Matched Betting Beginners Guide 2023 | Step-By-Step Tutorial

Matched Betting is a risk-free technique used to earn tax-free profits from the free bets & promotions offered by online bookmakers. It’s based on a simple strategy rather than chance — so, despite involving sports betting sites, it’s not gambling at all. Anyone can learn Matched Betting without any prior experience of betting.

Don’t be put off because Matched Betting involves “gambling”. Thousands of people in the UK, from all kinds of occupations and backgrounds, are making a second income from Matched Betting. You just need to follow the process and place the correct bets.


What Is Matched Betting?

Matched Betting is the name given to the risk-free strategy that extracts a profit from sports betting promotions. It is also referred to as “bonus hunting” or “bonus bagging” — but those terms are most commonly associated with advanced techniques used to earn a profit from online Casino bonuses (which is more risky).

The process of Matched Betting requires an account with a bookmaker and a betting exchange, where at least one is offering a free bet. When the free bet is placed on a sports event, the other account is used to hedge all the possible outcomes, thereby eliminating risk and ensuring that no matter what happens a large portion of the free bet is retained. At its simplest, a matched bet involves placing a:

  1. BACK bet (FOR) a sports outcome at a bookmaker.
  2. LAY bet (AGAINST) the same sports outcome at a betting exchange.

More advanced versions of Matched Betting involves placing bets at multiple bookmakers to avoid the commission charged for using an exchange. This is known as dutching.


What’s The Catch?

Provided you hedge your risk, and place bets at the optimal odds, there isn’t a catch. I’ll get on this later in the article.

The only snag is that bookmakers incorporate several terms into their promotions, usually requiring that customers risk their own money (at minimum odds) before being able to obtain the free bet.

Matched Bettors get around this by placing a qualifying bet with the bookmaker and a second bet against the same result at the betting exchange. The latter is required to offset any loss in the event that the bookmaker bet does not win. This process usually incurs a small loss (£1-£2) temporarily, prior to securing a profit from the free bet using the same process.

Essentially, the only catch is that bookmakers don’t just give away free bets for nothing. Nonetheless, the process is still profitable.


What Do You Need For Matched Betting?

It goes without saying that you need to be over 18 years of age. But aside from that, strictly speaking, there’s only three essential things required for Matched Betting:

1. Money

You’ll need some cash to deposit to both the bookmaker and betting exchange.

Without money you can’t become a Matched Bettor. However, you don’t need to be rich to get started as you can build up your bankroll slowly using low value offers (Free Bets) to begin with.

The lowest value Free Bets are around £10. In order to profit from one of these promotions you’ll need approximately £30-70 of spare cashThis is used for the ‘Qualifying Bet’ and ‘Free Bet’.

2. Free Bet

You’ll need a free bet from a bookmaker or betting exchange.

The biggest and best free bets are offered to new customers that haven’t ever deposited or placed any bets before.

So if you’ve signed up to several Bookmakers already then you’ll be limited to the “reload” offers for existing customers. This means you won’t be able to claim new customer “sign-up” promotions.

When claiming any bonus it’s highly important to take note of any promotional codes, “opt-in” requirements, or minimum deposit amounts. Failure to get this right can invalidate your eligibility for the offer.

To stay up-to-date the very best free bets currently available, I highly recommend subscribing to a Matched Betting Service. The best ones feature a daily list of free bets to tackle.

3. Betting Exchange Account

You’ll need to have an account with at least one betting exchange.

The obvious option is Betfair because it has the most liquidity (available money to take for a bet). This means you’re less likely to ever encounter a scenario where you have to queue your stake in order to get matched on your (opposing) Lay bets. However, there’s other exchanges that charge lower commission for using their service.

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Main Types of Sports Betting Promotions

There are two main types of sports betting promotions:

  1. Free bets. This is the most common type of sports promotion, whereby customers need to earn their free bet by placing placing a “qualifying bet” using their own money. Generally winnings made from the free bet itself will exclude the stake amount; this is known as a “Stake not Returned” promotion.
  2. Bonus funds. This is a less common promotion, whereby customers are credited ‘free money’ before any bets are placed. You must place a total sum of eligible stakes (known as the “rollover requirement”) before a withdrawal is allowed. The bonus amount can usually be withdrawn along with any winnings.

Note: Bookies attach tricky terms and conditions to their free bets. Usually they insist that your bets are placed at minimum odds of a given amount (e.g. 2.0), within a certain time frame. This is something you have to look out for. If you’re ever in doubt, ask the bookmaker staff on live chat to clarify your uncertainties about their promotions.

For the remainder of this tutorial I’m going to focus on tackling the most common type of promotion: A Free Bet (Stake not Returned).


Step 1: Find A Free Bet

The first step for Matched betting is to find a free bet to make a profit from. But where do you find one, and how will you know whether it’s profitable?

Unless you’re an experienced Matched Bettor, you’re unlikely to know which of the current sports betting promotions are worth taking. So my advice is to subscribe to a Matched Betting Service, which includes a lengthy list of all current promotions with explanations of how to tackle each one (and how much you’ll make from them). These services are certain to make you money provided you follow their instructions.


A Typical Free Bet from ‘Bookie X’

A bookmaker promotion might be advertised as:

Bet £25 of your own money to receive a £25 Stake Not Returned free bet.

This means that players must take an initial risk of £25 to be granted the £25 free bet, where their stake is not returned in any winnings.

