What is Matched Betting? Steps for Starting in 2023

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Welcome to this unrivalled Matched Betting guide, containing everything you need to know to get started right away.

I’m so confident that you’ll be able to start Matched Betting after reading this article, that I’m willing to place a bet on it.

I’ve made over £23,000 profit from something called Matched Betting. I’ve achieved this by following guides that are available online, I’m nothing special!

Imagine if one article could change your life. This one can. And it won’t cost you a penny.

What is Matched Betting?

Matched Betting involves placing bets in a tactical way, that would allow you to win regardless of the outcome whilst exploiting Free Bet Offers & Promotions that are offered by bookmakers.

It’s like a magic trick where you can make money from the free bets that betting companies give out. It’s not about guessing who will win a football game. It’s about using a special method to make sure you win money no matter what happens.

And that’s exactly what we do. We make money risk free. How?

Because you’ve placed a number of bets covering all outcomes, there is no way to lose. Where people get confused with Matched Betting, is the word betting.

On Paper, betting is gambling. But Matched Betting isn’t.

How does Matched Betting work?

Matched Betting is where you follow the Maths (specifically the Matched Betting Calculator) in order to lock in your risk free profit. Let’s show you an example.

Let’s imagine that a bookmaker (Bookie A) offers you a free bet of £20 if you place a £10 bet. Here’s how you could go about it:

  1. The Qualifying Bet – Back Bet: You first bet £10 of your own money that Team A will win a football match. You place this bet with Bookie A. The odds for this bet are 2.0, meaning if you win, you’ll get £20 (£10 stake + £10 profit).
  2. The Qualifying Bet – Lay Bet: You then go to a betting exchange, and bet that Team A will NOT win. This is called a lay bet. You’re basically betting against yourself. Let’s say the odds here are also 2.0, so you need to risk £10 to possibly win £10.

Now, no matter what happens in the match, you’ve covered all outcomes:

  • If Team A wins, you’ll win £20 at Bookie A but lose your £10 lay bet at the betting exchange. So, you’re even.
  • If Team A doesn’t win, you’ll lose your £10 bet at Bookie A but win £10 at the betting exchange. Again, you’re even.

This first part is called the qualifying bet because you’re doing it to qualify for the free bet. You don’t expect to make any money at this stage.

  1. Free Bet Stage – Back Bet: Now, Bookie A gives you your free £20 bet. This time, let’s say you bet on Team B winning another match, with odds of 3.0. If you win, you’ll get £60 (£20 stake + £40 profit).
  2. Free Bet Stage – Lay Bet: Once again, you go to the betting exchange and bet against Team B winning. This time, because the odds and stake are higher, you’ll need to risk £20 to possibly win £20.

Again, you’re covered no matter what:

  • If Team B wins, you’ll win £60 at Bookie A but lose £20 at the betting exchange. So, you’re £40 up.
  • If Team B doesn’t win, you’ll lose nothing at Bookie A (it was their free bet, not your money) but win £20 at the betting exchange. So, you’re £20 up.

Either way, you make money. The amount depends on the odds and the size of the free bet, but in this example, you’ve made between £20 to £40 from the process. That’s the magic of matched betting!

This can be completed using a large number of online bookmakers, with over 100 Free Bets to take advantage of.

Back and Lay bets: The Two parts of the Matched Bet

I’ve helped thousands of people start Matched betting. Whenever a beginner struggles to agree with how it works, is due to not understanding how the Lay bets work. That’s perfectly understandable, as if you aren’t from a professional betting environment, it’s normal to struggle a little.

Below, I will break down the ultimate differences between back and lay bets, but I’d recommend you focus on learning Lay bets.

Back Bets

A back bet is the most traditional form of bet. It’s what most people think of when they consider placing a bet. A back bet is a wager on a specific outcome happening.

Explaining a Back Bet in Matched Betting
Explaining a Back Bet in Matched Betting

For example, if you bet on Newcastle to win their next football match, you’re placing a back bet. You’re backing Newcastle to win.

  • If Liverpool wins, you win your bet.
  • If Liverpool draws or loses, you lose your bet.

Back bets are usually placed with a bookmaker. The bookmaker sets the odds for each outcome, and if your back bet is successful, the bookmaker pays you out based on these odds. Your potential profit from a back bet is calculated by multiplying your stake by the odds, then subtracting your original stake.

Lay Bets

A lay bet is the opposite of a back bet. It’s a wager on a specific outcome not happening. If you were to lay Newcastle in their next match, you would be betting against Newcastle winning (betting for them NOT to win).

Explaining a Lay Bet in Matched Betting
Explaining a Lay Bet in Matched Betting

So let’s look at our potential outcomes:

  • If Liverpool wins, you lose your bet.
  • If Liverpool draws or loses, you win your bet.

Lay bets are usually placed on a betting exchange, not with a traditional bookmaker. A betting exchange is a platform that allows bettors to bet against each other, rather than against a bookmaker. When you place a lay bet, you’re essentially acting as the bookmaker for another bettor’s back bet.

The potential payout if you lose a lay bet (i.e., if the outcome you bet against happens) is determined by the odds you offer and the stake you accept. The potential profit if you win a lay bet (i.e., if the outcome you bet against does not happen) is the other bettor’s stake.

