What is arbing?
Arbing - aka 'matched betting' - means taking advantage of odds variation between bookmakers to make a profit on an event regardless of its outcome.
It involves simultaneously betting on every outcome of an event, while calculating that, whatever happens, the combined bets will guarantee you a profit.
The key to arbing is finding two bookmakers offering significantly different odds. This could be on an event with two possible outcomes (win or lose), such as tennis, or an event with three possible outcomes (win, lose, or draw), such as football.
Arbing requires large stakes, patience and a cool head. The typical return on investment is between 2% and 5%, but it has many advocates who have used it to make decent profits.
Where can I arb?
Opportunities for arbing occur in a wide range of different sports. Do your research to learn about the best places for arbing opportunities.
Fluctuations in odds mean these only stay available for short periods, so a key to successful arbing is monitoring the betting markets and, when the moment comes, quickly taking advantage of odds that offer guaranteed profits.
Take a tennis match. Bookmaker A is offering odds of 8/131.6 on Rafal Nadal winning, and 3.9 on Roger Federer winning. Bookmaker B is offering longer odds of 10/111.9 on Nadal, but shorter odds of 15/82.9 on Federer.
You place a £200 bet on Nadal at Bookmaker B. You then bet on Federer at Bookmaker A, and calculate your stake by multiplying 200 by the result of 1.6/3.9 (your shorter odds divided by your longer odds).
So in this case, £200 x (1.6/3.9) = £82. Your total stake across both bets is £282.
If Nadal wins, you stand to claim winnings of £380 from Bookmaker B - a £98 profit across all your bets.
If Federer wins your £82 stake wins you £319.80 - a profit of £37.80 across both bets.
Arbing is entirely legal. All you are doing is taking advantage of the differences that occur in the market. In fact, the scenarios in which arbing is possible are deliberately created by bookmakers, as they have to balance their books.
Some betting companies, however, see arbing as a threat to their profit margins and frown upon the practice. They are entitled to make their own call on whether to suspend customers from their books.
For this reason, diversity is key to any arber's approach, so shop around and remember that being limited or suspended from one bookmaker doesn't mean the end of the road.
Arbing and betting exchanges
The Betfair Exchange can serve as both a bookmaker and odds comparison service. Feel free to practice arbing without the fear of account limiting, suspension or closure.
You can enjoy the reassurance of knowing how much you are allowed to bet before you place your bet, which can prove very useful when making calculations for your next arb.
What does arbitrage software do?
Arbitrage betting software is designed to help you find the odds for arbing opportunities. A variety of betting alert services offer features that can help identify opportunities by providing real-time updates on available arbs, built-in calculators that indicate potential profits, and filters that let you tailor the sports, profit levels and bookmakers you're interested in.
Tips for successful arbing
Keep detailed records of your transactions. The large funds required to generate small profits from arbing mean that it is important to maintain discipline and consistency in your approach.
As well as carrying out a good deal of research, and being organised with access to several different sportsbooks, it is wise to take precautions: only bet in one currency, never bet to the maximum stake limit and avoiding long-term arbs (anything over a week is inadvisable).