  • If the free bet wins, customers can keep the profit.
  • If it loses, customers haven’t lost anything.

But the obvious problem here is that you stand to lose £25 from the initial qualifying bet — which you don’t want, right?

Right. So for the remainder of this tutorial I’m going to explain how to eliminate the risk in this type of promotion and capture a large portion of the £25 free bet using the Back & Lay Matched Betting technique. We’ll turn this typical promotion into a profitable, risk free money-maker!

I’ll assume that you have signed up to ‘Bookie X’, made a deposit, and loaded up your Betting exchange with money. Now you’re ready to place a qualifying bet.


Step 2: Set Your Account to Decimal Odds

Before we go any further, you’ll need to set your bookmaker account to the European Decimal odds format. This is necessary because Betting Exchanges use decimal odds — so you’ll need the same format in order to make Matched Betting calculations. You can change the odds format in your account settings, or sometimes from a simple dropdown on the Bookmaker’s site.

You don’t need to fully understand odds for Matched Betting, but it helps to have a very basic grasp of them. Decimal odds are very simple: the higher the number, the bigger the odds are, and the more payout you get on a win. So odds of 6.5 will give a bigger payout on a win than odds of 4.0.

To calculate winnings placed at European (decimal) odds, simply multiply your stake by the odds. For example:

  • £25 @ 10.0 = £10 x 10.0 = £250 return

The return includes the stake. So that’s £225 profit (£250 – £25).

Learn more: How To Convert Your Betting Odds To Different Formats


Step 3: Select an Event

We’ve established that you need to place a bet at the Bookmaker — without losing or gaining any money — in order to qualify for the free bet. But what event do you choose?

Mathematically it doesn’t matter what sport or market you choose provided the Bookmaker & exchange odds are of a similar value. This is because the sport itself, and the result, isn’t relevant.

However, in practice some events are better for Matched Betting than others.

The Ideal Event

For all matched bets I recommend looking for:

  • Popular events. The best option is Premier League football “Match Odds” or “1×2” odds — which are the same thing. These have the most liquidity (people actively betting) on the exchange. And the pre-game odds aren’t too volatile.
  • Taking place soon. You don’t want to have to wait too long long for the bet to settle.

And because this is the qualifier, there’s one other thing you need to aim for:

  • Low odds. This is because high odds will increase the balance you need to have in your exchange account to cover your Lay bet. So aim to keep your bets just above the minimum odds allowed at the Bookmaker for the promotion.

But most importantly you need the odds to be closely matched between the Bookmaker and Betting Exchange. This is crucial!

Why Matching Your Odds Matters

Matching the odds from the Bookmaker and Betting exchange is the most important aspect of Matched Betting. I’ll explain why in a quick lesson about hedging.

Let’s suppose that you placed a qualifying bet at the Bookmaker by backing Spurs to beat Chelsea at decimal odds of 2.5, while Laying Spurs at the available odds of 3.0 on the Betfair exchange.

The problem here is that the difference between 2.5 and 3.0 is fairly big. The Bookmaker’s price is only 83.3% of the Lay odds on Betfair. It’s a weak match.

This matters when the Bookmaker ‘Back’ bet wins and Betfair ‘Lay’ bet loses. Here’s the win and lose outcomes:

Bookmaker BACK Wins @ £25 Stake:

  • (£25 x 2.5) – £25 = £37.5 profit

Betfair LAY Loses @ £25 Stake:

  • (£25 x 3.0) – £25 = £50 loss

Due to the fact your loss at Betfair is much higher than the winnings at the Bookmaker, you make a hefty loss of -£50 + £37.5 = -£12.50. That’s not good.

If the odds were identical — i.e. they matched exactly — then you’d break even whatever outcome happens (Betfair commission aside).

The lesson here is that it’s vitally important that you match your bet properly by finding odds that are close between the Bookmaker and the Exchange. The closer to 100% the better.

How to Match Your Odds

You now know what type of event to look out for (popular, happening soon, and low odds) — but how can you find those with closely matching odds?

The good news is that you don’t need to manually hunt around for matching odds. That’s far too time consuming and it increases your chance of making a mistake. 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 OddsMonkey. Their service includes an automatcher tool — for finding the perfect sports events to bet on. I’ll use the free OddsMonkey Oddsmatcher to show you how to select a sports event for our example £25 qualifying bet.

Once you’ve signed up for an account at OddsMonkey, open up the Oddsmatcher to browse the upcoming sports events. Filter the list by your Bookmaker (in our example case it’d ‘Bookmaker X’, which does not really exist, of course).

What you can see in the following screenshot are the best rated matched betting opportunities in descending % order for the Bookmaker.

Note: If you’re lucky and you’re able to Lay at lower odds than you could back at the Bookmaker then what you’ve found is an arbitrage opportunity and you’ll make a profit regardless of the outcome. However, this is a rare case and a separate way to earn altogether!

OddsMonkey Oddsmatcher, with the bookmaker selected from the top dropdown.

Matched Betting


I’m instantly drawn to one particular fixture: the Stoke v Newcastle football game.

I like this event is because:

  1. It’s a very popular market (two Premier League teams, at the time of writing)
  2. It’s taking place in a couple of days (so I can start earning money faster)
  3. The odds are low (and hopefully within the Bookmakers’ minimum odds terms)
  4. The Rating % on the Oddsmatcher is very high, at 97.03%.

… I’ve found a close match. 

