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Which Side of the Bet Should You Start Your Arb with?

When it comes to live arbitrage betting, you have to decide whether to place the smaller or larger wager first. There are several factors that go into this decision, including the +EV color coding provided by DoubleDown Odds. The question is, which route is more beneficial and more conducive to your success? 

Without any +EV or patterned advantage, I would say it is wise to never bet the larger amount first. But there are plenty of situations where betting the larger bet first is beneficial.

Everyone has their own preference. In my opinion there are two different strategies on which side to bet first-- both are lucrative and are beneficial depending on your personal risk tolerance and philosophy.

Strategy #1: Always bet on the underdog so you have the least amount of money at risk in case you’re not able to hedge properly.

Strategy #2: Always bet the team with the +EV, or the book that you’ve noticed a “square” pattern with.

My personal preference is a mixture of the two, but I will always bet on the +EV or square side of the bet first. If no patterns are noticed, and neither side of the bet has been identified to be +EV, but it is still a profitable arb, I will likely place the underdog bet first, just to be cautious.

Strategy #1 Example: Let’s say that the New York Mets ML is +500 on FanDuel, and they are playing the Toronto Blue Jays whose ML is -350 on DraftKings. If you are betting $100 on every underdog, and you plan to bet the favorite first, you would have to put down at least $350 to cover the other side of the bet.

Let’s say you place a $350 on the Toronto Blue Jays ML -350 on DraftKings, and are about to place the $100 on the New York Mets ML +500 on FanDuel, which would get you a $150 profit if the Mets win. But then the underdog line suddenly shifts or gets taken off the board, and you are now liable for a $350 risk with suboptimal odds, or no chance to hedge at all. By betting the smaller wager, you now have less at risk if the -350 bet was to shift to a worse arb or loss.

However, if you are confident you will be able to hedge a favorite and that you will have the opportunity for the bet to stay on the board or return to the board, it doesn't much matter which side you bet first. You should always be able to hedge for less of a profit or a loss as long as you are not dealing with limits, lack of hedge books, or end of game situations.

If you want to be on the safe side and have less money at stake if the lines were to shift, then strategy #1 is recommended. But ultimately, which strategy you choose depends  on your preference in each individual situation or circumstance. 

Strategy #2: Let’s say DraftKings has been square all day, and you’ve noticed a pattern that normally their odds are off and then shift to match the odds of other books. You see that DraftKings is offering -300 on the New York Yankees (and it’s highlighted in +EV Purple), and you see FanDuel is offering +350 on the Philadelphia Phillies. If you were in the camp of Strategy #1, you would likely bet the Philadelphia Phillies first. Would this be the most advantageous thing to do? Probably not. Personally, I would always bet the -300, or bigger bet first, despite the more money at stake, because of the patterned and software advantage that I’ve noticed. 

The way I do things is to always follow Strategy #2, but if there are a lack of clues, or book patterns, I typically follow the principles stated in Strategy #1.

In conclusion, it often doesn’t much matter whether you bet larger or smaller first, because you likely will always have the ability to make up for either amount with a proper hedge. 

I personally would recommend trying to find which books are the most “square” and target them first, place the bet on the purple +EV bet/odds that are least similar to other books, or figure out which book is typically off by recognizing patterns with different books. 

I would just be leary of end game situations where bets will be taken off the board, and you will have no measure to hedge an arb.

Color Concepts

  • Green: Profit percentage exceeds your minimum from settings

  • Blue: Profit percentage exceeds your desired percent from settings

  • Red: Profit is below your minimum. May occur due to rounding

  • Purple: Represents when a book has positive expected value (EV), the darker the shade of purple the higher the EV is

If there is an opportunity for an arb between two teams, the DoubleDownOdds Software will highlight the two bets.

I would say the most important color to understand is purple. You always want to target the side of the arb that is highlighted in purple, because that is where the +Expected Value is.

For example, if the New York Rangers ML is -200 on DraftKings, and the New Jersey Devils ML is +240 on FanDuel, and the New Jersey Devils ML is +240 on FanDuel is highlighted in purple, try to bet the purple side of the bet as soon as possible. The reason is because the purple represents when a book has a positive expected value (EV), and darker the shade of purple the higher the EV is. The value is betting the purple side.

But be alert for “line-jumpers”. Sometimes a book will be the first to change their odds, and the software will identify them as the proper side of the arb to bet, and you will be targeting the wrong side of the bet.

A way to get around this is time and practice. After you gain more experience, you will notice patterns and which books shift their odds first. FanDuel is notorious for shifting their odds first and looking like the “square book”, when in reality they are typically the “sharp book”, shifting their odds first and giving you the least amount of +EV. This is an example, and “line-shifters” vary day to day, or sport to sport.


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