Wagering on the NHL can be a costly pastime. Most recreational punters focus on the fun aspect, and will lose money in the long run as a result. For such bettors, making short-term profits is mostly a matter of having exceptional luck, while the entertainment factor is the true appeal of betting.
Things are different for professional NHL punters. These are sports bettors who have spent a lot of time and effort on perfecting their wagering skills, and they are also experts on the NHL itself and everything that has to do with the games and the players. Sharp punters have found various ways to beat the sportsbooks and make money off of wagering, and arbitrage betting is one such strategy.
Arbing is often dubbed sure betting, since the technique is centered on covering all outcomes of a bet and winning money regardless of what the final results happen to be. This is easier said than done, however, and despite the supposed guaranteed profits, there are some risks involved. Punters, therefore, need to be careful when they make use of this strategy. It also takes a lot of effort and time to execute, so if you wish to try arbing out, it will take discipline and dedication to succeed.
Arbitrage Betting At Multiple Sportsbooks
It is no secret that sportsbooks often disagree on what the odds of an event should actually be. This can happen for various reasons, but either way, you will come across bets that are priced differently, depending on the bookie. The differences in question can, at times, lead to an opportunity we call arbing. An arb occurs when the discrepancy between the odds of the outcomes guarantees that if you wager on both sides, you will be able to make money off of these bets, regardless of which one wins in the end.
Manually finding an arb can be a bit of a hassle, and it is generally better to use arbitrage calculators and even software that can find suitable bets for you. However, it is still important to understand the process behind manual arbing. This way, the numbers will have some context, and it will be easier for you to spot mistakes.
Firstly, you will need to pick an event and then visit at least two sportsbooks to compare the odds. Then, you will need to use this formula to decide what the combined probability of both bets is:
Implied Probability % = ((1 / decimal odds for outcome one) x 100) + ((1 / decimal odds for outcome two) x 100)
This will tell us if there is potential for an arb. To demonstrate, let us say we wish to wager on a match between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the team Tampa Bay Lightning. The odds are as follows:
- Sportsbook 1: Toronto Maple Leafs to win 2.600
- Sportsbook 2: Tampa Bay Lightning to win 2.170
We can now use the odds in the formula:
Implied Probability% = ((1 / 2.600) x 100) + ((1 / 2.170) x 100) = 38.461 + 46.082 = %84.543
Since the percentage above is less than 100%, the pair of outcomes is an arb, and we can continue. The next step is figuring out how much you should wager on each option. Doing so involves picking your overall desired winnings and finding each stake size. Here, we went with a $20 goal.
- Stake 1 = total winnings / decimal odds one = 20 / 2.600 = $7.692
- Stake 2 = total winnings / decimal odds two = 20 / 2.170 = $9.216
Both stakes add up to $16.90, which leaves us with a profit of $3.1.
As you can see, there is, indeed, a lot of math involved with arbitrage betting. It is not too difficult to understand, but as we mentioned earlier, you should turn to arb calculators and arbitrage programs to streamline the process once you have a better idea of how arbing works.
Previously, we covered how you can arb bets if there is a discrepancy between two ordinary sportsbooks odds-wise. It is also possible to do something similar on betting exchange websites.
This practice is called scalping, and it revolves around the concept of backing and laying a bet. Backing a bet is something all NHL punters are familiar with. This is the default type of wager bettors place, and unless you are betting at an exchange, it is the only wager type you will have access to. The way it works is that the bookmaker essentially wagers that something will not occur and offers you to take the opposite stance and back the outcome. As for the bookies, what they do is called laying a bet, and it is the primary role of traditional sportsbooks.
On a betting exchange website, laying a bet can also be done by the punters. This way, they essentially take the role of the bookmaker and offer odds and lines to different users.
Scalping is when you do both for the same outcome, i.e., you back the wager and then lay it at a betting exchange for the right price to ensure that regardless of what happens, you will have made a profit in the end. This is a fairly popular strategy among advanced punters. The key to scalping is finding an appropriate bet and offering the right odds at the exchange. Like arbing, you can use software to aid you, seeing as speed is very important here as well.