This is an ideal event for placing the qualifying bet at the Bookmaker, to Lay against on the Betting Exchange.

But before placing any bets I just need to calculate how much to Lay on the exchange against the £25 back stake, to offset the risk.


Step 4: Calculate The Lay Stake

Due to the difference in odds, the Lay stake needs to be calculated in order to create an equal outcome for any result.

This is a very important step, so take a little care.

Using the Matched Betting Calculator

Open up the Matched Betting Calculator from your OddsMonkey account. Enter the details of the Stoke v Newcastle match like this:

  • Bet type: Normal
  • Back stake: £25
  • Back odds: 2.0
  • Lay odds: 2.04

OddsMonkey Matched Betting calculator with the bet type, Stake, Back odds, Lay odds and Commission entered.

Matched Betting CalculatorSIGN UP TO ODDSMONKEY FOR FREE

In case you’re wondering, the “Lay Commission” is just the % the betting exchanges charges on profits. For new Betfair accounts it’s 5% (as entered above).

Here’s what the calculator shows:

  • The perfect Lay stake on Betfair, which is labelled “you could lay £25.13″.
  • The loss you’ll make — labelled “your overall position will be -£1.14” — which is the same regardless of the outcome of the event (1p aside…).

It’s showing a loss. Why?

The net result of £-1.14 is a perfectly reasonable loss to incur on a £25 qualifying stake. It will be dwarfed by the profit made from the Free Bet. We’re not aiming to make money at this point, remember.

So now you’ve calculated your Lay stake. It’s time to place those two bets for the qualifying phase.


Step 5: Place Your Back & Lay Bets

Hopefully I haven’t lost you yet — because you’re now finally ready to place that £25 Back bet at the bookmaker, followed by the £25.13 Lay bet on the betting exchange.

Here’s some advice for when you’re placing your Back and Lay bets:

  • Ensure you have sufficient balance in your Betfair account before you begin. You need to be able to cover potential losses.
  • Manually check both betting websites to verify the odds shown on the Oddsmatcher e.g. 2.0 (Bookmaker BACK) and 2.04 (Exchange LAY) are still valid. Odds change all the time.
  • Place your bet at the Bookmaker FIRST, then Lay on the Exchange instantly AFTER. Be sure to hit the Pink Lay price and not the Blue Back price on the exchange. That’s a common (and costly) mistake.

Then you’re done with placing your first risk free matched bet, and you need to wait for it to settle.

Well done! You’ve now learnt how to “match” your qualifying bets without losing (much) money. The process becomes a lot easier from here onwards, because it’s mainly repetition.


Step 6: Select an Event (Again)

Firstly ensure that your SNR free bet (sometimes called a “bet token”) is active in your Bookmaker account. You can often see it as an option in a betslip (if you pretend you’re making a bet). If it’s there, you’re ready to go.

Before placing your free bet you need to, once again, find a suitable upcoming event with matching odds on the Betting Exchange. Follow the same process to before, but with one subtle difference to take note of this time.

The event you want to find, just like before, needs to be:

  • Popular (e.g. Premier League football)
  • Taking place soon

But because this is the Free bet, you now want to look for High odds.

Why High Odds This Time?

By matching an SNR bet at high odds you retain more of your free bet. It’s more profitable. The downside is that you also require more money in your exchange account to place the Lay part. I find that a good compromise is to use odds of around of 5.0-7.0.

Without being too mathsy, the reason for it being more profitable is that high odds win at the exchange more frequently than 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.


Step 7: Calculate The Lay Stake (Again)

So you’ve found the event that you’re going to place the free bet. Now you just need to calculate the Lay stake you’re going to place against it on the betting exchange.

This step is almost identical to the qualifier, except this time you need to set the calculator’s bet type to Free Bet (SNR).

It’s important to note that the maths is different when the stake is not returned to a regular bet. The default on the calculator is “Normal” — so don’t forget to change it this time!


Let’s suppose that you have identified a suitable match from the Oddsmatcher with the following odds:

  • Back: 6.0 at the Bookie
  • Lay: 6.5 at Betfair

That’s a 92.3% match at high odds, which is great. So you simply enter those details into the calculator again as follows:

How to place a £25 SNR Free Bet at bookie odds of 6.0, betfair Lay odds of 6.5:

Matched Betting CalculatorSIGN UP TO ODDSMONKEY FOR FREE

The Lay stake is £19.38 for this example scenario. So this 2-part Matched Bet will make a guaranteed PROFIT of £18.41 from the SNR free bet whatever the outcome of the event.

Now, once again, you find yourself at the point where you have found close match between the bookmaker and exchange odds, and know the correct Lay stake to place against it. It’s time to place it.


Step 8: Place The SNR Free Bet & Lay Bet

Go ahead and place those two (Back & Lay) bets in this order:

  1. £25 SNR bet at the Bookmaker.
  2. £19.38 at the betting Exchange.

Wait for them to settle. Then you’re finally done.You’ve earned a risk-free profit from Matched Betting!

Feel free to withdraw those earnings from whatever account(s) have the money. But perhaps leave money in your betting exchange account so that you can carry on earning from more promotions.

This tutorial explains how to tackle just one particular type of free bet — the SNR bet. However, there are several other types of promotions to take on (including Casino bonuses). These are all taught by Matched Betting Services.

Was This A ‘Good’ Result?

