One of the hardest truths an NBA punter will learn about sports betting is that there is no single bet that can win for sure. No matter how informed or experienced you might be, when you place a wager, what you are making is, at best, an educated guess on which outcome might happen. The possibility of losing money is, therefore, seldom off the table. While all of this is the truth, there is a form of wagering that can guarantee you will always make a profit regardless of which outcome wins. It differs substantially from conventional betting, however.
What we are referring to is known as arbitrage betting. When you make arbitrage bets, you are basically betting on both potential outcomes of a game. You will not place said wagers at the same sportsbook, of course. Bookies do not tolerate such practices, not to mention you would lose money anyway because of the vigorish. Instead, you will make one bet at a given sportsbook and place the second wager at another bookie, or opt for a lay bet at a betting exchange.
Either way, arbing can be very profitable if done right, but it is not easy to pull off. Arbitrage betting is recommended for NBA punters who either have lots of time or wish to become professional NBA bettors.
How Arbitrage Betting Works
As we have already established, if you partake in arbitrage betting, you are covering both outcomes of a bet. Said wagers’ odds and the size of your stake ensure you will earn a profit no matter which side wins.
Arbing has been around for quite some time, but the practice did not truly take off until remote wagering on sports got a foothold and gained popularity. Now, it is easier to do than ever before, and there are numerous wager types that can meet the criteria for an arb, NBA bets included. There are two main ways to partake in arbing, and in either case, you will discover arb opportunities by utilizing special software to make the process easier.
The first method involves the traditional strategy we mentioned earlier, where you bet on either outcome of a bet at two different sportsbooks. The second type of arbing utilizes both ordinary bookmakers and betting exchange websites. When you arb like this, you place a back bet at a conventional sportsbook, and then a lay wager at the exchange. It is, in general, thought that the second method is far less risky as betting exchanges are not hostile to arbers. Most ordinary online sportsbooks, on the other hand, are not fond of arbitrage bettors. When bookies discover that a punter is arbitrage betting, they deal with the person swiftly and limit or close their account. This is why caution is crucial for a successful arber.
Arbitrage opportunities can come into existence in several ways, all of which revolve around the odds of a given bet. The first and most common cause is the odds movement, which refers to how bookies update the odds of bets, and it is something integral to bookies. By changing the odds, the bookmaker can ensure that the number of punters who wager on either outcome is roughly the same. This way, they can pay the winners with the money of the losers, and anything left is the sportsbook’s profit.
One thing that can prompt updating the odds is new information becoming publicly available. We will examine a fictional game between the Chicago Bulls and the Orlando Magic to see how this can play out. At the start, the hypothetical odds were 2.5 for the Chicago Bulls and 4.00 for the Orlando Magic, making the former the favorite. However, let us say that a key Chicago Bulls player fell ill and will not be a part of his team during the game. Now, wagering on the Bulls might not be as appealing as initially thought. Therefore, the sportsbook will adjust the odds, making the listing look like this:
Chicago Bulls: 2.7
Orlando Magic: 3.7
The change reflects the new information, and how the bookie believes the public will respond to it.
Speaking of which, another reason for a bookie to update the odds is the popularity of either outcome. If a sportsbook observes one option being chosen more than the other, it will use better odds to entice the bettors into wagering on the less popular choice. This is one of the main things that can lead to the odds being dissimilar at different bookmakers.
Disparity between the odds of sportsbooks can also happen due to a bookie making a mistake early on and overestimating a certain team or player, and vice versa. This is rare, but not out of the realm of possibility.
Either way, we once again emphasize that this disparity between the odds of sportsbooks makes arbitrage betting possible. In addition, due to how fast the changes can often be, this is also why arb opportunities are typically quick to disappear.
Arbing at Betting Exchanges
Arbitrage betting first started at ordinary bookmakers, but the rise of betting exchanges allowed for a new way of arbing to gain traction. Because of how betting exchanges operate, this new form of arbing is far safer than typical arbitrage wagering. Betting exchanges differ quite a lot from traditional sportsbooks, and some bettors liken them more to brokers.
Betting exchanges revolve around the concept of backing and laying a bet. The former means to wager that something will happen, while the latter means the opposite. At traditional bookies, it is the sportsbook that lays a bet. As for punters, they can only back a wager, i.e., place a bet on the outcome they believe will happen.
Things are different when it comes to betting exchanges. There, there is no bookie to lay the bet. Instead, the ones who lay a potential outcome are the punters, and other bettors can place back bets. The betting exchange charges a commission for this. When you partake in scalping, which is a term often used to describe arbing at a betting exchange, you place your back wager at an ordinary sportsbook and make a lay bet at the exchange.
The reason scalping is less risky than traditional arbing is due to how betting exchanges treat arbitrage bettors. They do not punish their users for arbing, and instead, even encourage them. This means that your betting exchange account faces no risks of closure or being limited.
