Beating the sportsbooks is tough because all of their odds come with a margin that gives them the upper hand. That’s why most people lose their money in the long run and staying profitable requires a lot of time, energy, and experience.
However, there are some easier ways to gain an advantage against the bookies, at least for a while. Some of them are borderline cheating but still completely legal and you should certainly consider them if you want to make money from sports betting in the long run.
Here are three ways to legally “cheat” the online betting sites.
In most cases, the sportsbooks move the lines and the odds according to the wagers placed. When it’s all said and done, they have a guaranteed profit no matter what happens in the sporting event in question. A pretty sweet deal if you ask me!
What if I tell you that you can do the same? The technique is called arbitrage betting, also arbing or sure betting.
The concept is fairly simple – you find odds and lines that allow you to bet on two opposite outcomes for the same event and make money in all scenarios.
You can do that by using multiple sportsbooks online. The top betting sites are constantly moving their odds and lines to stay competitive. They also work with low margins, so you could find opportunities for arbitrage betting every now and then.
Here’s an example. The odds for under 2.5 goals for an MLS game are +110 at one bookmaker and the price for over 2.5 goals for the same match in another one suddenly jumps to +110.
If you’re quick enough to place wagers on both, you can guarantee yourself a profit. If you bet $100 on both outcomes, you need to invest $200 and you get $210 in both cases. That might seem like a small profit, but there’s just no way to lose!
In theory, the betting sites are trying to avoid giving up arbitrage opportunities but they occur every now and then. They are not illegal either, so nothing stops you from taking full advantage.
If that sounds appealing, you should know the following.
- Moving Your Money Fast – You should use multiple betting sites and find a way to move your money fast. Pick a banking method that allows you to do that and make sure to stick to fast-paying sportsbooks.
- Terms and Conditions Matter – You should be careful with the terms and conditions of the bookmakers for special circumstances. For example, two sportsbooks might have different rules for postponed, delayed, or canceled games. It’s important to know what happens in such scenarios because one loss could wipe out all of your profits up to this point.
- You Might Get Limited – Arbitrage betting is not technically forbidden, but the sportsbooks don’t like it and they try to look for patterns that suggest a player might be engaged in it. If they believe that might be the case, your ability to place wagers might be limited.
- Calculating Your Bets – It’s better to place wagers that bring you the same return for the event. To calculate each bet, simply adjust for the odds. For example, let’s say you want to bet $100 on odds of +200 for outcome 1 and -150 for outcome 2. To get a similar return, you need to place 35.76 on outcome 1 and 64.24 on outcome 2. Still, you might want to round these a bit, so you don’t raise flags.
- Bankroll Management – In theory, nothing could go with sure bets. In practice, there are certain dangers related to terms and the reaction of the bookies. That’s why you should still follow some form of bankroll management.
If you believe that you can handle the challenges of arbing, you should certainly give it a go. It’s a smart way to be profitable without taking risks.
The more classic way of getting ahead would be to engage in bonus hunting. As the term suggests, the goal here is to claim as many sports betting bonuses as possible.
The overall concept is simple – you join one online sportsbook, grab the welcome bonus, and clear it. When you’re done, you move on to the next bookie. You can do that with a large number of legit sites to boost your bankroll significantly.
Your chances to win if you’re constantly using a bonus are much higher, but there’s something else to consider. All welcome promos come with rollover requirements nowadays, so you should always have a plan on how to clear these without losing the extra cash you earned from the offer.
If you plan carefully, you can earn a lot of money by the time you’re finished. And even when the welcome bonuses are done, most sportsbooks have reload offers. They are not that good, but they can still provide a boost to your returns.
I’m sure that the bookmakers wouldn’t like such an approach, but it’s not illegal and they can’t do much about it.
Another way to legally “cheat” when betting on sports would be to clear a bonus or a free wager and bet on opposite outcomes to guarantee a profit.
It’s similar to arbitrage betting because the overall goal is to make money from the same event no matter what. The difference here is that you don’t take advantage of the odds but of the offers at your disposal.
Imagine that you grab a $500 bonus in a bookmaker and you have to rollover the money five times before you can withdraw it.
That means you have to place a total of $2,500 in wagers and you could even end up losing cash when it’s all said and done.
To avoid that, you decide to bet on opposite outcomes of the same events in the bookmaker and in another place. That would result in a loss of around 5% of the money you place because of the margins.
Imagine that you place the $2,500 required to clear the bonus in the original sportsbook and another $2,500 on the opposite outcomes in another place.
A quick calculation shows that you would lose $250 by the time you clear the bonus, but you’ve already earned $500 in extra cash, so that’s $250 risk-free.
A similar logic applies to using one-time free bets instead. You can use the wager to back one of the outcomes and use another bookmaker or a betting exchange to place money on the opposite outcome.
It’s called matched betting and a lot of people have been using the system to make money.
And remember, you can always combine this one with arbitrage betting if the opportunity arises! If you can afford to spend some time following the odds and sticking to events where the margin is low, you can make even more money than shown in the example above.
Either way, this is a proven way to be successful and it’s perfectly legal. You should follow similar principles to the ones I described in the arbing section.
The techniques above work if you want to “cheat” the bookies without consequences. You can also beat them in the more traditional way by becoming an expert in sports betting as a whole.
It’s the most sustainable and profitable approach, but it requires more hard work and dedication. If you believe that’s the better path for you, you should check our guide to online sports betting. It’s an excellent starting point and it features useful information for both beginners and advanced gamblers.