I am often told that it’s impossible to make a living through arbitrage. This quite simply is not true. I have been a professional now for a round eight years, and I worked part time for two years before that. I know of many others that make a living in this way and many more making a substantial part time income. It is true that arbitrage seems to get harder every day and the bookmakers seem to restrict or close accounts almost instantly these days, but it is very possible to make a decent living.

Most of the new people simply are not fast enough negotiating the various websites, as most of the software found opportunities last a matter of seconds, long gone are the days when you could place your bets tell all your mates about it, go to the Pub and bet it again on your return. There is so much software available now that a lot of the time arbitrage involves a frantic chase to bet the odds before anyone else.

Arbitrage is no different from a multitude of other “jobs” you have to an apprenticeship first. It’s not easy, but then many business opportunities involve a lot of hard work too. The best advice I can give is to start off slow, use small stakes, read everything you can find on the subject and do your apprenticeship.

I am often asked the amount of funds required, and the profits that can be made. I started with £4,000 and a credit card, I know of others that started with as little as £1500. I would say a 15% return on capital per month would be a reasonable return, and quite achievable, provided you were to put the effort in. Clearly the larger your bankroll then the more you can expect to make, but there is a limit. Someone with £200k isn’t going to make twice as much as someone with £100k. Having said that someone with £20k should be able to make twice as much as someone with £10k. There are only so many opportunities in a day, and there are limits as to the amount bookmakers will take, which, for me, is the biggest single problem.

Arbitrage is one of the few occupations where the results are directly related to the amount of effort put in. The more hours you sit in front of your computer screen the more money you should make. I have, and still do, for a good many years, earned a four figure weekly income. I set a daily target and keep going until I hit it. Some days are better than others of course, weekends tend to be peak times as there is more sport. So are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and sometimes Thursdays when it’s Champions League or Europa League. Having said that I regularly sit all day and make very little then make £100 in a few seconds. That’s arbitrage for you, but if you are not dedicated enough or give up at the first hurdle then you won’t be around to make the £100.

For those of you who are inspired to have a go at this yourselves, I would recommend taking a trial of some of the software out there, most of them will give a free week or so, and try to find something that suits you. Just a word of warning, there are scams out there, anyone asking for a lot of money (£000s) for software that is going to make you rich is probably a scammer, as is anyone offering to place bets for you, or on your behalf if you send them your money.

You could also try looking for yourself, I gave the “mathematics of arbitrage” in a previous article and it really isn’t rocket science. Look at “outrights” (i.e. backing all the players to win a competition) and some of the more obscure sports, as most of the more common sports will be covered by software somewhere. Please remember, small stakes first, as there are risks, anyone telling you that arbitrage is totally risk free is not being truthful.

The rule differences and rapidly changing odds are just two problems that you will encounter. You need to be lightning fast around the websites too. Your target should be to locate, work out stakes and place up to three bets within a minute.  Paper trade until you are confident, then, I know I am repeating myself, but start off with small stakes, as it’s inevitable that you will make mistakes, and a big mistake made in your first few trades could wipe out your funds and do irreparable damage to your confidence. When you do make a mistake learn from it, and make sure you don’t go making the same error again. My advice is to keep your profits (and bonuses) separate, then when you do mess up you have only lost money you have made from the bookmakers originally. I know that errors can go in your favour too, but I can tell you from my own experiences that they never seem to, it’s always the option that you didn’t cover, or the team you didn’t bet that wins and costs you (or is it just that I only remember the ones that hurt?).

Double check what you have done and check the account histories at the bookmakers to ensure the bets you placed are there, the stakes you placed are correct, and really you shouldn’t go far wrong. Also it’s important to check after the event that the winning bet has been paid out correctly, as not all winning bets are graded in the correct manner.

Remember arbitrage is all about making a little but often. Make £500 into £510, don’t try to make £10 into £500 and end up with nothing.

Statistically something like 99% of all straight gamblers lose, all arbitrageurs operating correctly should make money………. which category are you in? Which category would you rather be in?

Mark Jenkins

Editor – If you have any questions relating to Arbitrage in general then please send them in as Mark will be more than happy to reply.


  1. Hi Mark,
    Interested in your articles & would really appreciate your help. Just retired & considering sports arbitrage for extra income.
    As I live in Australia with a 6 to 12 hour time difference generally with Europe & US would I in principle need to work at night or would there be enough arb opportunities for me during our day.
    Look forward to your answer.

    1. Hi, First of all thanks for the question.

      I was lucky enough to visit New Zealand (twice) a couple of years ago, to meet a fellow arbitrageur. I realise that the time zone is not exactly the same, but I am sure you will agree that it is similar. There certainly seemed to be fewer opportunities during the “working day” (yes I did some arbitrage whist on holiday). However as there were fewer people chasing the odds, they hung around for longer, so the net result was probably about even.

      Bookies can, and do, move their lines at anytime, usually due to weight of money, or sometimes team news. This means arbitrage opportunities do indeed occur at all hours of the day and night. There are however “peak times”when these incidents are more likely to happen. These peak times are generally when a bookmaker first posts his odds, and shortly before the start of the event when he may adjust his lines in an attempt to “balance” his book. I suggest you keep a record of when you find most opporunities, and it should soon become apparent when the best time to work is, at least you have the option of a “night shift” if the “day shift” isnt sufficiently profitable. However, I dont see the time zone being a significant barrier to making profits. My Antipodean friend made a point of being around about an hour before the NFL started and also when the English Premier league kicked off, because he found this to be a lucrative time. More and more these days it seems that the lines originate in Asia, which may actually be better suited to your time zone. I am regularly “working” at 6am, because I find it a lucrative time, which is somewhere between lunchtime and dinner time Aussie time. I think. Another UK based collegue stays up all night to arb “in running” on the boxing, which should be pretty perfect for you.

      The number of opportunities that you will be able to take advantage of is not just goverened by the hours of work, but also by the number of Bookmakers in your portfolio, the more you have the more you will make the same applies to the funds you have available. Give it a try, and be flexible.

      Good luck.

      Mark Jenkins

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