Arbing & arbitrage betting

What is an Arb? The Secrets to Arbitrage Betting

In the betting world, and particularly in the matched betting world, you’ll often hear the term ‘arb’ banded around.

Some people criticise arbing, but for others it is all the rage.

But it all leads onto the question…what is arbing?

How do you do them?

Are there any risks?

We reveal everything you need to know in this killer arbitrage betting guide.


What is Arbitrage Betting?

The term ‘Arb’ is short for ‘arbitrage bet’, and arbing occurs when a bookmaker’s odds are too high compared to the rest of the market.

Arbitrage betting opportunities are frequently caused by bookmaker software being too slow to update to the market, but can also be down to mistakes from the sports traders too.

By placing arbs, you can guarantee a profit regardless of the outcome of an event.

This might sound like no-risk matched betting, but there is a crucial difference:

You don’t need free bets or promotions to generate profits.


How to do Arbitrage Betting

Arbitrage betting is incredibly easy to do. In fact, we now have a full arbitrage betting guide that you will probably find useful.

All you need is two tools:

Oddsmonkey (free here) and Smarkets (sign up here).

Smarkets is a betting exchange that will allow you to bet against the outcome of a regular bet at the bookies.

So if you back Arsenal at odds of 2.0 on Paddy Power and then lay Arsenal at odds of 1.9 on Smarkets, you have all outcomes covered and you have a guaranteed profit of £0.27 for every £10 that you stake.

Now, here’s the important thing…

We know that doesn’t sound like very much. 

But here’s the deal:

As you build your bankroll, you can bet on many different arbs at the same time, and you can increase your stakes far above £10.

You can also look at horses.

If you bet on a horse on William Hill at odds of 8 and lay at odds of 6.8 on Smarkets, you have a guaranteed profit of £1.56 for every £10 you stake.

However, you can also opt to ‘underlay’ your bet.

This means that if your horse does not win, you break even.

But if your horse wins…

You will make £10.84 for every £10 you staked.

Starting to sound a bit better now, right?

By underlaying, you get a shot at a nice profit for no loss.

And the amount of these shots you can get every day is quite insane.

Here’s a screenshot of the Oddsmonkey oddsmatcher‘s arbs that are live on bookies right now:

Arbitrage Betting Opportunities

By using the oddsmatcher, you have arbitrage software that updates in real-time constantly throughout the day.

Smarkets is free, and with Oddsmonkey you can get a free trial via this link. There’s no obligation to ever pay and you do not need to cancel your membership.

On the above screenshot, you also have over £6.50 guaranteed in profit if you staked £10 on each.

If you were to underlay these selections and they were to all win, you’d be looking at over £100 profit per £10 staked on each. You’d only need one of the horse selections to win to get over £6 back.

Remember: you never lose anything on these bets…

If you choose to underlay, you either break even or you make profit if your bet wins.

If you choose the lower ‘lock-in’ amount, you generate a profit every single time regardless of the result.

Any rating above 100 on the Oddsmonkey oddsmatcher that you can use as arbitrage software means you can lock-in profit instantly.


What Do Bookmakers Think of Arbitrage Betting?

Bookmakers hate arbs.

People might be able to exploit free bets via matched betting, but making guaranteed profit from a single bet is completely different in the eyes of bookies.

Arbs can be placed accidentally too, and this commonly happens to many punters that bet on horse racing.

Need an example?

Well, you can have one:

You’ve decided to place a bet as a gamble on the Grand National, just as many people do every year.

On the morning of the race, you decide to back the horse ‘Hoof Hearted’ at 11/1, or 12.0 as we use the decimal format when arbing and matched betting.

In the build up to the race, Hoof Hearted is looking great in the paddock and behaving extremely well compared to some of the other horses.

Many punters decide to start backing the horse, and as a result his odds start to shorten.

Quickly, bookies start slashing his odds; 11.5, 11.0, 10.5…all the way down to 8.0 or less.

Now, if you wanted, you could now make this an arb – by laying money AGAINST Hoof Hearted on a betting exchange.

You log onto Smarkets, and see that the odds to back against Hoof Hearted are 7.2.

The difference in odds is crazy!

You can use a matched betting calculator to calculate how much you should lay off, and how much you’re guaranteed to make in profit:

Stake: £20 (this is how much you bet on the horse)

Back odds: 12.0

Lay odds: 7.2

Commission: 2% (Smarkets take 2% commission on winning bets, a lower average than other exchanges which is why we recommend them)

With these figures input, you’re given the following results from the calculator:

Arb calculation

That’s right, you could lay off £33.43 to guarantee a profit of either £12.73 or 12.76 REGARDLESS of the outcome of the race!