The Role of Back and Lay Bets in Matched Betting

In matched betting, both back and lay bets are used together to guarantee a profit. Here’s a simplified process:

  1. You place a back bet on an outcome with a bookmaker, taking advantage of a free bet offer.
  2. At the same time, you place a lay bet against that outcome on a betting exchange.
  3. These two bets cover all possible outcomes, meaning you can’t lose money.
  4. You then use the free bet to repeat the process, but this time, because you’re not using your own money for the back bet, you make a profit regardless of the outcome.

So, back and lay bets are two sides of the same coin. They allow you to cover all outcomes and lock in a profit from bookmakers’ free bet offers.

At this point, it’s worth noting that the Betting Exchange Accounts will never ban you. You aren’t profiting from their offers, in fact you’ll be paying them a commission to take their lay odds.

What is lay commission?

Lay commission is a fee charged by betting exchanges to users who place lay bets. In a lay bet, the bettor is betting against a particular outcome, rather than betting for it as in a traditional back bet.

Explaining Commission in Matched Betting
Explaining Commission in Matched Betting

The betting exchange acts as an intermediary between the bettor and another bettor who is placing a back bet. The exchange charges a commission on the winnings of the bettor who placed the lay bet. The commission is typically a percentage of the winnings, and it can vary between different betting exchanges.

For example, if a bettor places a lay bet of £100 at odds of 2.0 and someone else places a back bet of £100 at the same odds, the potential liability for the bettor who placed the lay bet would be £100. If the back bet wins, the bettor who placed the lay bet would pay out the winnings to the backer, minus the commission charged by the betting exchange.

The commission charged by the betting exchange is how they make their money. Some exchanges charge a flat rate commission, while others use a tiered system that reduces the commission rate for users who place more bets or have higher turnover.

It’s important to factor in the lay commission when placing lay bets, as it can impact the profitability of the bet. When using a betting exchange for matched betting, it’s important to find an exchange with low commission rates in order to maximize profits.

Overall, lay commission is a fee charged by betting exchanges to users who place lay bets. It’s an important consideration when placing bets on a betting exchange, as it can impact the profitability of the bet.

The typical commission is around 2%-5%. We’ve got a secret though, if you partner with Oddsmonkey you’ll be given a 0% commission rate.

Is Matched Betting illegal?

Matched Betting is not illegal, at all. All you are doing is placing the free bets that bookmakers offer, there is nothing illegal about this providing you are using your own betting accounts.

Explaining if Matched Betting is Legal
Explaining if Matched Betting is Legal

Where things start to become murkier, are people that perform high-scale matched betting. These individuals may be operating in a grey area, placing bets by taking advantage of new customer offers, using other peoples details. If you aren’t doing this, you’re legal.

In addition to this, there are lots of websites out there, or companies to be precise, that provide Matched Betting services. If this was illegal, these companies would not be allowed to exist.

I think that bookmakers would like this to be illegal though, to stop the bonus abuse.

What is Matched Betting Bonus Abuse?

Matched betting is like using a “buy one, get one free” coupon at your local coffee shop. You buy your coffee, use the coupon, and get a second coffee for free. It’s a great deal, and the coffee shop is happy because they hope you’ll come back again.

Bonus abuse, in the context of matched betting, is when someone takes this situation to the extreme, let’s say by finding a way to get their hands on loads of these coupons and then using them all day, every day.

It would be as if you discovered a printing error in the local newspaper where these coffee coupons were printed on every page. You buy up stacks of newspapers, cut out all the coupons, and start using them, one after another. Every single coffee you get is either free or heavily discounted.

So, you’re getting a caffeine overload, and you haven’t paid full price for a coffee in weeks. Fantastic for you, but not so great for the coffee shop. The shop started the coupon deal to attract more customers, not to give away all their coffee for next to nothing. They notice what you’re doing and put a stop to it by no longer accepting your mountain of coupons.

That’s what bonus abuse looks like in the matched betting world. It’s when you use the bookmakers’ bonuses and free bet offers in a way that goes beyond what they intended, which will lead them to do whatever they can to stop you exploiting them.

Do the Bookmakers tolerate this?

Bookmakers have no option but to tolerate matched betting, as it’s a completely legal practice. However, they do have specific terms and conditions which mean that they are able to shut any account down, for any reason.

Why? Because matched betting isn’t profitable for them.

They offer free bets and promotions to attract new customers and to encourage existing customers to continue gambling. They’re banking on most customers not being able to consistently make profitable bets.

Matched betting, however, is a strategy that allows bettors to systematically profit from these promotions, which goes against the bookmakers’ business model. As a result, bookmakers have been known to limit or close accounts that they suspect of engaging in matched betting. This practice is often referred to as “gubbing”.

What does Gubbed Mean?
An Example of a Bookmaker Gubbing – Suspending our Account

In terms of their terms and conditions, most bookmakers don’t explicitly state that matched betting is not allowed. It’s often hidden under language about “bonus abuse” or “professional betting strategies”. But in practice, they do monitor for it and can take action if they suspect it’s happening.

However, it’s also important to understand that while bookmakers can close or limit your account, they cannot legally withhold your winnings from matched betting. As long as you’re following the rules of the bet, any winnings you generate are legally yours.

There are also strategies that matched bettors can use to avoid drawing attention to themselves, such as occasionally placing “mug bets” (bets that mimic the behavior of a typical, non-matched bettor), not always withdrawing winnings immediately, and spreading activity across several bookmakers.

In conclusion, while matched betting isn’t technically against the rules for most bookmakers, it’s not in their business interests and they do take measures to limit it. It’s important to approach matched betting with an understanding of these potential risks and to take steps to manage them.

How do the Bookmakers stop me from Matched Betting?

