Matched Betting Explained

Welcome to the ultimate guide to matched betting. Here we will take you through the process step-by-step, in what I believe to be the most complete guide to matched betting - and the only one you will ever need.

What Is Matched Betting?

Starting with the question of what is Matched Betting? The short answer is that it’s a pretty simple technique of taking a free bet from a bookmaker, and using it in a way that guarantees you a profit.

Using matched betting, no matter what the outcome of the bet - win, lose, or draw, you will make a risk free profit!

It is a tried and tested technique (some would call it a system) that has been around for years. Bookmakers don’t like it, as they prefer us to keep losing money with them.

They are powerless to stop it though. After all it is the bookmakers themselves that are actually offering us the free bets, which enables us to make guaranteed risk free cash. So they can’t complain when we use the free bets.

Think of matched betting as a process of placing a few bets in a particular order, for set amounts of money. And at the end of the process, you will have made a risk free profit.

Using the matched betting system, for every £1 worth of free bets you have, you should make roughly 75p risk free profit. This is a great return on investment (ROI).

Where else are you going to get a return of 75% profit on any investment? And risk free profits as well. I certainly haven’t found anywhere.

And when you bear in mind that there are thousands of pounds worth of free bets out there, you will start to understand why taking matched betting seriously could be life changing.

Next I am going to show you how it all works.

How Matched Betting Works

Here I am going to give you a brief description of how matched betting works.
Matched betting is basically a step by step process. I will go into more detail about each step throughout the guide as I get to them, but here are the basic steps.
Open a Betting Exchange account
Open a bookmakers account
Place a qualifying bet with the bookmaker
Place a lay bet on the betting exchange to match up your qualifying bet
Receive Free Bet
Place Free Bet
Place lay bet on betting exchange to make profit
Cash out profits

Why bookmakers offer us free bets

When a bookmaker wants your business, they will offer you an incentive to join them. This incentive is usually a new customers free bet.

Bookmakers will also offer free bets to existing customers, but these are more complicated. For now, it’s best to concentrate on the new customers free bets.

The new customers free bet usually range from £5 to £30.

To get the free bet, you will have to place a qualifying bet.

This is where the betting exchange comes in. Using a betting exchange, it is possible to place your qualifying bet, and break even.

Breaking even with your qualifying bet (give or take a few pence) is important. There is no point losing money, in order to gain a free bet.

Once you’re qualifying bet is placed and settled, you will have a free bet to use.

It’s from these free bets that you will make your risk free profits.

The first steps to matched betting are to open a betting exchange account. Below we explain in detail why, and where you can open betting exchange accounts.

Betting Exchanges

So, you need to know what a betting exchange is. The technical answer is that a betting exchange is what’s known as a peer to peer betting site. This means you are not betting in the conventional form you would be with a bookmaker. You would be betting against other like minded punters, people like me and you.

To you for matched betting, a betting exchange is a place where you can lay your bets. This is imperative to matched betting, as you will see when you read on.

How Betting Exchanges Work

With a betting exchange you get to place two different types of bets – back bets, and lay bets. With a bookmaker you only get the option to place one type of bet – a back bet.

To explain this in more detail, Manchester United are playing Liverpool in the Premier League. At the bookmakers, you can have either a back bet on Manchester United to win, Liverpool to win, or the draw.

You have the same back bet options on a betting exchange - Manchester United to win, Liverpool to win, or the draw.

The major difference is that on a betting exchange, you can also place lay bets. So you could place a bet against Manchester United, against Liverpool, and against the draw. The Lay Bet is the key to matched betting.

So Just What Are Lay Bets?

Think of lay bets, as having a bet on something not to happen, rather than on something to happen.

In other words, you don’t think Manchester United will beat Liverpool, so you place a lay bet on Manchester United. Below is examples of how a lay bet of Manchester United would play out.

If Manchester United win, your lay bet would lose. If Liverpool win, or it’s a draw, your lay bet would be a winner.
In short, a lay bet is a bet against something happening.

Why Betting Exchanges Are Imperative For Matched Betting

So now you have an idea of what a betting exchange does, I can start to explain why they are imperative to matched betting.

Let’s assume you have just opened a bookmakers account with a £10 free bet.

In order to get your free £10 bet, you have to place a £10 qualifying bet (I eluded to a qualifying bet in the ‘how matched betting works’ section at the start of this post). You don’t want to lose your £10 on the qualifying bet, to gain a £10 free bet though, do you? As this would defeat the whole object.

So using our example of Manchester United against Liverpool from above, I am going to explain to you why you need a betting exchange account.

You have your bookmakers account opened, and also your betting exchange account.

You place £10 on Manchester United to beat Liverpool with the bookmaker. Next you then go to the betting exchange, and place a £10 lay bet on Manchester United.