Important Aspects of Being a Successful Arbitrage Bettor
As we have already established, being an NBA arber can be fairly demanding. If you have the time and the dedication, however, it can be an excellent way of making money. Below, we have covered what you need to keep in mind if you decide to give arbing a try.
Use Arbitrage Betting Software
First and foremost, remember that you do not need to do all of the digging on your own. As many as hundreds of arb opportunities appear each day, some of which are NBA arbs. It would, thus, be unrealistic to expect a human to go through all of them manually, find what they are looking for, make the necessary calculations, and then have the time to decide which bets to take advantage of. Thankfully, there are numerous software solutions that can search sportsbook listings for you and make the process very quick and simple. Arbitrage calculators are also very convenient for figuring out how much you need to wager.
Additionally, learning how to calculate just what percentage of your arbitrage winnings will be the actual profit is also recommended. It will be easier to get used to using arb calculators this way. To demonstrate, we will look at the odds of a hypothetical game between the LA Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Lakers, sportsbook A: 1.6
Cavaliers, sportsbook B: 4.6
As for the calculation, all you need to do is take these steps:
- Divide 1 by the odds: 1 / 1.6 = 62% 1 / 4.6 = 21%
- Add the results together: 62 + 21 = 83% investment
- Subtract what you are left with from a 100 to calculate your profit: 100 – 83 = 17% profit
Earlier, we established that betting exchanges are an excellent option for arb bettors because such websites are not hostile towards arbers. On the contrary, they welcome sharp punters who partake in scalping. Nevertheless, this will not always be an option, and bookies are, for the most part, not arb-friendly. If you have no choice and need to use conventional sportsbooks, you will need to take care not to get caught.
One of the first things you should be careful not to do is wager with strange bet sizes. For instance, you could come across an arb that requires you to wager $57.83. This is a bizarre bet, atypical of what the average recreational punter would place. In other words, such bets are a dead giveaway, and sportsbooks will immediately suspect you are an arber, so it is better to round up the stakes in such situations.
On that topic, frequent large bets can also alert a bookmaker that something is not quite right. Even if they do not suspect you are up to no good, they could still limit your account if they see you are winning too much. A good way to avoid this is to make the occasional low stake acca bet, or other normal-sized bets, in order to seem like a typical recreational punter. Do not go overboard, however. Large losses will do you no good, and a bookie might limit your account or even close it because they could assume you are a problem gambler.
Finally, keep in mind that the markets you pick can also play a significant role in giving away your status as an arbitrage bettor. If you like to spice up your NBA betting routine by wagering on a variety of unpopular markets and do so often, this can also be seen as suspicious. Arbing on popular sports like basketball and soccer, on the other hand, is far more difficult to detect, so sticking to NBA events will be safer. This does not mean that you need to give up on niche markets for good, but it is something to be mindful of nonetheless.
Drawbacks and Risks
Although arbitrage betting can be a great way to make money as an NBA punter, it is not without its caveats. One of the main disadvantages of arb betting is just how risky it can be. Namely, you might face account restriction if a bookie catches on that you are partaking in arbitrage wagering. This practice is called gubbing. In extreme cases, account closure is also a potential problem. In other words, arbing is a constant balancing act between how much you win and lose, which sports you wager on, and how much you bet, all done to avoid catching the attention of the bookmakers.
This leads us to the second disadvantage — arbitrage betting is neither quick nor easy. On top of needing to avoid detection, you have to make sure that you are wagering on the right opportunities. In addition, the profit margins are not large, so this is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Instead, arbing is more akin to a conventional job. Picking the right arbs, keeping track of your accounts and transactions, and dodging risks of account limitations all take a lot of time.
In addition, arbs have a short lifespan, so you need to be vigilant and fast to take advantage of opportunities when they appear. Some arbs can last for hours, but often, they will be gone in less than 15 minutes.
Last but not least, bet cancellation is another concern, as sportsbooks will occasionally cancel a bet if they believe they have made a software mistake with the odds. While this is a non-issue for regular punters because they will simply get their stake back, it is a problem for arbers since it turns their certain-profit pair of arbitrage bets into one ordinary wager.
To sum up, arbitrage betting is a unique wagering technique that can be pretty lucrative. Arb opportunities arise when discrepancies between sportsbooks’ odds happen, and with this strategy, punters can take advantage of these differences to ensure a profit. Such chances often pop up when it comes to NBA prop bets.
If you wish to make money off of wagering on NBA events, arbing is one of the very few ways of actually achieving this. Due to how time-consuming it is to be successful at this practice, some punters even make arbing their primary source of income. Punters who utilize this strategy are known as professional bettors, and many also call them sharp punters.
Arbitrage betting does have its possible complications as well, and, in general, it is not something one should try on a whim. If you do decide to take advantage of NBA arbitrage listings, however, you will find that all of the effort is definitely worth it.