Imagine you’ve been engaging in matched betting on a particular site. The bookmaker notices that you only ever place bets when there’s a promotion or a free bet available.

They also see that you’re placing opposing bets on a betting exchange. From these patterns, they infer that you’re a matched bettor.

In response, the bookmaker decides to limit your account. Now, when you try to place a bet, you find you can only bet small amounts, perhaps no more than a few pounds. Any promotional offers you try to access are mysteriously ‘unavailable’. Eventually, you find your account has been closed altogether, with the bookmaker citing ‘suspicious betting activity’ as the reason.

Fortunately, by this point you should have made sufficient profit out of their free bets, and be completing other reload offers.

The Role of a Betting Exchange in Matched Betting

Betting Exchanges play a vital part in Matched Betting and without them, it wouldn’t exist at all. They’re the way that we turn free bets into withdrawable cash. Let’s dig deeper into this.

What Betting Exchanges Are and How They Function

A betting exchange is essentially a marketplace for bettors. It’s a platform that allows you to bet against other punters, rather than a bookmaker. The betting exchange simply facilitates this interaction and takes a commission on winnings.

Explaining Different Exchanges for Matched Betting
Explaining Different Exchanges for Matched Betting

You can both ‘back’ an outcome (bet that an event will happen, just like you would with a traditional bookmaker) and ‘lay’ an outcome (bet that an event will not happen).

Unlike traditional bookmakers, who create odds and accept bets based on their own risk assessments, betting exchanges operate on supply and demand principles. Punters set the odds and make the bets, meaning you can often find better odds than you would with a traditional bookmaker.

The Importance of Betting Exchanges in Matched Betting

Betting exchanges are crucial to matched betting because they allow you to place lay bets, which is the key to making this strategy work. By placing a back bet with a traditional bookmaker and a corresponding lay bet on a betting exchange, you’re able to cover all possible outcomes of an event, thereby eliminating risk.

When using a free bet from a bookmaker for the back bet, this strategy guarantees a profit, regardless of the outcome of the event. This is because you’re not risking your own money for the back bet – if it loses, you’re not out of pocket because it was a free bet.

If it wins, you make a profit from the bookmaker, and your loss on the exchange is less than this profit.

Examples of Popular Betting Exchanges

I have listed these in order of popularity. The most popular, Betfair, has the most liquidity and number of markets… but I use Smarkets just as much recently.

  • Betfair Exchange: Often regarded as the biggest and most popular betting exchange, Betfair offers a wide range of markets and typically has good liquidity, meaning you’re likely to be able to match your bets.
  • Smarkets: Known for its user-friendly interface and lower commission rates compared to some competitors, Smarkets is a popular choice for many involved in matched betting.
  • Betdaq: While it has less market variety and liquidity than Betfair or Smarkets, Betdaq still offers plenty of options for matched bettors.
  • Matchbook: Offering a flat commission rate, Matchbook is another option for bettors looking for a platform to lay their bets.

Understanding How Free Bets & Bonuses work with Matched Betting

At this stage, you should have more of an understanding on:

  • The Basics of how Matched Betting Works
  • Back and Lay Bets
  • The importance of Betting Exchange accounts.

Now, we are going to dig a little deeper into how the Free Bets are used, and what makes a Matched Bet.

Explanation of Free Bets and Bonuses Offered by Bookmakers

Bookmakers often offer free bets and bonuses to attract new customers or to keep existing customers active. They can come in different forms, including:

  1. Welcome or Sign-up Bonuses: These are offered to new customers who register an account and make their first deposit.
  2. Deposit Bonuses: These are awarded when you deposit a certain amount into your betting account.
  3. No-Loss Bets: Sometimes, bookmakers will offer a bet where you get your stake back if your bet loses.
  4. Event-Specific Bonuses: These are offered for specific sports events or matches, encouraging you to place bets on those events.

Casino Accounts even have their own type of bonuses, but I won’t be going off topic as we are focused on the basic in this mega-guide.

How Free Bets and Bonuses are Used in Matched Betting

In matched betting, you use these free bets and bonuses to make guaranteed profits. Here’s a simplified step-by-step process:

  1. Qualifying Bet: You first place a bet using your own money (the ‘qualifying’ bet). This bet is typically placed on a specific event that the bookmaker has stipulated in their promotion terms.
  2. Claim Free Bet: Once your qualifying bet is settled, the bookmaker gives you a free bet or bonus.
  3. Back and Lay the Free Bet: You use this free bet to place a ‘back’ bet on a specific outcome and simultaneously place a ‘lay’ bet against that same outcome on a betting exchange. This way, all possible outcomes are covered.
  4. Profit: No matter what the result of the event, you make a profit because you’re not using your own money for the ‘back’ bet.

Potential Profits from Free Bets and Bonuses

The potential profits from matched betting depend on the value of the free bet or bonus, as well as the odds at which the back and lay bets are placed. Typically, matched bettors aim to retain around 80% of the value of the free bet.

So, if you received a £100 free bet, you would aim to make around £80 profit from that bet.

Remember, because you’re covering all outcomes, this profit is virtually guaranteed. So if you can regularly secure and use free bets or bonuses, the profits can accumulate to a substantial sum over time.

Managing Liability in Matched Betting

When you start Matched Betting, you will notice that you have to pay the liability for that specific bet. For example, if you place a £10 lay bet on Everton at 10/1, you will need to cover the £90 liability for that event. Why?

