Sports Arbitrage Betting – What is it and Does it Work?

The internet is awash with betting systems that are guaranteed to make you your fortune, but very few live up to their promise. Sports Arbitrage however is slightly different in that it produces a guaranteed return. But what is it and does it work in practice? Read on to find out more:

Sports Betting Arbitrage, or “arbs”, in its simplest form is the process of placing bets with different bookmakers and at different odds so that a profit is guaranteed whatever the outcome of the event. As a simple example, imagine in a tennis match, bookmaker “A” may have player 1 at odds of 2.1 to win and player 2 at odds of 1.85, whereas a rival bookmaker “B” may see the odds as 1.85 for player 1 and 2.1 for player 2.

In this example you would be able to back player 1 to win at odds of 2.1 with bookmaker A, and player 2 to win at odds of 2.1 with bookmaker B. Lets see what would happen if you were to back each player at £100 to win:

Player 1 Wins: You make £100 x 1.1 = £110, less the £100 bet on Player 2 = £10 profit

Player 1 Wins: You make £100 x 1.1 = £110, less the £100 bet on Player 1 = £10 profit

So regardless of the result you have guaranteed yourself a return of £10 with no risk of losing

Ok, so now lets get real. This is an extreme (though not unheard of example) that has been used to illustrate the point, quite often the arbs will be much lower, but nonetheless they will be guaranteed winnings. The art comes in finding these arbs in the first place. There are literally hundreds of online bookmakers offering multiple different markets on thousands of sporting events, so they do crop up regularly. The art comes in finding these arbs in the first place.

It is possible to find these through your own research, but this can be an extremely painstaking method which will demand a large amount of time and effort on your part. The preferred option of is to use one of the “arb-hunting” websites or software packages available on the internet. Often these will provide immediate text and e-mail alerts the moment an “arb” is found to ensure you can act quickly.

However, It is also worth looking at the downsides of arbing. For instance some of these potential “arbs” will only be available for a short time, so you have to be prepared to act quickly. Sometimes, the act of rushing can cause errors and before you know it you’ve backed the same outcome twice, so you need to be able to perform in a cool and calm manner. You will also need to be aware of extremely large “arbs” which the bookmaker may well fail to honour due to the get out clause of “palpable errors”, however these occasions should be fairly obvious. Finally, do you have the available time to stop what you’re doing and get the arb on?

So can you make money from Sports Arbitrage? I would have to say “Yes” but as with everything, it is not as easy as it may appear at first glance and may need a little more time, effort and patience than you may be lead to believe.

Getting an Edge in Sports Betting: Contrarian Sports Investing

Many people enjoy sports, and sports fans often enjoy placing wagers on the outcomes of sporting events. Most casual sports bettors lose money over time, creating a bad name for the sports betting industry. But what if we could “even the playing field?”

If we transform sports betting into a more business-like and professional endeavor, there is a higher likelihood that we can make the case for sports betting as an investment.

The Sports Marketplace as an Asset Class

How can we make the jump from gambling to investing? Working with a team of analysts, economists, and Wall Street professionals – we often toss the phrase “sports investing” around. But what makes something an “asset class?”

An asset class is often described as an investment with a marketplace – that has an inherent return. The sports betting world clearly has a marketplace – but what about a source of returns?

For instance, investors earn interest on bonds in exchange for lending money. Stockholders earn long-term returns by owning a portion of a company. Some economists say that “sports investors” have a built-in inherent return in the form of “risk transfer.” That is, sports investors can earn returns by helping provide liquidity and transferring risk amongst other sports marketplace participants (such as the betting public and sportsbooks).

Sports Investing Indicators

We can take this investing analogy a step further by studying the sports betting “marketplace.” Just like more traditional assets such as stocks and bonds are based on price, dividend yield, and interest rates – the sports marketplace “price” is based on point spreads or money line odds. These lines and odds change over time, just like stock prices rise and fall.

To further our goal of making sports gambling a more business-like endeavor, and to study the sports marketplace further, we collect several additional indicators. In particular, we collect public “betting percentages” to study “money flows” and sports marketplace activity. In addition, just as the financial headlines shout, “Stocks rally on heavy volume,” we also track the volume of betting activity in the sports gambling market.

Sports Marketplace Participants

Earlier, we discussed “risk transfer” and the sports marketplace participants. In the sports betting world, the sportsbooks serve a similar purpose as the investing world’s brokers and market-makers. They also sometimes act in manner similar to institutional investors.

In the investing world, the general public is known as the “small investor.” Similarly, the general public often makes small bets in the sports marketplace. The small bettor often bets with their heart, roots for their favorite teams, and has certain tendencies that can be exploited by other market participants.

“Sports investors” are participants who take on a similar role as a market-maker or institutional investor. Sports investors use a business-like approach to profit from sports betting. In effect, they take on a risk transfer role and are able to capture the inherent returns of the sports betting industry.

Contrarian Methods

How can we capture the inherent returns of the sports market? One method is to use a contrarian approach and bet against the public to capture value. This is one reason why we collect and study “betting percentages” from several major online sports books. Studying this data allows us to feel the pulse of the market action – and carve out the performance of the “general public.”

This, combined with point spread movement, and the “volume” of betting activity can give us an idea of what various participants are doing. Our research shows that the public, or “small bettors” – typically underperform in the sports betting industry. This, in turn, allows us to systematically capture value by using sports investing methods. Our goal is to apply a systematic and academic approach to the sports betting industry.