Scenario 1 – Manchester United win

This means you get your £10 bet back from the bookmaker, plus your winnings on the bet (also from the bookmaker).

Your lay bet on the betting exchange would lose though. The amount you lose on the betting exchange would amount to roughly the same as you win in your bookmakers account. So you break even (give a take a pound). Meaning you have got your £10 back, and you would also have a £10 free bet to use though.

Scenario 2 – Manchester United Lose or Draw

If the match ends in a draw or a Liverpool win (ie, Manchester United don’t win), your £10 bet with the bookmaker loses.

Your lay bet would win though, meaning you would get back the £10, and break even. Again though, you now have a £10 free bet to use.

So as you can see, using the betting exchange allows you to get a free bet, without losing any money. We then profit from the free bet, also needing to use a betting exchange. There is more about that later.

Choosing A Betting Exchange Account

So now you have a better understanding of what a betting exchange is, and why you need it for matched betting, lets have a look at the available betting exchanges. There are three major betting exchange accounts, they are Betfair, Betdaq, and Smarkets. All essentially do the same thing. The only difference being, that some our busier than others. More details follow…..




Opening Your Betting Exchange Account

So now it’s time for you to open your account. As you have seen above, there are three main betting exchange accounts to choose from.

Personally, I have all three, and would fully recommend you do the same. If one of the betting exchanges is quiet, you can use one of the other ones to get your lay bet matched. You basically have more available options having all three.

Having all three enables you too choose the best lay odds. Another reason to get all three is that you get all three sign up offers. After all, it’s free bets we are after for matched betting, so why not get all the betting exchange free bets as well!

Back to getting bets matched - in my experience the odds on the three betting exchanges are usually fairly similar, with the odd exception. It’s the amount of money available in that particular market that varies.

If you are using a Premier League match to lay your bet on, you should have no problem getting a lay bet matched on a betting exchange. If you are trying to use a football match from League 2 (for example), it might not be easy. Betfair is usually the best one to use for lesser sports events, as they have far more money (also known as liquidity in the betting world) floating around.

Once you have opened the three betting exchange accounts, the next step is to open a bookmakers account, and start getting some free bets.

Opening A Bookmakers Account

Further down this guide I have put together a comprehensive list of bookmakers that offer free bets, but for the purpose of this example, I am going to show you how to claim the free bets from Coral.

Follow this link to open a Coral account. The reason why I am showing you to start with Coral, is because you can claim this free bet offer with just a fiver of your own cash. So if you are new to this and a bit unsure, it is a better way of getting you up and running.

If it goes wrong, you are only a fiver down. Annoying yes, but not the end of the world.

Opening a bookmakers account is relatively simple. Just follow the process through. Fill in your personal details, and you will then be asked for your bank details – eventually you will have to deposit cash.

You can deposit cash using your bank debit card. At the moment it is possible to use a credit card, but I can see that changing soon. To be on the safe side though, try and use your debit card.

Use Decimal Points Betting Odds

If you’re unfamiliar with placing bets, this might seem a bit daunting. Betting exchanges offer odds in decimal points, while bookmakers will use fractional odds. Most bookmakers will allow you to change your settings to convert fractional odds to decimal odds. I would recommend you do this.

The reason for this is because you are trying to find odds on the bookmakers sites, that are similar to the odds on the betting exchange.

So for example, 2/1 is fractional odds on a bookmakers site. Converting 2/1 to decimal odds would simply be 3. This is based on a £1 bet. So £1 at 2/1 wins you £2. A return of £3 in total, hence the 3.

Placing Your Qualifying Bet

Onto placing your qualifying bet. I know I have already showed you an example of this above, but here we go again. If nothing else, this guide is thorough!

You have now opened your Coral account and deposited your fiver. We now need to find a market with odds of 1.5 (1/2) or greater to place our qualifying bet on.

For this example I am going to use a Premier League match between Watford and Chelsea. As you can see, Chelsea’s odds are 1.67 (4/6), which is above the minimum odds required for your qualifying bet.

This match is fine for you to use to have your £5 qualifying bet on. You now need to go and place a £5 lay bet on Chelsea on a betting exchange.

Placing Your Lay Bet On The Betting Exchange To Match Up Your Qualifying Bet

You know need to cover your qualifying bet on a betting exchange, to ensure you don’t lose your money. So you go to the Betfair betting exchange, and you place a £5 lay bet on Chelsea.

This means if Chelsea win you would get £3.33 winnings and your fiver back from Coral, but would lose £3.50 on Betfair. A small loss of 17p.

While if Chelsea don’t win, you would lose £5 with Coral, and get £5 back from Betfair (it would actually be £4.90 as they would take 2% of your winnings). So a small loss of just 10p.

