What is Matched Betting?
In its most basic form, matched betting refers to the process of turning bookmaker bonuses into risk free profits. You do so by ‘laying’ your selection on a matched betting site like Betfair or Smarkets. The overarching concept of matched betting is that the outcome of the bet is irrelevant. This is because you will make the same amount of profit no matter what happens in the event.
Although you can still make money by laying off ongoing promotions that betting sites offer to existing players, the vast bulk of the money is to be made from new player welcome bonuses. With that said, there are literally hundreds of online bookmakers that offer free bets to those without an account, so if you’re fairly new to online gambling there’s heaps of cash to be made from the best gambling sites!
How Does Matched Betting Work?
The process of using free matched betting sites to make risk-free profits can appear somewhat complex at first glance. In fact, the slightest of mistakes can actually end up losing you money, so it’s crucial that you know what you are doing.
As such, let’s look at an example of how a matched bet works in practice.
1. Claim a Matched Deposit Bonus
First and foremost, matched betting only works if you claim a bonus from an online betting site. Although bonuses come in a range of shapes and sizes, bookmakers typically offer a ‘matched deposit bonus’.
This means that your initial deposit will be matched by a certain percentage, up to a certain amount. For example, if the bonus offers a 100% matched bonus and you deposit £50, you would get an additional £50 as a free bet.
You won’t be able to simply withdraw the £50 straight back out of top matched betting sites, as this wouldn’t represent a viable business model for the bookmaker. On the contrary, you will need to use the bonus funds to place a bet before a cashout is permitted.
2. Place Your Qualifying Bet at the Best Matched Betting Website
Although some matched betting sites UK will place your bonus straight into your betting balance, most require you to place a ‘qualifying bet’. For example, you might need to place a £50 bet at odds of 1/2 or more before the free bet is credited. Once the qualifying bet is settled, the bonus will then be applied to your account.
However, by placing your £50 qualifying bet at the bookmaker, you stand to lose money. As such, we want to lay the bet off at third-party exchange like Betfair. In most cases, this will result in an ultra-small loss of a few percentage points, albeit, you will then have the free bet to use once the sporting event (such as football or horse racing) has finished.
This is where things start to get a bit complicated. To keep things simple, let’s say that you decide to place your qualifying bet on Arsenal vs Chelsea.
Note: You should always use decimal odds when matched betting online, as opposed to fractional odds. This makes it easier to know whether or not the matched betting opportunity is viable.
- The price of Arsenal to win the game is 1.95 at your chosen bookmaker.
- You place a bet of £100, which would result in a profit of 1.95 is Arsenal win.
- If the game is a draw or Chelsea win, you lose your £100 stake.
3. Lay Your Bet
So now that the qualifying bet has been placed, you now need to head over to a betting exchange to lay the bet off. Let’s say that you use Betfair in this respect, which typically has the most liquidity in the exchange space.
- The ‘back’ price of Arsenal winning is 1.95, and the ‘lay’ price is 1.97.
- We can ignore the back price, as this means that we would be betting on Arsenal to win.
- Instead, we are interested in the lay price, which means that we would win our betting as long as Arsenal doesn’t win.
- As such, a winning outcome at Betfair would be a draw or Chelsea win.
Now, the overarching objective here is to place a lay bet at an amount that allows us to minimize the loss of our qualifying bet. Don’t worry, the loss will be minute, and it allows us to get our £100 free bet once the game has finished.
You are advised to use a matched betting sites calculator to ascertain what your lay stake should be. You simply need to enter the ‘back’ price that you got at the respective bookmaker, the ‘lay’ price available at the betting exchange, and the size of your qualifying bet. In this example – at lay odds of 1.97, we would need to stake £98.51.
To clarify, we have placed a £100 qualifying bet on Arsenal to win at your chosen bookmaker, at odds at 1.95. We have also placed a £98.51 lay bet at Betfair, at odds of 1.97. This means that our total stake is £198.51.
Here are the two possible outcomes of your bet:
- ARSENAL WIN the game, so your £100 qualifying bet returns £195. However, you lost £98.51 at Betfair by laying Arsenal. As such, although you made £95 profit at the bookmaker, your £98.51 loss at Betfair results in a total loss of £3.51.
- If the game is a DRAW or CHELSEA WIN, you would win £96.48 (including commission) at Betfair, but you’d lose your original £100 qualifying bet at the bookmaker. As such, your total loss is £3.51.
As you can see from the above example, no matter what happened in the Arsenal vs Chelsea game, we made a guaranteed loss of £3.51. So that begs the question – why on earth would we want to make a guaranteed loss of £3.51? The answer to this question is that it allows us to get our £100 free bet, as we’ve met the terms and conditions by making a qualifying bet!
4. Lock in Guarantee Profits From Your Free bet
So now that your qualifying bet has settled, the bookmaker will credit your account with a £100 free bet. While you are free to use the bonus funds however you wish, we at WinnerSports would suggest locking in a guaranteed profit by matching your selection. The process works largely the same as the qualifying bet example we gave above, although this time – you will be using your free bet, as opposed to real-world money.
Now let’s look at an example of how you would guarantee a risk-free profit.
Note: Most matching betting sites will not return your stake if a free bet wins. For example, if you placed a £100 bet at 3.0, you would only receive £200 back – and not the initial £100 stake!
- You decide to place your free bet on Wolves beating Manchester United at odds of 4.0.
- Your £100 stake means that you would win £300 if Wolves win, and nothing if they don’t.
Now that your free bet has been placed, you head over to Betfair to lay the bet off.
- The lay odds on Wolves winning are 4.2 at Betfair.
- As such, your matched betting calculator tells you to place a lay stake of £72.29.
- This means that were Wolves to win, you would need to payout £72.29 at odds of 4.2, which amounts to a total ‘liability’ of £231.33.
Now that both bets have been placed, let’s look at the two possible outcomes from the matched betting service.
- If WOLVES WIN, your back bet of £100 at 4.0 would return £300 (remember you don’t get the stake back from a winning free bet). At the same time, you would lose £231.33 at Betfair. As such, your total profit would be £68.67.
- If the game is a DRAW or MANCHESTER UNITED WIN, then you would lose your £100 free bet, albeit, it was free, so you didn’t really lose anything. However, you would then win your lay bet at Betfair, which would amount to a total profit of £68.67 (including commission).
As you can see from the above example, it didn’t matter what the outcome of the Wolves vs Manchester United game was, as you made £68.67 in profit! Of course, you would need to subtract the initial £3.51 that you lost from your qualifying bet, so your overall profit was actually £65.16.
The example that we at WinnerSports have provided in this article amounts to just one matched betting websites free bet. Crucially, you can repeat the above process every time you sign up with a new online betting site and claim a welcome bonus!