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What Is Matched Betting? – The Complete Guide

You have probably heard it mentioned before, but what is matched betting, is it legal, is it legitimate and if it is, how much can you earn from it? Take a look at the answers and how to get started.

somebody matched betting from their computer

The chances are, if you’re reading this, then you’ve decided to find out about the world of matched betting. It’s not a new phenomenon and has been reported by most major news outlets.

I started out almost 15 years ago, so have plenty of experience. I’m sure there are plenty of questions you may have, so I’ve tried to answer as many as possible.

What is matched betting?

Matched betting is a method that involves betting on different eventualities in an event meaning that you don’t lose (or at least lose very little). Doing this gives you access to a free bet, which, using the same method, will earn you profit. It is often called risk-free, although there are a couple of small risks.

Is matched betting a scam?

I have met a lot of people who raise an eyebrow when I talk about matched betting but let me make this clear, it is not a scam. In fact, Money Saving Expert has a whole forum dedicated to the subject. Martin Lewis would not allow something on his site if it was not legit. It’s a system that I have used for a long time and made decent earnings from.

Is matched betting illegal?

No, it’s entirely legal. Bookies hate it though as they don’t see it as people gambling in the spirit it’s intended for. That’s right, bookies have their own code of ethics. Who would have thought it? Bookies do keep an eye out for matched bettors, and if they suspect that’s what you are doing, then they will stop sending you free bets. It’s frustrating but it just means that you have to move on to the next bookie.

A brief history

Matched betting has been in common use for over 15 years. As the internet grew in popularity, bookmakers (like William Hill and Ladbrokes) realised there was huge potential for new customers. Many people liked a flutter on a sporting event but never fancied stepping into the bookies.

The truth is, there are still people who associate gambling as evil and think that anyone involved must have some kind of addiction. Although it’s true that there are people with issues, the vast majority can enjoy gambling and know when to stop. And the internet now gave these people a chance to bet as much as they like without judgment.

But, in such a competitive market, how did bookies go about getting customers to choose their services over their rivals? By giving them free bets.

How does matched betting work?

Before we start, I want to make one thing clear. Matched betting is not gambling. If you gamble, then there is a good chance you will lose. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. Matched betting allows you to cover every outcome, and thanks to special offers, it means you will always end up winning.

Matched betting involves taking advantage of these free bets.

Matched betting complete guide

For example, bookmaker A will offer you a free bet of £10 if you bet £10 on an event. So you choose a tennis match where two players have equal chances of winning. You place £10 on one player to win with bookmaker A and £10 ‘lay bet‘ on his opponent to win with bookmaker B. Now it doesn’t matter who wins, as you will earn your money back whatever the result. But not only that, you will earn a free £10 bet.

Now, this is a very simplified explanation as there are other factors to consider. But don’t worry if you’ve just read the above and still have no idea. I have written an example below to help you understand. And if that doesn’t explain it… there are companies out there that offer a complete matched betting service. They will guide you through the whole process.

Take a look at this short video by Profit Accumulator for more information.

How much money do you need to start matched betting?

The more cash you have, the more potential you have to earn. However, a starting bank of around £50-60 is sufficient enough to start betting. This will allow you to start with the small offers and work your way up to the better ones.

What is a lay bet?

In case you missed it above, a lay bet is when you back something not to happen. For example, if you place a lay bet on Man Utd to win the Premier League, you are backing them not to win. Betfair is the most famous site where you can place lay bets. This is a betting exchange where people can bet against each other and choose their own odds. Although that means there is no bookie looking for a profit, Betfair does take a commission of 5% for the winning bet.

On Betfair, blue is for a back bet, pink is for a lay bet.

back and lay bets

The £ figures indicate how much is available. For example, you could bet a maximum of £2,271 at the odds of 1.78.

How easy is matched betting?

Although it helps, you don’t need to have any prior knowledge of gambling or sports. If you have no experience with gambling and odds, then it will take a little while to get your head around. But, you don’t need to be a maths genius to figure it out. And, as you get to grips with matched betting, it becomes much simpler and less time consuming to do. But the more time you have, the more money you can make.

Matched betting for dummies – a working example

Let’s say that there is a free £50 bet available from Bet365. To earn this bonus, I need to make a £50 bet.

The trick is to find odds for the back and lay bets as close together as possible. Ideally, you want the lay odds to be better than the back odds (ie they earn you more money) but this doesn’t happen often. And to throw another spanner in the works, when you calculate how much you need to bet, you also have to remember the 5% commission to Betfair.

