Bookmaker’s forks: what they are and how to make money from them

Forks are not just table or chess, but also bookmaker’s forks. Let’s find out what a bookmaker’s fork is and how to make money from it.

Bookmakers have long relied on people’s love of risk and the desire to get rich quick. You have to admit, an easy and unexpected win is a hundred times nicer than a regular salary, even if it is several times bigger!

At the heart of the bookmaker’s earnings is the advantage to the players. The margin in odds and better odds estimates in matches give the bookmaker an advantage.

But what if, instead of taking risks, players bet in such a way that they win whatever the outcome of a sporting event is? Is this even legally possible? The answer is yes. This strategy is called forking. And you can be sure that almost any bookmaker would be happy to stick a fork in your eye if they knew you were making money on arbitrage betting.

What are bookmaker’s forks?

A bookmaker’s plug appears when the difference in odds at two or more bookmakers allows you to make a bet on each mutually exclusive outcome at different bookmakers and stay in profit at any outcome.

Such a situation can arise because of competition between betting shops in the size of the odds, different odds estimates, and errors in the odds. Bookmakers do not always notice this in time.

How does it work?

We have already learned how to translate odds into probability and vice versa, and have found out that the sum of probabilities over 100% in a market indicates the bookmaker’s margin. The aim of a fork is to spot odds in different betting shops in the same market that will give a total of less than 100%.

Let’s break it down with an example.

Boston and Chicago meet in an NBA basketball game. A draw is possible in regulation time, but one of the teams will win in the end. Bookmaker #1 puts the odds on Boston to win the match at 1.30, with Chicago at 3.8. Bookmaker #2 rates the teams’ odds at 1.40 and 2.95 respectively.

At the first office, the probability with the margin on the market would be:

(1 / 1.3 + 1 / 3.8) x 100 = (0.769 + 0.263) x 100 = 1.032 × 100 = 103.2%

In the second one:

(1 / 1.4 + 1 / 2.95) x 100 = (0.714 + 0.339) x 100 = 1.053 × 100 = 105.3%

If, in this situation, we bet on each of the outcomes where the odds are higher, we get a fork. Let’s do the math:

(1 / 1.4 + 1 / 3.8) x 100 = (0.714 + 0.263) x 100 = 0.977 × 100 = 97.7%

It remains to bet on each outcome in such a proportion that you will win a little at each outcome.

How much should I bet on a bookmaker’s fork?

Determining how much to bet on each of the shoulders of a fork is the second most important step in forking.

Let’s say you put in 10,000 euros. Then in the situation described above, count the amounts like this:

10000 / (0.977 × 1.4) = 10000 / 1.3678 = 7307 euros – bet on “Boston”

10000 / (0.977 × 3.8) = 10000 / 3.7126 = 2693 euros – bet on “Chicago”.

The profit, which you will get in each of the outcomes, if you bet like this:

7307 × 1.4 – 10000 = 10229.8 – 10000 = 229.8 euros – if “Boston” wins

2693 × 3.8 – 10000 = 10233.4 – 10000 = 233.4 euros – if Chicago wins.

So, we distribute the pot so that you get the maximum equal profit for either outcome of the match. You will earn from 2.298% (229.8 / 10000 × 100) to 2.334% (233.4 / 10000 × 100) with no risk on this fork.

What are the pitfalls of betting on forks?

Going to the director’s office to submit your resignation already? Take your time. If it were that simple, betting shops would be closing in droves as often as Russian banks.

There are a few pitfalls that stop punters from following a widespread forking strategy.

A big gain means a big turnover. A regular win can increase the bank many times over, while a successful fork will only bring in a couple of per cent of the bet. You will need a substantial bank to make a living at it, all things being equal. You need enough money in the accounts in several offices, so that you have time to set as many forks as possible.
A large amount of time. You are not limited to an hour a day. Successful bettors treat it as a job and spend from 8 hours a day. Mostly on monitoring.
The odds change. You have found a fork. You bet on one shoulder. Going to bet on the second – but no way, the bookmaker managed to change the odds. It’s good if you manage to close at zero, but you can also stay at a slight disadvantage. Some people prefer to leave the bet on one shoulder and take their chances.
Inattention and fatigue. There are a lot of fables on the Internet about fornickers who managed to bet on the same shoulder in different studios or mixed up the match to bet on because of the same odds. Work is fatigue and fatigue is mistakes. They become fewer with experience, but they happen to everyone.
The main reason it is not easy to play forks, however, is the opposition of almost all bookmakers. The exception is the bookmakers for professionals.

How does a bookmaker find forks?

  • Betting on forks. Thought you were the only one who noticed them? If the bookmaker has entered a fork, it will record the accounts that bet on the forked outcome. Immediately or if such activity is repeated, the account will be sanctioned. This is where betting shops get help from wilt scanners. Theoretically, the office can also create an artificial fork in order to catch arbitrageurs on it.
  • Betting to the max. Fork-betters want to get as much as possible from each fork, that is why their bets are usually close to or equal to the maximum allowed.
  • Bets on uneven amounts. In your calculations of the optimal amount to bet on each fork, you may forget that the average player is unlikely to bet $171.93 cents on an event. Unless it is the last money in his account and he decides to go all-in. Regular gamblers prefer to bet evenly.
  • Two or more bets on the same outcome. The average gambler rarely does that. Unless he decides he has not loaded enough. Fork-betters often repeat bets, catching up with changes in odds.
  • Replenish the account when bets are uncalculated and frequent withdrawals. A forkier needs to have a sufficient balance in each individual office, that is why they have an active turnover of funds between the accounts.

What do the forklists do? They disguise their fork bets behind a cloud of bets typical of regular players. If you cannot avoid the watchful eye of the security service, you create a new account. To do so, he uses the passport details of other people, preferably not related to him in any way, or forged documents.

How does the bookmaker deal with forklists?

Forklickers need to bet a lot. If the bookmaker identifies the account as arbitrage, it reduces the maximums to a level where it is pointless to use the account. You have to open a new one. This is forbidden by any bookmaker’s rules and is closely monitored, so there are also multiple bookmakers who get caught forking. It is possible to return a bet on a fork if the bookmaker determines the odds to be wrong. “Rating Bookmakers considers it fair to calculate bets on errors at market odds, but this is hardly a consolation to the fork taker.


Now you know what bookmaker’s forks betting is, how players earn on them and how they are countered by bookmakers. It is noteworthy that most of the negative feedback about bookmakers is generated by the bettors who have had their account “cut”.