Matched Betting (often written “Match Betting”) is a technique used for generating a profit from the Free Bets & Promotions offered by online Bookmakers. It’s risk-free, tax-free and based on a simple strategy rather than chance — so it’s not gambling at all! What’s great is that anyone can learn it, no matter how little they know about sports betting.
Don’t be put off by the fact that this process involves online betting. 1,000’s of people in the UK are making a 2nd income from this, so it’s well worth a read. Here’s my free Matched Betting Guide.
Already know about Matched Betting? Maximise what you earn by subscribing to one of the Best Matched Betting Services.
First Things First — The Matched Betting Essentials
► What Exactly Is a Matched Bet?
A Matched Bet is where you place a stake without taking risk. It’s actually pretty simple:
- Back (bet FOR a sports outcome) at the Bookmaker, and instantly
- Lay (bet AGAINST a sports outcome) at a betting exchange (e.g. Betfair) with odds of a similar value.
For newbies, a “Lay” bet is basically betting against an outcome by accepting bets (like a Bookie does) using the Betfair exchange. The two bets you place cancel one another out, meaning that you break even. No win, no loss.
But breaking even doesn’t help you to earn money…
That’s why you have to combine the ‘Matched Bet’ process with a Free Bet offered by the Bookmaker. Then it suddenly becomes profitable. This isn’t gambling as you know it — this is Matched Betting.
► Here’s what you need to start Matched Betting
To earn anything from Matched Betting you’ll need the following:
- A Betfair account*
- A new, never-before-used Bookmaker account where a Free Bet is offered for signing up. Google “free bets” to find one.
- Money to deposit to the Bookmaker and Betfair.
► There’s 2 steps for Matched Betting
- Step 1 — Meeting Rollover Requirements or Placing Qualifying Bets
- Step 2 — Placing Free Bets
Don’t worry, i’m going to explain each step in this tutorial. But if you know little (or nothing) about Free bets then you should definitely glance at my post ‘The Different Types Of Free Bets‘ as this will make the Matched Betting jargon a little clearer.
So follow my instructions and start learning how to place Matched Bets!
Step 1 — Meeting Rollover Requirements Or Placing Qualifying Bets
See this entire step as a hoop jumping phase. You won’t generate a profit yet – you just need get through this phase by “Matching” your bets.
There are one of two cases that applies to your Bookmaker Free Bet/Promotion:
- You need to meet a “Rollover Requirement”. This is where you’ve deposited funds and Free Money was credited before any bets were placed (like at Bet365), and you must place a total sum of eligible stakes before a withdrawal is allowed.
- You need to “qualify” for a Free Bet. This is where the Bookmaker stipulates that players must place a “qualifying bet” using their own money before being credited a Free Bet (which is usually “Stake Not Returned”).
Whatever your case (1 or 2) the objective for Step 1 is exactly the same: to minimise losses incurred by completing your rollover requirement, or placing your qualifying bet. You’ll do this by matching your bets.
Let’s pretend my free bet promotion is at 10bet, advertised as:
“Bet £25 of your own money to receive a £25 Stake Not Returned free bet”.
Let’s tackle this promotion using the Back & Lay Matched Betting technique.
► Matching Your Bet Requires The Bookmaker & Exchange Odds to Be Close
This is absolutely crucial.
Let’s suppose I was placing a qualifying bet at the Bookmaker by backing Spurs to beat Chelsea at decimal odds of 2.5, whilst Laying Spurs with an equal stake at odds of 3.0 on the Betfair exchange. What you’re effectively doing is cancelling out your Back bet by betting against Spurs on the exchange.
That’s fine. But in this example, the difference between 2.5 and 3.0 is pretty big in terms of value — the Bookmaker’s price is only 83.3% of the Lay odds on Betfair i.e. it’s a weak match. You’d want your Lay odds to be more like 2.7 — a 90% match.
Help, I don’t even understand the odds!
Don’t worry. You don’t need to fully understand odds for Matched Betting. You just need to make sure that your Bookmaker accounts are set to decimal (European) odds, like ‘2.5’, so that it’s consistent with Betfair’s format.
Decimal odds are actually very simple anyway: the higher the value, the bigger the odds are!
So what does a “weak match” mean to your profit? Why does it matter?
Imagine that the Bookmaker bet wins. Due to the fact your liability (what you pay out) on the exchange is comparatively high, it means you’ll lose more from your Lay bet on Betfair than you’ll make from the winning back bet at the Bookie. This means you’d lose a bit of money overall.
If the price was identical i.e. perfectly matched, then it would break even whatever happens (Betfair commission aside). Basically, it’s just important that you match your bet properly by finding odds that are tight between the Bookmaker and the Exchange i.e. a “strong match”.