£18.41 is a great return from a £25 SNR bet, as it retains 73.64% of the £25 promotion. After subtracting the £1.14 loss from the qualifier it leaves it at +£17.27 overall. Not bad for betting without taking any risk.

Always aim to retain around the 70-75% mark of your SNR bet. But don’t strive for perfection, or you’ll waste too much time. The aim is to tackle as many free bets as possible.

Disclaimer: This is all mathematically speaking. In rare cases where the Bookmaker does not pay out, or voids your bets, you are not guaranteed profits.


The Maths Behind The Profit

The Matched Betting process is (almost) the same for qualifying/rollover bets as it is for free bets. But the strategy is only profitable because of the inclusion of a free bet at the Bookmaker.

Without free bets you don’t make a profit, and Matched Betting ceases to exist.

Here’s how to calculate the profit for each of the two possible outcomes of the Free Bet. Note that the profit is identical whatever happens.

Case 1: 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

Case 2: Bookmaker Free Bet Loses

Bookmaker: £0
Exchange: £19.38 x (0.95) = +£18.41
Overall profit = +£18.41

In case 1, the Bookmaker wins and the £25 stake is removed from the winnings leaving a total gain of £125, minus the loss made at the betting exchange. This leaves £18.41 profit.

In case 2, the Bookmaker account loses £0 (nothing), because it was not placed with your own money. The exchange wins £18.41 (the amount Layed).

You can create an Excel spreadsheet ‘Matched Betting Calculator’ using these calculations. But it’s a whole lot simpler to use the tools provided by services like OddsMonkey. However, if you’re still keen, take a look at the formula for “calculating guaranteed profit” in my post on arbitrage. It’s the same principle.


Key Points From This Guide

Here’s a quick recap on some of the key points you need to remember about Matched Betting.

1. Free Bets Have Strict Terms & Conditions. Look out.

A Bookmaker typically stipulates that an initial qualifying bet must be placed for a player to be eligible for a free bet. In most cases only your very first bet counts.

Look out for tricky terms like this because it’ll prevent you from being awarded the promotion. Remember: no free bet means no profit.

2. Always Ensure that there’s Enough Liquidity (Available Money)

“Liquidity” refers to the amount of available money on the Exchange (e.g. Betfair) to place your Lay bet.

I have suggested seeking popular sports events in order to avoid running into low liquidity problems on the Betting Exchange. But if you find that there’s not enough money on Betfair, then you may need to wait to get matched. And there’re no guarantee you will be.

In the worst case scenario, consider queuing your Lay bet at a higher price. This will increase your liability and thereby reduce your profit (but it’s more likely to be matched).

Issues like these can be resolved quickly by utilising the educational resources and support provided by Matched Betting Services such as OddsMonkey. I highly recommend signing up.

3. Take Care When You’re Placing Both Bets.

Whether its win, lose, or draw it’s always the same process. You simply:

  1. BACK at the Bookmaker, and
  2. LAY that same outcome on the betting exchange with the appropriate stake provided from the calculator. If you Back the Draw, then you Lay the Draw. Simple.

Furthermore, remember to use:

  • Low odds for qualifying/rollover bets.
  • High odds for SNR free bets in order to reduce losses and maximise profits.


Matched Betting Q&A

How much can I earn from Matched Betting?

This largely depends on what free bets are on offer, and how many you claim.

Dedicated matched bettors invest a lot of time into claiming offers. They’ll hoover up every free bet they can get their hands on, and earn hundreds from it every month.

Do bookmakers mind Matched Betting?

Matched Bettors aren’t their ‘model’ customers. But they know that it goes on and they don’t try to stamp it out.

There’s been several public statements that imply that Bookmakers don’t particularly care about it. After all free bets attract new customers — many of which become regular gamblers and lose money. A percentage of Matched Bettors will continue to bet recreationally, too.

Furthermore, Bookmakers can’t be sure that you’re Matched Betting to begin with. They don’t have any rights (or ability) to investigate your betting activity outside of your account with them. So they won’t know you’re Laying on the betting exchanges.

Is Matched Betting legal?

Yes, of course. There’s nothing illegal about placing promotional free bets, or Lay bets. Combining the two doesn’t make Matched Betting illegal.

From a Bookie’s perspective, it’s always the same loss they incur on free bets — regardless whether customers create a no-lose bet from it.

Furthermore, specialist Matched Betting companies wouldn’t exist in the public domain if it was illegal.

Can I claim signup bonuses more than once?

No, definitely not.

Signing up to the Bookmaker for a second time in order to claim a new customer’s free bet isn’t smart. In doing so the Bookmaker will either: invalidate your winnings, close your account, or leave the account open without the ability to claim any future promotions. They don’t take kindly to customers trying to claim promotions they aren’t entitled to — and their terms & conditions always state this. Don’t try it.

Is there such thing as Matched Betting without free bets?

Yes and no. You can’t profit from Matched Betting without free bets. However, the same process can be applied in situations where the Bookie offers better odds than the betting exchanges, to earn a risk free profit. This is known as arbitrage betting.

For the best arb finders, read my post: What’s The Best Sports Arbing Software? (Sure Bet Finder)

Is Matched Betting only for the UK? What countries can do It?

Matched Betting is primarily aimed at the UK because sports betting is legal here. But strictly speaking Matched Betting can be done at any Bookmaker offering +EV promotions, provided you also have an account at a betting exchange.

