By nature of covering all outcomes on an event we generally conclude that there are no sports arbitrage risks to concern ourselves with. This is a part truth in that the methodology of profiting from sports betting this way is concrete. It’s a proven method and is as such ‘risk-free’.
This does not mean however you should become complacent in placing bets. All of us are capable of making mistakes.
So what can go wrong? Well, it all comes down to research and placing your bet properly.
1) The Odds Might Move
Whilst bookmakers are competing with each other to offer the best odds they can, they are also looking to reduce their liabilities. If they are bombarded by a surge of bets on a selection because their odds are out of line then they will likely reduce their price. The same goes for Betfair where prices can fluctuate madly – especially minutes before the off.
Learn to study Betfair and understand how the markets move. When placing bets it’s a good idea to have the two windows opened side by side for comparison. When you are sure you’ve lined up the right bet, enter the stakes in your bet slip and submit in quick succession to one another.
Live or in-play betting carries an additional worry and bookeis providing these services usually incorporate a 10 second or so delay after your press the submit button in the bet slip. Avoid such stresses by betting at half time or during timeouts.
Have a matched betting calculator / spreadsheet to hand should you need to adjust as odds move. If this does happen, try not to be greedy and wait it out. It’s better to get the bet on and lose £1 more on a qualifier than watch the odds spiral out control an hour later and stand to lose significantly more.
2) Palpable Errors
Listed deep within bookmaker terms and conditions you will find that all of them have the ability to void a bet should they deem they have made a mistake with their odds. Sound scary? Most definitely if you’re palped at the bookmaker but your Betfair bet is left to ride! Fortunately in my long betting history with bookmakers I’ve only had bets voided a couple of times and they both worked out in my favour.
Avoid these arbitrage risks by paying attention to the markets. If odds look too good to be true and the return on an arb is massive then it’s likely to be a mistake. If your selection is 30/1 but all over bookmakers are listing it at 3/1 then you can bet your bottom dollar the bookmaker won’t honour your bet. If you’re not sure and are deliberating over a bet, don’t be scared to pick up the phone and check with the telebetting department whether the odds you’re seeing are correct.
If you ever think you’ve been hard done by in being victim of a palpable error then chase up the bookmaker with a query and complaint. If you need to take it further then contact the bookies regulatory body. Taking this step would be exceptionally rare.
3) Bookmaker Betting Rules
Know the rules of the selection you are betting on. I don’t mean specifically the rules of the sport you’re betting on (although that will help a lot!) but the rules to which the bookmaker abides to settle their bets. You will need to compare these rules with those of Betfair or whatever betting exchanges you are matching against. Match abandonments, player retirements from a fixture or changes in personnel amongst others can vary from book to book.
Stay in the loop and dedicate some time to reading the rules outlined across each site. Alternatively, in signing up to a free bet matching service or surebet finder you can expect them to do the legwork in ensuring the bets provided are always suitable.
4) Bookmaker Limits
If you’re betting big then find out what the maximum bets are on a selection and don’t just assume that next time it will be the same. Bookies monitor customer accounts and may impose restrictions on you over time. The worst thing you could do would be to lay a big bet off on a betting exchange and then realise you can’t get the bet on at the bookmaker!
Whilst Betfair will accept any size bet, there is no guarantee that there are enough people wanting to take your lay odds. Do not assume your bet will be matched as more money piles in. Play it safe. Work within the odds and limits that are in front of you now. Especially so when you’re starting out – keep it simple and bet small.
5) Concentration and Experience
Never forget that you are staking real money on your selection. Limit sports arbitrage risks by paying due care and attention to everything you do. It’s easy to feel less attached to money sitting in an e-wallet than holding £20 notes in your hand. Ditch this habit fast. Concentrate and learn from any mistakes you make. Experience comes with time.
Never chase losses. If you end up a few quid down now and again from pressing the wrong button then so be it. Sports arbitrage works. Small dents in your bank piggy bank will always be hammered out by your consistent gains. Stay sensible.