Although professional arbitraging is one of the more secure methods of earning consistent profits through betting, there are several risks involved which must be avoided or controlled.
(1) Disappearance of Arbitrage Opportunities
Arbitrage positions often have a very brief window of opportunity, perhaps between three and 15 minutes, before they disappear from the market.
Furthermore, the greater the number of ‘arbers’ finding and exploiting an ‘arb’, the shorter the arb’s lifespan becomes.
Once an arbitrage opening is identified speed and accuracy are essential to ensure that bets are placed at the required odds within the very short time window, the duration of which is fleeting and unknown.
Rapid disappearance of the optimum odds to attain profit from backing (or laying) all outcomes of an event is one of the largest challenges faced by professional arbers.
Experience in combating or avoiding loss making positions in sports arbitrage is the equivalent of possessing the betting equivalent of the ‘holy grail’, and every arber who has this high degree of market knowledge should be considered a master in his field.
- One path to attaining such heights is to specialise in cross market arbitrage, as these transactions are harder to identify for bookmakers and punters alike, reducing the risk they will be found by many others; hence the lifespan of the arb is protected or prolonged.
- Focusing on established bookmakers with both an online and high street presence is also a good idea. In this way, arbs can be compiled using a mixture of online bets from home, and walk-in transactions using the betting shops in your neighbourhood.
Shops need to publish and make their prices available several days in advance as fixed odds coupons are printed and distributed for walk-in customers. This can certainly present arbitrage situations where all bets can be placed many days in advance of the event (although whether arbers mind having their betting bank tied-up for longer periods such as this is purely a personal and/or financial decision).
Usually, only on the day of the event will punters be faced with the possibility of arriving at a shop with fixed odds coupon in hand only to be told that the price they have selected has dropped.
In summary, the combination of cross market arbitrage via the larger bookmakers will often present arbitrage opportunities with life spans of much longer than 15 minutes.