If you’re unable to sign up to Bookmakers or claim offers because of your country of residence (e.g. the USA) or any other circumstances, then needless to say you won’t be earning from Matched Betting. No offers means no profit.

Can I use an e-wallet for Matched Betting?

Most free bet promotions state that you can’t deposit using an e-wallet. This helps to prevent fraud.

You’ll need to use a bank account, or other eligible deposit method.

Do I need a separate bank account for Matched Betting?

You don’t need it — but it’s advisable. If you are planning to apply for a loan or mortgage then having tons of gambling activity might not work in your favour. It’s best to keep it private.

However, if you open a bank account and only ever use it for betting activity, then there’s a risk it will be closed by the bank. Therefore the best compromise is to use your account for general expenses, too. Why not spend from that account?

Should I use a VPN for Matched Betting?

I wouldn’t advise using a VPN for Matched Betting. It will look suspicious to the bookmaker. You don’t have anything to hide.

Is it true that promotions are restricted to one account per household?

Yes, that’s usually the case. If two people share the same address (and/or IP address) then you won’t be able to claim multiple free bets. The Bookmakers have to protect themselves against abuse.

Is it OK to use the same email for all the bookmakers, betting exchanges, and any Matched Betting sites?

It shouldn’t be a problem. You might decide to avoid using the same email at OddsMonkey (or other matched betting sites) as the Bookmakers. Just in case.

Should I use a different username for each and every bookmaker, betting exchange, and Matched Betting site?

It’s your call. They shouldn’t be allowed to share information between one another. However, with so much consolidation between betting companies in the UK I would suggest mixing it up to protect yourself.

Should I consider the time I place bets? Is there a ‘best’ time window?

To be safe, do it in the evenings, after work or at weekends. You might be mistaken for a professional bettor (or addict) if you bet at unusual hours. Neither are good labels to be given.

Do bookmakers suspect people using decimal odds are Matched Bettors?

It’s definitely possible. No concrete evidence, though.

You could always keep your Bookmaker odds in fractions and convert them into decimals yourself, outside of their site. It’s just a bit inpractical.

Will betting on too many ‘close matches’ look suspicious to the bookmakers? Is this something they will notice / know about?

Yes, that’s one of the only ways they might suspect you’re matched betting. Don’t consistently bet on events that are too closely matched between the bookmaker and betting exchange.

Think about it. If there’s a really close match, then it’s also where 99% of other matched bettors will be placing stakes. You don’t want to be mixed in with those guys for the sake of saving a few more pence per bet.

Is it possible to create a situation where Matched Betting is win-win for the punter and the bookmaker?

Not really. Free bets lose the Bookmakers money. Whether or not you’re matching it off on the betting exchange at your end makes no difference to them.

So don’t kid yourself that Matched Betting is highly detrimental to the Bookmakers’ bottom line. It doesn’t really impact their profits unless players fraudulently claim bonuses that they aren’t entitled to.

Are there any bookmakers who are particularly savvy when it comes to identifying ‘Matched Bettors’?

Smaller bookies may have more ability (or inclination) to monitor individuals. In general, if you avoid close matches, the only other way Bookies can detect you’re matched betting is if you have a history of betting using only free bets. That’s a good indication that you’re not interested in betting for fun.

Will I be gubbed for Matched Betting? Should I place mug bets to conceal my activity?

Anyone that does Matched Betting over a long period of time is likely to be gubbed eventually. Or you won’t be offered free bets any more — which is much the same outcome.

I don’t advise “Mug Betting” as there’s no guarantee it will help you. Plus it loses money. But you may experiment and find your own strategy that works.

Be aware that once you’re gubbed you won’t convince the bookies to ‘un-gub’ your accounts. They won’t listen to your stories or excuses. They’ll ignore you!

Can fraud prevention software be used to identify whether you do Matched Betting?

You’re not committing fraud by Matched Betting on your own account.

Besides, I don’t think a system can prove you’re Matched Betting unless it’s capable of snooping on all of your browser activity (which is generally illegal). You could use your Matched Betting Service in a different browser to what you normally use, or switch on incognito/private mode. That should be safe enough.

Also, you could even place your Bookie bets on your phone, in a shop, or through the app. Then place the Lay bets on your desktop or phone afterwards.

Remember that you’re placing standard bets in popular markets. Unless you go out of your way to seek a 100% match (i.e. identical odds) between the bookie and exchange, then you won’t draw much attention to yourself.

Does maximising my free bet from the bookie’s welcome offers affect my long-term account health in any way? Should I take less than the maximum bonus?

No, it won’t. They offer these promotions to get new customers, after all. Some of them are gamblers, some are matched bettors. Might as well maximise it.

Should I mimic the patterns of a ‘Real Gambler’? (e.g. bet frequently on my favourite football team)

There’s no need to mimic anything. Just stick with popular fixtures, that’s all.

But you’ll make yourself obvious if you decide to bet on Division 2 Kazakhstan League football correct scores markets, etc. Just use common sense.

Can Matched Betting be done by identifying bets without the use of an Oddsmatcher?

Yes — but I strongly advise using an Oddsmatcher.

With the help of an odds matching tool, which comes as part of a Matched Betting Service, you’ll consistently find a strong match between the bookmakers and betting exchanges. This ensures you maintain good profit margins, saves you time, and decreases the risk of making a (potentially costly) error.

Is Matched Betting sustainable? How can I maximise what I earn from Matched Betting?

