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Matched betting is a legal way of guaranteeing a profit on a bet. Yep, there are no games here. That statement is 100% accurate.
How Does Matched Betting Work?
The days of wandering into your local high street bookmaker are gone. It’s all about the online bookies now. There are tens, hundreds, hell, even thousands of bookies trying to make a go of it online. As a result they’re all coming up with offers to tempt punters in. Many of them come in the shape of free bets.
Most people see a bookie offering a freebie and scroll past, some take the free bet and do one of two things – win and run or lose and leave. Then there are matched bettors. Matched betting utilises free bets to guarantee a profit. This is achieved by placing a free bet on one outcome and then using a betting exchange to ‘lay’ against the said selection.
The betting exchange side of things can confuse people but the best way to explain it is that you’re acting as the bookie against other punters. This means your ‘lay’ bet comes with what is known as ‘liability’. This is you covering the potential winnings of the other persons bet. Let’s simplify all of this with an example.
A Real Life Example
Man City face Arsenal at the weekend. Coral, who have free bet opportunities to the value of £20, have the draw priced at 5.00 (matched betting is always calculated in decimal odds). The Betfair Exchange offers you the option to ‘lay’ the draw i.e. betting either team will win at odds of 5.40.
Your ‘back’ stake is decided for you as it is whatever is the value of the free bet so your bet in this instance looks as below:
£20 on Manchester City to draw with Arsenal at odds of 5.00 with Coral = £80 return (free bet stake is excluded).
You then ‘lay’ the draw stating the match will not be a draw at 5.40 on the Betfair Exchange. The stake associated to the bet will be £14.95 (because of how betting exchanges work, this is actually your potential winnings – more on these calculations later) giving you a liability or amount ‘at risk’ of £65.78. Don’t worry though because, come kick off, you’re laughing:
If the game ends in a draw, you lose your liability on Betfair (£65.78) but win £80 from Coral. A £14.22 profit.
If either team wins the game, you’ve lost nothing with Coral because your stake was a freebie but you’ve won your bet on the betting exchange. Your liability is returned along with your £14.95 winnings. Exchange winnings are usually subject to a commission (5% on Betfair) meaning your overall profit is £14.20.
It’s two bets that take less than five minutes work and you’re guaranteed to make over £14.
Is it Really that Simple?
Sort of, yes. The example we’ve walked through above is the matched bet and it does give you a positive return regardless of the result but there are a few more components to consider.
Firstly, most free football bets are only awarded if you make a bet with real cash first. This is called your qualifying bet. The approach to your qualifying bet is exactly the same as your matched bet. Place your ‘back’ bet with the bookie i.e. “I bet team X will beat team Y” and then ‘lay’ off your selection on a betting exchange i.e. “I bet team X will not beat team Y”. This initial bet is placed with real money. For that reason, it is possible that you’ll lose a small amount (usually pence).
The second part of matched betting that you need to understand is how to identify an appropriate opportunity. Not all fixtures are suitable for matched betting because it’s reliant on the odds falling in a certain range.
Now, a lot of people are scared off by the fact you need to find specific games for matched betting to work. Don’t be, there are tools out there that are created with this betting strategy in mind.
Top Matching Betting Sites
There are two main companies that operate matched betting services. Profit Accumulator, who have been going since 2014, are the name that has been helping punters make money through this method the longest. Their service does come at a cost (£20 a month) but they offer a free trial and you can cancel any time. Their offering is decent too with alerts taking you to the best free bet offers, software that allows you to find the games that are matched bet opportunities by bookmaker.
Now, remember earlier when we spoke of the complicated ‘lay’ stakes? Well, to top it all off, their service also includes a bet calculator. This will give you the stakes you need to wager for a guaranteed profit for your matched and qualifying bet.
The other major name in the market for matched betting services is OddsMonkey. To be honest, their platform is very closely aligned to that of Profit Accumulator to the point where even the pricing is the same. The main difference is the fact they claim their free trial will yield you greater profit (£62 instead of £40). If you go the whole hog with matched betting that £22 extra will become insignificant with hundreds of pounds quickly racking up. I’d suggest you check both out with the free trials and opt for the service that you find more user friendly – everyone is different after all.
Best Bookies for Matched Betting?
On the surface of things, no. Any bookmakers with a free bet offering can be exploited for profit. That said, all of these offers come with extensive terms and conditions. It is in these terms that certain bookies make themselves more appealing to matched bettors.
Some of the big boys like William Hill, SkyBet and Ladbrokes will not limit a household to one single use of a free bet offer. This means that if you share wi-fi with someone you don’t need to worry about not being credited with an offer or, if you live with a partner or friends, you can all club together for multiple matched betting wins. Happy days.
Some bookies though do restrict their offers to one person per house and/or wi-fi network. You can still use them for matched betting but just make sure someone else in your network hasn’t taken the offer already.
Just a quick caveat to stress that the terms and conditions do change regularly so either check them out at the time of betting, ask the company directly or hit up one of the forums operated by the two resources mentioned earlier.
Does Matched Betting Still Work in 2024?
The internet is a phenomenal tool but, boy, do you read some nonsense. There are plenty of people out there who claim that you’ve missed the boat on matched betting. It’s simply not true. Bookies will always offer free bets and whilst that remains the case, you’ll be able to make money from laying of your back bet.
The only risk to consistent matched betting is getting your account ‘gubbed’. This is where the bookie spots you’re winning too much money and limits your stake to the point of insignificance. There are easy ways to avoid this though. Continue your matched betting but avoid staking large amounts on really obscure leagues (this is a red flag to the bookies that you’re covering your bet) and, on occasion, throw on a small stake accumulator. This is a random piece of advice but to the watchful eye of bookmaker systems it will help your account resemble the behaviour of a regular punter.
Is it Possible to Lose Money When Matched Betting?
After reading all this, you’re probably fully on board. Before you take the plunge understanding the risks is an important thing to close on.
Matched betting is a guaranteed way of making money. That doesn’t mean it’s completely risk free though. The reason for that is two-fold. The first is that odds can change in an instant. It’s not that common for dramatic shifts to occur (it’s not happened to me in several years of matched betting) but it’s important to acknowledge it could happen. If you get caught by this, simply crack on as planned and know that your loss will be limited. You’ll soon make it back with the next bet as you won’t get caught out every time.
The other thing that can catch you out is human error. This is in your control – take your time when using the calculators from Profit Accumulator or OddsMonkey and double check things before you hit ‘place bet’.
It’s like that old saying ‘measure twice, cut once, win often’.
There you have it, your guide to matched betting.