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Surebet – how does it work?

Surebet system in sports betting
Written by Anton

Which strategy can make you real money with low risks? Each bettor asked himself this question at least once. Personally, I include surebet system to this kind of strategies.

First of all, let us see what this is about. Surebets are situations where a gambler can bet on opposing outcomes of the event and get profit despite the result.

Causes of arbitrage situations

Now, when we know what the arbitrage situation is, we should understand the reason why it appears. Bookmakers are not thrilled about the idea of losing their money, so they are trying to suppress their emergence.

But arbitrage situations continue to arise because of the following reasons:

  • Competition between bookmakers. Bookmakers try to lure new clients and rise the odds on some particular markets. This contribute to emergence of arbitrage situations;
  • Late change of bookmaker odds. Sometimes bookmakers fail to watch the change of rival’s odds. And I think you know how it ends :);
  • Mistakes in bookmaker lines. Here is another reason why surebets appear, but it’s pretty risky to bet on such situations. There is a good chance that your bet would be canceled.

What arbs are like?

By number of outcomes:

The simplest surebet consists of two outcomes and is called 2-way arbitrage situation. These include such opposing outcomes like W1-W2 (match winner), ТU 2.5 — ТO 2.5 (total of goals), H1(-1.5) — H2(+1.5) (negative and positive handicap).

Apart from 2way arbitrage situations, there are 3way situations (like 1-X-2), but they are pretty difficult and are rarely used. Sometimes there appear even 6way arbitrage situations, but such cases are quite rare.

By beginning time:

Arbitrage situations are divided into: Prematch and Live. Prematch arbs are situations that begin after some particular time, and Live surebets are situations that have already started and are in real time.

There are pros and cons of working with both types: Live yield is much higher than Prematch, and fall under bookmaker sanctions less frequently.

However, the odds on Live are changing very quickly and newbie can fail to bet in time and lose a pretty penny.

Prematch arbitrage situations are less aggressive. This type is usually advised to newbies. But Premacth arbs have the only downside – high competition that increase the chances of getting limited.

More details on the ways of managing these types of arbitrage situations you can find here, here and here.

Surebet example

Since we have figured out the theoretical part, let’s get to practice:

So, we have one of the WTA tennis competitions between Timea Bacsinszky and Madison Brengle. Below you can find a screenshot of the odds on handicaps of two different bookmakers (I have joined the bookmaker lines for purely practical reasons):

Surebet example

Let’s imagine that on top we have B1 and below – B2. And now with numbers: we’re interested in the odds marked red – H1 (-5.5) = @2.10 at B1 and H2 (+5.5) = @1.961 at B2.

What profit would a bookmaker get in case of any of the above-stated outcomes goes through?  Thus, we should calculate the inversion (S) for both bookmakers according to the formula: S=1/C1+1/C2, where C1 is the odds on one outcome, and C2 – the odds on the other outcome.

B1: S=1/2.10+1/1.66=1,078

B2: S=1/1.925+1/1.961=1.028

In this case, everything that’s higher than 1 appears to be an expected profit of the bookmaker. That is, B1 is going to get 7.8%, and B2 — 2.8%.

We do need to find the odds in the way the inversion to be less than 1 and bookmaker in his turn, appears to be down. Opposing odds fit under the plan: H1(-5.5) at B1, and H2 (+5.5) at B2. The inversion of the outcomes is:


As we may see, the outcome is not higher than 1, which confirms the emergence of the surebet. Now, let’s count how much should we stake on both outcomes to be in the black.

Let’s assume that your bankroll for this bet is $100, the formula for H1 – 5.5 (С1) and  H2 + 5.5 (С2) would look like this: С1=100/(S*T1), С2=100/(S*T2)

С1=100/(0.985*2.10)= $48.3

С2=100/(0.985*1.961)= $51.7

All we need to do is to calculate our safe profit (V) using the formula: V1=С1*K1 — (С1+С2), V2=С2*T2 — (С1+С2)

V1=48.3*2.1 — (51.7+48.3) = $1.43.

V2=51.7*1.961 — (51.7+48.3) = $1.38.

Therefore, no matter the outcome, we’ll be in a win-win situation by $1.4.

How to find surebets?

After seeing the example mentioned above, you can have a question – how to find surebet? Today, you can find surebets using two methods – manually and using special arb services (eg. BetBurger).

Those formula I have already mentioned are used to determine a simple 2way arbitrage situations manually. But manual search is far from simple as it may seem at first sight. You’d certainly need a lot more time and experience to find and unmistakably calculate arbitrage situations.

With arb scanners you no longer need to waste time for find arbs. For a relatively small price they’d do the work for you. It worth mentioning that on our site you can find objective rating of services to use for your needs.

Potential problems with arbs

As I have already mentioned, there are certain risks while working with surebet betting strategy:

  • Cutting the limits As far as you understand, bookmakerы are hard on arbers and can easily reduce the maximum stake which makes it impossible to cover the bet. If you’re using this kind of strategy, be ready to face this problem;
  • Bet cancellation Sometimes, bookmakers can cancel one of your bets because of mistake in the line. That would obviously be not in your favour;
  • Odds change in course of the match. This kind is more common for Live surebets where odds change frequently;
  • Difference in bookmaker rules You can get in trouble because of the difference in bookmaker rules on some particular kinds of sport. One of your bets can be calculated not the way you’ve expected.

Today I have mentioned some risks that can be faced while working with arbitrage situations. But more details you’ll be able to find in my next article “Frequent problems in arbing”.


Considering all the above stated information, we can conclude that bookmaker arbs are profitable but risky. Moreover, it’s important to know how to search for them manually without arb scanners.

P.S.: In today’s article I’ve tried to highlight the theme of surebet strategy in as much detail as possible. But if you still have any questions, please feel free to write your comment to this post.

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