When you lay a bet, you are effectively stepping into the shoes of a bookmaker. Instead of backing an outcome to happen, you’re saying that you believe it won’t happen. If your prediction is correct, you win the stake of the back bet. If you’re wrong, you need to pay out the winnings. This potential payout is what’s known as your ‘liability’.

Your liability when laying a bet isn’t the same as the amount you’re putting at risk when you back a bet. The liability depends on the odds at which you are laying the bet and the stake of the back bet. It’s calculated as follows:

Liability = (Lay Odds – 1) * Lay Stake

Now, let’s delve into how the liability changes depending on the odds:

  1. Lay bet at lower odds: Let’s say you lay a bet of £10 at odds of 2.0 (which is equivalent to 1/1 in fractional odds). If the event doesn’t happen, you win the backer’s stake, which in this case is £10. However, if the event does happen, your liability is £10, as calculated by the formula: (£10 * (2 – 1)).
  2. Lay bet at higher odds: If you lay a bet of £10 at odds of 5.0 (or 4/1 in fractional odds), you stand to win the backer’s stake of £10 if the event doesn’t happen. However, if the event does happen, you’ll have to pay out much more. Your liability in this case is £40, calculated by the formula: (£10 * (5 – 1)).

In essence, the higher the odds at which you lay a bet, the more you stand to lose if the outcome you’re laying does indeed happen. That’s why it’s essential to have enough money in your account to cover your liability should you lose the lay bet.

The liability is automatically deducted from your account balance at the betting exchange when you lay a bet, and it’s returned to you (along with the backer’s stake) if you win the bet.

When using the free bet, we don’t want to stick to Low Odds, as it limits our profitability. Why?

It starts to get a little bit Mathematical here, but I’m only adding this in to give you a full understanding.

First, it’s crucial to remember the matched betting process:

  1. You place a ‘back’ bet using the free bet with a bookmaker.
  2. You place a corresponding ‘lay’ bet at a betting exchange.

In a perfect world where there’s no betting exchange commission, if the back bet odds and the lay bet odds are the same, you’d be able to keep 100% of the free bet value, as you’re covering all possible outcomes.

However, in reality, betting exchanges charge commission on winnings, which reduces your overall profit. It’s around 2% to 5%.

When you opt for higher odds for your back bet, you can increase the potential return from the free bet. Here’s why:

  • The value of the free bet is multiplied by the odds (minus one), so higher odds give you a larger potential profit if the back bet wins.
  • However, if the back bet loses and the lay bet wins, you don’t lose any of your own money, as you used a free bet for the back bet.

So, you might wonder, why not always go for the highest possible odds? The answer lies in the increased liability at the betting exchange. When you lay a bet, your liability (the amount you need to pay out if your lay bet loses) increases with higher odds.

You need to have enough balance in your betting exchange account to cover this liability, which can tie up your capital and increase the risk if you don’t have other funds available.

For instance, if you back a £10 free bet at odds of 5.0 and lay the same bet at similar odds, your potential profit if the back bet wins would be around £40 (minus a small commission). However, if the lay bet wins, your profit would be the lay stake (which would be close to the £10 free bet value), minus a small commission.

But in this case, you’d need to have at least £40 (the liability) in your betting exchange account.

In summary, while higher odds can help you extract more value from a free bet, they come with increased liability on the lay bet, which can tie up your capital.

Therefore, it’s all about finding a balance that maximises profit while keeping liability manageable. A lot of beginners are targetting multiple sign up offers, so can’t afford to keep lots of liability tied up.

However, there’s a secret little trick where you can make multiple bets out of your liability, effectively completing multiple sign up promotions at once. How? I’m about to explain.

This next part will contain more numbers yet again, but if you’re just looking for the basics of Matched Betting, it’s a little overkill.

Laying Multiple Markets and Reducing Liability

In betting, you can lay multiple outcomes in the same market. Doing this can reduce your Liability exposure and you’ll be able to make your money stretch a little further. Let me explain with an example.

It’s going to be based around Horse Racing, as this is likely where you’ll be using this sort of strategy.

1. Laying different outcomes in the same market (unrelated outcomes):

You decide to lay each horse, meaning you’re betting that each horse won’t win the race.

Let’s say you lay each horse for £10, with the following odds:

  • Horse A at odds of 5.0
  • Horse B at odds of 7.0
  • Horse C at odds of 10.0

Your liability for each horse would be:

  • Horse A: £40 (4.0*£10)
  • Horse B: £60 (6.0*£10)
  • Horse C: £90 (9.0*£10)

However, since only one horse can win the race, your total liability will be equal to the highest individual liability – in this case, £90, not the sum of all liabilities (£190). This is because the liabilities for the losing bets will be offset by the winnings from the other two bets.

How this can benefit matched betting:

This strategy can be advantageous in matched betting. Imagine you receive a free bet offer that needs to be split into multiple smaller bets (e.g., 3 x £10 free bets). Instead of searching for three separate markets to place each bet, you could use them all in one horse race and lay every horse.

This way, you’re maximizing the chance of your free bets winning (since you’ve covered more potential outcomes) and therefore potentially securing a higher return from the free bets. You’d still lay each bet on a betting exchange to ensure you make a profit whatever the outcome, and the highest liability you’d face would be on the horse with the highest odds.

Remember, the goal of matched betting is to negate risk, not to gamble on outcomes, so this strategy only works when you properly lay each of your free bets.

Risks and Challenges of Matched Betting

Matched Betting can be quite difficult to understand for beginners that have never placed bets before. This is where our guides can help you, as we break every single step down into bitesize chunks.

