WHAT IS A SUREBET?
A SureBet, or arbitrage bet, is a set of bets where you are sure to win money, irrespective of what the outcome of the event turns out to be. You cannot lose.
Two types of SureBets, ‘all-back’ SureBets, where you make sure to win by betting on all possible outcomes, and ‘back/lay’ SureBets, where you make sure to win by both buying and selling the same outcome.
Consider a tennis match between Hewitt and Federer, where two bookmakers, Book 1 and Book 2, offer odds like this:
A table showing an all-back Surebets odds example.
Bookmaker 1 3.00 1.40
Bookmaker 2 2.65 1.55
The bookmakers here operate with odds that are somewhat different. In fact they are so different, that you can make a SureBet by betting at both outcomes.
Assume you want to get a payout of €100 no matter what happens. By betting €100 / 3 for Hewitt with Book 1 and €100 / 1.55 for Federer with Book 2, you will achieve it. Your total stake will be:
Probability[2 – England] = 0.2 × 84.67% = 16.93%
At the end of the day, one of the bets is won and one is lost, but irrespective which one comes through, you will realize a profit of €100 – €97.85 = €2.15. Making €2.15 on an amount of €97.85 is a return of 2.2%. Not bad for an investment horizon of one or two days.
In the example above, there were only two outcomes. But all-back SureBets will work with any type of bet as long as you can cover all possible outcomes. For instance you can make a SureBet on a football match by betting for both home, draw and away.
Let us look at the same example, but now with a betting exchange, Exch, involved. The odds are like this:
A table showing a Back/Lay Surebets odds example.
Bookmaker 1 3.00
Exchanges Back 2.65
The betting exchange charges some commission on winnings, let’s say 3% of net profits on bets. This means that the net odds, after deduction of commissions, look like this:
A table showing a Back/Lay Surebets odds example, continued.
Bookmaker 1 3.00
Exchanges Back 2.60
The Lay odds of 2.80 means that it’s possible for you to take a bet of Hewitt to win and, net of commission, you’ll be required to pay out 1.80 times the stake in case Hewitt defeats Federer, but will receive the stake if he doesn’t.
Now assume that you place €100 for Hewitt to win with Book 1 and at the same time lay €100 at the exchange. There are two possible outcomes:
Federer wins. In this case you lose your bet at Book 1, but you receive the stake for the €100 bet you accepted at Exch. Your net profit is €0.
Hewitt wins. In this case you have to do a payment of (2.8 – 1) x €100 at the exchange, a net loss of €180. At Book 1 however, you are paid 3 x €100, resulting in a net win of €200 at Book 1. In total, you have a net profit of €20.
In this way you cannot lose and you’ll win as much as €20. As with the all-back SureBets, it is possible place the two bets in such a way, that your profit is the same irrespective of what happens.
This short guide on arbitrage betting may help you get started and develop some good practices in your betting. It is by no means definitive. You will learn more as you go along, from your own experience and from talking to other people doing it. Take care and bet smart!
SureBets come and go. In particular SureBets involving odds from betting exchanges are very volatile as user actions move prices at the blink of an eye. So you have to be fast.
As for placing the bets, you’ll quickly develop best practices in doing this. Some very simple advice is:
- Keep your account information in a single place with easy access.
- Keep bookmaker browser windows open for later access.
- Always watch the balances at your accounts before placing the first bet in order to avoid having to make a deposit in the middle of placing the bets. You may even have surpassed your credit card limit for the day.
- Check kick-off and don’t try to place SureBets immediately before the event starts, as you’ll be left with no time to react in case something unexpected happens.
- Don’t push yourself! When tired, take a break or stop. You will make errors and risk losing what took you weeks to build up.
If you bet for profit, you need to know if you’re successful. The only way to know is to keep accurate account of your betting. For common betting purposes, with a limited set of accounts, this is fairly easy. For arbitrage betting, you need other ways of doing it, as you will use a large number of accounts to do arbitrage.The foolproof way of doing this is to look at changes in balances.
THE RISK OF HAVING BETS VOIDED
Bookmakers and even exchanges may void your bets even after they were accepted online. The typical reason for doing so is that the odds posted were ‘obviously wrong’. Once you’ve placed the bets constituting a SureBet, having one of them voided will leave you exposed to lose the other bets without any win, in case the voided bet was the winning one. The prudent action is then to place a loss-minimizing bet by taking the second-best price you can get, even if it means locking in a small loss instead of a small win.
Unfortunately, many bookmakers won’t even notify you of the voiding, in which case you’ll be likely not to find out until after the fact. This implies that you have to assess the risk of voiding before placing the bet.
If odds look likely to be posted by an error, which is typically the case when the SureBet return is very high, be careful. For high return SureBets, use the odds comparison table at BetBrain to see which of the bookmakers has the most extreme odds. This is the one you should be wary of.
