Football in-running arbitrage opportunities

GP Liang, a quantitative analyst of Eclipse Research, considers the arbitrage opportunities between the Asian-style bookmakers (IBC, SBO, Pinnacle, etc) during a game.

Categories: Data, Execution & Getting On, Football, Latency, Professional, Technology, Tools

This article considers the arbitrage opportunities between the Asian-style bookmakers (IBC, SBO, Pinnacle, etc) during In-Running. With the correct prices and stakes allocations there are enough opportunities to achieve a strategy with “guaranteed profits”. However, there are still some risks, which should be considered carefully before implementation.

In-Running sports betting has becoming more popular in recent years with the advancement in technology such as live TV/data feeds  assisting the sportsbook’s traders to monitor the matches closely and adjust prices quickly. Punters place their bets, hoping to earn quick cash (bets will be settled in less than two hours’ time), whilst enjoying the live game.

Bookmakers such as IBC, SBO, Pinnacle, etc. are offering low spreads for Asian handicaps and Total Goals – Overs/Unders (abbreviated to AH & OU) to attract volume. For the major leagues the spreads can be as low as 8 points (ie. evens odds of 0.96-0.96, implying an over-round of just 102.1%) for AH and 10 points (ie. evens odds of 0.95-0.95, implying an over-round of just 102.6%) for OU. Bookmakers have their own price adjustment mechanisms to balance their risk exposure which can take them out of line with other marketmakers. That is when there may be arbitrage opportunities. Here is one such example:

Match Date: 07 Apr 2014;

Home Team & Away Team: Tottenham Hotspur vs Sunderland

Match Minute: 1h, 25’;

Current Score: 0-1;

For OU handicap 3.0, IBC is offering Over @0.72, Under @1.21; while Pinnacle is offering Over @0.84, Under @1.06. Converting from Hong Kong Odds to Malay Odds the IBC Under 3 price is -0.82, which can be arbitraged with the Pinnacle Over 3 price of 0.84. The profitable spread is 2 points (-0.82 + 0.84 = 0.02). A risk-free stake allocation is shown in Table 1:

Over 3 Under 3
Bet Odds 1.21 0.84
Stakes $450 $540

Table 1: Stake allocation for arbitrage bets

The pay-outs are as shown in Table 2:

Over 3 Pay-outs Under 3 Pay-outs Final Pay-outs
If Final Total Scores higher than 3 $544.50 -$540.00 $4.50
If Final Total Scores equal to 3 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
If Final Total Scores less than 3 -$450.00 $453.60 $3.60

Table 2: Final Pay-outs based on stakes allocation & betting Odds

From Table 2, it is guaranteed that you will make a profit or, if the total goals is exactly 3, get your stake back. The ROI could be 0.45% ($4.50/ ($450 + $540) x 100%). With possible 0.25% rebates, the actual ROI could be up to 0.7%. The final score for this match was 5-1.

The Author has done some back-tests with such a strategy using IBC, SBO and Pinnacle. For a strategy where one bets whenever the profitable spread is higher than or equal to 2 points, the average month yielded 1,657 arbitrage opportunities, with a potential ROI of 1.22%. When the minimum profitable spread was reduced to 1 point, the average month yielded 2,371 arbitrage opportunities, with a potential ROI of 0.9%. The number of paired bets could be increased further if more bookmakers are included.

However, before you make your decision to grab those “guaranteed profits”, there are some potential pitfalls which you should consider carefully:

  1. You must have a solid system to support your strategy which can scan prices with accuracy and then place both bets within a short time period. The arbitrage opportunities only exist for a few seconds, as bookmakers closely monitor their rival’s prices. Also, it is likely you will be competing with other “arbitrage bots”.
  2. If only one of your bets is successful you will be exposed. For example, if your over bet was successful but the price for the under bet has dropped it is unlikely you will get another opportunity to complete the arbitrage. If it is the over bet that fails you may have chance to try again, unless there is a goal and you are left with a bet very likely to lose. If your ROI from successful arbitrage pairs is 1%, then for every time you are only successful with the losing bet of an arbitrage pair then, on average, you will need 50 successful arbitrage pairs to compensate.

About GP Liang

GP Liang, a quantitative analyst of Eclipse Research Pte Ltd, which is a statistical research consultancy business providing statistical modeling services and pricing models for clients.
4 Thoughts on Football in-running arbitrage opportunities
    26 Nov 2014


    interesting article

    The problem here is bet acceptance logic in asian market which will make you busto using this system after some fair sample.
    There are APIs on the market which are doing all work for you, but personally I think it’s not worth it.


    GP Liang
    28 Nov 2014

    Hi Damian,

    you are absolutely right. The success rate of bets in Asian Market is crucial here. Another issue is, for some Asian bookmakers, they will cancel your bets if your bets win.


    16 Jan 2015

    Arbitrage Strategy provides free online Arbitrage tutorial, Arbitrage trading opportunity, strategies, calculator, news and softwares

    19 Aug 2015

    Hi GP,

    Enjoyed the article and I was hoping that you could explain how you back tested these ideas. I would like to do some back testing myself but I am unsure on how to go about doing it.

    Thank you.


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