So you would lose either 17p or 10p on your qualifying bet, but you will now have £20 in free bets to use. Before I show you how to make risk free money from your free bets, I want to explain in more details the difference between back odds and lay odds - as these will rarely be the same.

Your Back Bet And Lay Bet Odds Will Rarely Be The Same

As you can see above the back bet odds on Coral is slightly lower than the Betfair lay odds. Don’t worry about this, as this is normal procedure

The back bet odds in this example are 1.67, and lay bet odds are 1.70. They are hardly ever the same. To make the most out of matched betting, it is important to try and get these odds as close together as possible. The bigger the gap between back and lay odds, the more money you will lose on your qualifying bet.

In the above example it is only either 10p, or 17p. This is fine. As a rule of thumb, if I was placing a £5 qualifying bet, I wouldn’t want to lose more than 50p on it. Try and aim for a maximum loss amount of no more than 10%.

Don’t worry too much about this though. Yes, you may well lose 50p on a qualifying bet, but you are about to get £20 in free bets, which you will make around £15 profit on.

As I just mentioned, it is very rare to ever get an exact match, but if you shop around (ie, try all three betting exchanges I advised you to open accounts with), you may find fairly close odds.

I wouldn’t waste too much time on this though, just aim for your 10% margin. You can get bogged down trying to find the perfect match, and all it’s really doing is taking up your precious time, and preventing you from getting on with making money from other free bets.

Right, now onto using your £20 in free bets.

Receive Free Bet

By now you should have showing in your account £20 in free bets to use. In the case of Coral you have just 4 days to use your free bets, so you need to get cracking.

All bookmakers vary in this, so do check to see how long you have to lose your free bets. You will get very annoyed if you get a free bet, and then it expires before you get around to using it. Trust me, I’ve done it!

Place Your Free Bets

Right, now it’s time to use your free bets. With this particular Coral offer, you get four £5 free bets. From the £20 free bets in total, I would be looking to make roughly £15 profit. That’s around £3.75 profit per a £5 free bet.

The first thing you need to do is find a bet where the odds are 5 (4/1) or bigger. This allows you to maximise your profit.

In this example, we are using Tottenham V Sheffield United in the Premier League. Sheffield United are 6 (5/1) to win with Coral, and 6.8 to lay on the Betfair exchange.

Looking at the example below, you place your £5 free bet on Sheffield United at 6 (5/1). For this you will receive £25 in winnings, should Sheffield United win. This is your free bet used.

Place Lay Bet On Betting Exchange To Make Profit

Now we move onto the lay bet. Using the below example you would need to lay Sheffield United for £3.68. As you can see this means you win £3.68 on the betting exchange if either Tottenham win, or the match is a draw. If Sheffield United win, you would lose £21.34 on the betting exchange.

So this is our lay bet placed, this is what guarantees us our profit. Now we look at the what if scenarios, of whih there are three.

Scenario 1 – Tottenham Win

If Tottenham win as expected, your free bet would lose with Coral, but as it is a free bet you are using, it costs you nothing. While you would make £3.68 on Betfair, as your lay bet of Sheffield United would win. Profit £3.68

Scenario 2 – The Match Is A Draw

Like with above, your free bet with Coral loses, but you don’t. Your lay bet on Betfair wins, and you make £3.68 due to the match being a draw. Profit £3.68

Scenario 3 – Sheffield United Win

The unexpected happens and Sheffield United pull off a shock win. This means you would make £25.00 profit from Coral, and you would lose £21.34 on the Betfair exchange. 25.00-21.34 = £3.66. Profit £3.64

So as you can see, no matter what the outcome of the match, you will make just over £3.60 from your £5 free bet.

Cash Out Profits

If your profits are in the betting exchange, you might want to leave it in there, as you will need it for future lay bets. If your profits are in Coral, then you may have to withdraw it to use for the next bookmakers account you want to open.

In an ideal world, your money will all be in the betting exchange account. Bookmakers aren’t massive fans of us winning money with them, and then withdrawing it.

If we keep losing money to the bookmakers (don’t forget you would still be profiting, but with the betting exchanges), then they might offer us more free bets to keep us betting with them.

The trick is to make the bookmaker think you are a mug punter that just keeps on losing.

Repeat The Process

You’ve seen how it works, now go and do it with all the other bookmakers on the list. Don’t forget though, every bookmaker will have slightly different terms and conditions.

It could be minimum odds on your qualifying bet, ie, minimum odds of 2 (even money). Or it could be the amount of days you have to use your free bets in, like in the above Coral example.

Matched Betting – Your Questions Answered

Even though you’ve taken the time to read all the information above, for which I thank you, there may well still be plenty of issues you may have with matched betting. Can I trust it? It sounds too good to be true, so it must be dodgy, etc, etc.

With this in mind, I have put together a selection of popular questions below, with in detail answers. I hope you find this helpful, if there is any questions you feel I have missed, please feel free to leave it in the comments section and I will add it to the page.

