Football, soccer, the beautiful game. Whatever you call it, it’s the holy land for arbitrage betting. Football is truly the world game, played widely and popular all over the globe.
Almost every country has a professional soccer league, meaning that competitive matches are being played every day of the year.
As arbitrage bettors, this simply means that there are a ton of opportunities for us to squeeze a few dollars here and there without the bookmakers wising up to our activities.
The incredible number of betting markets available on the majority of matches means that sophisticated arbitrage bettors can find clever ways to mix and match markets whilst appearing to just be regular punters in the eyes of the bookies.
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Football Betting Markets
There are an incredible number of betting markets available for soccer. Here are a few of the more common ones:
- Money Line
- Outright or head to head betting. Bet on which team will win the match (don’t forget the draw).
- 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).
- Total Score (over/under)
- 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, half totals etc.
- Correct score at full time
- Number of corners
- Number of red/yellow cards (points)
- Time of first score
And many, many more. Let’s look at how we can use a few of these markets to form sure bets.
Simple Football Arbitrage Example
One of the most basic arbitrage bets in football is the Money Line market. You need 3 bookies to back the 3 possible outcomes (Win, Draw or Loss).
Let’s use a hypothetical match between Burnley and Aston Villa as an example.
By betting on each of the possible outcomes with a separate bookmaker, we have a 2.5% profit arbitrage opportunity on our hands!
Let’s calculate the stakes based on total winnings of $800.
So we are staking a total of $779.83 for a minimum return of $799.97. This is a guaranteed profit of at least $20.14!
I’m sure you’ll agree that that’s a decent profit for a few minutes' work!
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?
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You can simplify this type of arb even further by using the asian handicap market to eliminate the draw option.
As many punters struggle to understand the asian handicap markets, the odds don’t shorten as fast and the arbs last longer.
Advanced Football Arbitrage Example
An advanced arbitrage opportunity in football betting is to take advantage of middles.
For those of you that are already familiar with middles, you may immediately assume that I am referring to middling the total score markets.
As football is a relatively low scoring game, it is fairly difficult to find a profitable middle from the total scores market, even more so from the individual team scores market.
A number of bookmakers offer an interesting yellow/red cards market whereby the total number of players who receive yellow or red cards is tallied.
10 points are awarded for a yellow card, 25 points for a red card. As the bookmakers offer different over/under markets, there can be overlaps and therefore middle opportunities.
Here’s an example:
Paddy Power (41)
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. Let’s treat it as a regular arb for the moment and calculate stakes based on winnings of $300.
So we are staking a total of $305.91 for what appears to be a guaranteed loss of at least $5.91.
But what happens if 1 red card and 3 yellow cards are awarded during the match (total tally of 40 points)? Well, if this occurs, both of our bets will pay out, resulting in a handsome profit.
Let’s take a look at the potential outcomes:
- Total tally is 35 or less. Payout is $299.99 from Paddy Power. Net loss is $5.92.
- Total score is 45 or more. Payout is $300 from Ladbrokes. Net loss is $5.91.
- Total score is exactly 40 points. Both bets pay out. Payout is $299.99 from Paddy Power and $300 from Ladbrokes. Net profit is $294.08.
In this situation, you can see that most of the time, you will be losing $5.90 per hit, but every now and then, you will win $294.08!
You need to achieve the middle in at least 1 in every 50 games for it to be profitable.
As the line is set by what the bookmakers feel is the most likely tally at the end of the match, the middle is achieved more often than you might initially think.
This kind of arbitrage bet is also good to help convince the bookmakers that you are a regular punter, as it doesn't look like traditional arbitrage betting.
Football is the holy grail of arbitrage sports and the examples I have touched on here are just a few of the many, many possible arbitrage opportunities that you can take advantage of in this fantastic sport!
If you would like to learn more about arbitrage betting in soccer as well as how to get started with sports arbitrage betting in general, feel free to enrol in my 100% free video course on sports arbitrage betting!
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