► how To Find Find A “Strong Match” for your qualiying/rollover bets
You don’t need to hunt around for suitable odds. There are some great tools to help you. I recommend that you save yourself a lot of effort by signing up for a free account with Odds Monkey — they’re the #1 Matched Betting specialists with an abundance of resources. I’ll refer to their free odds matching tool in this post.
You’re almost ready to place your first “qualifying” or “rollover” matched bet without risking any money. You’ll first have to choose your sports event using the OddsMonkey Oddsmatcher. Here’s a few useful tips on that:
- Look for popular sports/markets like top flight football matches, as these have the most liquidity on the exchange.
- Avoid using high odds for qualifying/rollover bets as this will increase the balance you need to have in your exchange account. Imagine Laying at 9.0 on a £20 stake — you’ll need to make a deposit to cover the liability of £200 if a Backer wins the bet. So try to keep just above the minimum odds allowed at the Bookmaker for the promotion.
- Always seek a high “Rating %” from the OddsMonkey Oddsmatcher. This means that the odds are close between the Bookmaker and Betfair.
OK, we’re ready. Let’s do it…
So I’m looking for an event to place a £25 qualifying bet at 10bet in order to receive a free bet. Open up the OddsMonkey Oddsmatcher from your new account.
The OddsMonkey Free Matched Betting Finder, with 10Bet selected from the dropdown.
What you can see in this screenshot is the best rated potential matched bets in descending % order.
Instantly i’m drawn to one particular fixture: the Stoke v Newcastle game (shown in red).
The reason I like this event is because it precisely meets the three tips I gave above:
- It’s a very popular market (two Premier League teams, at the time of writing)
- The odds are low (and hopefully within the Bookmakers’ minimum odds terms)
- The Rating % on the Oddsmatcher is high, at 97.03%.
We’ve found a close match.
So this is the event you’d place this qualifying bet on. But to do that you just need to calculate how much you should Lay on the Betfair exchange against your £25 back stake. We’ll work this out using another OddsMonkey tool.
► Calculating Your Lay Stake to Spread the Risk Equally
This is a very important step, so take a little care.
Provided you calculate the correct Lay stake, then you will ensure an identical (or very close) profit/loss whatever outcome of the Stoke vs Newcastle fixture — win, lose or draw. Failure to do so can cause a costly mistake.
To make this process as easy as possible, open up the Matched Betting Calculator from your OddsMonkey account. Enter the details of the bet like this:
OddsMonkey Matched Betting calculator with the Stake, Back odds, Lay odds and Commission entered.
In case you’re wondering, the “Lay Commission” is just the commission % Betfair charges on profits. For new accounts it’s 5%.
Here’s what the calculator shows us:
- The Lay stake on Betfair, which is £25.13.
- The loss you’ll make — labelled “overall position” — which is the same regardless of the outcome of the sports event (Ok, 1p aside…)
NOTE: The net result of £-1.13 is a perfectly reasonable loss to incur on a £25 stake. It will be dwarfed by the profit made from the Free Bet in Step 2.
Can this process ever make money?
We’re not aiming to make money at this stage yet.
But if you’re lucky and you’re able to Lay at lower odds than you backed at the Bookmaker then what you’ve found is an arbitrage opportunity and you’ll profit regardless of the outcome. However, this is a rare case. When you’re Matched Betting, in almost every case you’ll find that the Lay is slightly above the Bookmaker odds meaning you’ll incur a very minor loss.
Hopefully I haven’t lost you yet.
You’re now finally ready to place the £25 Back bet, instantly followed by the £25.13 Lay bet. Step 1 is almost complete!
► Placing Your Matched Bet
Here’s some useful advice when placing your Back & Lay bets. Take note:
- Ensure you have sufficient balance in your Betfair account
- Check manually on the betting websites that the odds shown on the Oddsmatcher e.g. 2.0 (Bookmaker) and 2.04 (Exchange) are still valid. Odds change rapidly.
- Place your bet at the Bookmaker first, then Lay on the Exchange instantly after. Be sure to hit the Pink Lay and not the Blue Back price on Betfair!
You simply place the 2 bets at the Bookmaker website, and on the Betfair exchange. And you’re done with placing your first risk free matched bet! You’ve learnt how to “match” your qualifying & rollover bets.
► What’s next?
- If you’ve just placed your qualifying for an SNR free bet bet then continue to Step 2…
- If you’re still still meeting a Rollover Requirement then you need to repeat Step 1 until you’re eligible to withdraw. Take care with finding a close match between the Bookmaker and Betfair otherwise you’ll drastically reduce your overall profit.
- If you’ve successfully placed enough matched bets to meet your rollover requirement then next section is redundant — you can withdraw your money!
Step 2 — Placing Free Bets
What follows are the simple steps for placing any Stake Not Returned (SNR) free bets. In this section you will secure a risk-free profit from Matched Betting.