Understanding the Nature of Matched Betting

  • Clarification of Matched Betting as a Strategic Approach: Unlike traditional gambling, matched betting leverages mathematical equations and the use of free bets offered by bookmakers to ensure a profit. However, it is not entirely without risk.
  • The Role of Risk in Matched Betting: Although the concept behind matched betting is designed to eliminate risk, there are factors such as human error and bookmaker restrictions that can introduce elements of risk.

Identifying Common Challenges and Pitfalls

  • Human Error: Matched betting involves numerous calculations, multiple online platforms, and the need for precision in placing bets. Mistakes can happen, such as placing the wrong bet or making errors in calculations, which can lead to unexpected losses. This is why we recommend you use something like Oddsmonkey.
  • Bookmaker Restrictions: Also known as ‘gubbing,’ bookmakers may restrict or close accounts that they suspect of matched betting. This can limit the availability of free bets and therefore the potential profit.
  • Fluctuating Odds: Odds can change quickly, especially in the lead-up to an event. If the odds change after you’ve placed one part of your matched bet, this could impact your calculations and potential profit.

Strategies to Mitigate These Risks

  1. Precision and Attention to Detail: Being meticulous with calculations and the placement of bets can significantly reduce the risk of human error. Using matched betting tools and software can help with this.
  2. Understanding and Complying with Terms and Conditions: This can help to prevent account restrictions. Regular ‘mug’ betting (placing bets that a regular punter would, not just taking up free bet offers) can also make a matched betting activity less obvious.
  3. Being Prepared and Adaptable: Stay updated about the current odds and be ready to adapt your betting strategy if they change.
  4. Bankroll Management: Keeping a clear record of your betting transactions can help you manage your money effectively, ensure you have sufficient funds to cover your liabilities, and keep track of your profits.

I’ve been gubbed now by a lot of bookmakers, but I still complete free bet promotions with obscure bookmakers. What helped me remain successful for such a long time, was to treat this a little bit like a business. Tracking everything definitely helps with organisation too.

Steps to Get Started with Matched Betting

It’s really easy to start Matched Betting. You don’t need to pay for a subscription, even though it will make things much easier.

Steps to Start Matched Betting

  • Understanding the Basics: Before you start, it’s important to have a good understanding of what matched betting is, how it works, and the terms used in betting (e.g., back bet, lay bet, odds, liability). We’ve provided that here, so you can tick this off.
  • Setting Up Bookmaker accounts: Create accounts with several bookmakers to take advantage of their free bet offers. Remember, the more accounts you have, the more offers you can take advantage of.
  • Creating an Account on a Betting Exchange: To place your lay bets, you’ll need an account with a betting exchange, such as Betfair or Smarkets.
  • Understanding Odds: Familiarise yourself with how odds work, and the difference between fractional and decimal odds. In matched betting, it’s easier to work with decimal odds.

Recommended Tools and Resources for Beginners

  • Matched Betting Calculator: A matched betting calculator is an essential tool that will help you calculate the optimal lay stake for your bets to ensure you make a profit regardless of the outcome. We have one of these, free to use.
  • Online Guides and Tutorials: There are numerous online resources available to help beginners understand and get started with matched betting. Websites like OddsMonkey and Profit Accumulator (now re-named as Outplayed) offer comprehensive guides and step-by-step tutorials. If you’re serious about making £500+ per month, I would sign up right away.
  • Matched Betting Services: These subscription services provide daily lists of free bet offers, matched betting tools, and community support. They can be a great help, especially for beginners.

Tips for Managing and Tracking Your Betting Activity

  • Keep Records: Keep a record of all your bets, including the bookmaker, the event, the stake, and the outcome. This will help you track your progress, manage your bankroll, and keep your matched betting organised.
  • Stay Organised: Use a spreadsheet or a matched betting software to track your bets and update it regularly.
  • Take Your Time: Don’t rush placing your bets. Check and double-check everything to avoid making mistakes. Check figures add up, and then triple check it again!
  • Start with Small Bets: Until you get the hang of it, start with smaller bets. As your confidence and understanding grow, you can gradually increase your stake.

Tools you need to Start Matched Betting

There are plenty of tools out there which will help you make more profit, faster, and for a longer period of time.

Think of this a little bit like HotUKDeals – there’s a community of people that work together to find the best offers. With Matched Betting, there’s a team of specialists who work hard to do the same, but with bookmaker promotions.

Oddsmonkey Offer Calendar
An example of the typical offers provided

You could try and find these yourself, but honestly, it’s going to take you so long to search through every website and looking for promotions, that you’ll end up working to a negative wage.

I’ve broken down the tools, so you can see just how easy it is to starting matched betting.

  • Bookmaker Accounts: You’ll need to create accounts with various bookmakers to take advantage of the free bet offers they provide. It’s recommended to start with the most reputable ones and gradually expand your portfolio.
  • Betting Exchange Account: To place lay bets, you need an account with a betting exchange. Betfair and Smarkets are two of the most popular ones.
  • Bank Account: A dedicated bank account for your matched betting activities can help keep things organized and separate from your personal finances.
  • Matched Betting Calculator: This essential tool helps you calculate the optimal amount to bet and lay in order to maximize your profits.
  • Spreadsheet Software: Using a spreadsheet like Excel or Google Sheets will be helpful to track your bets, profits, and balance across various bookmakers and exchanges.
  • Matched Betting Service: Services like OddsMonkey, Profit Accumulator, or Matched Bets provide a wealth of resources, from daily lists of free bet offers and advanced matched betting tools, to tutorials and community forums. These services usually require a monthly subscription, but the time-saving benefits and additional resources can be well worth the cost for many matched bettors.
  • Internet Connection: Since all of your activities will be done online, a reliable internet connection is crucial.
  • Time: While matched betting can be lucrative, it requires time to understand the process, identify the best offers, place bets, and manage your activity.

