Betting arbitrage

Taking advantage of the difference (usually odds difference) between two or more bookies is known as betting arbitrage. The idea is to make a combination of two or more bets that capitalizes upon the imbalance.

arbitrageEach bookmaker have their own process for setting the odds, which means that that two bookies can end up with different odds for the same event. It can be a matter of having different opinions, or simply a situation where one bookie is using other data than the other bookie.

Out of personal experience, I can say that I have been much more successful in finding good arbitrage situations for pretty obscure events than for highly publicized events that attract a lot of attention and betting. Bookies tend to put more effort into their odds setting for events that they believe will attract a lot of betting, and they are also more likely to be very vigilant and change the odds they offer for new bets throughout the time period that leads up to the event.

How does it work?

This is one example of arbitrage betting

A match is about to take place between Player NNN and Player MMM.

You’re the member of two different betting sites online, Betty and Punto, and you have noticed that they do not agree on the odds when it comes to the winner of the match.

Player NNN Player MMM Market %

(Bookie edge)

Odds offered by bookmaker Betty




Odds offered by bookmaker Punto




Arbitrage = Combining Player NNN/BettyPunto & Player MM/PuntoPunto)



95.9% (4.3% profit margin)

What we have done is to cross-match the odds for an NNN win at Betty with the odds for a MMM win at Punto. The bookie edge turns in our favor and provides us with a guaranteed return of 4.3 percent. Why 4.3 percent? Because 100 divided by 95.9 is 1.0427.

Beware of bet cancellation

bettingMost bookies reserve the right to cancel a bet and give you your wager back if the bookie has made a mistake. Having a bet suddenly canceled is of course a nightmare for the arbitrage bettor, because you won’t be able to cancel your other bet siting your arbitrage dilemma as reason. What you can do to limit the damage is make another bet at another betting site to balance the situation.

When one engage in arbitrage betting, one should always be prepared for bet cancellations – especially if you found odds that seemed almost to unusual to be true. Check any messages from your bookie right away to stay on top of the situation, otherwise you might not have time to do a counterbalance bet.

Some betting sites dislike consistently winning arbitrage bettors

Bookies do monitor the accounts of their players, and if you are a consistently winning player you can get your account closed down – at least with some bookmakers. If take out your magnifying glass and read through the fine print of your bookies Terms & Conditions, you will probably find a few clauses that they bookies can use to clamp down on arbitrage betting.