The Myth of the Hot Sports Betting Handicapper

The most prevalent means of sports service marketing is some variant on the theme that so and so is “red hot” and you should therefore pay him your money and follow his plays. The crooked services do this by coming up with all sorts of confusing and contradictory rating systems and hyperbolic descriptions for their games. How many times have you heard a handicapper brag about being “16-2 on his 500 star MWC underdog plays of the month” or saying that his “Southern Conference total of the month is 60% lifetime”?

Basically, the bottom feeders of this industry can slice and dice their statistics all sorts of ways to make themselves seem “hot”. Or they can do what a lot of them do, and simply lie about their performance. When I was first starting out as a sports handicapper there was no such thing as the Internet (at least as it exists today) and I had to rely on a scorephone for line and score updates. This scorephone was sponsored by a group of touts not noted for their veracity, and you had to sit through a few pitches for their 900 numbers before you got to the scores. A bit of a Faustian bargain, to say the least, but it was an effective way of keeping up with scores in the pre-Internet dark ages.

So one night we’re at a party thrown by some kid that we didn’t like too much. My crew and I were racking our brains to think of some mean pranks to pull on the guy. Someone got the idea to rack up some 900# charges on our mark’s phone bill. Since there’s no such thing as 900# directory assistance, I resulted to the only 900# I could remember – one of the touts from the scorephone that had drilled his digits into my memory through the sheer force of repetition.

For the sake of argument, I decided to write down the tout’s NBA plays. I had less faith in his handicapping ability than I would in a prognostication based on a divining rod or Ouija Board, but since I wasn’t paying for the call I figured I’d just see how the guy did. I wrote down his plays and checked his performance the next morning.

To his credit, the tout went 5-3 on his 8 plays. By any criteria a 5-3 night is a solid performance. Later that day I called the scorephone and waited for the tout to start crowing about his 5-3 night. Much to my surprise, the tout didn’t say a word about his 5-3 night. That’s because he was too buy bragging about his mythical 7-1 performance the preceding day.

Now, I understand that the revelation that boiler room touts like about their performance is on par with “pro wrestling is fake” or “the games at the fair aren’t on the up-and-up” as self evident truths. The point I’m trying to make, however, is that the desire to be the “hot handicapper: is so great that the tout felt he had to embellish a solid performance the night before.

So despite the fact that some handicappers like about their performance, what’s wrong with trying to ride the hot handicapper? Plenty-it’s not only an ineffective way to evaluate a handicapper’s abilities, it also has a number of statistical and theoretical shortcomings.

The simplest way to explain what I’m talking about is to borrow a disclaimer that you’ll hear on every commercial for a mutual fund: “Past performance is no guarantee of future results”. The sports gambling milieu, like those of stocks, commodities and other financial instruments, is a marketplace and subject to a number of the same tendencies of other financial institutions (what economists call “market dynamics”).

The fact that a sports wager’s success or failure is dependent to a degree on the “whims” of a marketplace (of odds and pointspreads) and to a greater degree on other external events outside of the bettor’s control exacerbates what is already a matter of simple logic: what a handicapper does over a period of time (be it a day, week, month or season) has no intrinsic correlation between a handicapper’s performance one year and the next. In other words, the sports gambling marketplace and the random patterns of events that act upon them don’t care if I hit 60% last year. If I don’t do my work, crunch the numbers, get good prices to bet into, and catch a few breaks along the way I may end up beaten regardless of how well I performed in a subsequent period of time.

The History of Online Sports Betting

Man, by virtue of his instinct to survive, is naturally a gambler. Given the risks of living day-to-day life, it was considered an act of skill to stay alive until the sun sets, especially during the Stone Age. As the human race began to develop systems that would facilitate the physiological need of survival, the gambling instinct that was inherent in man did not dissipate. Rather, it became stronger with the passage of time.

The gambling instinct, simply put, is displayed early into the history of human civilization. The Romans were notorious for their fierce and unforgiving gladiator matches, which were mainly violent at least and visceral at best. By 80AD, the emperor Titus then conducted the first official ceremonies at the Colosseum, and thus the festivities had begun. Slaves were pitted against each other in mostly battles to the death, and sometimes against wild beasts as well. Spectators relished the thought of betting on their favorite gladiator, hoping that he would live to see the end of the glorious battle.

But as time progressed, the violence of the human sport had proved to be too much for some, and gambling has been reduced to animal fights. Of course, this has been around even before the human blood sport of gladiators, but they had become highly popularized in certain parts of Europe -particularly Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom, France, and even some parts of Asia such as the Philippines and Indonesia. Among these fights were bullfighting, cockfighting, and fox hunting.

As European influence spread more and more all throughout the continents of the world, the thrill of betting soon became a worldwide phenomenon. Gradually, the hunger for the sight of blood was soon surpassed by the promise of amassment of wealth. The stakes were high, but made more appealing by the rise of establishments such as casinos. Betting was never more enjoyable.

But alas, the collected momentum of sports betting was halted abruptly by the coming of the two World Wars since activities such as race meeting and lotteries became severely restricted. Its return only came in the mid-1950s and soon flourished again.

Not to be outdone, sporting events still remained strong in gambling circles, as events such as horse races, basketball matches, and baseball games just seemed to beg for more incoming bets. The rise of communications technology also facilitated the development of sports betting, with phone betting becoming an attractive option to those who live far and away from the games. Companies such as Intertops in Antigua started this as far back as 1993.

When the Internet finally came out for public access and personal use, the betting world evolved into a more closely-knit community. Globalization served its purpose in connecting the world in ways previously thought inconceivable -after all, who would have thought that you can bet on a game halfway across the world with such ease? In 1996, a company in Gibraltar called Microgaming took advantage of this trend and began developing software for use in other gaming companies all over the world. Others soon followed suit, and thus online sports betting as we knew it was born.