Arbitrage Betting Risks
It is often said that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. This concept does not fully apply to arbitrage betting since arbing is still very much possible, but it is not truly risk-free either. In truth, many things can ruin an arbing opportunity and leave you vulnerable to the odds of a conventional bet.
The first such potential problem involves the bets themselves. On occasion, sportsbooks might realize that something is amiss with the odds they have offered and, thus, cancel your bet. Typically, this will not be a problem for your average bettor. For an arber, however, such situations are quite unpleasant. If the companion bet you had placed is not canceled as well, it means that said wager is now your run-of-the-mill bet that is reliant on luck.
Apart from your wagers being rendered void, you might also find yourself in a situation where the odds of the second bet were changed just before you could complete your arb. When this happens, you will be faced with a tough choice to make. You could either not complete the arb and risk the stake of your first bet, or wager on the new odds and accept a guaranteed but minimal loss from this unsuccessful arbitrage.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that arbitrage betting is far from cheap. On the contrary, you will need to make accounts at a relatively large number of sportsbooks so that you will be able to take advantage of as many arbing opportunities as possible, and each account must be sufficiently funded. In addition, we mentioned earlier that arbing software is one of the best ways to find pairs of bets that, together, make arbing possible. Said programs can cost a pretty penny if you want the best of the best, so they are yet another expense that you will need to keep track of when you calculate your profits.
There are also personal factors that may also pose a problem. First of all, if you are a busy individual, arbitrage betting might not be suitable for your lifestyle. To make a considerable amount of money, you will need to place lots and lots of arbitrage bets on a weekly basis, which can take a while even if you use arbing software. In addition, rushing can lead to mistakes on your end, which can, again, ruin an arbing opportunity.
Last but certainly not least, you will be vulnerable to account limitations if you are not cautious when you wager online. Your typical soft bookmaker strongly dislikes arbitrage bettors, and when it finds one, it is more than willing to exclude such a user from promotions and limit the amount of money they can wager. Casual sportsbooks only truly cater to recreational punters, so any hint of a bettor being a professional will mark said person as suspicious and, eventually, someone who should either face account limitation or account closure.
Tips For Successful Arbing
Ultimately, Arbitrage betting is very straightforward once you understand the rhythm of the process, but there are a number of things you can do to either improve the experience or ensure that you do not overwhelm yourself at the beginning. In addition, gubbing is one of the major risks of placing arbitrage bets, which is why any punter looking to try this strategy must know how to minimize their chances of getting caught. A lot of it comes down to being patient, careful, and knowing when and when not to take advantage of a specific arb.
Stick to the NHL
There are a couple of reasons you should try and avoid straying from the NHL section of your bookmakers. Firstly, being knowledgeable about the sport you are betting on will make recognizing arb opportunities easier, and it will remove another layer of uncertainty from your arbitrage bets.
In addition, this plays an important role in avoiding detection. In general, arbing on popular markets is far more likely to allow you to fall under the radar of sportsbooks. Since there are many, many bets placed on such listings, you can more easily blend in with the crowd. The NHL is, fortunately, a league that more than meets the criteria.
If you find yourself wishing to change things up on occasion, however, you will need to be very careful with the sports and leagues you wager on. Niche ones will often put you at risk of being gubbed, seeing as you will be easier to detect this way. It is best to continue wagering on the NHL instead, or if you strongly crave a change of pace, focus on other popular leagues such as the NFL or the NBA.
Start Out With Small Arbitrage Bets
In general, there are two main ways to arb based on the stakes one places. The first one is to wager with a small number of very large bets. Such wagers offer pretty big profits, and the size of the bet ensures that even with an arb’s fairly low profit margin, you will be making a lot of money upon succeeding. Unfortunately, this approach to arbing is dangerous. It can more easily alert your sportsbook that something is off, and considering factors such as bet cancelation, it is ill-advised to risk a large amount of money on a single bet.
