What Is Matched Betting & How Do You Do It? [2021 Guide]
Welcome to the biggest & best no-risk matched betting guide on this planet.
I’ll cover absolutely all of the basics & ensure you walk away knowing more than you would from any other beginner tutorial (that’s fighting talk, I know!).
I’m going to show you, step-by-step, the strategy I’ve used to make over £75,000 in the easiest profits I could have imagined.
Who am I, exactly? I’m Luke, founder of Beating Betting. We’re one of the largest free resources for all your betting needs and have no affiliation with bookmakers or casinos — they don’t like us (and we don’t like them).
I’ve taught thousands of people how to matched bet right here on the site and via the Beating Betting YouTube channel, which has thousands of active subscribers.
The next few minutes could change your life. I’m not exaggerating.
This strategy won’t be around forever, so count yourself lucky that you’ve found it today.
Everything here is free, so make use of it!
Table of Contents
What is Matched Betting?
Matched betting is a low risk form of gambling, typically on sporting events, that’s used to make guaranteed profits. It’s also commonly referred to as ‘bonus hunting’ or ‘no-risk betting’. By using free bets and other promotions, matched bettors guarantee profits by having all outcomes of a match or an event covered.
“It is a betting technique used by individuals to profit from free bets and other incentives offered by bookmakers. It is generally considered risk-free as it is based on the application of a mathematical equation rather than chance.” – Wikipedia.
Whilst people think that free bets are in limited supply, they are not. And with so-called ‘no-risk’ matched betting you can ensure that free bets keep coming in day after day.
By using a simple calculator, along with free bets and other promotions, we can generate an instant profit from free bets. We use extremely simple software to do all of the work — you don’t even need sporting knowledge to do it.
Backing & Laying Bets
These are two very important things that you’ll need to understand in order to achieve really significant, sustainable, long-term profits — but the most simple thing you need to know to do matched betting is the difference between back bets and lay bets:
What is a Back Bet?
The back bet is the most traditional form of bet, essentially you’re saying “I think this will win”.
If the selection you bet on goes on to win, then you’ll win your bet and the profit along with it.
If you pick a horse in the Grand National, you’ve backed that horse to win.
What is a Lay Bet?
The lay bet is something made popular with the rise of online betting exchanges such as Betfair. This is the exact opposite to a back bet, where you are now saying “I don’t think this will win”.
If the team that you bet on don’t win the match, you win your lay bet. And yes, if the result is a draw, that means your lay bet also wins (because they didn’t win the match).
How Matched Betting Works
Matched betting works by using lay bets to cancel out any risk that a back bet poses.
You back and lay against the same result in order to remove all risk. You cannot lose your bet because you have every outcome covered.
You will make your profit from a bookmaker’s free bet and other promotions — we’ll stick to free bets in this guide to keep things simple.
Your first bet is known as a ‘qualifying’ bet — it is what qualifies you to earn a free bet. You won’t make any profit on this, in fact, you’re likely to lose a few pence.
Once you have received a free bet from a bookmaker, you can guarantee profits by using the same back and lay method. This is because you’re now playing with someone else’s money for half of the bets, but you get to keep the winnings.
This removes all risk and guarantees you an easy profit, regardless of the result of any sporting event you’ve bet on.
With matched betting, you’ll find ways to constantly keep earning the free bets that will become your bread and butter income.
There are two other things that might help you understand the real matched betting example that we’re about to walk you through: lay commission and liability.
They sound a lot more complex than they really are. Don’t worry if you get a little bit confused, you’ll pick it all up in no time.
What is lay commission?
When laying bets, you’ll have to pay a tiny percentage of your winnings as commission. This is how betting exchanges make their money, versus regular bookmakers who make their money by providing you unfair odds.
Even with commission factored in, exchanges return more profit on your bets almost all of the time.
What is liability?
Liability is the amount of money you stand to ‘lose’ on a lay bet. For example, if you placed a £25 bet with a bookmaker at odds of 3.0 (2/1), you stand to win £50 in profit. The bookmaker’s liability in this scenario is therefore £50. When laying bets, you become the bookmaker.
Remember, you won’t actually lose this money when using the back and lay technique.
How to Do Matched Betting
Matched betting seems scary and difficult at first, but it really, really isn’t.
It’s now one of the go-to choices for hardworking students looking to earn a healthy income — if students can do it while combining it with study and excessive drinking, why can’t you?
It’s also extremely popular with stay-at-home mums that need to earn but can’t commit to set working hours.
Of course, not everyone doing this is a student or a parent of a newborn child. The vast majority of matched bettors are Average Joes that just want a little more financial freedom. That’s exactly why I got into it, and I don’t have a university degree or anything like that.
