As a betting technique, matched betting has received considerable attention in the press over the last few years, with high profile names such as The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Huffington Post all posting stories about how you can earn serious tax free cash from this risk free betting technique.
This has led many people to seek out ways to learn matched betting or find out more information about the process, including how much you can potentially make from it.
So, how does matched betting work?
Let’s take a look and find out:
Matched betting is considered risk free, as unlike other betting techniques, it’s not actually gambling, since it relies on a mathematical formula, rather than chance.
Matched betting can actually be pretty complex, but the basic idea behind it is very straightforward.
Broken down to its simplest for, it essentially contains the following steps:
- You sign up to a bookmaker (Betfred, Coral, Betfair, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, William Hill, 888sport etc) who is offering a free bet to new signups.
- You place the right bets to cover all possible outcomes. This will be in the form a back bet on a chosen race or match (i.e. to win) and a lay bet on the same race or match (i.e. to lose).
- You bank or withdraw your profit, then move onto a new offer with a different bookmaker.
So How Does Matched Betting Work In Practice?
To carry out matched betting you first need two key things:
- an account with a bookmaker that is offering a free bet (for example, a £10 free bet from Coral if you deposit and bet £10 of your own money)
- an account at a betting exchange (for example, Betfair or SMarkets)
Once you’ve signed up with a bookmaker offering a free bet and set up your account with an exchange such as Betfair, you need to place a back bet with the bookmaker and a lay bet with the exchange in order to qualify for your free bet.
Once this bet has settled, you then use your free bet credited to you from the bookmaker (Coral, William Hill etc) to place a new bet, from which you will generate your profit.
Let’s look at each stage in more detail.
How Does Matched Betting Work: The Bookmaker Bet
Finding the best free bets and bonuses can be extremely time consuming, but if you are new to matched betting there are resources and websites you can use to help you. Profit Accumulator is where I started when I became curious about matched betting but knew zero about it.
Since joining, I haven’t looked back, as Profit Accumulator find the free bets for you and guide you through the whole matched betting process, clearly showing you the best way to profit from a free bet. Whilst matched betting is considered risk free, there is of course, still always human error, so for newbies to matched betting, using legitimate resources to help you can be a huge benefit.
In terms of the bookmaker bet, this is where you place your back bet in order to get free bets. You need to ensure the terms and conditions are favourable and don’t include restrictions that could negatively affect your profits or risk free strategy, such as a clause requiring you to carry out more bets before you are able to withdraw any profits. Again, this is where sites such as Profit Accumulator can be of huge value, since they check out all the offers for you.
Generally, you will find that bookmakers requite you to first place an initial bet with them with your own money before you can qualify for a free bet.
An example might be: Place a £25 bet with William Hill and receive a free £25 sports bet or bet £10 with Paddy Power and get a free £10 bet if you lose.
How Does Matched Betting Work: The Exchange Bet
The betting exchange (Betfair and SMarkets are common ones) is the place where you place a lay bet (i.e. the opposite result of the bet placed with the bookmaker).
Placing a lay bet negates any potential loss made at the bookmaker and vice versa, as you have ensured that whatever the result of the bet, you still make a profit.
How Does Matched Betting Work: The Matched Bet (laying a bet off)
So, once the bookmaker and betting exchange is set up, you would then use an odds matcher to find a suitable race or match to bet on. Once you’ve found something suitable, you place a back bet on a particular result with the bookmaker (for example, England to win in the World Cup) and then a lay bet on the same result not happening on the exchange (using the same example as above, this would be England to lose).
Placing a lay bet in this way offsets any loss if you lose the bet on the bookmakers, as if you lose on the bookmakers you still win via the exchange and vice versa.
With this initial bet using your own money it’s pretty usual to incur a small loss, but this is offset by guaranteed profits via your free bet.
Once the free bet has been credited, (this can be immediately or up to around 48 hours later depending on the bookmaker) you simply repeat the process, but this time with the free bet.
Whatever the result though, profit is guaranteed because the back bet was placed free of charge.
I.e. if you lose the back bet, you lose nothing as the bet was free and you make a profit on the opposite result on the lay bet. Or if you win the back bet, this is all profit as the bet was free and so this offsets any liability loss on the lay bet.
Keep in mind though, placing the correct amount on your lay bet, to ensure you make a profit whatever the outcome, does require a level of mathematical expertise or a dedicated matched betting calculator.
