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Sharbing guide

Welcome to the sharbing guide. This article discusses how to start sharbing, including betting odds, placing bets and useful shop arbing tips.

What is sharbing?

Sharbing is the tactic of finding arbitrage betting opportunities in betting shops.

An arbitrage bet is where the back odds are higher than the exchange lay odds, which enables you to guarantee a profit by covering all outcomes.

Here is an example:

  • Team A are at odds of 11/10 (2.10) to back on a betting shop coupon
  • Team A are 1.99 to lay on the betting exchange.

The price difference between back and lay odds allows us to lock-in a profit.

Starting sharbing

It can be daunting to transition from online matched betting to placing bets in betting shops.

Read on for a simple guide to matched betting in shops.

Collect coupons

Your sharbing journey starts with rounding up the paper coupons from betting shop outlets – Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and William Hill. Your local town might have an independent betting shop – well worth a visit.

The main focus of sharbing is on football match odds. Betting shops release printed coupons throughout the week:

  • Midweek coupons – released on Monday mornings,
  • Weeekend coupons – come out on Wednesday mornings,

There are also specific daily coupons entitled “Friday quickslip”, “Sunday football” or similar.

Betting shop coupon odds are often cut more slowly than online odds. The lay odds are constantly changing on the betting exchanges, so you will often find arbitrage betting opportunities.

Compare odds

You need to manually compare the coupon prices to the exchange lay odds.  Coupon odds are displayed in fractions.

To convert from fractional to decimal take the first number of the fraction and divide by the second number, then add 1.

  • 11/10:  [11 divided by 10 = 1.10] + 1 = 2.10
  • 6/5: [6 divided by 5 = 1.20] + 1 = 2.20

This is a key part of sharbing and will soon become second nature.

Place bets

So you’ve spotted an arb opportunity…

Now check that the price is still available. Look at the in-shop price screens (Ladbrokes and William Hill have these) or place a 50 pence accumulator to check the current price.

If the original coupon price is available, then go ahead and place your sharb bet.

If you’ve never been in a betting shop before, simply pick up a coupon (such as “Weekend Quickslip”) and mark the relevant sections.

Assuming a £50 single bet, you would mark the following on the coupon:

  • BET TYPE – “Single”
  • UNIT STAKE – “£50”

Then mark your selection: Home team, Draw or Away team (these might be displayed as “1”, “X” and “2”).

  • “1” = the home team to win
  • “x” = the match to finish in a draw
  • “2” = the away team to win

The home team is displayed first on football coupons (left-hand side) in the traditional 1×2 format.

Finally, give your completed betting coupon and your cash to the member of staff. They will then issue your betting slip.

If the betting slip shows a price cut, simply ask the shop staff to void your bet and issue a cash refund.

How to lay sharbs

Using your smartphone, you can either:

  • a). FULLY LAY to lock-in a small profit regardless of the result.  For a £50 sharb at 11/10 (2.10) back odds and 1.99 lay odds, you would lay £53.30 on Smarkets for £2.23 guaranteed profit.
  • b). Or UNDERLAY to make slightly more profit if your team wins or break even if they don’t win. For a 2.1/1.99 sharb, an underlay of £51.02 at Smarkets gives £4.49 profit if your back bet wins or £0.00 break even if your lay bet wins.

There is a matched betting calculator at Beatingbonuses to experiment with different laying strategies.

Here’s a reminder of some popular underlay stakes, if using Smarkets at 2% commission:

  • £10 bet, lay £10.21
  • £15 bet, lay £15.31
  • £20 bet, lay £20.41
  • £25 bet, lay £25.51
  • Take the back bet stake i.e. £20, divide by 50 (=£0.40)
  • Add £0.40 to the original stake gives a £20.40 lay for a £20 back bet. 

However, I always add 1 pence to lay stakes as Smarkets rounds down lay amounts.

Potential profit

To highlight potential profits, some recent sharbing profits from a full underlay on £50 shop bets:

  • 2.50/2.24 = £11.73 profit
  • 2.10/1.79 = £14.68 profit

Of course, the profit on each sharb will depend on stake size and the difference between the back and lay odds.

You will need at least a few hundred pounds in your exchange account for a sharbing session. The above examples would require £100 for the shop bets and £103.58 at the exchange for the lay bets.

Other opportunities

In addition to football match odds, you can find sharbs on:

  • Under/over goals – i.e. under 2.5 goals
  • Correct score
  • Half-time/full-time
  • Both teams to score – see “Goals Galore” coupon at Betfred shops
  • Other less mainstream markets offer great potential such as cricket, boxing round markets, American football, and motor racing.

Sharbing hints

Technology: You need a smartphone with a good internet connection to check exchange lay odds.

Cash is king: Use cash when sharbing to maintain a supply of cash for different betting shops.

Be vigilant: Before placing your bet – double check that the coupon odds are unchanged.  Also, check your betting slip before leaving the shop. Bookie shop staff sometimes forget to tell you about coupon price cuts.  If you betting slip shows a price change – simply ask the member of staff to void your bet.

Sensible staking: Don’t go too high with your shop arbing stakes, be sensible and stick to £80 or less.  I’d suggest around £50 stakes. Larger stakes stand out and could lead to a shubbing – the shop barring you from placing bets.

Lay immdeiately: Lay your sharbs as soon as possible to lock-in profit. Don’t wait to lay off, as the lay odds could drift.


This sharbing guide should help you to make profit in betting shops. This is just the start. Retail betting shops offer so many opportunities for matched bettors.

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