What Is Matched Betting – Know about the betting 

Most people are familiar the term betting, but what is matched betting, how does matched betting work and can you make money from it?

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In this article we’ll find out.

In it’s simplest sense, matched betting is a betting technique used to profit from the free bets and incentives offered by bookies or bookmakers, such as Betfair, Paddy Power, Coral, Ladbrokes or a host of other well known bookmakers.

It is sometimes known as back or lay bet matching or even double betting, but most commonly it is referred to as matched betting.

Matched betting is a rare form of ‘betting’, since it is based on the application of a proven mathematical equation rather than chance or a gut feeling.

This means it is considered 100% risk free, which actually means it is not even technically betting at all.

Is match betting legal?

Yes. Absolutely.

It’s even recognised by bookmakers, who don’t have a problem with it, since at the end of the day, they still make a profit too.

Read my article on how much money you can make from matched betting each month, for an idea of how lucrative matched betting can be.

How Does Matched Betting Work?

The basic concept behind matched betting is fairly straightforward and essentially contains the following steps:

You sign up to a bookmaker (Betfred, Coral, Betfair, Ladbrokes Totesport Stan James, 888sport etc) who is offering a free bet to new customers. These free bets will essentially serve as you matched betting offers. You place the right bets to cover all possible outcomes. This will be in the form a back bet on a chosen race (i.e. to win) and a lay bet on the same race (i.e. to lose). You bank or withdraw your profit and move onto the next offer.

There’s obviously a bit more to it, but that’s pretty much the general concept.

To carry out matched betting you need two key things:

  • an account with a bookmaker that is offering a free bet
  • an account at a betting exchange.

The Bookmaker Bet

In terms of the free bookmaker bet, this is where you place your back bet in order to get free bets. You need to ensure the terms and conditions are favourable and don’t include restrictions that could negatively affect your profits or risk free strategy, such as a clause requiring you to carry out more bets before you are able to withdraw any profits.

Generally, you will find that bookmakers requite you to first place an initial bet with them with your own money before you can qualify for a free bet. For example, place a £25 bet and receive a free £25 sports bet or bet £10 and get a free £10 bet if you lose.

The Exchange Bet

The betting exchange (Betfair is a common one) is the place where you place a lay bet (i.e. the opposite result of the bet placed with the bookmaker). This offsets any potential loss made at the bookmaker and vice versa as you have ensured that whatever the outcome of the bet, you still make a profit.

This of course is a little more complex in practice, as you need to be familiar with terms such as odds, liabilities and exchange commissions, plus be able to work out how much to place as a back bet and how much to place as a lay bet, so as to ensure that you actually make a profit.

The Matched Bet (laying a bet off)

Once the bookmaker and betting exchange is set up, as per above, you place a bet on a particular result with the bookmaker and then another bet on the same result not happening on the exchange.

This offsets any loss if you lose the bet on he bookmakers, as if you lose on the bookmakers you still win via the exchange. With this initial bet using your own money there is sometimes a very small loss, but this is offset by guaranteed profits via your free bet.

Once the free bet has been credited, (this can be immediately or up to around 48 hours later depending on the bookmaker) you simply repeat the process, but this time with the free bet.

Whatever the result though, profit is guaranteed because the back bet was made free of charge. (I.e. if you lose the back bet, you lose nothing as the bet was free and you make a profit on the opposite result on the lay bet. Or if you win the back bet, this is all profit as the bet was free and so this offsets any liability loss on the lay bet.)

Keep in mind though, placing the correct amount on your lay bet, to ensure you make a profit whatever the outcome, does require a level of mathematical expertise or a dedicated matched betting calculator.

For a full step by step example of a matched bet in practice, see the matched betting example in my article on How Does Matched Betting Work?

Continued Matched Betting With Reload Offers

Matched betting doesn’t end though, once you’ve exhausted all the free bets available via bookmaker new customer signups.

You can continue with matched betting after you’ve taken advantage of these initial bookmaker signup offers, by way of reload offers. These are simply free bets and offers given out by bookmakers to people who are already customers. Generally, people new to matched betting work through all the best ‘sign-up’ offers, then once they have a healthy number of bookie accounts, they move on to the reload offers.

You do need to be mindful of the terms and conditions associated with free bets, to ensure you can successfully make a profit with it via the matched betting process. This is where a service such as Profit Accumulator or dedicated blogs can be invaluable, as they sift through the offers for you, which can save a lot of time and reduce any margin for human error.

Again you will need a certain level of expertise and mathematical knowledge or a dedicated calculator to ensure you are able to decide if the outlay on the cost to get the qualifying bet and the potential reward from the free bet is sufficient to justify the possible risk of not getting the free bet.

Reload offers are generally seen as profitable long term, as if you know what you are doing, the low risk bets to get the free bets are generally very small, whereas the potential profit from qualifying free bets is generally much much higher

What Are The Approaches to Matched Betting?

There 3 common strategies for matched betting are automatic, assisted, and manual betting.

Automatic Matched Betting

Automatic matched systems automatically scan the market, calculate the right bet to minimise the initial loss (necessary to get the free bet) and then maximise the return on the free bet.

This system will then provide instructions on how to place the bets to generate a profit. Automatic websites or software packages are usually aimed at people with little or no experience in matched betting.

Suc systems usually filter out offers where there is a mathematical chance of incurring a loss, which limits people placing money on offers where they could lose money. Automated matched betting websites typically incur membership fees and include advertising, affiliate programs and commission on winnings with a betting exchange.

Assisted Matched Betting

Assisted matched betting, usually by way of dedicated websites or software packages, provides comparison tables of markets for users to bet on. These are typically known as ‘auto-matchers’.

Auto-matchers are usually utilised by those who have some understanding of matched betting. Auto-matchers also usually provide a matched betting calculator, which is used in conjunction with the comparison table and allows you to select the type of bet, stake and bonus.

Manal Matched Betting

With manual matched betting you independently find the offers, markets and odds and then make the relevant calculations yourself.

Finding the offers and matching the right odds can be extremely time consuming and can require a considerable level of numeracy and betting knowledge.

Whilst matched betting itself is risk free, as it follows a formula, there is more risk for human error (and thus loss) via this method, which is why many people choose to use automatic or assisted betting.

What is Matched Betting? – The Bottom Line

If you’ve recently asked yourself questions such as ‘what is matched betting?’ or ‘how does matched betting work?’ and are essentially a newcomer to matched betting, in order to minimise any chance of human error as well as save a lot of time, I’d personally recommend checking out something like the Profit Accumulator Free Trial.

If you are serious about trying it on your own, however, this is of course absolutely possible, but you’ll need some time to learn the matched betting principles, as well as find the bookie free bet offers. You’ll also need to find suitable races/matches with suitable odds and of course calculate the right bets to ensure a profit.

Save The Student offers a full and comprehensive guide to doing matched betting yourself, which many people have found a great place to start.


Kieron Watson has a keen sense when it comes to card games. He also wished to travel around the world and compete with other professional players.