This may not sound that impressive, but when you start to do it across tens or even hundreds of races, that profit level starts to seriously rack up.

If you were to underlay now, which is to lay the minimum amount needed to not lose any money, you would either break even if it fails to win or make £93.46 if it does emerge victorious – not bad at all.

‘Gambling is for mugs’ – that’s what many say; especially when you compare it to opportunities like this.

If you’re good at spotting horses that often drop in odds, you may also be interested in horse trading on Betfair.


Sign up to Smarkets via this link and you’ll get your first losing bet refunded up to £10 in cash.


Why We Believe Arbing is Bad

Because you’re making a profit from a standard bet (rather than a free bet like you do with matched betting), you’re seen as taking way too much value from a bookmaker.

Bookies might make it seem like they want you to win, but this isn’t the case at all.

Anyone who wins too much or too often with a bookmaker will quickly see their accounts limited.

This is the dark side of the online gambling world that you may not be aware of.

Bookmakers hate winners. It’s a fact.

The reason we can get away with winning long-term as a matched bettor is because we aren’t seen to be taking too much value.

This is because we regularly give back to the bookmaker in the form of mug betting; a practice carried out to make it look like we’re regular punters to bookies.

It’s extremely easy for a bookie to see when you’re arb betting – their systems can track exactly what prices you’ve backed at, what the price to ‘lay’ that horse was on Smarkets at the time, and also what the SP (Starting Price) of the horse was.

You shouldn’t worry too much about taking accidental arbs as it’s common to get a slightly better price than the SP, especially if you’re backing hours in advance of a race.

If you intentionally arb on a regular, or even semi-regular basis, you’re going to see your account quickly limited in stakes – and they’re unlikely to ever be recovered.

The practice of being limited, or stake restricted, has led to many professional arbitrage bettors even getting people to bet for them undercover!

This is, unsurprisingly, illegal and fraudulent.

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8 thoughts on “What is an Arb? The Secrets to Arbitrage Betting

  1. Hi, there
    is sharb arbing an ideal way of making up to a few hundred pounds a month or up to £2000 depending on the bankroll, what I mean by sharb arbing is instead of doing back and lay arbitrage betting at an online bookmaker and betting exchange, the punter can do a back bet at a bookmaker shop like Ladbrokes, coral, betfred or William hill and lay the bet at an online betting exchange to secure a guaranteed profit.
    Example: Manchester city vs Chelsea
    BET ON Chelsea at odds of 3.50 at a bookmaker shop like Ladbrokes, coral, betfred or William hill
    and Lay Chelsea at odds of 3.00 at an online betting Exchange like Betfair exchange, SMarkets or Matchbook

    1. Hi Ziem,

      Sharbing can be possible, but it’s just so inefficient to sit around in a bookies all day to make a few quid if you get lucky enough for one to occur and for the bookies not to spot you in the act. It’s doable, but it’s not for me.


  2. “So if you back Arsenal at odds of 2.0 on Paddy Power and then lay Arsenal at odds of 1.9 on Betfair, you have all outcomes covered and you have a guaranteed profit of £0.27 for every £10 that you stake.”

    How does this work out, exactly? I can’t understand how you’d profit by 0.27, either way (if either the Bookie wins or the Exchange does).

    Since the concept and mathematical workings behind this seem pivotal to turning a profit when not using Bonus Bets, a more thorough step-by-step explanation of the process, for newbs, would be appreciated. Cheers!

    1. Hi Jon,

      It’s just the maths of the team being higher to back on one site than they are to back against (or ‘lay’) on the exchange.

      If you put £10 on at 2.0 and they’re 1.9 to lay, you can put these into the matched betting calculator it will tell you to lay £10.81 on Betfair. You’d make 52p if there was no commission, but Betfair take 5% (which lowers as you use them) so when this is factored in you make 27p.

      These tend to work out better when you underlay bets. For example, you could arb a gubbed account on a horse at 8.0, but is only 6.8 to lay on the exchange, with a stake of £25. You could choose to lock-in £3.15 with this stake and odds, as shown by the calculator.

      However, if you flick the calculator from ‘Simple’ to ‘Advanced’ mode, you can underlay the horse so that you break even regardless of the result unless it wins, in which case you’d make £22.34 risk-free.

      Hope this extra information helps you with your arb betting!

  3. hi
    are there slots in the week ans sports where arbing opportunities are more frequent?
    for instance, can we say that when there are many tennis games at the same time, there is a good chance that one of them is mispriced? or on less regarded games like the challenge tour?

    1. Fairly obvious one really and you’ve touched on it yourself – if there are more events happening, there are likely to be more arbs available. :)

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