Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sportsbook Arbitrage- The Basics

I. Arbitrage with Sportsbook Bonuses – The Basics

What is arbitrage?

Basically, sportsbook arbitrage is exploiting price differences in a market in order to guarantee a profit.

Sports betting offers one of the easiest, low-risk way of using arbitrage to guarantee yourself a nice return on investment (ROI). A ROI which can be much higher than can be obtain from investing in the stock market. First, arbitrage opportunities only exist when a book offers a line that differs greatly from that offered at another book. This can occur when the line first comes out, due to the fact that the sports manager at one book disagrees with the linesmaker at another book. More commonly, however, is that the perceived value of a wager, like a stock, is ever changing. Lines are constantly changing, and the books that are slowest to adjust their lines to be with the rest of the market will be most vulnerable to sportsbook arbitrage opportunities. Second, sportsbook arbitrage opportunities do not last long, as there are many people trying to profit from the same mistake. Once a book realizes it is taking too much action on the bad side of a line, it will adjust that line and the sportsbook arbitrage will no longer exist. Lastly, if you are fortunate enough to be able to place a bet on the bad line, you should have no trouble “selling” it by betting on the other side of the event at another book. The greatest part about sportsbook arbitrage is you can take a negative-return arb and still make a nice profit, we will go over this later.

How do you know if an arbitrage exists?

It can be difficult at first to identify which lines at different sites will have a sportsbook arbitrage opportunity. If you are using American odds (as opposed to Decimal or Fractional odds), lines will be portrayed using a plus or minus sign, followed by a number of 100 or higher. A line with a plus sign is used for the underdog. The number that follows indicates how much you will win if you place a $100 bet. For example, a line of +2000 means that for every $100 you wager you will win $200. Similarly, a minus sign is used for the favorite. The number that follows indicates how much you must bet to win $100. For example, a line of –200 means that you must wager $200 to win $100.

A sportsbook arbitrage exists whenever the positive line (on the underdog) is greater than the negative line (on the favorite).

For example, let’s say Detroit plays Chicago and the line for which team is going to win (Known as the Moneyline or ML) at book A is -150 on Detroit and +140 on Chicago. At book B, they have -170 Detroit and +155 Chicago. Therefore, we have a situation where the positive line is greater than the negative one. In this case, -150 with Detroit at book A and +155 with Chicago at book B. If we placed a $500 bet on Detroit (-150) at book A, we would win $333.33. If we place $325 bet on Chicago (+155) at book B, we would win $503.75. Therefore, if Detroit wins we won $333.33 at book A but lost $325 at book B, for a total profit of $8.33. If Chicago wins, we win $503.75 at book B but lost $500 at book A, for a total profit of $3.75. So no matter what the result of the game, we guarantee we make something. Now 3 or 8 dollars doesn’t seem like it would be worth your time? However, we will always be playing with bonus money given to us from the various sportsbooks. We will go over this later, also.

How many sportsbook arbs can be found a day?

Generally, you will be limited by the amount of events available to bet on that day. You will mostly place bets on the larger well-known sports, like baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and soccer (which is a little trickier than the others)


  • Number of books used
  • Experience
  • Bankroll size
  • Events on given day

Expect to have no troubles finding all the sportsbook arbs you need in a given day. Generally, only your bankroll will be your limiting factor.

What time is best for finding sportsbook arbs?

You can arb nearly 24 hours a day. You are slightly limited during the period of 11pm (Eastern Time) until late morning (Eastern Time). These are the time in which the betting exchanges don’t have as many available bets. Betting exchanges will be a major source of finding arbs.

How many books should I use?

Generally, you will use a couple of main books for covering your sportsbook arbs. These include Matchbook and Pinnacle. After these two, you will be obtaining bonuses from various online sportsbooks. Generally, you will attempt to work 1-3 bonuses, depending on your bankroll size.

How much money do I need to get started?

You could get started with a very small amount, as low as $500. This will allow you to work a lot of the smaller match-play bonuses at a lot of the UK sportsbooks. However, a better figure for getting started would be $5,000. This would allow you to go after bonuses that would require a deposit of a range of $500-$1,000. Once you are comfortable, a better figure to work with would be $10,000-$15,000. Then, you will be able to work off several bonuses for the max bonus amounts at the same time.

How much money can I make and how much time will I need to invest.

This is strongly dependent on bankroll size. At first, it will be slower, because you will be learning and spending more time double checking and being cautious. Once you catch on to the basic concepts, you will find yourself spending less and less time working on sportsbook arbitrage. It will get to the point where you run out of things to do fairly quickly. By the time you get the hang of it, you will rarely invest more than one hour a day and be able to consistently bring in an extra $200-$500 a week. I have seen people make over $3,000 in their first month. This won’t bring in enough to do for a living, but can provide great extra income for those who don’t have a tremendous amount of free time.

Why not just try and pick the winning bets instead?

Sportsbook arbitrage isn’t very exciting because you are never risking any money on the games you bet on, you are basically doing a bunch of simple math problems to place your bets. Most people who try to bet on just one side of an event are rarely successful long-term. The ones that are invest nearly all of their time researching lines and statistics to make their bets. Even they can have losing years.

So, why sportsbook arbitrage over handicapping? The reason is that sportsbook arbitrage gives you a guaranteed profit. While this isn’t as exciting as trying to pick the winner of a game, trust me, it feels good to win money on sports betting week-in and week-out. It is very nice to be able to bet on a game and not even care who wins or loses and yet still make money either way.


Contributing Author said...

This is a great post. I'm not a big risk taker but enjoy sports picks and the excitement of the games. This is a great day to get involved in both without the big risk.

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