Once your SNR free bet (sometimes called a “bet token”) is activated in your Bookmaker account then you’re ready to begin. You need to “match” your free bet in the same way as Step 1. I only have one different recommendation this time:
- Use high odds because this helps to retain as much of the SNR free bet as possible.
Why are high odds better for matching the SNR Free Bets?
By matching an SNR bet at high odds you retain a much higher % of your free bet i.e it’s more profitable. The downside is that you also require more money in your exchange account to place the Lay part, which is sometimes inconvenient. I find that a good compromise is to use odds of around of 5.0-7.0.
Without being too mathsy, the reason for this is that by betting at high odds you naturally win at Betfair more frequently than you do at low odds. The benefit to this is that you reduce the frequency of winning free bets at the Bookmaker where your stake is not returned.
Let’s work through an example…
► Three simple Simple Steps to matching & Placing the SNR Bet
- Find a suitable high odds “strong match” using the OddsMonkey Oddsmatcher (the same as with the qualifier). As always, take care to ensure the Bookmaker & Betfair odds are a close match.
- Use the OddsMonkey Matched Betting calculator to calculate your Lay stake. You MUST select “Free Bet (SNR)” as the Bet Type this time. Don’t forget!
- Place the Back (free bet) at the Bookmaker, and Lay bet on the Exchange, as before.
Let’s suppose you’re aiming to place your £25 Free Bet at odds of 6.0 and a Lay at 6.5…
As before, you bet with the Lay stake provided by the calculator (£19.38 in this case). Failure to do so won’t guarantee an equal profit whatever the outcome of the event.
This Matched Bet makes a guaranteed PROFIT of £18.41 from the Back and Lay. That’s great as you’ll retain 73.64% of the £25 free bet — a very reasonable risk free profit to earn.
And you’re done. You’ve earned a risk-free profit from Matched Betting!
► But Hang on, How Come It’s In Profit This Time? What’s Changed from step 1?
We selected “Free Bet (SNR)” on the calculator this time, remember? That’s the difference.
The process is exactly the same to matching qualifying/rollover bets — but it’s profitable this time due to the fact you’ve told the calculator you’re using a free bet at the Bookmaker. Without the free bet you don’t make a profit. I’ll explain this with the maths, if you’re interested (if not skip this section).
The following calculations take place for the 2 possible outcomes.
Bookmaker Free Bet Wins:
Bookmaker: (£25 x 6.0) - £25 = +£125 Exchange: -(£19.38 x 6.5) + 19.38 = -£106.59 Overall profit = +£18.41
Bookmaker Free Bet Loses:
Bookmaker: £0 Exchange: £19.38 x (0.95) = +£18.41 Overall profit = +£18.41
So your Bookmaker account loses £0 (nothing) when the free bet loses, because it was not placed with your own money. Think about it: to you the Bookie account has not lost anything. It’s basically like betting with someone else’s money and if you win then you get to keep the winnings for yourself.
Regardless of the outcome, what you retain of your free bet is £18.41, which is 73.64% of the £25 awarded.
Key Points To Take Away From This Matched Betting Guide
► Free bets have terms and conditions attached to them.
For example, a Bookmaker would typically stipulate that an initial qualifying bet must be placed at odds of “2.00 or over” for a player to be eligible for a free bet. In most cases you need to get it right on the very first bet you place. Lookout for tricky terms like this as it’ll prevent you from being awarded the promotion. Remember: no free bet means no profit.
► always ensure that there’s enough available money (liquidity) on the exchange to place your Lay bets.
If you find that there’s not enough money, then you may consider queuing your bet at a higher price — this will increase your liability and thereby reduce your profit though. Alternatively you can risk waiting for it to be matched, but there’s no guarantee it will be.
► avoid rookie errors by taking care when you’re placing bets.
Whether its win, lose, draw or any other outcome it’s the same process. You simply Back at the Bookmaker and Lay that same outcome on Betfair (with the appropriate stake from the calculator). Don’t Lay any other outcome apart from the one you’ve backed e.g. if you backed the Draw, then you Lay the Draw.
Remember to use low odds for qualifying/rollover bets and high odds for SNR free bets in order to reduce losses and maximise profits respectively.
► Do Bookmakers mind Matched Betting?
Bookmakers probably won’t know that you’re Matched Betting. But they do know that it goes on and they don’t try to stamp it out. There’s been several public statements that imply that they don’t particularly care about it. After all, free bets attract new customers and not everyone goes on to become a Matched Betting expert. Some percentage of Matched Bettors will continue to bet recreationally.
► How Can I Maximise What I Earn From Matched Betting?
I highly recommend that you subscribe to one of the top Matched Betting Services/Websites. They’ll provide you with everything you need to sustain regular income from Matched Betting.
If you require some more step-by-step guidance on Matched Betting, then check out this tutorial here.