What is Matched Betting?
In a nutshell, matched betting is a term used to describe placing two or more bets on the same market – with the view of making a guaranteed profit. In the vast majority of cases, matched betting is used in conjunction with the free bets that online bookmakers give you when you open an account for the first time.
Known as a ‘Welcome Package’, online betting sites offer you free bets as a means to entice you to their platform. Crucially, with hundreds of online sportsbooks now in operation, bonuses are getting more and more generous. This is great news for you, as it means you have access to heaps of matched betting opportunities and thus – risk-free profits.
It is important to note that you can only make money from matched betting in a risk-free manner if you know what you are doing. By this, we mean that a careless mistake could result in losses, so it’s crucial that you follow the guidelines we outline in this article. In doing so, you’ll avoid putting your capital at risk.
Backing & Laying Bets
The overarching concept of matched betting is that you will be ‘backing’ and ‘laying’ bets. It’s super-important for you to understand what these two terms mean, as each matched betting opportunity requires both a back and lay bet for you to make money.
Let’s elaborate with a couple of examples.
Backing a Bet
When you back a bet, it means that you want the selection to win. This is no different from placing a standard bet. For example, if you walked into your local betting shop and placed a bet on Manchester United beating Arsenal, you would be placing a back bet.
For example, if you placed a £10 back bet at odds of 2/1, your potential return is £30 – which consists of £20 in profit – plus your original £10 stake.
Note: For the remainder of this matched betting guide, we will only refer to odds in their decimal form, and not fractions. This is because matched betting requires you to find back and lay bets that are priced as close as possible. By opting for decimal odds, this makes the process much easier.
If Manchester United then went on to win the game, you would win the back bet.
Laying a Bet
The laying segment of matched betting is the most difficult to get your head around at first, as it essentially operates in reverse to a back bet. In its most basic form, laying a bet means that you want your selection to lose. If it does, then you win.
In this sense, you are acting as the bookmaker, as you are taking bets from the player in the hope that the selection loses and thus – you keep the stakes.
Still confused? Let’s look at a quick example of how laying a bet works in practice.
- Sheffield United are playing Liverpool at home
- The odds of Sheffield United winning are 3.0
- However, you don’t think that Sheffield United will win, so you decide to place a lay bet at £50.
- This means that you want the game to end in a Draw or Liverpool win.
- If Sheffield United do win, you would need to pay out at odds of 3.0. As you collected £50 in stake, your ‘liability’ is £100 (£50 x 3.0, less the stake).
- If the game is a Draw or Liverpool win, you would keep the £50 stake, much like a bookmaker would.
As you can see from the above example, when you lay a bet, you essentially want it to lose. If it does, you keep the stake. If it doesn’t, you need to pay out at the odds you took.
How Matched Betting Works
So now that you know the difference between a back and lay bet, we are now going to show you how matched betting actually works. First and foremost, we need to explain how a ‘matched deposit bonus’ works, as this is what you are going to be claiming to guarantee yourself risk-free profits.
Matched Deposit Bonus
As noted above, the online betting arena is now somewhat oversaturated, meaning that bookmakers are willing to give you a free bet in return for opening an account. The main eligibility requirement is that you have never previously held an account with the betting site in question.
Although free bets come in a range of shapes and sizes, the vast majority come in the form of a matched deposit bonus. This means that the bookmaker will ‘match’ your first deposit by a certain percentage, up to a maximum bet amount.
You need to have a firm grasp of how this works, as it sits at the core of matched betting. As such, let’s look at an example of how a matched deposit bonus works.
- William Hill is offering a welcome bonus to those that are yet to open an account. The promotion consists of a 100% matched deposit bonus, up to a maximum of £50.
- In order to get the bonus, you need to make a ‘qualifying bet’ at odds of 1.5 or higher. As such, you place a £50 bet on Manchester City beating Chelsea at home.
- Regardless of the outcome, William Hill will credit your account with a £50 free bet once the game has finished.
- You can then use your free bet on any betting match of your choosing. You decide to place your £50 free bet on Everton beating Arsenal at odds of 3.0.
- Everton wins the game, so you now have £100 in real-world cash that you can withdraw from the bookmaker.
As you will see from the above example, although your £50 won at odds of 3.0 – you received £100 back as opposed to the full £150. This is because you will not get the stake back when you win via a free bet.
How to Match Bet?
At this stage of our guide, you should now know the following:
- Why bookmakers give you free bets
- The difference between a back and lay bet
- How a matched deposit bonus works
This means that you are now ready to learn how matched betting actually works in practice. More importantly, we are going to show you how your matched betting endeavours are risk-free.
The easiest way for us to explain this is to give you a matched betting step by step guide of the entire process that you will need to complete with each bookmaker. Once you know the process inside-out, you can then repeat it over and over again to claim as many free bets as you can!
Step 1: Claim a Free Bet and Open an Account
First and foremost, you will need to find an online betting site that is offering a matched deposit bonus. There are hundreds to choose from, so there’s no hard-and-fast rule as to which bookmaker you need to start with.
Once you’ve selected a bookmaker, you will then need to open an account. To process takes just 2 minutes, and will require you to enter the following information:
- First and Last Name
- Home Address
- Date of Birth
- Email Address
- Mobile Number
You will also need to choose a username and a strong password.
Step 2: Deposit Funds and Verify Your Identity
Now that you’ve opened an account, you will need to deposit some funds. Online betting sites offer heaps of payment methods, so you’ll likely get to pick from one of the following:
- Visa Electron
- Local Banking
You will need to deposit an amount that is equal to the bonus with which you intend to claim. For example, if you’re opting for a 100% matched deposit bonus of up to £100, deposit the full £100 to maximize the bonus!