Benefits of Matched Betting

Matched betting is a betting strategy that involves using free bets and promotions offered by bookmakers to make a profit. Here are some of the benefits of matched betting:

  1. Risk-free profit: One of the main benefits of matched betting is that it is a low-risk strategy for making a profit. By using free bets and promotions, matched bettors are able to place bets without risking their own money. This makes it a popular strategy for those looking to make money online without taking on a lot of risk.
  2. Easy to get started: Matched betting is a relatively simple strategy to get started with. While there is a learning curve to understanding how to place back and lay bets, there are many resources available online to help beginners get started. Many bookmakers even offer matched betting guides and tutorials on their websites.
  3. No gambling knowledge required: Unlike traditional gambling, matched betting does not require any knowledge of sports or betting strategies. It is a purely mathematical strategy that relies on finding free bets and promotions with positive expected value.
  4. Flexible: Matched betting can be done from anywhere with an internet connection, making it a flexible strategy for making money online. It can also be done at any time, making it ideal for those with busy schedules.
  5. Potential for high profits: While individual bets may only result in small profits, matched betting can be a profitable strategy over time. With the right approach, it is possible to make thousands of pounds per month from matched betting.
  6. Helps improve financial literacy: Matched betting requires a basic understanding of mathematics and probability, which can help improve financial literacy. By learning how to calculate odds and probabilities, matched bettors can develop important financial skills that can be applied to other areas of their lives.

Overall, matched betting is a low-risk, flexible, and potentially profitable strategy for making money online. It is an accessible strategy that can be done by anyone with an internet connection, and it can help improve financial literacy and knowledge of mathematics and probability.

Drawbacks of Matched Betting

While matched betting has many benefits, there are also several drawbacks that should be considered before using this strategy:

  1. Time-consuming: Matched betting can be a time-consuming strategy, particularly when starting out. There is a learning curve to understanding how to place back and lay bets, and it can take time to find profitable bets and promotions.
  2. A little boring: Some people do get bored of tracking the profits and losses on a spreadsheet. I’m a spreadsheet nerd though, so I quite enjoy this. I also enjoy seeing profits!
  3. Limited profitability: While matched betting can be a profitable strategy, there is a limit to how much money can be made. Bookmakers are aware of matched betting and may restrict or ban users who are consistently making a profit.
  4. Risk of human error: Matched betting involves placing many bets, and there is a risk of making a mistake when calculating the correct stake or placing the wrong bet. This can result in losing money or missing out on a profitable bet.
  5. Reliance on bookmakers: Matched betting relies on bookmakers offering free bets and promotions, which may not always be available. Additionally, bookmakers may change their terms and conditions or withdraw offers at any time.
  6. Potential for addiction: While matched betting is not a form of gambling, it does involve placing bets, which can be addictive for some people. It is important to approach matched betting in a responsible manner and to be aware of the risks of addiction.
  7. Difficult to explain: Matched betting can be difficult to explain to others, particularly those who are not familiar with the concept. This can lead to misconceptions and misunderstandings about what matched betting involves.

Overall, while matched betting has many benefits, there are also several drawbacks that should be considered. These include the time-consuming nature of the strategy, limited profitability, the risk of human error, reliance on bookmakers, the potential for addiction, and difficulty in explaining the concept to others.

Although this isn’t a drawback, there is one way that you can make a colossal mistake when matched betting. This has happened to quite a few people in the community, but it’s down to failing to truly grasp how matched betting works.

Typical Mistakes that you can make with Matched Betting

Backing and Laying Incorrectly

This one hurts. I’ve done this in the past. I can remember the match now. Liverpool vs Arsenal.

I backed Liverpool and laid Arsenal. Rookie mistake. Arsenal won, meaning both bets lost. Luckily, it was a £5 bet and the odds weren’t too high, but it was still annoying.

Backing and Laying Incorrectly
An example of backing and laying incorrectly.

In the above screenshot, what would happen if Newcastle won the match? That’s right, a loss for both bets!

Forgetting to Lay a Bet

Sometimes you’ll be placing a lot of bets in quick succession. Try not to run before you can walk, placing too many bets that you can handle. You can easily forget to lay a bet, if you’ve backed multiple in succession.

This is where tracking your bets really pays dividends.

Not using a Calculator

Sometimes you might not have access to a calculator. If you’re out shopping and need to place a bet, make sure you use a calculator regardless. Oddsmonkey and Outplayed have mobile friendly calculators, so there should be no excuse here.

If you take matters into your own hands, you’ll be guessing how much you need to lay, which could end up with making a loss.

