The Best Kept Secret in Sports Betting

What is the best kept secret in sports betting?

Key Points

– Bettors can take advantage of a sports betting secret, if they can find it.

– Bettors would love to know the secret to sports betting.

The Best Kept Secret in Sports Betting

What is not a secret in sports betting is that all bettors want to win money. Sure, betting on sporting events is fun, but deep down there is a desire to win and win big. 

The problem is that the system is designed for the average sports bettor to lose. If every sports bettor always won, sportsbooks would be out of business and sports betting as we know it probably wouldn’t exist.

Wouldn’t it be great if bettors could simply make strong betting choices and guarantee a win? That would be the best kept secret in sports betting.

Arbitrage Defined

There is something called arbitrage in sports betting. To some, it may not be a secret at all, but for the majority of bettors out there it probably comes as a surprise.

An arbitrage occurs when a bettor places multiple wagers on the same event to ensure a profit regardless of the outcome. Usually, it happens as a result of many sportsbooks providing various odds for the same event.

Arbitrage does require bettors to have multiple betting accounts at a variety of sportsbooks. Doing so allows a bettor to use arbitrage as a type of hedging; however, the actual definition calls for bettors to place all of their arbitrage bets at once.

The concept can best be understood through the use of examples.


Same Game, Different Odds

This will happen from time to time. Two bookies are simultaneously giving different odds on a game. The arbitrage bettor will wager on both to ensure a profit or at the very least a breakeven. 

Consider an MLB game between the Pirates and Cardinals. You place a $100 on the Pirates at +110. If Pittsburgh wins, you win $110. It’s a strong bet especially after you found the value on the Pirates.

At the same time, you see that both the Pirates and the Cubs are listed at -105 at a different sportsbook. You put $105 on the Cubs to win. No matter the outcome, you profit $5. That may not sound like much, but imagine doing that 100 times. Imagine doing it with larger wagers as well.

The best arbitrage situations occur when lines on an event open. That is when bettors, sportsbooks, oddsmakers, etc. have the least amount of information available for an upcoming event. As it gets closer to game time, the lines tighten up and the arbitrage chances disappear.

Bettors can go online and access tools that will help them locate arbitrage opportunities. They can be found. In the 2020 MLB season for example, Tampa Bay was +128 -1.5 on the run line against Baltimore which was +1.5 at -120. For every dollar wagered, a bettor could earn eight cents.

Sports Betting Prop Secrets

Since sportsbooks largely duplicate each other’s lines, the aforementioned scenario doesn’t happen as frequently in popular marketplaces like NFL or MLB games these days. However, it still applies to props because there isn’t a free, central location where books may compare prop odds.

Take the case of a recent NFL Draft. One sportsbook had CB Jeffrey Okudah’s draft position listed as Over/Under 4.5, with the Over priced at +115. A second sportsbook had the same draft position – 4.5 – but listed the Under at +110. 

The smart bettor realized that he was guaranteed to win with $10 or $15 in this case by betting on either. As stated, finding arbitrage opportunities in the larger markets is harder, but bettors can find them in props markets.

Taking Advantage of Line Movements

This isn’t the typical arbitrage case, though one could argue that it is indeed an arbitrage bet. This strategy involves waiting for line movements. The problem, of course, is that lines don’t always move in your favor. However, if a line does shift to your advantage, you can place an arbitrage wager.

Consider placing a $100 wager on the Cubs at their opening odds of +110. Following intense betting activity, Chicago drops to -115 and their opponent, the Cardinals, rise to +105. The smart bettor now wagers on the Cardinals at +105 and ensures a profit of $5 or $10 regardless of the outcome.

To Arbitrage or Not to Arbitrage

Should bettors use this strategy. Yes and no. For a few reasons, it will be difficult for the typical bettor to profit significantly from arbitrage. Profit margins are really low. Think about the Rays-Orioles example above. A bettor would need an extreme amount of capital to make the bet. He would also need a sportsbook with a high betting limit.

Arbitrage opportunities are so hard to find these days. You won’t notice significant pricing differences on point spreads or moneylines for the majority of major American sports. That’s because sportsbooks now shift lines on air. That means they alter odds depending on what other shops are doing rather than the action they are taking.

Smart bettors can find arbitrage bets on things like MLB player props where the markets are less liquid, but the limits will probably be minimal and it would be challenging to produce a steady stream of winnings.

Finally, books hate bettors that engage in this practice.  When sportsbooks find out about a bettor engaging in arbitrage, they will typically restrict their betting or e