With just one or two days of getting into the swing of things you will be well on your way to that super-sweet risk-free betting profit.
Let’s get into a real example right now.
Completing An Example Matched Betting Offer
FAKE-BOOKMAKER.com, who we’ve invented for the purpose of this post, are promising you a £25 free bet if you deposit and bet £25 of your own money.
You sign up and deposit the £25.
We then use an oddsmatcher to find something suitable to bet on — we don’t find any of the bets ourselves which means you don’t need any sporting knowledge to do this.
We choose the bookmaker and the minimum odds we need to bet on in the oddsmatcher filters and it gives us a range of good choices for bets.
In this example, let’s say the oddsmatcher tells us that Manchester United have back odds (the blue column) of 2.0 to beat Southampton. The lay odds of this result are 2.02 (pink column).
Note: You can easily switch between fractional and decimal odds on all bookmakers, usually on any page, or your account settings if not. You always want to switch to decimal odds when matched betting.
We place our bet of £25 on Manchester United.
Next, we go onto Betfair Exchange, and LAY Manchester United (that’s betting on Manchester United to NOT WIN) at lay odds of 2.02:
To place a lay bet on the exchange, we simply use the odds in the red/pink ‘lay’ column.
You don’t need to worry about all the other numbers right now, they’re just there to confuse and worry you as a beginner! I joke, but really, you don’t need to use them any time soon.
How do we know how much to lay?
Using a lay betting calculator (we have a free one on the site), we simply input the information we already have to calculate what our lay stake should be:
All I’ve added to the calculator is information we already know:
- Our stake of £25
- Our back odds of 2.0
- Our lay odds of 2.02
- The lay commission which is 5% on Betfair Exchange
The calculator then tells us exactly what our lay stake should be. ‘You could lay £25.38’ – meaning: your lay stake is £25.38.
The calculator also tells us that our liability will be £25.89. We therefore need at least £25.89 in our exchange balance so that we can afford to lay the qualifying bet in this example.
The possible outcomes are:
If Manchester United win, we’ll win £25 profit on FAKE-BOOKMAKER and lose £25.89 on Betfair Exchange.
If Manchester United draw or lose, we’ll lose £25 on FAKE-BOOKMAKER but win £24.11 profit on Betfair Exchange (the lay stake, minus commission).
Either way, we’ll lose the tiny amount of 89p.
This is called a ‘qualifying loss’.
What is a qualifying loss?
A qualifying loss is the small amount of money you lose when matched betting in order to unlock a free bet. It is a very small investment for a much larger financial reward.
So, you lost 89p, but guess what? You now have a £25 free bet to use.
We repeat the same process again, using the oddsmatcher to find us a bet at slightly higher odds. The higher the odds, the more profit you can make — but you’ll also need more money in your exchange balance to cover the liability.
We decide to place this bet on Watford. The oddsmatcher is showing us that they have odds to win of 5.0. The lay odds are 5.2.
Again using our matched betting calculator, we now change the mode from ‘Normal’ (which is used for qualifying bets) to ‘Free Bet (SNR)’.
We then repeat the process of adding all of the information that we already know: our back stake which is the value of our free bet (£25), the back odds of 5.0, the lay odds of 5.2 and the lay commission of 5%.
We can now see that the calculator is showing a healthy profit being generated.
If Watford WIN, we’ll win £100 on FAKE-BOOKMAKER but lose £81.56 on Betfair, meaning we’ve made an overall profit of £18.44.
If Watford draw or lose, we’ll fail to win with our free bet on FAKE-BOOKMAKER — losing nothing — but we’ll win our lay of £19.42 on Betfair.
Remember, Betfair take 5% commission on profits, so either way you’ll have won £18.44 on this matched bet. And we know this profit before the match even kicks off, irrespective of the result.
The result of either game (qualifying bet and free bet) doesn’t matter, the profit is guaranteed as long as you follow the instructions and input your stakes correctly.
Whilst around £18 in overall profit may not sound like much, you can repeat this multiple times every day once you have built up your bankroll a bit — which doesn’t take long at all.
The Next Steps
The next stage of this is to do it for real and earn yourself your first matched betting profits!
Scared to make the jump? I know exactly how you feel — I was in exactly the same position once myself.
I felt a mixture of confusion and apprehension before starting, but it’s well worth it.
Sign up for our free beginner course (available here).
Our beginner course will walk you through two real offers and you’ll make up to £40 in profit whilst we teach you the basics.
You’ll learn everything from how to use an oddsmatcher right through to being able to complete advanced offers on your own.
Everything is broken down step-by-step and it has been used by thousands of beginner matched bettors already.