The second approach to arbing is the one best suited for beginners and for those who prefer to be more cautious, and it involves spreading out your bankroll on smaller bets. This is not to say that this strategy is without its drawbacks. To compensate for the small profit margins, you will need to place many bets daily in order to make notable profits, which will take time. This does not change the fact that your bankroll will be safer if you wager this way, and void bets will not harm your bankroll too much. Furthermore, such wagers are also far less suspicious, especially if you are new to a sportsbook.
Avoid Live Arbing Early On
Arbing in and of itself can be hectic. Pre-game arb opportunities have a short lifespan at times, with some lasting mere minutes before the odds change and make the arb disappear. This means that you need to be very quick when you arb. Now imagine a similar situation, except you will have less than a minute to place your bets.
Arbing on live NHL matches is not for the faint of heart, especially if you are just starting out. Keeping track of the arb opportunities will not only be difficult, but it will also encourage you to not think too much about the bets you are making, which can lead to you making unintentional mistakes.
Although it is true that making a proper profit off of arbing can take a great number of bets, you must not go overboard. It is definitely tempting, especially with the somewhat fleeting nature of arbs, but you must remember that it is the success of these arbitrage opportunities which matters the most.
Unnecessary rushing can ruin an arb’s chances of guaranteeing a profit, because it can easily lead to human error such as misclicks, staking the wrong amount of money, and the like. As established, such errors will often be expensive. It is thus better to miss some arb opportunities and focus on making sure that you are doing everything correctly.
Only Wager With Whole Numbers
Ordinary bettors will typically wager sums like $5, $10, $20, or $100 when they decide to make a bet. In other words, the vast majority of bets are whole numbers, which is why stakes such as $4.57 and $32.5, for instance, stick out like a sore thumb.
Given that such bets are typically made by professional bettors, it does not take sportsbooks long to notice that something is off when a user places such a stake. If you are unfortunate enough to get caught like this, your bookie will gub you one way or another. Thus, you should always round up your stakes so long as you can still make a profit.
Disguise Yourself as a Recreational Bettor
Ultimately, there is a reason recreational bettors are soft sportsbooks’ clients of choice: such punters typically lose money by betting. Betting is a pure entertainment activity for them, and they thus tend to base their wagering decisions on things such as their gut, which NHL team they like more, or they will stick to the favorite on the moneyline or the over if they are placing a puck line bet.
In order to be good at stealth, a skilled punter must pretend they are this very type of bettor. Doing so is, thankfully, not too difficult. Namely, you must be ready to place some mediocre bets that will more than likely lose. Parlays are an excellent option here, since they are notoriously difficult to win, and the tempting payouts tend to attract many fun-loving bettors. Some ordinary bets will also do just fine, so as long as they look like your average fun bet. This will be tremendously helpful in keeping your accounts usable for a long time, so it is best to think of this as another investment in your arbitrage career.
Create Accounts at Numerous Sportsbooks
This is a very simple but fundamental aspect of arbitrage betting. It bears repeating that account limitation is a real threat to arbers, and having many bookies to use will aid you in several ways.
First of all, if you have numerous accounts, the eventual loss of a few will not impact you too negatively since you will still have enough bookies to continue arbing comfortably. Furthermore, a large number of accounts means you can make sure that each one fits the profile of a recreational bettor. You will be able to deposit and withdraw smaller sums of money, and the bets you place can also be more spread out. Last but certainly not least, each new account will open up many more arbing opportunities for you.
At the end of the day, arbitrage betting is one of the best strategies for ambitious NHL punters who are looking to make a profit by wagering on their favorite sport. It has been practiced by many professional sports betting aficionados over the years, and arbing continues to gain popularity nowadays as well.
This technique does have its peculiarities, and it is definitely far from easy. However, there is money to be made, provided one is prepared and willing to dedicate the time and money necessary.