Using Decimal Odds to make Matched Betting Easier

Decimal odds are the preferred odds format for matched betting because they are easier to work with and calculate potential profits. Here are some of the reasons why decimal odds are recommended for matched betting:

  1. Easy to understand: Decimal odds are easy to understand and read, particularly for those who are new to matched betting. They are expressed as a simple number that represents the amount of money that will be returned for every £1 bet.
  2. Simple calculations: Decimal odds make it easy to calculate potential profits and losses. The potential profit is simply the stake multiplied by the decimal odds, minus the stake. For example, a £10 bet at odds of 2.0 would return a profit of £10 (stake x odds – stake = profit), resulting in a total return of £20.
  3. Accuracy: Decimal odds provide more accurate calculations than other odds formats, particularly when working with fractional odds. Decimal odds do not require any conversion, which means there is less room for error when calculating potential profits and losses.
  4. Widely used: Decimal odds are widely used across the world, particularly in Europe and Australia. This means that they are available on most betting sites and exchanges, making it easy to find and compare odds.
  5. Compatible with betting exchanges: Decimal odds are compatible with most betting exchanges, including Betfair and Smarkets. This makes it easy to place lay bets and ensure that the back and lay bets are matched.

In summary, decimal odds are the preferred odds format for matched betting because they are easy to understand, simple to calculate, accurate, widely used, and compatible with most betting exchanges. By using decimal odds, matched bettors can ensure that they are making the most of their bets and maximizing their profits.

Will I need to learn about sports or betting?

The goal of matched betting is to ensure that you make a profit regardless of the outcome of the event you are betting on. While some knowledge of sports can be helpful when doing matched betting, it is not necessary to have an in-depth understanding of sports or betting.

To do matched betting, you need to have a basic understanding of how betting works and how to place a bet. You also need to have access to a betting exchange, such as Betfair or Smarkets, which allows you to place lay bets (bets against a particular outcome) as well as back bets (betting for a particular outcome).

The key to successful matched betting is to find events where the odds offered by the bookmaker are close to the odds offered by the betting exchange. This allows you to place a back bet with the bookmaker and a lay bet with the betting exchange, ensuring that you make a profit regardless of the outcome of the event.

To find these opportunities, you can use a matched betting service, such as OddsMonkey or Profit Accumulator. These services provide you with the information you need to find the best matched betting opportunities, as well as step-by-step instructions on how to place your bets.

While a basic understanding of sports and betting can be helpful when doing matched betting, it is not essential. As long as you have access to a betting exchange and a matched betting service, you can successfully make money through matched betting without having any specific knowledge of sports.

Find and place your qualifying bet

Let’s say you have found a bookmaker that is offering a £30 free bet for new customers who sign up and place a bet of £10 or more. To qualify for the free bet, you need to place a qualifying bet of £10 with the bookmaker.

You decide to place a qualifying bet on a football match between Manchester United and Liverpool. The bookmaker is offering odds of 2.0 for Manchester United to win, while the betting exchange is offering odds of 2.05 for Manchester United to lose or draw (i.e. not to win).

To place a qualifying bet, you would do the following:

  1. Place a £10 back bet on Manchester United to win with the bookmaker. This means you are betting that Manchester United will win the match.
  2. Place a lay bet on Manchester United to lose or draw with the betting exchange. This means you are betting against Manchester United winning the match.

The amount of your lay bet will depend on the odds and commission of the betting exchange, but a lay stake of around £9.76 would ensure you have a qualifying loss of around £0.24, which is the amount you are willing to “lose” in order to qualify for the free bet.

If Manchester United wins the match, your back bet with the bookmaker will win, and you will lose your lay bet with the betting exchange. If Manchester United does not win (i.e. they lose or draw the match), your back bet with the bookmaker will lose, but you will win your lay bet with the betting exchange.

In either case, your qualifying bet will be settled, and you will have qualified for the £30 free bet offered by the bookmaker.

How to Place Your Free Bets

Let’s say you have now qualified for the £30 free bet from the bookmaker. You can now use this free bet to place a bet without risking any of your own money. However, to make a profit from the free bet, you will need to use the same matched betting technique.

You find a football match where the bookmaker is offering odds of 2.5 for Manchester City to win, while the betting exchange is offering odds of 2.55 for Manchester City to lose or draw (i.e. not to win).

To use your free bet, you would do the following:

  1. Place a £30 back bet on Manchester City to win with the bookmaker using your free bet. This means you are betting that Manchester City will win the match.
  2. Place a lay bet on Manchester City to lose or draw with the betting exchange. This means you are betting against Manchester City winning the match.
  3. Enter the details in the Matched Betting Calculator (just like we have below)
Example Free Bet

The amount of your lay bet will depend on the odds and commission of the betting exchange, but a lay stake of £17.65 would ensure you have a guaranteed profit of around £17.64, regardless of the outcome of the match.

If Manchester City wins the match, your back bet with the bookmaker using your free bet will win, and you will lose your lay bet with the betting exchange. If Manchester City does not win (i.e. they lose or draw the match), your back bet with the bookmaker using your free bet will lose, but you will win your lay bet with the betting exchange.

In either case, you will have made a profit of around £17.64 from the free bet, which you can then withdraw or use to place further bets. It’s important to note that not all free bets are stake returned, so you may not get your stake back from the bookmaker in addition to your winnings.

However, using matched betting techniques can help you to make a profit regardless of whether the free bet is stake returned or not.

How Does Matched Betting Turn Free Bets to Cash?

When you receive a free bet from a bookmaker, it is essentially a bonus that can only be used to place a bet. You cannot withdraw the free bet itself as cash. However, by using matched betting techniques, you can turn the free bet into cash by placing bets that guarantee a profit.

In matched betting, you use a free bet to place a back bet with the bookmaker and a lay bet with a betting exchange. By doing this, you cover all possible outcomes of the event you are betting on, which means you can guarantee a profit regardless of the outcome.