Important to note

When matched betting, it is far easier to use decimal odds. Traditionally in the UK, we use fractional terms such as 5/2 or 2/1 (ie you receive £2 back for every £1 you bet). However, it’s quite difficult to use when matched betting, so we use decimal figures instead.

Odds are an indication of the probability of something happening. Remember, a bookie needs to make a profit, so the odds might not reflect the true probability.

Conversion of fractional odds to decimal:

1/1 (Evens)2.0050%

The 3rd column shows the likelihood of the event happening. Although decimal odds may seem confusing at first, you will soon get to grips with them. All bookies will have an option in the account settings so you can toggle between fractional and decimal.

So, let’s take a look at Burnley vs Tottenham. Backing Tottenham at Bet365 for £50 will make me £27.50.

odds with bet 365

Here are the odds at the betting exchange:

betfair odds

As you can see, the lay figure for Tottenham is 1.62. Remember, the lay figure is always in pink.

The next step is to calculate how much to bet to minimise your loss. It sounds complicated, but there are plenty of handy calculators around that will do it for you.

Profit Accumulator offers a free calculator that anybody can use.

back and lay bet calculator

All you need to do is fill out the bet stake and back odds (so a £50 stake at odds of 1.55) and the lay odds and commission (1.64 and 5%).

You are then given a figure of £48.74 to lay at the betting exchange. This basically means that you’re betting £31.19 at the exchange to potentially win £46.30 (after commission).

  • If your bet wins at Bet365, you win £27.50 and lose £31.19 at Betfair (a £3.69 loss)
  • If your lay bet wins at Betfair, you win £46.30 and lose £50 at Bet365 (a £3.70 loss)

So, you will lose £3.69-£3.70 and then have a free £50 bet.

The free bet

Then, it’s a case of using your free bet to make your profit. Unfortunately, this requires a slightly different calculation as the free bet is known as something called Stake Not Returned (SNR). That means that your winnings won’t include the £50 bet.

Let’s use it to back West Brom to beat Brighton at 4.75. The £50 bet will win £187.50.

using the free bet

On the exchange, the odds are 5.

laying the free bet

Again, it’s back to the calculator to enter all the figures, which tells you to enter a lay bet £37.88.

making money from the free bet
  • If your bet wins at Bet365, you win £187.50 and lose £151.52 at the exchange (a £35.98 win)
  • If your lay bet wins at Betfair, you win £35.99 and lose nothing from your free bet.

So, you will win £35.98-£35.99. Take away the £3.70 from your initial loss to gain your free bet and you’ve made a profit of around £32.29.

Initially, it sounds very complicated. But don’t worry if that still hasn’t cleared everything up. As I said earlier, you can use a company like Profit Accumulator to help you figure it out.

Use a spreadsheet

If you’re going to approach matched betting seriously, it helps to keep track of your bets. It may be a couple of days between placing your back bet and your lay back, so having them on a spreadsheet really helps in making sure you don’t forget.

There are several ways to do this and it just depends on what you feel most comfortable with. Pen and paper is the simplest method and you can be sure you’ll never accidentally delete everything. You can create a digital spreadsheet using a program like Excel. It’s quite simple to do and you can add all kinds of formulas if that’s your thing. Alternatively, you can download a ready-made spreadsheet from somebody else. Again Profit Accumulator has a free one on offer.

Can you lose money matched betting?

So, if you follow the above, all should be fine and dandy. And generally, this is a risk-free way to make money. But that’s not to say it’s not possible to lose money. Occasionally, sport likes to throw in a surprise here and there and bookies have different rules to measure results. For example, if a tennis player withdraws through injury during a match, some bookies will void the result, whilst others will pay out. So, the bookie with your win bet may just give you your stake back, whilst the exchange where your lay bet sits may take your money. That means one void bet and one loser.

That’s why it’s important to understand the bookie’s rules and why you should seek help as much as possible. It’s also why I don’t do matched betting on tennis.

The only other issue you may have is by not paying attention. That may sound a little patronising, but I’ve done it before. It’s incredibly easy to bet on the completely wrong game when you’re in a rush! Fortunately, there are ways to minimise your losses in these situations, such as cashing out as soon as possible.

How much can you earn?

Like most things in life, the more effort you put into matched betting, the more you will get out. I often make around £200 per month which takes around two hours per week. At my peak, I would earn around £800-£1000. But, it is inevitable that you will lose accounts over time and won’t have access to as many free bets. There are still people who regularly earn over £1000, and some claim up to £2000.

So, is matched betting worth doing?

Definitely. It’s true that it’s not as profitable as it was in the early years as bookies have become wiser to the method. But making several hundred each month is certainly possible and won’t take you too much time. Plus, all your winnings are tax-free. It is definitely worth trying out.

