A shortening of the word ‘arbitrage’, Arbing basically means taking advantage in a difference in odds offered on an event by bookmakers, backing alternate outcomes to try to guarantee a profit. There are certain occasions when you can bet on all possible outcomes in an event and guarantee a profit regardless of what actually happens, such is the difference in certain odds being offered by two different bookies, as long as you get your maths right, of course.
It’s fair to say that traditional bookmakers are not fans of arbing, whilst companies that provide an exchange don’t really care. This is because exchange companies are guaranteed a profit whatever the result, whilst bookies need someone to lose in order to make their money. It’s a complex way of betting but, given the ability to as good as guarantee a return, one that plenty of people like to try.
Imagine that you’re betting on a tennis match between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. Because of the nature of tennis matches, we know that there has to be a winner on the day. Bookmaker 1 is offering odds of 1.6 on Andy Murray, whilst Bookmaker 2 is offering 1.9. When it comes to Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, Bookmaker 1 is offering odds of 3.9 on him, which compares favourably to the odds of 2.9 from Bookmaker 2.
If you were to place a £200 bet on Murray with Bookmaker 2, you can guarantee yourself a profit if you do the maths right when it comes to your bet on Djokovic with Bookmaker 1. You have to do some sums to calculate your stake, multiplying 200 by the result of 1.6/3.9, which is your shorter odds divided by the longer ones. This comes out as 82, which means you stake £82 with Bookmaker 1.
Your total stake is £282, with your return on a Murray win being £380, giving you a total profit of £98. If Djokovic wins, on the other hand, your return will be £319.80, handing you a return of £37.80. A Murray win is more profitable, but regardless of the outcome you’ll make a profit on your bet. This is what Arbing is, so you can see both why punters will want to do it and why it’s quite a complicated practice.
Is It Legal?
Some people might imagine that Arbing is something of a legal grey area, but that’s very much not the case. It’s an entirely legal practice, simply giving punters the chance to take advantage of the difference between odds offered by various companies on the same event. Bookmakers actually deliberately create Arbing situations in order to balance their books, but that doesn’t meant that they approve of the practice.
Bookies will, understandably, view the practice of Arbing as something that will threaten their overall profits. As a result, most bookmakers don’t like their customers doing it and will move to limit the account of punters that they suspect of doing it. The exception to this is a company that offers both a betting exchange and a traditional sportsbook, largely because they get to make a profit regardless of who wins.
What You Need To Think About
The major thinking point when it comes to the practice of Arbing is that it requires a large amount of money to make a small profit. Even with the example above, you’re risking £282 for a possible £37.80 profit. Yes, the profit is guaranteed as long as the bookmaker that you’re using doesn’t limit your account or refuse your bet, but not everyone has a £282 stake to be able to place the bet with in the first place.
The other thing to bear in mind is that you need to maintain discipline when engaging in the practice of Arbing. It only works if you trust the maths, which means that you can’t go on your ‘gut feeling’ or think that you’ll be able to make a profit by trusting your instinct. Keeping a record of your Arbing transactions is important to maintain this consistency, as is only opting for Arbs that are based over a short period of time.
Should You Try Arbing?
The obvious question that you might ask yourself is whether or not Arbing is something that you should try. This isn’t a question that anyone can answer other than you, but you definitely need to think about whether or not you’re someone that can understand how it works. Getting involved in Arbing without a good knowledge of what it is out how it works is a recipe for disaster, so don’t get seduced by the promise of a ‘guaranteed profit.
Those that are best at Arbing are the people that can afford to it, that know what they’re doing and that have numerous different betting accounts to do it with. You certainly shouldn’t feel guilting about engaging in the act of Arbing, such is the extant to which the betting industry has worked hard to stack the odds in its favour. Arbing gives you the chance to shift the odds back in your own favour, so it’s worth it if you can get it right.
It is worth saying though that the process of arbing can turn betting into a transactional process, removing a lot of the thrills of winning, given you know that you are always guaranteed a small profit. If you main aim with betting is to make money then arbing may be an option, if you main aim with betting is for fun you may be better avoiding it.
What Happens If You Get Caught?
It’s really important to remember that Arbing is perfectly legal. Bookmakers cannot and will not report you to the police or anything as dramatic as that if they discover that you’ve been Arbing when using your account with them. They often have small print in their terms and conditions that says that they can suspend or shutdown someone’s account for any reason, which is the most likely outcome for punters they discover Arbing.
If they don’t suspect your account or shut it down altogether then there’s a very good chance that they’ll introduce limits onto your account. This will mean that you’ll only be able to bet with limited stakes, which stops many people from being able to Arb successfully. It’s a good reason for having numerous different sports betting accounts, so that if one account gets suspended or restricted then you can just use another one.
If you do arb avoid companies that are linked. Ladbrokes and Coral are owned by the same group, for example, as are Paddy Power and Betfair. They will share information. It is also worth avoiding placing too many bets that are not whole numbers. One way that bookies spot arbing is to look for people that bet specific amounts (like £76.43) so if you do arb it is worth trying to round bets up to complete numbers, even if this messes with the maths a little it can ensure you keep an account active for longer.