Arbitrage betting on basketball can be a bit of a minefield if you are brand new to the craft.
At first glance, the arbitrage opportunities may seem to be the same as every other sport but once you delve into the somewhat complex rules surrounding overtime and ‘official time’, you can see how an arber can become unstuck!
If you are brand new to the concept of sports arbitrage betting and surebets, I recommend that you read my introduction to the topic via the link below.
Brand New to Sports Arbitrage Betting?
Read my introduction to the world of arbitrage betting!
If you are familiar with the concept of sure bets, read on to find out how to profit from basketball arbitrage betting!
Basketball Betting Markets Explained
The major betting markets on offer for basketball are as follows.
This is the same as outright or head to head betting. You are simply betting on which team will win the match.
Line betting (usually asian handicap) where the bet is on a particular team to win after they are given an imaginary handicap (positive or negative).
A bet on whether the total score (for both teams) will be over or under a certain value. Usually done with half points (as per asian handicap betting) to remove the possibility of a void bet. Also possible as a bet on individual team totals.
There are also plenty of more exotic markets which typically combine the above markets, or involve betting on which team will reach a certain number of points first.
You can also bet on the winning margin, which team will win each half and much more. These more exotic markets have a lot of unpredictability and consequently high profit margins built in by the bookmakers so they are usually unsuitable for arbitrage betting.
Basketball Betting Rules - Overtime and Official Time Rules!
Conflicting betting rules is one of the main ways to be caught out in basketball arbitrage betting.
Here are the most likely sources of conflicting rules.
For the vast majority of basketball matches, if the score is tied at full time, the winner will be decided by playing a period of overtime, the winner at the end of this period is considered the winner of the match.
Multiple overtime periods may be played until a winner is decided.
Most bookmakers include the overtime period as part of their bet, that is, the winner at the end of overtime is considered the winner for the purposes of the bet.
However, if one of the bookmakers you are betting with does not include overtime, bets with them will be considered a loss for all matches that go to overtime (as the match is a draw in their eyes).
If the other side you backed does not win during overtime, you can lose both bets, which can be quite devastating.
Official Time Rules
Basketball bets are not settled until ‘official time’ is reached. For many bookmakers, this refers to the official time set by the governing body of the sport:
- NBA: 43 minutes of play
- NBL: 43 minutes of play
- NCAA: 35 minutes of play
- All other games: at the end of normal time
But for some bookmakers, such as Bet365, bets are not settled until there is 5 minutes remaining of scheduled time.
If an arb between Bet365 and another bookie is on an NBA match in which a team retires after 50 minutes, your bet with Bet365 will be void but your other bet will be settled.
This can work in your favour or against you, but it is just luck and not arbitrage.
Event or proposition bets are made on the occurrence of events which are not directly related to the game’s outcome.
An example of this would be betting on which team is first to score 20 points.
Many bookmakers settle these events immediately upon them occurring but some (such as Luxbet) do not settle them until the game is completed. That is, they will void the bet if the game is not completed. This may occur if a team retires early.
Please take care when betting to ensure that your bookies all have matching rules!
Basic Basketball Arbitrage Opportunities
The simplest basketball arbitrage bet is the money line. Here’s an example from the NBA.
From the example above, it is clear that by selectively taking the best odds from the two bookmakers, we can form an arbitrage opportunity.
Assuming total winnings of $600, our stakes on each player would be as follows:
In the surebet above, we are staking $588.57 to win $600, which is a net profit of $11.43.
If you can't figure out how I arrived at probability and stake numbers in the tables above, I highly recommend that you check out my in depth guide to arbitrage betting calculations.
It runs through all of the formulas and calculations with tables, graphs and quizzes!
Want to know how to calculate the stakes in the table above?
Read my article on arbitrage betting calculations!
Advanced Basketball Arbitrage Opportunities
Basketball middles are often possible on the total game score markets. When there is an overlap between the scores set by different bookmakers, there is a potential for middling.
You may notice that the arbitrage row above does not actually constitute a real arbitrage opportunity as the probability is greater than 100%.
This is what is known as a negative middle. This will become more clear in a minute. Let’s treat it as a regular arb and calculate stakes based on winnings of $400.
Here are the potential outcomes:
- Total score is 170 or less. Payout is $399.99 from SportsBet. Net loss is $5.51.
- Total score is 175 or more. Payout is $400 from Pinnacle. Net loss is $5.50.
- Total score is exactly 171, 172, 173 or 174 points. Both bets pay out. Payout is $399.99 from SportsBet and $400 from Pinnacle. Net profit is $394.49.
In this situation, you can see that most of the time, you will be losing $5.50 per hit, but every now and then, you will win $394.49!
You need to hit the spread at least 1 in every 71 games for it to be profitable.
As the line is set by what the bookmakers feel is the most likely score at the end of the match, the middle is achieved more often than you might initially think.
Basketball is definitely a sport that you can arb, but you have to be aware of the various betting rules that each bookmaker adheres to.
Thankfully, most bookmakers follow the same rules (include overtime, settle on governing body official time, and pay out proposition bets upon the event occurring).
If you are interested in more detail on how to get started with sports arbitrage betting, I recommend signing up to my 100% free, sports arbitrage betting video course.
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