Asking the bookmaker to confirm the odds before placing the bets is a good idea, but will obviously often mean that you miss out on the SureBet because the odds will have changed by the time you get assurance that they are ok. Still, this is advisable. SureBetting is about many small accumulated returns, not about the big kill. And if you have bad luck after voiding, you’ll be a long time recovering your loss again. One possible action to take is to check bets you consider risky in terms of voiding after placing them. You might do this shortly after placing the bet. Or regularly, say daily until the bet is settled.
Exchanges tend to void considerably less frequently than bookmakers. After all, they didn’t post the odds. Still, it may happen. One example could be that the exchange discovers that incorrect match info was posted, for instance wrong home team or wrong kick-off time. They may then cancel all bets made and restart the market. And you’ve lucked out. The same goes for bookmakers, so check event information as well as odds before placing bets.
ORDER OF PLACING BETS
When you place a SureBet, obviously you need to place the component bets in quick succession in order to avoid getting caught by odds changes. You accomplish this by opening all the bookmaker pages, creating the betting slips, and entering the required amounts everywhere, proceeding until the bet confirmation stage everywhere, before confirming the first bet.
The order of placing the bets is certainly not irrelevant. Always start by placing the bet(s) that are least likely to be accepted. Bet size is a major concern here.
Some bookmakers (and all exchanges) announce the volume accepted / available for betting in the betting slip or at least at the final stage prior to confirming the bet, but many bookmakers won’t announce the bet limit prior to actually placing the bets. So you may end up placing one side of the SureBet but only being able to get on half the amount for the other side, in which case you’ll have to fill up the remainder with the second best price on that side, if at all possible. To avoid this, start by placing the bet with the highest risk of being limited in stake.
For bets involving only betting exchanges, start by placing the one with the least liquidity, as this has the highest probability of disappearing in the process of placing the bets.
DEPOSITS AND WITHDRAWALS
Transaction costs can potentially eat away large parts of your profit.
Assume that you want to place a €1,000 SureBet with a return of 1.5%. If you use three bookmakers, all with a 1% fee on credit card deposits and a 2% fee on withdrawals, you’ll end up losing 1.52% if you make deposits and withdrawals immediately before and after the SureBet:
So, when you make deposits and withdrawals, look out for cheap options. Credit cards are often the most expensive ways of transacting, while online payment solutions such as Moneybookers and Neteller will often be cheaper. Fees for the same service vary a lot between bookmakers.
USING THE SUREBET CALCULATOR
For optimal use of the SureBet calculator, here are some tips:
NOTE: It is assumed in the SureBet calculator, that you use the EU (decimal) style odds format. This is for convenience in the calculations. Errors will appear if you have the SureBet page in another odds format and try to do SureBet calculations.
There may be SureBets you can’t take advantage of, as you can’t get an account with one of the bookmakers involved. Simply go to My Bookmakers and remove this bookmaker from your list. It will disappear from all odds tables, the SureBets page and the SureBet Calculator.
As you inspect the SureBet page, take it from the top. The top SureBet can either be exploited by you or is for some reason uninteresting. Either way, once you’ve investigated it, you can remove it from the page by hiding all SureBets that involve one or more of the bets involved. In this way, as you work with the page, it will become a to do-list of uninvestigated SureBets. The shorter the list, the easier it is for you to overview. Combined with the true push-solution that publishes SureBets directly to your browser without any need for a refresh you have a very efficient system for detecting and exploiting SureBets.
In an ideal SureBet, stakes are calculated such that the profit is identical no matter the outcome. For practical purposes, we round off the stakes to the nearest integer. This means that the profits per outcome are slightly different. For every outcome, you can check the profit in case this outcome happens.
The currency of the profits is identical to that you chose for the total risk.
Note that for lay bets, the stake mentioned is the stake of the bet you accept. It is not the risk you undertake. If you lay a stake of €200 at odds 5.00, your risk is €200 x (5 – 1) = €800. For this reason, the stakes in a back-lay SureBet don’t add to the total risk.
When dealing with betting exchanges, you’ll often be limited by an amount available. This even happens with bookmakers with restrictive bet limit policies. For these cases lock the stake of the restrictive bet to its maximum size in order to calculate the rest of the stakes, including the total risk.
You can calculate SureBets even when the account currencies are not identical. Exchange rates hourly from the European Central Bank. While you may at any time change the currency settings, the default values will be those set by you at My Bookmakers.
You can manually adjust the commission rates for betting exchanges in the calculator. The default rates shown are those you chose at My Bookmakers.
You can manually adjust the odds. Say that you go to a betting exchange just to find out that the odds are slightly different than what we show at BetOnValue. Then just enter the new odds, click Calculate, and check for profits.
The calculator allows you to try out other odds than the best odds available. Simply select another bookmaker from the drop down list. This is useful for instance when
You don’t have an account (or sufficient money) where the highest odds are, but you do have at another provider with almost as good odds.
Odds have changed at the bookmaker with the highest odds.
Odds may be updated at BetOnValue while you’re working in the SureBet calculator. The odds in the SureBet calculator will however remain fixed.
If you use the accounting system then you will also get the links for registering each of the comprising bets.
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