Arbing (short for arbitrage betting) and value betting are two different strategies that bettors can use to make money from sports betting. While both strategies involve looking for discrepancies in the odds offered by bookmakers or betting exchanges, there are some key differences between them.
By understanding the differences between arbing and value betting, bettors can weigh up the pros and cons of each approach.
Arbing & Value Betting — What Are They?
Arbitrage and value betting are two profitable approaches to sports betting:
- Arbitrage betting involves placing bets on all possible outcomes of an event across multiple bookmakers or betting exchanges to guarantee an ROI regardless of the outcome. In other words, the bettor takes advantage of discrepancies in the odds offered by different bookmakers to lock in a profit. This strategy requires an arbitrage bet finder, and fast execution. Learn more about arbitrage betting.
- Value betting involves identifying bets where the odds offered by a bookmaker or betting exchange are higher than the true probability of the outcome occurring. Value bets are placed when the bettor believes the odds are in their favour and there is a positive expected value (EV) on the bet. Over time, if the bettor consistently identifies value bets, they can expect to make a profit. Learn more about value betting.
In summary, arbitrage betting involves taking advantage of differences in odds between bookmakers to guarantee a profit, while value betting involves identifying opportunities where the odds are in the bettor’s favour to make a profit in the long run.
To compare these two methods I’m going to tackle three key factors: Risk, Profitability, and Limitations.
Both arbitrage betting and value betting involve a certain level of risk, but the nature of the risks involved in each strategy is different.
Generally, Arbitrage betting is considered to be a low risk strategy because it guarantees a profit. The main risk in arbitrage betting comes from the potential for bookmakers to void or cancel bets. Or in another scenario, there might not be enough liquidity on the betting exchange to fulfil a “hedge” against a bet already placed. In either case, it would result in the loss of risk free trade.
In contrast, value betting is not risk free. So the risk in value betting comes from the accuracy of the bettor’s calculations and their ability to evaluate the true probability of an outcome. Essentially, if the bookmaker is accurate at pricing their odds, it will be difficult for bettors to find opportunities with a positive expected value.
Value betting results are also susceptible to bad variance, which can result in heavy losses regardless whether bettors have identified +EV (positive value) bets or not. The same cannot be said for arbitrage which produces only a steady profit for as long as bookmaker limitations will allow.
A risk associated with both arbitrage betting and value betting is the potential for the bettor to make simple mistakes. For example, a bettor may accidentally place an incorrect bet, or double-bet on an outcome. These errors can be costly.
Both arbitrage betting and value betting are profitable betting strategies, to different degrees.
The profit margins for arbitrage bets are generally small — but they’re consistent, and add up over time. The challenge is finding enough arbs while bookmakers continually adjust their odds and reduce stake sizes in response. Value bettors will also find it difficult to maximise their value betting profitability as bookmakers slash the odds on +EV bets within their book as soon as they detect them. Essentially, neither strategy can fully flourish.
However, value betting is potentially more profitable than arbing for several reasons:
- The margins per bet are higher. Value bets are generally more profitable than arbs. This is mainly because there is no hedging process involved (to eliminate the risk), which reduces the overall profitability of arbs.
- Not all value bets are easy to detect. Unlike arbs which are easy for bookmakers to detect and act on, some value bets are much less obvious. Sharp value bettors with a deep understanding of certain sports/markets can remain undetected for longer.
- Bets can be placed on the betting exchange. Some value bettors utilise the betting exchange to place their bets, which eliminates the issues of account restrictions altogether. This drastically increases the ceiling on the profitability for value betting.
Despite the potential upside to value betting, it should not be understated that it is far more challenging to consistently identify value bets and to accurately calculate the true probability of an outcome than to simply pick off arbs. Many bettors will fail trying. Hence, value betting is a more suitable proposition for an experienced bettor with a substantial bankroll.
Arbitrage betting and value betting have their limitations, which impacts their potential and longevity.
One of the main limitations of both arbing and value betting is that they require a significant amount of capital. This is because a high volume of bets is required to realise substantial returns. A small bankroll will not suffice.
In addition, both strategies require odds discrepancies to regularly occur. These are relatively rare occurrences considering that bookmakers are essentially specialists at setting odds that reflect the true probability of an outcome, along with their own margin factored in. Bookmakers actively monitor industry odds to prevent arbs and value bets from occurring. However, the use of an arbitrage bet finder or value bet finder can help bettors identify opportunities whenever they slip through the net.
The most significant limitation to arbing and value betting is that bettors can be detected by bookmakers. When a bookmaker identifies that a player is placing bets on a potentially profitable “+EV” opportunities, they usually flag the account for further investigation and limit or close it. Bettors will inevitably lose access to the accounts that they rely on to place bets. Unfortunately it is within the bookmaker’s terms and conditions to reject profitable players.
Value bettors have the ability to thrive despite bookmaker limits by turning to the betting exchange. However, consistently finding value bets on the betting exchange requires a significant amount of skill/knowledge, due to the efficiency of the odds. This tends to benefit those with the technical ability to produce a trading bot, or program, capable of snapping up prices as soon as they appear.
To learn more about arbitrage betting and value betting check out the following articles:
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