Sure Bets - Fact or Fallacy?

Sure Bets

What is a Sure Bet?

A Sure Bet is a bet (or set of bets) you place in the certain knowledge that, whatever happens, you will win and make a profit. They do exist!

Do they Exist?

There are two schools of thought on this interesting topic!

There is no such thing as a Sure Bet!

By knowing your math and shopping around you can sometimes create a Sure Bet for yourself.

The Facts

The persons who believe in theory #1 say things like, “There are no certainties in sport”, “Upsets happen” and so on. They are correct. However, by understanding bookmaker betting percentages, and the way in which prices can fluctuate, it is a fact that Sure Bets exist; it’s just very difficult, and sometimes frustrating, work for a small percentage profit.

There are several large betting syndicates around the world that operate solely on the principle of ‘Sure Bets’. They make money, almost every day, but it’s at a rate of 1% or 2% at best! They overcome the small percentage by staking extremely large amounts. 1% of a million or 10 million is good money!

Understanding the Math

An attempt at a Sure Bet can be based on any sport and any bet type. but for illustrative purposes let’s take a simple example based on 1X2 (Home-Draw-Away) using a typical set of bookmaker prices:

Manchester United 3.00

Draw 3.25

Arsenal 2.40

To begin with you must understand what bookmaker % is involved because your Sure Bet is based entirely on percentages. If we divide each of the above prices into 100 we can calculate the bookmaker % on this match:

100 / 3.00 = 33.33%

100 / 3.25 =  30.8%

100 / 2.40 = 41.7%

Total = 105.8%

Your goal as a Sure Bettor is to bet on this match at a bookmaker percentage of less than 100%!

Obviously you cannot do so by betting with just this bookmaker, so let’s expand our Sure Bet quest to include prices from 3 bookmakers:

 Selection Bookie 1 % Bookie2 % Bookie 3 % Man Utd 2.90 34.5% 3.00 33.3% 3.10 32.3% Draw 3.20 31.3% 3.25 30.8% 3.30 30.3% Arsenal 2.50 40.0% 2.40 41.7% 2.30 43.5% 105.7% 105.8% 106.0%

As you can see, all three bookmakers are betting to roughly 106% which means they have a 6% advantage over you. The three best prices are highlighted in bold above (3.10:3.30:2.50).

To illustrate, let’s firstly look at what happens if you try your Sure Bet with one bookmaker:

 Selection Stake Price Payout Man Utd 114 2.90 330 Draw 103 3.20 330 Arsenal 132 2.50 330 349 330

As you can see, the best you can do is bet 349 for a guaranteed payout of 330.

So, if you instead bet on the three best prices from scoping three bookmakers, to achieve an identical payout whichever wins, your Sure Bet attempt will now look like this:

 Selection Stake Price Payout Man Utd 106 3.10 330 Draw 100 3.30 330 Arsenal 132 2.50 330 338 330

If we add the %’s of the best prices among all 3 bookmakers together we get 32.3% + 30.3% + 40% = 102.6%

Using this betting approach, betting on the best prices, you can be staking a total of 338 and you are guaranteed a payout of 330 whatever happens in the game. Better than betting with one bookmaker, but still a loss!

So we have progress, at least you’re now halfway to your Sure Bet target of 98% - 99% but there is much work still to be done. And it’s not easy!

Professional sports bettors prepare their own prices for each match and bet early in the betting cycle (eg betting on a Saturday match as early as a Monday or Tuesday) on the prices they think the bookmakers have got wrong and which they believe will shorten (get smaller) as the week progresses.

Recreational bettors don’t have the ability to prepare their own prices, or know in which direction market prices will move - so the search for a Sure Bet comes down to continuous research and hard work!

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