The second step is to work your way through the course and all of the guides within it.
Once you’re confident in matching your bets, you’ll begin completing the sign-up offers at a large range of different bookmakers.
Many people worry that because they’ve already signed up to several bookmakers, they won’t be able to do matched betting.
This is absolutely NOT the case!
You CAN do matched betting even if you’re already signed up to bookies. I was already signed up to a massive 17 bookmaker sites before I started.
There are usually 40-50 different bookmakers to complete sign-up offers on at any one time. For most people, these will be worth over £1,000 in profit alone.
After you’ve completed the sign-up offers — which depending on your initial investment can take a few days or a few weeks, based on half an hour per day — you can move onto reload offers.
It’s these reload offers that allow us to be able to make consistent long-term profits from the same bookmakers over and over.
It’s how all of us experienced matched bettors make our risk-free income every single day.
With these three steps, you’ll be able to learn how to do matched betting in no time.
Matched Betting FAQs
Most people spend between 15-60 minutes on matched betting per day. You’re under no pressure to put in any time you don’t want to. The more time you put in, the more you earn.
Generally speaking, you probably need around 15 minutes to get one bet on.
Let’s say the average profit from offers you complete is £8. This means you’re earning £32-an-hour, tax-free.
A great idea is to track the time you put in and the profit you make at the end of the month and then work out your own hourly rate.
The more practice you have, the more efficient you’ll become and the higher your hourly rate will likely become.
The majority of people are skeptical when they first hear of matched betting. It’s easy to understand why — everyone that does it was skeptical once.
Thanks to an increase in sites and services becoming available, many are learning the power of it the easy (and cheap) way. As more and more people try it out, more people learn how profitable it is and go on to tell their friends and family about it, spreading the word at rapid rates.
This helps more people to become educated about the process and its legitimacy via word of mouth.
There are currently tens of thousands of people in the UK that are actively matched betting every month.
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” That’s what we were always taught. “There must be a catch.”
These are all thoughts I had before starting matched betting, and it’s probably what every person like you is thinking or has thought too.
It was only a few years ago that I thought matched betting was a scam. My friends and family thought it was a scam too. In fact, some of my family members (particularly the older ones) still think it must be a scam even now. One person even thinks I’m involved in match fixing!
It took me a reasonable amount of time to really do the research and actually get started because I was such a non-believer.
The basic principle of it is this:
Because you are covering all of the outcomes in a sporting event, you can’t lose.
When you’re using a free bet, you are using someone else’s money (i.e. the money of that bookmaker). As soon as you have a free shot at covering one of the teams, horses, whatevers, the very simple maths works in your favour.
You can lock-in a profit as soon as you have a free bet — i.e. free money — and it’s extremely easy to see how much profit you’ll make before an event even takes place.
So no, it’s not a scam.
Matched betting has been quite a well kept secret when you consider the amount of money that can be made doing it.
However, there’s no need for it to seem like some sort of shady underground operation.
It is is entirely legal.
In fact, a spokesman for William Hill has even said in the past that the gambling industry is happy for people to do it:
“There’s no illegal element [to matched betting]. It’s a free bet and you can do what you like.” [Source: The Telegraph]
Firstly, there is a rise in competition between bookmakers. There’s a huge ‘bookmaker boom’ right now and it means they’re all scrambling for your custom.
These bookmakers such as William Hill, Bet365, Paddy Power and many more run promotions in order to try to attract both new and repeat business.
These promotions prove to be profitable for them, so they’re constantly adding more and more to their sites each month.
Promotions are easily exploited for guaranteed profits with the tactics matched bettors use, as seen in the example later in this post.
The more promotions there are, the more profitable matched betting becomes.
However, bookmakers don’t ‘allow’ it, they just can’t stop you doing it until one day they decide they’ll know longer take your bets — I’m now banned by almost every bookmaker and casino in the country, but I earned a lot of easy profit whilst doing it!
It might seem complicated at first, but it’s actually extremely straightforward.
No one is able to magically wrap their heads around all of this in an instant.
However, most people learn the process in just a day or two.
If you need proof of how simple it can be — in my first ever month of matched betting, where I learned the process entirely from scratch, I made £1,113.15 profit.
My first ever day of matched betting, showing £70.06 profit from just two free bets and a price boost, and the total end profit for the month of £1,113.15. And yes, the first version of my spreadsheet was terrible!
It couldn’t be easier to learn matched betting when following a video or reading a post that tells you exactly what bets to place and where to place them.
Just look at my first spreadsheet pictured below. The way I tracked my bets back then might have been a bit rubbish, but earning those profits was the easiest money I’ve ever made!