What is matched betting?

Can you make a living from it?

The money you make from matched betting will never replace a full-time living. The first few months will always be the most lucrative as that is when you use most of the sign-up offers. After that, expect your income to drop, but not by so much that you should give up – there is no reason why you can’t see a decent return over the long-term. That is where Profit Accumulator becomes most useful, as they will let you know of any offers you may miss.

Does matched betting affect your credit score?

Of course, I’ve talked about a lot of the benefits, but it can’t be all good. Can it?

Matched betting should have no affect on your credit score.

However, there is a potential issue in applying for a mortgage. Banks are not keen to see large amounts of money coming in and out of your current account to bookies. It seems to make them nervous that you’re a gambling addict. Because of this, I have always used a separate current account for all of my matched betting.

Ok, how do I get started?

Matched betting is something you can do yourself if you take your time and make sure you know all the potential pitfalls. But it’s certainly geared towards people whose minds work in certain ways.

To get started, it is essential to sign up to an exchange where you can place your lay bets. The best place for this is Betfair and you should get a free bet for joining. Then, it’s a case of looking through the other bookmakers and working through their offers.

It’s worth noting that sign-up offers do change and sometimes it pays to be patient.

If you’re not confident enough or want better access to offers, Profit Accumulator is certainly worth signing up to. And don’t worry, you don’t have to pay them anything if you don’t want to. They offer a free trial to show how you can make the most of two bookie bonuses. If you make money (which everybody does), you then have the choice to upgrade to the Platinum Membership. This gives you access to 100+ bonuses, plus access to forums and enhanced customer support.

Can you trust Profit Accumulator?

Of course, signing up to a new company as well as bookies can be a little worrying. But don’t worry, Profit Accumulator is an established company that will take you through the whole process. They have been operating since 2014 and have had over 100,000 paying customers.

To get started, or find out more, click on the button below.

Or follow this link to find other ways to earn extra.

A word of warning…

So I’ve discussed the good points about matched betting – how it’s relatively risk-free and a decent income. But that’s not to say it’s all plain sailing and you can sit back and enjoy the ride.

Ultimately, we’re all human and we tend to have moments of weakness and it’s important you don’t always give in to your urges.

I have gone through streaks where I have backed 10 winners in a row. And then you start to think, what if I hadn’t layed the bet? You could actually make a lot of money. But it could easily be the other way round and you could end up losing far more than you can afford.

It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of betting and plenty of people have. Just don’t get drawn into the promise that you can make your fortune from gambling. It won’t happen.

If you ever find that you have slipped into gambling and it starting to cause issues, then seek help. Contact Gamcare for advice and support.

Please note that the above contains affiliate links. All views are my own.


Is matched betting dead?

This is something you will hear quite often. Although it’s no as easy as it was in earlier years, you can still make a decent profit with fairly minimal effort.

Is matched betting safe?

There is very little risk, but there is a small chance that odds can change whilst you’re making a bet or you can make a calculation error. However, this should be very rare.

Is matched betting haram?

Because matched betting isn’t strictly gambling in every sense of the word, some people are unsure whether it’s haram. However, from the research I have made, because single bets are made where one person will win and another will lose, it covers the Islamic definition of gambling. So matched betting is considered haram

Can you have multiple accounts?

This is known as gnoming and is popular as it allows people access to more free bets. The legality and morality around it have always been questionable. If a bookmaker finds you have multiple accounts, expect them to be closed, possibly with money still in your account.

What does gubbed mean?

Gubbed or gubbing means that your account at the bookies has been restricted in some way. They will either stop sending you free bets or only allow you to place bets worth pennies. This is different from having your account deleted.

How can I avoid being gubbed?

This is a tough one. It’s recommended by some that you throw in a few ‘mug’ bets. That is just random bets to make you look like a regular gambler. However, the danger is that you could lose any profits you have made.

Where can I find a matched betting calculator?

Profit Accumulator offers a free matched betting calculator you can use to work out odds and how much you need to bet.

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Tuesday 16th of October 2018

Thank you for the information . I would like to have a go at match betting but scared to make that 1st step , is there a way to do a minimum bet and what sort of sports to start with ? Many Thanks . Maxine

Money Saver Pete

Tuesday 16th of October 2018

Hi Maxine. I would look at companies with a smaller bonus to start with (such as Coral). I always use football markets because there are plenty of them and they generally don't move very quickly. Matched betting is very daunting at the start. It is something you can do by yourself, but if you're not confident, I can't recommend using a company like Profit Accumulator enough. They will guide you through the whole process.

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