Matched betting has been around for many years — but it might not last forever. I wouldn’t recommend doing it as a full time job. It’s just a great way to make some extra cash from home.

Once you’ve signed up to several Bookmakers then your Matched Betting activity will be strictly limited to the “reload” offers for existing customers. This means you won’t be able to claim juicy new customer “sign-up” promotions. There is still consistent money to be made, though.

I highly recommend that you subscribe to one of the top Matched Betting Websites as provide the tools such as a Matched Betting Calculator, daily offers (free bets, promotions, casino bonuses), dummies guides, and ongoing support to help you sustain a regular income from Matched Betting.


Want to Take Matched Betting Further?

Originally posted 6th July 2016, and updated for 2023.

Toby @ Punter2Pro
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ed pierce
ed pierce
7 years ago

I am new to matched betting and this is the most information I have found in one place! I have probably searched more websites than I care to count trying to find someone who explains it as well as you do. Thank you for taking the time to create this guide and give newbies like myself a good start.

Reply to  ed pierce
7 years ago

Glad to be of help! There’s a million guides, i know. I’ve tried to leave no stone unturned on this one. Luckily I could recall some of the questions I had when I first did it myself. I find that once you actually play around with the Odds Matching calculator it suddenly ‘clicks’.

Tom Davies
Tom Davies
7 years ago

I was doing this around 2011… I’m pretty surprised its still got any juice at all. I remember the best thing for me to understand it was by playing around with numbers in the calculators, seeing what maximised the profit, what incurred the most loss. The conclusion i made was that it was pretty much just arbing at a small loss, but with a free bet attached – making it profitable!

Reply to  Tom Davies
7 years ago

Agreed. I think that explaining things with the Maths (as I have) is probably unnecessary for most of us. Playing around with the calculator makes it easier to fully appreciate how it all works.

Daniel Greaves
Daniel Greaves
7 years ago

you said to sign up to odds monkey but no mention of profitaccumulator. is there a reason for that? is it better?

Reply to  Daniel Greaves
7 years ago

They both offer similar functionality and are pretty much neck-and-neck. You can read more about them here:

Takis apple
Takis apple
7 years ago

Hello,you have very nice site with useful informations,i am new to arbitrage but i like the system with free bets and Matched betting.I have a problem and i want your opinion.I am from Greece,here the exchanges bookmakers like betfair,matchbook and many others are not accept three years now to my country.In past i had a account to betfair.I thinking a trick to trading again,i want to use VPN to hide my IP,you think that trick will be good idea to trading in betfair hiding my IP?This trick is good and for arbitrage to see the book different country IP every time that make log in?

Reply to  Takis apple
7 years ago

Hi there,

I actually wouldn’t recommend trying to get around the issue with IP addresses. If players from your country are not at all accepted at a bookmaker or exchange then there’s a risk that you’ll have issues depositing/withdrawing there. Additionally they may ask for ID or an addressed bill, in which case there is no hiding your true location.

If however you have a permanent address abroad, then you may have the right to bet from that location as a citizen of that country. But you’d still need to show evidence that you’re a resident. In this case it’s perhaps not an issue if you logged in remotely from Greece.

Be careful with trying to get around these issues as Bookmakers are likely to be aware of the tricks used. Don’t misrepresent any of your details as it could cause you a lot of bother. They also match new accounts up with old ones, so bare that in mind.

Takis apple
Takis apple
Reply to  Toby
7 years ago

Thank you for your advice,i will be very carefully.
The pinnacle make a new site that accept me to bet there,this hapened because our country dont know this new site so is not in the black list.I have make many bets there,as you know pinnacle have high odds and is very friendly to arbs.The only that want is to bet 3x the ammount that you deposit before withdraw.But i will make a test to withdraw some money to be sure.I have already send the documents that they want.The new site is this:

2016-12-04 2:44 GMT+02:00 Disqus :

Reply to  Takis apple
7 years ago

That’s good news. I think youll be much better off playing there than trying to get around the restrictions at other bookies.

Takis apple
Takis apple
7 years ago

Yes you have right.I have focus to arbs now.I am looking a good free software or service to see arbs in live option but is difficult to find live,there are some good sites like oddsportal that give surebets but is in delay.The most good program is the relbetting but is expencive for the momment,maybe use it later.If you know or if you have already compare arbs softwares and know something good and cheap just tell me.

Reply to  Takis apple
7 years ago

Yes, I highly recommend using OddsMonkey for free arbs. I’ve written about this on my post:

Just jump to the heading “Free Arbing Software” to find instructions on how to use it. I think you’ll find it very simple to use.

Takis apple
Takis apple
7 years ago

I have test it,is good for others,but for me is not so good because i have few bookmakers to make arbs,i was test the dutch premium for 1-2 days but nothing send me arbs so cancel the premiun and i have make a filter to show me my bookmakers if see any arbs to send me email.I have test some others arbs services,so far the best is the betonvalue,it have more arbs for my bookmakers but is a little delay the signals,i have ask them to test the premium that is more faster without delay and i will tell you if it is better.When i say good always i mean good for me that have few bookmakers,i dont say that is not good any of the others arbs services for others people.I have test and the arbhunters that is a little more cheaper from betonvalue,its good but same few arbs.

Reply to  Takis apple
7 years ago

Yes, in your case you may need more options. For those in unrestricted locations OddsMonkey should be sufficient.
I’m intrigued to know if you find any reliable options with lots of bookmakers (apart from BetOnValue, which you’ve mentioned). I try to keep on the lookout but most alternatives tend to either be either expensive… or not really professional enough. Please keep me posted.

