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Sports Arbitrage - Making your first arb

Once you've understood the key things required to get things started, you still need to put these altogether to make your first arb. This section helps see what this is like.


Putting it altogether

To put it all together, the key things you need to consider are:

  1. Have I identified an arbitrage opportunity?
  2. Do you need to consider the rules of the different bookmakers?
  3. Do I have accounts with the relevant bookmakers?
  4. How much in total do I want/have to stake?
  5. What is the stake required for both sides of the arbs given the odds?
  6. Does the maximum bet size at both bookmakers enable you to place this size of bet?

To make this section as useful as possible, we’ll walk through an example of an arbitrage opportunity, and how these steps will be considered:

1. You are alerted of the following 2%+ arbitrage opportunity on a Tennis game through the Arbets service(odds in decimals):

Rafaeal Nadal 1.5 at Pinnacle Sports, and Andy Murray 3.2 at Sportingbet, representing a X% arbitrage opportunity.

In order to ensure this is an arbitrage opportunity, you check with your arbitrage calculator. The calculator ensures this is correct, and as a quick check on a normal calculator, you make sure that (1/1.5)+(1/3.2) is less than 1 (note the sum gives c0.9792, which indicates an arb of c2.13% (1 minus 0.9792).

2.You check the arbers guide to bookmakers to ensure both Pinnacle Sports and Sportingbet have the same rules regarding player retirement. Both only void a bet if one set hasn’t been completed, so you pursue the arb.

3.You have accounts with both Pinnacle Sports, and Sportingbet.

4.You have a bankroll available of £1000, however for your first arb we wouldn’t recommend using the full amount, so let’s assume you start off with a total stake of £200.

5.You put the information into an arb calculator. It recommends a stake of £136.17 on Rafa, and £63.83 on Murray, returning c2.1%.

You play around with the arb calculator to make the numbers round as part of a strategy not to get limited by the bookmakers (see Top 6 ways NOT to get limited by bookmakers).

You decide to bet £135 on Rafa, and £63 on Murray.

6.You check using the arbers guide to bookmakers whether the maximum stake information is available before betting on both the sites. Pinnacles Sports shows the max bet first, but it’s unclear on Sportingbet.

This part is important.

You go to Pinnacle Sports first, and check (not bet yet) whether it will let you bet £135. It will.

You set up your computer screen(s) to have the bets up with both bookmakers at the same time.

You double check the odds are what is required.

Then you go to Sportingbet to and try to place the full £63. It lets you.

You then place the £135 bet with Pinnacle Sports.

Both bets are on. If rafa wins, you net 2.27%. If Murray wins, you net 1.8%


What things could have gone wrong?

What if the Tennis betting rules were different?

If this is the case, you can either: 1) not place the bet, 2) find another sports betting company with the same odds but same rules, or 3) take the risk.

We don’t recommend taking the risk, particularly when you’re getting started, but depending on the what the difference in the rules is, you may feel some exposure is worth the risk given the size of the arb.

What if the odds had changed before you put the arb on?

This sort of thing can happen. If it does, recheck the profitability of the arb on an arb calculator. If it’s no longer an arb, leave it. Wait for another one to come along. You need to be patient. There will always be more arbs. Don’t chase them.

What if Sportingbet hadn’t let you put the full amount on?

Again, this can happen. If the odds are still ok, then you just need to readjust your Pinnacle stake to the appropriate amount. You already know that Pinnacle will let you bet at least £135 because you checked it first (this is why it was important to do that first), so putting on less won’t matter.

For example, if Sportingbet only let you put on £50, if you put this into the arb calculator, you now need £106.67 to optimise the arb. You decide to place £105 on Rafa to keep the numbers round, which gives you a net return of c1.6% if Rafa wins, and c3.2% if Murray wins.

What if the Pinnacle odds changed after you placed your bet with Sportingbet?

Don’t panic. This can happen too, although if you’re reasonably quick it shouldn’t happen too often. Re-check the bet with your arb calculator. It may still be an arb but for less profit, or it may just be a loss making bet. Either way, you still need to trade out of your position. Sometimes you need to just take the hit. It should still be only small margins, so if you arb at a 1% loss, you know you can make it back soon enough with another arb. Do not risk it, by leaving yourself exposed to one side of the bet. Obviously you can get lucky, but that is not what arbitrage trading is about.

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