Is Matched Betting A Con?

This is a popular question that is very understandable. After all, if matched betting is that easy for making money, surely someone would put a stop to it.

We all know in today’s world that nothing comes easy for free, so surely matched betting has to be a scam?

Well, as you’ve seen from the examples above, it is clearly not a scam or a con. It is simply taking free bets that the bookmakers offer us, and - with the help of a betting exchange-extracting free cash out of them.

If anything, we’re conning the bookmakers. It is actually the other way around. Which brings me onto the next much debated subject…….

Is Matched Betting Legal?

The answer is simple Yes, it’s totally legal. Ask yourself a question, have you read or heard of anybody been prosecuted for using the matched betting technique? I certainly haven’t.

And it’s not the case that it’s illegal, but no one ever gets prosecuted for it. It’s not like downloading music illegally, or watching a live stream from a dodgy channel. Where it’s not strictly legal, but everyone’s doing it, so it’s okay.

The simple facts are, there is nothing illegal about matched betting. You are just placing a sequence of bets.

If you’re still not convinced, look at it like this. You open a bookmakers account, and place a bet. Legal? Yes.

You open a betting exchange, and place a lay bet. Is that legal? Yes.

You then get a free bet to use, you use your free bet. Again, is that legal? Of course it is. You’re starting to see where this is heading now, aren’t you.

And finally, you place another lay bet on the betting exchange. Yet again, you are doing nothing illegal. That’s all there is to matched betting, it’s not illegal. How on earth can it be.

Don’t let doom merchants and nay sayers put you off. It’s not rocket science either, it’s simply just an easy way of making risk free money. Speaking of risk free…..

Is Matched Betting Risk Free?

Yes and No. Matched Betting is risk free up to the point of you making a mistake. If you are thorough in what you are doing, and take your time and fully understand what you are doing, then you should be okay.

Common mistakes that are made with matched betting, are if you do not fully understand the lay bet process. Read through the process, and then read through it again - until you fully understand it.

This is why we start with the £5 qualifying bet from Coral in our example above. That way if you make a mistake, it is not a costly one.

Start with the small bets, and work your way through all of them. While you are doing that and accumulating money, you are learning on the job. And if you make a mistake, it won’t be a costly one.

Another common error is not reading the terms and conditions of a free bet. Most bookmakers will have different terms and conditions on their free bets.

It could be that your qualifying bet has to be placed at odds of Evens or above, or that you have to use your free bet inside 3 days, etc, etc.

This is down to human error. You will need to check the terms and conditions of bookmakers before opening accounts with them. This helps eliminate mistakes.

The final common mistake is simply pressing the wrong button, it can be done. In short though, matched betting is risk free, unless you muck it up!

Is Matched Betting Tax Free?

As it stands, matched betting is tax free. Profits from betting are tax free in the UK, and matched betting is regarded as betting. After all, you are profiting from placing a bet.

General punters don’t pay tax if they make money from a winning bet on a horse, so why should you.

At the same time, I’m no tax lawyer. I’m sure there are cases where HMRC have taken action against people making a living from betting. So I can’t categorically say it’s tax free.

If you are making a substantial living from matched betting, or betting in general, and HMRC are after you, then you are doing bloody well. It’s a problem I would love to have.

In general, unless you are making a fortune from betting, I can’t see how or why HMRC would be looking for tax off you.

Can I Make A Living From Matched Betting?

I say it’s hard to do this, but I believe there are plenty of full time matched bettors out there. You would have to do it full time to make a living, and even then I would imagine it would be hard work.

I prefer to look at matched betting as a decent second income. There is no reason why you can’t make a decent second income from matched betting. You could easily upgrade your car for a better newer model, or go on a decent family holiday every year with these profits.

By all means have a go at making a living, and I hope you do go onto achieve financial freedom from matched betting. Please feel free to leave a comment underneath if you have managed to go full time on matched betting, and make a living from it.

The more matched bettors we hear from who are doing this, the more inspired we will hopefully become.

matched betting search results
The rise in the search phrase ‘matched betting’ over the years

And Finally – Matched Betting Isn’t Daunting!

Matched betting isn’t really that daunting, so don’t be put off. If you’re still not confident after reading this, then give one of the subscription services a try.

They either have free trials, or £1 trials, so you really have nothing to lose. Yes, there is a limited amount of time or bets to practise with, depending on which one you decide to go with, but you have little to lose giving it a try.

If you want longer term help, then go with one of the subscription services which offer the monthly option, such as OddsMonkey, MatchedBets, or Profit Accumulator.

Using this method you can pay the monthly subscription, then if after two or three months, you feel confident enough to take on Matched Betting on your own, cancel the subscription. It’s easy, and there really is no reason why you can’t be making easy risk free money.

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