Arbitrage Betting Explained

If you have any history with sports gambling, you have probably heard of arbitrage betting. Similar to hedging, placing an it’s essentially a way to guarantee some sort of profit. It’s a far more complicated style of betting, and it typically requires comprehensive research.

What Does It Mean?

ArbitrageYou’re simply betting on all possible outcomes from a given game or match. However, arbitrage betting is different from hedging in that you place separate bets with separate bookmakers.

If you are hedging, you’re most likely placing a pair of bets on the same game or match in order to prevent a major loss.

With arbitrage, however, you place multiple bets with multiple different bookmakers in an attempt to take advantage of differing odds. Different books tend to offer different odds on the same event, so this is a smart way to sneakily guarantee that you come out on the winning side regardless of the outcome.

Most sporting events have two outcomes (win, loss), while some others, such as soccer, include a tie (or draw) as a third possibility. Let’s use an example of how you would place an arbitrage bet.

Let’s say you want to get in on the action when the New Orleans Pelicans face the Golden State Warriors. You notice a discrepancy in the odds provided by two different sportsbooks. One sportsbook has the over/under set at 220.5 with odds of 6.00 on the over. Another book has the same implied total of 220.5, but offers 3.00 odds on the under.

If you risk $5.00 (as an example) on the over at one place and the under at another. You are guaranteed to come out favorably regardless of the outcome of the game.

The profit will be lower than it would be if you won a standard one-sided bet, because you are still inevitably losing one of the bets, but winning is winning.

Betting Live

Live betting is one of the fastest growing aspects of sports betting. Lines, odds and situations will change as a game or match progresses, and live betting is a fun way to get in on the action even after the game has gotten underway.

Live arbitrage bets are no different than standard ones other than the fact that they occur after a game or match has already begun. Certain books will have different odds on different aspects of the game, such as prop bets, implied totals and moneylines.

How Difficult Is It to Find These Opportunities?

More often than not, finding a lapse in odds between a pair (or more) of bookmakers is going to be a tall task. Most books tend to hover around the same ballparks when it comes to setting odds, particularly for hugely popular events like the Super Bowl, World Cup or Kentucky Derby. As a result, finding arbitrage opportunities for big events such as those is a rarity.

You are much more likely to find differentials for smaller, more obscure sporting events. If you are knowledgeable about something like Liga MX (Mexican professional soccer league) or a low-profile college football or basketball game, you are more likely to find discrepancies between the odds of various bookmakers.

Obviously, if these opportunities were common, people would take advantage all the time. It’s more of a loophole in the system than anything else, and being smart about seeking out these chances is a nifty tool of the trade.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I find these opportunities?

As is the case with anything regarding sports betting, you will have to dig a bit to find any sort of edge. Live arbitrage bets, are no exception.

Paying attention to moving lines is crucial. This is less of a concern with a live bet, but lines tend to change when certain factors are taken into account. This is primarily a concern with potential injury situations or weather-related impacts on a game or match.

Moving quickly is key. If you see a discrepancy between a pair of bookmakers on the same game, jump on it as quickly as you can in an attempt to get in before any potential adjustment is made by the books.

Finding an arbitrate bet (also known as a “sure bet”) can be a tedious process, but finding ways to make guaranteed cash was never going to be easy, was it? Fortunately, there are ways to make your hunt a bit less of a chore. A website like Oddschecker makes it particularly easy to see multiple lines from a variety of sites. This way, you can easily compare bets.

What kinds of live arbitrage bets exist?

While the most common form of arbitrage wager is one hinging on the outcome of a given game, live bets take a few different factors into account. While you can certainly still place a live bet on the outcome, the live betting aspect tends to center more around props and other parts of the action.

Can you find differing odds on a certain player scoring over or under 20 points in a basketball game? What about a soccer match ending with more or less than 2.5 total goals? Will Tom Brady throw at least two touchdowns in the second half?

Digging for smart bets can certainly be rather time-consuming, but they are out there for the finding if you search thoroughly enough.

Despite not being particularly common, you will find chances to place these bets every now and again. It may not be as potentially fruitful as placing your standard one-way bet, but recognizing the chance at capitalizing on a live bet is a nice way to slowly build a little bit of bankroll.

To reiterate, you are far less likely to find a sure bet on a large, high-profile sporting event. As long as you can read odds, you will have success. Intricate knowledge of a sport is not even required. There is a reason these bets are called “sure bets.” If you can identify one, you might as well take advantage.

Learn More About Strategy

Arbitrage Calculator
(takes decimal or US Odds)


# of Bets: Number of distinct possible non-push outcomes of the event (the number of horses in the race)

Bet #1: The bet to be placed on the first outcome

Line #N: The line offered on event #N


# of Bets: Number of distinct possible non-push outcomes of the event (the number of horses in the race)

Bet #1: The bet to be placed on the first outcome

Line #N: The line offered on event #N


# of Bets: Number of distinct possible non-push outcomes of the event (the number of horses in the race)

Bet #1: The bet to be placed on the first outcome

Line #N: The line offered on event #N