Once your account is funded, you are advised to verify your identity. This is a minimum requirement for all UK bookmakers, as stipulated by the Gambling Commission. Although you don’t need to do this straight away, you will need to do it before you are able to make a withdrawal. As such, it’s best to upload the required documents before proceeding to the next step.
This is likely to include:
- A government-issued ID (Passport or Driver’s License)
- A proof of address (Bank Statement, Utility Bill, Etc.)
- Copy of the front and back of your debit/credit card
Top Tip: We at WinnerSports.co.uk would suggest uploading your verification documents to your device/email account before you start your matched betting endeavours. This will allow you to easily verify your identity as soon as you open an account with each bookmaker.
Step 3: Place Your Qualifying Bet
So now that you have opened an account, deposited funds, and verified your identity, you are now ready to place your qualifying bet. As we noted earlier, this is required to activate your free bet, which will be credited once the bet has settled.
Here’s where things start to get a bit more complex. Let’s say that you are claiming a 100% matched deposit bonus at £100. This means that you will need to place an initial £100 bet to get your £100 free bet.
Now, if you were to simply place the bet without engaging in matched betting, you would stand the chance of losing £100. This is not matched betting, as you would be risking your capital. On the contrary, matched betting is risk-free.
As a result, you need to find a suitable sporting event that will allow you to lay your initial £100. Before we explain how you do this, it is important to note that in most cases, the qualifying bet will result in a very small loss. This is likely to be capped at 1-3% of your initial bet. In return for making a minute loss, you will then get your free bet, which in turn, will allow you to make a guaranteed risk-free profit.
Moving on, the overarching objective here is to find a betting market with a very similar back and lay price. For example, if the back price was 1.80, we would want to find a lay bet in the 1.80-1.83 range. Anything higher than this and we stand to lose more money than we hoped for through our qualifying bet.
To help us achieve this goal, we need to use a matched betting automatcher website. Such websites allow you to enter the bookmaker that you are claiming the free bet from, and then they will find you a suitable market. The automatcher calculator will also advise you what stakes you should make on both your back and lay bets, so it’s super-useful.
- To keep things simple, let’s say that you place your qualifying bet on Chelsea beating Newcastle at odds of 2.20.
- You are placing a £100 qualifying bet
- If Chelsea wins, you’ll get £220 back (£120 profit plus £100 stake)
- If Chelsea don’t win, you lose the £100 stake
Step 4: How to Do Matched Betting Lay Bet
Now that you’ve placed your qualifying bet, the next stage of the matched betting process is to place a lay bet. As noted above, your chosen matched betting calculator will advise you what betting exchange you need to use to do this, and at what stakes. In most cases, the betting exchange in question will either be Betfair or Smarkets.
In this example, we’ll say that the lay bet is to be placed at Betfair. As such, you’ll need to head over to the Betfair website and open an account. You’ll also need to deposit funds and verify your identity – much like you did with the bookmaker.
As per the automatcher website, we need to do the following:
- We need to place a lay bet on Chelsea beating Newcastle
- The lay odds on Betfair are 2.22
- The automatcher tells us to place a lay bet at £99.10
- This means that your liability is £120.90 – which is what you will need to pay out if Chelsea win
Once you’ve placed your lay bet, the possible outcomes are as follows:
Chelsea Does Win
If Chelsea wins, you win your £100 bet at the bookmaker you claimed the free bet from.
- You make £120 profit at the bookmaker
- You lose £120.90 at Betfair
- This amounts to an overall loss of £0.90
Chelsea Doesn’t Wins
If Chelsea doesn’t win, you win your your bet with Betfair, but lose with the bookmaker.
- You make £99.10 at Betfair
- You lose £100 at the Bookmaker
- This amounts to an overall loss of £0.90
As you can see from the above, regardless of whether or not Chelsea won the game, you made a £0.90 loss. Sure, you made a very small loss, but this means that the bookmaker will now credit your £100 free bet.
Step 5: Make a Guaranteed Profit From Your Free Bet
Once the bookmaker has settled your qualifying bet, they will then credit your account with your free bet. Sticking with the same example, this means that we now have a £100 free bet balance.
In order to guarantee ourselves a risk-free profit, we need to find a suitable betting market. Once again, we’ll head over to our matched betting automatcher website and let it suggest a market.
Let’s say that the automatcher suggests betting on the Wolves vs Aston Villa game. We essentially need to repeat the qualifying bet process by placing a back and lay bet.
Below we have listed an example of what the matched bet might look like.
You place your £100 free bet on Wolves to win at 2.25
You place your lay bet on Wolves at Betfair at odds of 2.28. Your lay stake is £56.05, so your total liability is £71.74
If Wolves win the game, the bookmaker bet will return £125, as you don’t get the stake back. You would then lose your liability of £71.74 at Betfair. This means your overall profit is £53.26.
If Wolves don’t win the game, you don’t lose anything at the bookmaker, as your £100 bet was a free bet. With that said, you would make £53.25 (includes exchange commission) at Betfair, taking your overall profit to £53.26.
As you can see from the above, regardless of whether Wolves won the game, you would make £53.26 in guaranteed risk-free profit from matched betting!
How to Make Money Matched Betting: Next Steps?
Although the guidelines we have outlined above might seem like a lot of effort, it actually isn’t. This is because the end-to-end process on how to make money with matched betting will take you less than 10-15 minutes once you get comfortable with it.
As such, you can repeat the above matched betting system over and over again every time you claim a new bonus. Don’t forget, there are literally hundreds of online betting sites that offer free bets, so you can make some really good money by claiming as many bonuses as you can!