7 years ago

I really don’t get it… because during the second part you get a free £25 and bet that free £25 so that cancels itself out but then you have to lay another £19 of your own money against that bet. And at the end you only get £18 either way so you’ve just lost another small amount of money either way. So all in all you’re losing money using this method because you place the lay with your own money. Your pot will be going down slightly not up by £18?!

Reply to  disqus_w2HOTWQncE
7 years ago

For the first part yes, you lose a bit. But for the second part you’re Laying against a free bet. This means that you aren’t betting against your own money anymore – but rather against the Bookmaker’s money. You have 2 cases for the free bet part:

1) The Free bet loses.
Your Bookmaker account loses £0 (nothing), because it was not placed with your own money. In this case you win your Lay bet and make an easy profit.

2) The Free bet wins.
Your Bookmaker account wins money without you placing any stake yourself, but your Lay bet loses. However, the risk free bet winnings outweigh the losses made from the Lay, and you’re up overall.

You have to be careful to use the OddsMonkey calculator correctly by selecting the right bet type. Other than that, it works.

It can be a bit tricky to get your head around it, so I’ve posted up the calculations towards the end in case you wanted proof.

Reply to  Punter2Pro
7 years ago

Thanks for the really speedy reply! I’ve been sitting here looking at the numbers for a while and got frustrated. I completely understand the small loss in part 1 in order to get the free bet for part 2. And for part 2 I understand number 2) above (the free bet wins) because you lose the liability which is a lot but the free bet winnings outweigh those losses and you make a profit… but I don’t understand number 1) – what happens if the free bet loses. Maybe because I’m not understanding how the lay bet works?

I thought you put on the lay of £19 i.e. you are betting £19 but then if you win the lay you only get your £19 back (or 95% of it after the commission which means you’re making a loss)?

Reply to  disqus_w2HOTWQncE
7 years ago

You’ve understood the tricky part. The easy part is when the Lay bet wins. When it wins you simply earn a profit of whatever stake you “Layed”. If you Lay with £18, and that outcome doesn’t win, then you earn £18. Simple as that.

So if you have a free bet and you Lay against it, then if the free bet loses then your Bookmaker account doesn’t lose anything (it wasn’t your money), but your Lay bet makes a profit of whatever stake you Layed. For a £25 bet its usually around the £18 mark.

Reply to  Punter2Pro
7 years ago

So when you lay an amount, that amount doesn’t leave your betfair account? You haven’t betted that money but stand to earn it if that outcome doesn’t win like you thought. Is that it? However, if it does win then you lose the big amount?

Reply to  disqus_w2HOTWQncE
7 years ago

If you Lay £10 on Betfair, then this means that you bet £10 against an outcome. Someone who Backs your £10 pays you £10 if they lose their bet. If they win that bet, then you have to pay them their winnings.

Winning your Lay bet means you get your £10 stake back + £10 profit.
Losing your Lay bet means you’ll have to pay out a lot (depending on the odds, of course).

Reply to  Punter2Pro
7 years ago

e.g. Lay Spurs for £10 @ 3.0

If Spurs WIN then you have to pay (3.0 x -£10) + (your £10 stake back) = -£20 loss
If Spurs LOSE then you get £10 + (your £10 stake back) = £10 profit

Reply to  Punter2Pro
7 years ago

Well I joined Oddsmonkey with the free trial today and did my first offer. I need to wait until the bets settle before doing the second introductory offer because I didn’t want to deposit too much of my own money but rather use profits I make to build up the pot. I definitely won’t make the £45 they say you can make, which I think personally is a bit of a stretch when you can only win 80-90% of your 2x £20 free bets!

I also didn’t want to deposit the amount of money needed to cover bigger lays when you place your free bet at higher odds (I was recommended to do one at 5-6 odds) so I did one I could manage at 4.5 and still made about £14 🙂 My first qualifying bet was good as I won +2p lol.

I am one for being very organised so I think I’m going to track my betting in a spreadsheet and make small bets here and there to make it look genuine. I’m planning to lay some bets on my local football team and my boyfriend’s team from time to time to do this.

Reply to  disqus_w2HOTWQncE
7 years ago

Sounds like you’re approaching it the right way 🙂
For the free bet you’re definitely better backing at higher odds. Around 5.0 is a sweet spot where it’s not too much liability.
As for placing small bets here and there, it’s actually pretty unlikely to make much of a difference either way. With Matched Betting the Bookies are more likely to spot you if you bet on very obscure sports events. If you stick to Premier League football games then you won’t get that problem, as you’ll be such a tiny fraction of the volume bet on that fixture.
On Betfair Matched Betting is encouraged – so don’t ever feel that you need to do anything there! They love professional gamblers.

Reply to  Punter2Pro
7 years ago


When you hear stories of people earning say £500/month I assume that’s by doing lots of little offers and they add up? (Especially if you do free £20 or £50 bets.) But these people out there who talk about maybe £1000… are they doing the same size bets and just doing a lot more of it, or are they placing these huge £200 free bets with even bigger liabilities in order to earn £160ish profit from it?

