Palpable Errors

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One of the hazards of arbing is the possibility of “palpable errors”. All bookies have clauses about these in their T&Cs, and these vary from bookie to bookie. Below are a couple of examples – bets may be voided, as at Bet24, or settled at the “correct” odds, as at Ladbrokes:

BET24 has the rights to reject a customer’s bet which contains obvious errors. In this case the bet can be rejected regardless of whether it has been already approved or not.



Ladbrokes make every effort to ensure that we do not make errors in accepting bets. However, if as a result of human error or system problems a bet is accepted at a price (which includes the odds, handicap provisions, and other terms and conditions or details of the bet) that is:

(i) materially different from those available in the general market at the time the bet was made; or

(ii) clearly incorrect given the chance of the event occurring at the time the bet was made then Ladbrokes will pay winnings at the correct price.

To establish the correct price Ladbrokes will consider prices available in the general market at the time the bet was made, including the prices offered by William Hill and Coral.

Examples of circumstances where this would apply are:

(i) the price is recorded as 100-1 when the price on offer in the general market is 10-1

(ii) the margins for handicap betting have been reversed

If a bet is accepted in error by Ladbrokes on an event or outcome for which no Ladbrokes prices are available the bet will be void and your stake returned.

It is usual (but by no means universal) for bookies to notify you by email if your bet has been “palped”. Some of the more dodgy bookies will do this after the event, and this is one of the reasons why you should be aware of the reputation of the bookie before you start betting there (see for example the ratings and reviews on, “SBR”).

Although this all looks very frightening, it is possible to arb quite safely if you use some common sense. The first rule of arbing is that if it looks too good to be true then it probably is. I would have little sympathy with someone who took an “arb” at 101/12 and then was surprised that the bet was settled at 11 if all the other bookmakers had odds of 11 or less.

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The situations to avoid are the following:

  • an obvious typing error, eg 66-1 instead of 6-1, or 15 instead of 1.5
  • a situation where the odds of 2 selections may have been interchanged, eg other bookies have horse 1 at 10 and horse 2 at 4, while your bookie has horse 1 at 4 and horse 2 at 10, making horse 2 an arb.
  • 2-way markets where the “wrong” one is odds on.
  • odds which look like they are from the wrong market, eg the outright instead of the match.
  • be wary if the name of the selection looks odd. Although some teams have different names at bookie and Betfair, some of the less reputable bookies can use “wrong name” as an excuse to palp a bet they don’t like.
  • be aware of the start time quoted, since many bookies will palp if the bet is accepted after the start of the event and they do not have the market in play. This includes Betfair. Be wary of different start times at bookie and Betfair, although this is less important in markets like tennis where matches can be delayed due to the weather.

For any big arb, unless you know that that particular bookie often has big arbs in the situation you are looking at (you will learn this with experience), you should check firstly what the odds are at other bookies, and secondly what has happened recently at Betfair. It would be reasonable to take an arb at 10/9 if the graph at Betfair showed that the horse had just dropped from 12 to 9 very suddenly, as your bookmaker is probably just slower than others to cut, but I would be very wary indeed of such an arb if the price at Betfair had not recently been above 9.

There are unfortunately no hard and fast definitions of a “dangerous” arb – it all comes down to judgement in individual cases, but the more you know about the previous state of the market the better. You can bet with much more confidence if you have had your eye on something for a while and watched it drop than you can if you have seen it for the first time as a huge arb. Time is usually of the essence, and you can miss an arb that was perfectly safe by taking the time to check, but in general it is better to miss something than get palped.

Remember, if in doubt. don’t bet – better safe than sorry.

Forum comment from BetSeventyTwo

Re: Palpable Errors

by abaxas » Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:05 pm

I have to agree with Corner here.

If something looks too good to be true, it usually is.

That is not to say there are not some uber arbs out there. I have a nice 12/1 > 8/1 today, but I knew it was safe as the hoss steamed in.

Note : footy spreads tend to be very small so expect small arbs, big arbs are always palps unless the price is huge.

EG 11/9 – I’d be wary

20/16 – not so bad

100/80 -fine.

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