Matched betting works best when you are able to invest in completing multiple offers at once.
This comes once you have built up your bankroll.
However, the vast majority of people don’t have a lot of money set aside for such investments, and therefore tend to start with a very small budget of £100-£200.
The smallest figure you can probably start with is £80, but I really would recommend trying to have at least £100.
This level of budget allows you to complete one or two offers at a time, and you can easily turn this into a £10,000 bankroll in a few months time just like many others (including us) have done before you.
Personally, I was confident in my finances and had become convinced of the method, so I started off with about £400, before investing a little more (from my overdraft — although I wouldn’t recommend that!) once I realised how much I could earn.
All you need is access to the internet and you’re away.
It’s this reason alone that matched betting is extremely popular with students, many of whom are paying off large chunks of their student loan debts before they even leave university.
This is probably music to many of your ears; match betting is completely tax-free in the UK.
This is because it falls under the category of ‘gambling’, and even though there is very little risk involved it still classes as being 100% free from tax.
There is absolutely no risk involved in matched betting when done correctly.
There are a couple of things you need to be careful of, however:
Firstly, ensure that you follow instructions and enter the stakes that the calculator tells you to bet carefully.
Small mistakes can happen quite frequently when starting out and they’re never usually too costly, but always keep an eye out and triple check everything is as it should be.
Secondly, and this is the biggest drawback, bookmakers can remove your access to promotions and free bets if you’re seen to abusing bonuses.
This is known in the betting industry as being ‘gubbed’.
To ensure you don’t abuse the promotions too hard, refrain from betting on too many offers in a short space of time with the same bookmaker.
Also, place some regular-looking bets too known as ‘mug bets’, which you can of course also lay off at a betting exchange — but they won’t qualify for offers.
Looking like a mug punter to a bookmaker is essential for long-term profits.
Unfortunately, we can’t provide lessons and advice to every country in the world. Therefore, we only teach those based in the UK.
However, you can do the same ‘back and lay’ approach, as described throughout this post, in any country that has access to betting exchanges.
If you don’t have access to these, you need to look into something called dutching.
You will learn how to place bets during the process if necessary, and all bets are found for you via simple-to-use software.
Many people that start matched betting have never placed a bet in their lives and many more have no interest in sport whatsoever.
One of the biggest tips is learn how to change the odds formats on bookmaker sites and switch them to decimal odds.
Not only are decimal odds essential for matched betting (due to using calculators) they also make it much easier for you to work things out once you’re used to them and the process.
Usually, a free bet will either be credited to your account either instantly or after your bet finishes.
You will see it in your account when you go to place your next bet.
Within the bet slip, you will see the option to either use your own money or use the free bet that has been credited to your account.
If you don’t see this option then the free bet probably hasn’t been credited yet.
Check the bookmaker terms and if it’s not been credited within the timeframe they said it would be, a simple message on live chat or email should do the trick.
Assuming there are no wagering requirements, which most commonly there aren’t, you can withdraw the money if you wish.
However, if you do win into the bookmaker account, we do recommend placing at least one mug bet before withdrawing.
Not everyone can afford to do this with their bankroll and if you can’t, don’t sweat it.
If you do want to make a good amount of money over a longer period of time, you should start as you mean to go on with looking after your accounts as well as you can.
Bookmakers can run a simple search to see who has used a sign-up offer, withdrawn and never returned. Make sure you won’t come up in this search.
Setting up a new bank account for this can be handy, but it’s not essential.
Your credit score will not be affected by gambling; by signing up to or using bookmakers or casinos.
If you do use a new bank account, you’ll need to ensure it’s not 100% gambling related. Make sure you’re paying some bills and buying things at least fairly regularly through the account.
Continuing to use your current bank account should not be a problem and does allow you to start betting a little quicker than setting a new one up.
If you wish to apply for a loan or mortgage, having hundreds of betting deposits may look suspicious.
Unfortunately, bankers do not care about why we’re betting. They just care that we are.
Plenty of people manage to still get their loan or mortgage with these transactions on their statement, but it may be wise to avoid a potential tricky conversation in the future by simply opening a new bank account for your matched betting activity.
When I was being told about all of this, I couldn’t get my head around it at all.
However, once I started placing the bets for myself and tracking the profit, everything fell into place straight away.
It’s been exactly the same for everyone else I’ve introduced to the technique, and I’m sure it will be the same for you too. Just get stuck in and you everything will start to become clear.
If you have any concerns or questions at all, simply get in touch with me via the contact page.
About the Author
This post was written by Luke Jordan. Luke founded Beating Betting at the start of 2016 and ran the site until February 2020. He is passionate about entrepreneurship, marketing and video creation.