see which represent similar outcomes, and how prices can be compared for value, in order to start developing your own arbitrage strategy.