Risk-free bets (arbitrage, scalping) - myth or reality?

What are risk-free bets? Let's have a look at the following example:

Bookmaker 1 gives odds on the match Sampras - Agassi 1.5 - 2.2 Bookmaker 2 gives odds on the match Sampras - Agassi 2.1 - 1.6

We bet $100 on Agassi with the first bookmaker @ 2.2 and $100 on Sampras @ 2.1 with the second. We have little interest in who will actually win the match (of course, if you aren't fan of one of the players :) )

If Sampras wins, we'll have the following: Bookmaker 1 - we lost $100 Bookmaker 2 - we won $110

So, we win +$10

If Agassi wins: Bookmaker 1 - we won $120 Bookmaker 2 - we lost $100

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We have +$20

We win in any case, so this is really a risk-free bet. But how much should we bet to win equal sums of money in any case (above we have +10 in one and +20 in the other)? The easiest way is to download a free calculator:

You also can calculate the percentage manually

For 2 outcomes: W=100%*(K1*K2)/(K1+K2)

W - stake k1 - odds on the first outcome k2 - odds on the second outcome

If W>100% we have a risk-free bet

For 3 outcomes:


But let's return from maths to real life. Is it that good and there are no difficulties at all? There are, and a lot of them. I'd even call the work of professional risk-free bettors as hard as that of handicappers. I'll try to enumerate these negative things.

1. Danger of the return of the bet at one of the bookmakers (for example if during a tennis match one player refused to continue at 6-4, 3-2) some bookmakers will return money, some won't. There's little chance of this, but there is.

2. Danger of the odds falling quickly If you don't have your own software that tracks the risk-free bets you will be using some odds comparison service. Together with you such services are used by thousands of people, bookmakers will react instantly if people stake much money on one outcome, dropping the odds.

3. Money transfer difficulties Think you can deposit money into one account, tomorrow withdraw it and, not losing anything, deposit into another? No! First of all, bookmakers charge fees for money transfers, in some cases all your risk-free winnings may go only to pay these fees. Secondly, if it's your first deposit, you are likely to be given a bonus. It's not at all bad, even vice versa :) But there's a small problem - usually you'll have to bet this bonus money several times before you can proceed to withdrawals, bonus hunters aren't welcome at all.

4. You must have accounts at many bookmakers

It would be ideal to bet all money with 2 bookmakers, but then you'll have to wait for a risk-free bet for weeks, which is definitely not the thing to do. Then you'll have to split your bank into 7-10 parts and have accounts at the same number of bookmakers, which means your bank will grow 7-10 times slower.

5. A lot of time is needed You'll have to monitor the lines constantly to find a risk-free bet, because it might quickly disappear, which will consume much time.

These are negative things about risk-free bets. Concluding the chapter I would like to emphasize, that I didn't mean that you shoulcn't bet risk-free bets at all, not at all, if you notice one and you have accounts at the necessary bookmakers, why not make a bet. Quite another thing is constantly betting risk-free trying to make money.

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