Master the art of betting: Arbitrage

Mateo Brekalo
Mateo Brekalo
Published: 28.9.2023.

One way to identify value in the betting market is through arbitrage, commonly referred to as sure betting. Arbitrage betting, or sure betting, involves identifying significant disparities in probability estimates offered by various bookmakers, allowing you to place bets that guarantee a win regardless of the outcome of the event. Long ago, this was a profound method that many value bettors would occasionally use to diversify their betting strategies with some sure bets. Arbitrage betting might not be as popular today because many bookmakers employ sophisticated software that automatically adjusts their margins within seconds when market changes occur. But, using a good software or paid service which can guarantee you fast data coverage, you might still be profitable placing sure bets.

How to place a sure bet

Let's see how much you have to place per bet if you find a value bet.

One example of odds we found:


The odds key, or overround, can be easily calculated by using the formula 1/odds * 100 for each outcome and then summing up all the outcomes. The payout can be determined as the inverse of the overround. In the second row, you can observe a payout exceeding 100%, indicating a guaranteed profit of 3.76% if all calculations are accurate. To achieve this, you must first calculate the stake for each outcome to reach the desired 3.76% payout.

You will need to use the formula of 1/odds*100 to exactly know how much you need to wager per outcome:


So you will stake in total 96.38€ proportionally on all 3 outcomes. In the next sheet you will see when you stake it proportionally as we mentioned, you will profit 3,76% on each outcome.


How sure is a sure bet?

While arbitrage betting still offers opportunities, they are fewer than in the past. It can be a challenging task to identify valid sure bets without the assistance of odds-providing services to access accurate and up-to-date odds. So, even though you might perceive it as a safe and risk-free way of betting, the reality is somewhat different.

To engage in sure bets, you must first have accounts open with multiple bookmakers and be aware of your stake limitations. To capitalize on the value, you must place your bets within seconds at times. Conversely, if even one of the outcomes changes, you may lose the value, and the payout percentage can fall below the desired 100%.

Let's consider the example from our previous calculations. You decide to place a stake of €31.25 on the home team to win. However, when attempting to place €29.41 on the draw outcome with another bookmaker, you encounter a limitation of €15 imposed by the bookmaker. These are all potential concerns that you must take into account, as they can occur and lead to the failure of your betting system.

In addition to the aforementioned concerns, it's essential to research thoroughly when selecting bookmakers, as some may have varying rules for evaluating bets in certain sports. A notable example is tennis, where certain bookmakers may void your bets if a player retires, while others may evaluate the bet based on the player who retired if at least one ball was played. This situation could result in one of your bets being voided while the other one is lost.

The final concern we must mention is the possibility of being limited by bookmakers. If a bookmaker becomes suspicious that you are engaging in arbitrage betting, they may restrict your stakes or even suspend your account entirely. However,some bookmakers, like Pinnacle, are more tolerant of such behavior.

Arbitrage vs Value betting

As mentioned earlier, considering all the potential issues that can arise in sure betting, it's important to understand that there is a very slim margin of profit when attempting to earn through sure bets.


Sure bets or arbitrage betting can significantly reduce the risk associated with placing bets. However, it's crucial to avoid mistakes in your calculations, act swiftly, rely on reputable bookmakers, and be aware of your limitations. Nevertheless, it's important to note that arbitrage betting can never be entirely risk-free due to the various unforeseen circumstances that can arise while placing bets.

Value bets are way riskier, as you might have very bad streaks and you need to deal with them emotionally well in order to stay on track. You might lose 15-20 bets in a row, but it doesn’t mean your strategy is bad. Of course you can also make mistakes while choosing the wrong value or badly estimating a value.


After a while, you will be able to predict your earnings and understand your potential range. In most cases, you can expect to be content with a return of 1-3% from the turnover if everything goes smoothly. So the consistency of income is one of the pros that sure betting can offer you.

The profit margins in value betting are typically smaller compared to those in sure betting. However, this doesn't imply that value betting guarantees better income. Properly conducted value betting, backed by in-depth research and disciplined betting, can potentially lead to a substantial return. Value bettors often aim for returns well above the 1-3% range that sure bettors are satisfied with.


Experienced bookmakers are likely to identify sure bettors more quickly, leading to shorter account durations for them. However, I've observed that with the integration of new features in software, bookmakers are increasingly shifting their attention towards value bettors. They now view value bettors as even more detrimental to their business than arbitrage bettors.


Arbitrage betting requires even more bets to be placed in order to gain some return. Therefore, you will need a larger bankroll to embark on it seriously and aim for a substantial return.


I've personally experimented with both methods, and I found value betting to be more personally satisfying in terms of outsmarting the bookmaker. It provides the experience of surpassing the estimated probability through your own research, giving you the sense that you've outperformed the bookie. This isn't advice; you should choose a method based on your own preferences or even consider mixing both approaches.


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