Live Example: Steps to Completing a Matched Betting Offer

To place a matched bet in matched betting, you need to follow a few steps:

  1. Find a suitable event and market: Look for an event and market that has enough liquidity on a betting exchange so that you can place both a back bet and a lay bet.
  2. Find a suitable bookmaker: Look for a bookmaker that offers a free bet or promotion that you can take advantage of. Make sure to read the terms and conditions of the offer carefully.
  3. Place the back bet: Use the free bet or make a qualifying bet with your own money on the bookmaker’s website. Make sure to select the correct market and odds.
  4. Place the lay bet: On a betting exchange, find the same market and select the opposite outcome to your back bet. Make sure to enter the correct stake and odds.
  5. Confirm the bets: Make sure to double-check the details of both bets before confirming them. Once both bets are confirmed, you have a matched bet.
  6. Wait for the outcome: The outcome of the event will determine whether you win or lose your bets. If you win your back bet, you will receive a payout from the bookmaker, and if you win your lay bet, you will receive a payout from the betting exchange.
  7. Calculate your profit: Regardless of the outcome of the event, you should make a profit or at least break even, thanks to the free bet or promotion.

It’s important to note that matched betting requires a lot of discipline and attention to detail. Make sure to keep track of your bets and follow the strategy carefully to minimize your risk and maximize your profits.

Frequently Asked Questions about Matched Betting

  • Is Matched Betting Legal? Yes, matched betting is completely legal. You’re simply taking advantage of promotional offers provided by the bookmakers themselves. However, it’s essential to be over 18 and to ensure that betting is legal in your country of residence.
  • Is Matched Betting a form of Gambling? No, unlike traditional betting, matched betting isn’t gambling. You’re not leaving your money to chance but rather using a mathematical method to make a profit from the free bets and bonuses offered by bookmakers.
  • Is Matched Betting Still Profitable? Absolutely, as long as bookmakers continue to offer free bets and promotions, matched betting can be a profitable venture.
  • Can I Get Rich From Matched Betting? While matched betting can provide a nice side income, it’s not typically a pathway to becoming rich. The income potential is limited to the available offers and how efficiently you can use them.
  • Can Matched Betting Affect My Credit Score? No, betting companies, including bookmakers and betting exchanges, do not share data with credit reference agencies.
  • Will I Get Banned From Bookmakers? If a bookmaker suspects you’re only using them for their free bet offers and promotions, they might restrict your account in a process known as ‘gubbing’. It’s a risk, but many matched bettors continue to make a profit even after being gubbed by several bookmakers.
  • How Much Money Do I Need to Start Matched Betting? You can start matched betting with a small bankroll, but a good starting point is around £100. This allows you to cover the initial bets and any potential liability at the betting exchange.
  • Will I need to learn about sports or betting? This is a double-edged sword. Whilst knowledge of Sports & betting would be advantageous, it could also lead you to gambling your free bets on accumulators etc. We have helped plenty of members who have no knowledge of sports. At the end of the day, it’s numbers on a screen you’ll be interested in.
  • What if I’m already signed up to some bookmakers? You’ll not be able to claim the sign up offer, but you’ll be well placed for their reload offers. We’ve had plenty of users stats that their accounts are in better health if they are existing customers, as they have been flying under the radar for so long and the bookies think they’re mug punters!

How much Profit can you make from Matched Betting?

This is a frequently asked question, but it deserves an area of it’s own. Ultimately, it varies on several factors; Bookmaker Accounts, Dedicated Time & Bankroll Available.

  1. The number of bookmaker accounts you have: The more accounts you have, the more offers you can take advantage of.
  2. The amount of time you can dedicate: Matched betting can be time-consuming. If you have more time to dedicate to finding and placing bets, you’ll naturally be able to make more money.
  3. The size of your bankroll: The more money you have to place bets, the more you can potentially earn. This is especially true when you’re trying to take advantage of high-value free bet offers.
  4. Your experience level: As with most things, the more experienced you become at matched betting, the more efficient and successful you’ll likely be, leading to higher profits.

As a general figure, beginners who spend a few hours a week on matched betting can typically make around £500 to £1000 per month. Experienced matched bettors who put in more time and use more sophisticated strategies can make £1000 to £2000 per month or more.

Some matched bettors who treat it like a full-time job can make even more, but this level of income requires a substantial time investment and a lot of experience.

Remember, though, these figures can fluctuate, especially during periods when there are fewer sports events taking place. Also, as you start to get “gubbed” from bookmakers (i.e., have your account restricted), you may find that there are fewer offers available for you to take advantage of.

What Is Matched Betting? Conclusion & Final Thoughts

In conclusion, matched betting is a betting strategy that can be used to make a guaranteed profit from bookmaker free bets and promotions. By using a combination of back and lay bets, you can cover all possible outcomes of a betting event and ensure a profit, regardless of the result.

Matched betting is a risk-free and legal method of making money from betting, and does not require any knowledge of sports or betting. However, it does require careful planning and attention to detail in order to ensure that bets are placed correctly and profits are maximized.

With the right approach and a good understanding of matched betting techniques, it is possible to make a consistent income from matched betting over the long term. It is important to note that while matched betting is legal and safe when done correctly, it should not be seen as a get-rich-quick scheme and should be done responsibly.

Keeping that in mind, this can be a serious side income earner. We have no issue earning £500 per month from Matched Betting, dedicating very little time to the cause. There are plenty of individuals that are earning 6-figures incomes from this.

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