Arbing and Matched Betting
In betting terms, 'Arbitrage' is the process in which a bettor covers every possible outcome within an event, doing so in a manner that ensures a profit regardless of the eventual event outcome. This technique requires the bettor to usually use a number of betting providers in order to successfully action this betting method, taking advantage of price variations.
The term Arbing is short for arbitrage, and refers to the practice of ‘buying low and selling high’, in the context of gambling it means taking advantage of differences within odds at different bookmakers, with the aim of locating ‘Back’ odds being higher than ‘Lay’ odds. The process of Arbing successfully, involves simultaneously betting on every outcome within an event, while running a calculation that, whatever outcome occurs from the event, the combined bets will guarantee you a profit. In exploiting these variations in odds, the gambler will be aware of how much his or her returns will be regardless of the outcome of the event itself.
To make use of Arbing as a betting technique, it is vital that the bettor can identify two or more bookmakers who offer significantly different odds for a specified market, again, it is vital that you’re able to find higher odds for ‘Backing’ a selection as opposed to higher ‘Laying’ odds. Arbing can be done with any size market, no matter how many potential outcomes, if the prices allow.
Requiring a large staking approach for small but progressive gains, the typical return on investment from Arbing is often within the region of around 2% and 5% per each event covered. This may not seem all that exciting or spectacular, but with a long-term view, it can certainly be used as betting tool which can lead to generous profits. Additionally, not only does ‘Arbing’ require patience, it is also important that those who wish to deploy this betting technique have a range of betting accounts with numerous bookmakers, in order to quickly take advantage of any differences that may occur across the markets between one another. The key account to hold is one with the Betfair Exchange.
Let's look at using Arbing within a 2-Horse race, otherwise known as a ‘Match’.
The Betfair Exchange is offering odds of 1.40 on Altior to win the 1965 Christy Chase at Sandown, and 2.90 on Cyrname winning. Bookmaker A is offering longer odds of 1.70 on Altior, but shorter odds of 2.50 on Cyrname, thus you have identified a significant difference between odds between the two betting providers.
To secure an overall return of £150 in this situation at the odds available, you place a £88.24 bet on Altior at Bookmaker A at odds of 1.7 (£150/1.7 = £88.24).
You then bet on Cyrname on the Betfair Exchange at odds of 2.9, with a stake of £51.72 (£150/2.9 = £51.72).
To run the calculation, in this case, £88.24 x 1.7 = £150.01 will be your return from Bookmaker A if Altior wins. Meanwhile, should Cyrname win the race, your returns calculation is £51.72 x 2.9 = £149.99. Your total stake across both bets will be £139.96, and you stand to make profit of £10.33 or £10.35 depending on the outcome. The importance of creating this situation from the variance in odds, this means that prior to the outcome of the race, you will have locked in a profit of £10.33 at the minimum.
Where can I ‘Arb’?
There are many opportunities whereby Arbing can be utilised, though as with any other betting activity, it is best to carry out your research prior to engaging with this technique. In doing so, you’ll have developed a better understanding of where the more lucrative Arbing opportunities can be found.
Fluctuations across bookmaker odds are often only available for short periods of time, so it is vital that you’re able to quickly and regularly monitor numerous betting markets across a range of betting providers, so that when an opportunity presents itself, whereby the odds that offer guaranteed profits are on offer, then you can quickly lock this in place.
Arbing and the Betfair Exchange
The Betfair Exchange can serve as both a bookmaker and odds comparison service to users. Using this platform allows you to practice Arbing without any fear of having your account limited, suspended or closed, which you may experience with other bookmakers.
As we’ve previously explored, Arbing can be deployed in a ‘Match betting’ situation, betting on both or each outcome with different bookmakers to ensure a profit regardless of the result. However, arbing can also be used when just focussing on one specific selection. In this case, you may back a horse at 10/1 to win a race with Bookmaker A, and then look to lay that selection closer to the off time on the Betfair Exchange at say 7/1. Thus meaning, that dependant on the amount that you are looking to lay at the shorter price, you can find yourself in a situation whereby you have a guaranteed profit locked in place before the race has even been run, or if you lay your full original stake at the shorter odds, you have in effect gained a ‘free bet’ as such, with the prospect of your back bet winning at 10/1, with the liability of 7/1 to pay out.
Legality of Arbing
Arbing is completely legal, as the process is solely focussed on taking advantage of differences that occur within a market. Interestingly, some scenarios which present ‘Arbing’ opportunities may be resultant of bookmakers deliberately trying to balance their books.
Signing up to new bookmaker offers is a great way to make ‘easy arbs’. Taking advantage of generous sign-up offers from an Arbing perspective allows you to back a selection with the free bets that they provide, before laying the same selection(s) at either the same odds or lower on the Exchange, to lock in a guaranteed return.
There is a drawback to Arbing however, or frequent Arbing for that matter. Although it can be a rewarding technique to gain risk-free profits over a long period, bookmakers do not appreciate bettors who partake in Arbing. This is basically because you are skimming value from their markets and profiting at their expense. Overusing this technique may well result in bookmakers limiting, or even closing your betting account, and once this has occurred, that account is no longer of any value to you, so be cautious in your approach.
Additionally, Lay odds are obviously visible to bookmakers just as they are to punters, and they will be regularly checking to identify any opportunities where bettors may be applying Arbing within their activity. Another red flag for bookmakers is when a punter begins to bet large stakes on an obscure team or event, particularly if this betting pattern does not match up consistently with that user’s history. To minimise the risk of having your accounts closed, look to arb on popular teams or popular horses, traditionally where there will be a high level of betting activity – this is a rare occurrence due to the high levels of attention on these markets, and is normally created by a bookmaker having a price boost which creates an artificial arb. For an example, if we find an arb on Chacun Pour Soi to win the Champion Chase, there is a good chance that your attempted arb won’t be flagged up, as plenty of other regular punters will be betting on him to land the spoils also.
Bookmakers are entitled to make their own decisions on whether to suspend customers from their books. As a result, it is crucial that you have several accounts to carry out Arbing - shop around amongst those offering odds on your desired markets. Remember that being limited or suspended from one bookmaker doesn't mean you have to pack this useful technique in!