Keep in mind, it’s all a little more complex in practice, of course, as you need to be familiar with terms such as odds, liabilities and exchange commissions, plus be able to work out how much to place as a back bet and how much to place as a lay bet, so as to ensure that you actually make a profit.
A Matched Betting Example
To better understand how matched betting works, let’s look at an example of how a matched bet might work from start to finish.
Let’s say Coral are offering a £10 free bet for any new customers who register and deposit at least £10 into their account. The terms state that in order to receive the free bet, you need to place one qualifying bet of £10 at odds of 1.5 or higher.
So, as an example, let’s imagine you find a football match you like the look of on Coral at odds of 2.0.
Your next step would be to check the odds on Coral are similar to those on the exchange you are using (let’s assume we are using Betfair).
You can do this by using a good oddsmatching software or by simply comparing the odds manually.
For our example, let’s say you find good odds match on a England v France football game, where the back odds on England to win are 2.0 and the lay odds on England to lose 2.1.
The next step is to calculate the bets.
We already know the back bet is £10, as this is the amount you need to place in order to qualify for your free bet.
To work out our lay bet, you use a dedicated matched betting calculator and enter the bet amount of £10. You then enter the back odds of 2.5, and the lay odds of 2.51. The lay commission on Betfair is 5% so you enter this too, so as you can factor this in to your calculations.
The calculator will then tell you what your lay stake amount and liability should be to cover your bet and ensure the best outcome. (The liability is the amount you lose if your lay bet loses and the amount required in your exchange account to match a bet and guarantee all events are covered.)
Next, you go to Coral and place your £10 back bet and then head over to Betfair and place your lay bet.
That’s your qualifying bet all done.
If England win, you win the back bet on Coral but lose your lay bet and liability on Betfair.
If France wins however, you lose your back bet on Coral, but win your lay bet on Betfair.
With qualifying bets like this it is usual to make a small loss of a few pence up to a few pounds, but this is not a problem, since you then qualify for the free bet, which is where you make your profit.
You then repeat the process with your free bet.
If you lose the back bet this time round, you lose nothing on Coral, as it was a free bet anyway – however, you make a profit on the lay bet on Betfair.
And if you win the back bet via the free bet on Coral, this will be more than the loss of your liability on Betfair, so again you make a profit. Simply deduct your initial minimal loss from your qualifying bet from your winnings and you’ll have your final profit.
Note: If the match is a draw this is covered by the lay bet as England have essentially still not won.
It’s best to always use a dedicated calculator to minimise human error and ensure you lay the correct amount to ensure a profit whatever the outcome.
For more general information on matched betting, you might want to refer to my article on Matched Betting Explained or alternatively, Wikipedia also have a good description of matched betting in their online encyclopaedia.
The Bottom Line: How Does Matched Betting Work?
In it’s simplest form, matched betting is pretty simple, you signup to a bookmaker offering a free bet, you place the necessary bets to ensure a profit whatever the outcome, then you withdraw your profit and find a new offer.
In practice things are a little more complex, so if you are new to matched betting and how it works, my personal recommendation, based on my own experience, would be to sign up to a site such as Profit Accumulator.
Profit Accumulator offer a Free Trial, where you can make up to £45 without even becoming a full member. The huge value in using a site such as this is that matched betting can be complex and extremely time consuming – however, Profit Accumulator find the free bets for you AND show you the strategies to use to make a guaranteed profit, step by step.
In a nutshell, Profit Accumulator make it easy.
To give this some context, I had zero experience of matched betting when I joined Profit Accumulator, plus, hands up, I am not the world’s greatest mathematician! Yet I has paid off the annual membership fee in days via my profits and am heading to £500 a month at the moment (many people make £2k for a couple of hours work a day).
If you want to find out more you can watch an intro video on the Profit Accumulator site to get a real idea of what they are about. The web is full of praise for them and I’m yet to find a negative review.
You can of course absolutely do matched betting without using a service such as Profit Accumulator and many, many people do just that.
Save The Student offers a full and comprehensive free matched betting guide, which shows you how to do matched betting from scratch, with helpful matched betting tips and pointers. Many people have found this guide to be a helpful place to start in their matched betting journey.
If you decide to give matched betting a go, good luck – may your profits roll…
Disclaimer: Please note that neither the author nor the Matched Betting For Profit website accept any liability for how you use the information and links provided on this site. So please read it (and information you find elsewhere) carefully, as if you choose to cary out matched betting you do so at your own discretion and risk. Whilst matched betting is considered risk free, there is still always the risk of human error! Thanks.