Learn to Bet: What Is Arbitrage Betting?

Learn to Bet: What Is Arbitrage Betting?

If you are familiar with arbitrage trading in currency markets, you should understand arbitrage in the sports betting market.

If you are unfamiliar, don’t worry. We will explain this concept so you understand it. Then, you can decide whether or not arbitrage betting is a strategy that suits you.

Defining Arbitrage Betting

Arbitrage is a form of hedging, but a true arbitrage situation requires a bettor to make both bets at the same time. The two bets are placed on the same event to guarantee a profit regardless of the outcome.

The reason why sports bettors can even do this is because different sportsbooks offer different odds on the same sporting event.

Arbitrage Example 1

Two sportsbooks offer different prices on a game at the same time. An arbitrage bettor will place one bet with each sportsbook to guarantee a profit (or at worst, break-even).

Take an MLB example where the Mets are facing the Braves. You find the Mets on the moneyline at +110 at one sportsbook. A winning $100 bet will pay out $110.

At a different sportsbook, you find the Mets and the Braves both listed at -105. You bet $105 on the Braves to win $100. If the Mets win, you’re guaranteed a profit of $5. If the Braves win, you break even.

Arbitrage Example 2 - Props

Example 1 doesn’t happen that often any more since books tend to copy each other’s lines. There are often large arbitrage opportunities still available in different props markets since there isn’t one central place for sportsbooks to compare odds on prop bets.

Take the NFL draft as an example. One of the popular prop bets is related to draft position. You can wager on a particular prospect’s draft position.

Player A is listed at Over/Under 4.5 with the Over priced at +115 at one sportsbook. Another sportsbook has the same wager – Player A Over/Under 4.5 – but the Under is priced at +110.

This is an excellent arbitrage opportunity where you can bet $100 on each and guarantee a profit of either $15 or $10.

Arbitrage Example 3 – Line Moves

In looking for an arbitrage strategy, this should not be a focus. You cannot predict or guarantee that a line will move in your favor. However, if one does you can use it to your advantage.

Using the Mets and Braves again, the Mets open at +110 and you put $100 on them. A ton of action then moves the Mets to -115 and the Braves to +105. You place a bet on Braves at +105 and now have a situation where you are guaranteed a profit – either $5 or $10 – no matter which team wins.

Should You Use This Sports Betting Strategy?

For the average bettor, arbitrage is probably not a viable strategy. The profit margins are so small that you need to place extremely large bets to make it worthwhile. You would also need a sportsbook with high betting limits.

With sportsbooks now changing odds based upon what other sportsbook are doing, finding these price discrepancies is becoming much more difficult. Plus, sportsbooks frown upon arbitrage players and, if caught, you risk being banned from playing.