I guess if they’re professional gamblers then they’re doing all sorts of other bettings or have a lot more money so that those big liabilities don’t seem so big! Even though the system proves you’d make a profit I don’t think I’ll ever be rich enough that seeing that much liability to get that much profit wouldn’t make my eyes water! lol

Reply to  disqus_w2HOTWQncE
7 years ago

I think they are probably mopping up every free bet they find, or all the ones provided by services like OddsMonkey.

There are some bigger offers too, as you say. Once your comfortable it could be worth doing those as well.

Reply to  Toby
7 years ago

Thanks Toby. I guess if they’re doing that much they must know their sports and betting systems very well and be mug betting too to keep their accounts open. Maybe that’ll be me in the future as I figure it all out! lol

Reply to  Punter2Pro
7 years ago

Thank you for your patience and detailed explanations. I feel like I get it more but not completely *sigh*. I’m going to sleep on it and maybe it will click later. This is my first day trying to understand betting at all though so I don’t feel too useless haha even though you say this is the easiest bit to understand!

Maybe I will try the trial on Profitaculumator and see if it gets clearer with the videos and giving it a go though I am worried I will lose money. I don’t have much to start off with and knowing I have to have enough to cover the liability is worrying. But I will look for low liability ones I guess and use the tools to try and get the best matches. Everyone keeps saying the more you can have in the pot the more profit you can make.

I think I’ll try with a bit and see how it goes.. after all you should never bet with what you can’t afford to lose!

Reply to  disqus_w2HOTWQncE
7 years ago

Glad it’s helped. I think you’ll be fine.

Probably the biggest mistake you could make is double-backing. That’s when you Back at the Bookmaker and then Back AGAIN at Betfair by accident! Avoid doing that at all costs.

You need to (1) Back at Bookmaker, (2) Lay at Betfair using the stake from the calculator.

Pn Riddle
Pn Riddle
6 years ago

Thanks for this guide! A lot of helpful tips.
Does the same process work with other services like profit accumulator? Is this unique for Oddsmonkey users?

Reply to  Pn Riddle
6 years ago

Yes, it also works with Profit Accumulator. It’s exactly the same process – they’re just 2 different companies which both provide information of the latest offers, in-depth tutorials, live chat services, etc. They both save you an awful lot of time, basically.

Wally Hudson
Wally Hudson
6 years ago

If you just cancel out bets by backing it and then betting against it then why do you even need the free bets? Cant it be done without them?

Reply to  Wally Hudson
6 years ago

Matched Betting only makes a profit because of the free bets. That’s your ‘advantage’ over the bookie. Without free bets you wouldn’t make any money – unless you find arbitrage bets.

Arbitrage bets are basically the same as matched bets – except that they profit from the difference in the odds as opposed to the inclusion of a free bet.

Dennis S.
Dennis S.
6 years ago

Honestly I don’t understand it.
Aren’t these lay bets the same as placing normal bets?
Just that some commision of 5% is put on top of the bet?

So why would i need tons of money for it?

I have for example 2 bets:
1 that the squad will win
another bet that it will not win

According to arbitrage betting theory we should already be in profit if
1/quota1+1/quota2 <1

So why is it said in the text that a quota of like 9.0 would be bad in lay betting?
Doesn't it mean that when using 100$ as stake, you would get 9*100$=900$ (minus the small comission)
back if it wins.

or do laying bets work fundamentally different and the odds work extremely different? O_o

Can someone please explain me?

By the way, the european quotas are no problem as I happen to be from europe.
So rather american quota confuses me.

Reply to  Dennis S.
6 years ago

Lay bets aren’t the same as regular Back bets.

When you Lay, you’re becoming the Bookmaker.

If you Lay £10 on Spurs at 5.0 then you can either:
– Make +£10 profit (it they drew or lost)
– Pay someone out -(£10 x 5.0) + 10 = -£40 (if they won)

Therefore your Betfair account must always have enough money to pay someone that £40 if your Lay bet was unsuccessful. It ‘locks’ that money until the event is decided.

If you use even higher odds, like 15.0, then the amount you may potentially have to pay someone is even higher! In this case it’s (£10 x 15.0) +10 = -£140. Hence why I suggest you keep your odds low.

Dennis S.
Dennis S.
Reply to  Toby
6 years ago

I think I get it.
So for a matched bet or possibly arbitrage bet,
you would want the lay bet quota to be as small as possible and/or the “normal” bet quota to be as high as possible, right?

Reply to  Dennis S.
6 years ago

Usually for matched betting you’d want the odds to be low when meeting a rollover or qualifying bet. For an SNR free bet, I recommend higher odds, at 5.0+.

If you play around with numbers in the OddsMonkey calculator you’ll begin to get an idea of what works. You’ll quickly note that with SNR free bets you retain much more of your free bet using higher odds.

5 years ago

Hi, im from Australia and would like to know if matched betting is applicable here as well. And if yes, then what is the ideal good amount to put down to maximise the profits. Thanks

4 years ago

Great matched betting guide. So many things I still don’t understand but thank you for trying to explain this for beginners. Why are there so many bookies that try to trick people with difficult terms & conditions? Can a generous and transparent bookie still win in this market? It’s so disappointing to see bookies that try to hide things in the fine print.

4 years ago

My head is spinning! I had to take a lot of notes and review them to understand some of these things. Not complaining here. I’m grateful I can learn this for free so thank you for putting in the time to create this matched betting guide. Much appreciated. Will have to re-read this a few more times to get a better idea of things.

4 years ago

I know about lay bets, but not matchbet. Can you lay two F1 pilots to loose at the same , using the same exchange?