Make money from Matched Betting (full guide)
Now, I'm not a gambler by any means. But I have made enough money from bookmakers in just six months to pay for an £860 flight (return) to Australia. And I've got some company too after walking a good friend through this risk-free technique.
The result is this guide, where I'll share the exact steps with you too, including screenshots and a free tool.
Why should I trust this guide?
What I'm teaching you here is a completely legal, tried-and-tested method called 'matched betting'. It basically allows you to turn the tables on the bookmakers to extract their free bet offers.
Matched betting is legal and a spokesperson for William Hill has indicated that the betting industry does not have a problem with this use of free bets – Wikipedia
I've used it myself for several years and have never lost any money doing it, but I have taken my time and been very careful to avoid making mistakes. Do not rush this guide – make sure you understand it 100% before depositing any money, and please ask any questions in the comments if unsure of anything.
I'll be taking you through the 'need-to-knows' then showing you how I made £15 in 30 minutes in a full-blown example.
There are websites out there that charge you handsomely for this information, but you don't need to pay here. Put half an hour aside, read this guide carefully, and you'll have made your first matched bet and up to £20 profit.
What is Matched Betting?
Matched betting is a way of squeezing out the many free bets offered by bookmakers. All the bookies promote these offers (especially during big sporting events) to entice new gamblers to place bets with them.
For example, "bet £25 with us and we'll give you a £25 free bet!".
How does it work?
Firstly, you don't need to know all the betting terminology if you follow the steps below, but it's important that you know two types of bet which allow matched betting to work:
A 'back' bet
Betting for a certain outcome to come true. Eg. "I bet England will win" is a backing bet. If it comes true, you win the bet and the winnings. If England lose or draw, you lose your stake. You can place a back bet at any bookmaker, such as Paddy Power, William Hill, Ladbrokes etc.
A 'lay' bet
Betting against a certain outcome to come true. Eg. "I bet England will not win" is a lay bet. If they lose or draw, you win the bet. You can only place a lay bet at a betting exchange such as Betfair.
Matched betting works by cancelling out the risk on the 'back' bet at the online bookies by betting against yourself at the same odds (know as 'laying' a bet) which you can do at a betting exchange. In other words, you are 'matching' your bet.
Following your first or 'qualifying' bet, you will then be awarded the free bet by the bookmaker. This is where the profit is made. Quite simply, you repeat the process: bet using the free bet and then lay the bet. Whatever the result you are guaranteed to make a profit (which I'll be demonstrating below).
How much profit can I make?
For each matched bet, you will be left with up to 95% of the free bet amount as profit. This is because betting exchanges usually charge a commission of 5% on winnings. You may also make a very small loss on the qualifying bet due to the minor difference in odds on each website. This is normal, and you will recoup this when you use the free bet.
In the steps below I'll show you how to profit from a £20 free bet using a real life example. Replicate the same steps across the hundreds of free bet offers each year and you can quickly be looking at £1,000s. Personally I have made just over £1,200 in 18 months from matched betting alone.
And it's worth pointing out, earnings from the gambling industry are currently tax-free.
What's the risk?
Anyone can learn how to do matched betting and, in theory, there is no risk involved because you are covering yourself by betting for and against the same event.
However the risk comes when mistakes are made so, once again, you need to double-check everything and follow the steps exactly. On rare occasions free bets do not always come through right away, so just be patient.
Once you've understood the process and been successful by following the steps below, you can then continue matched betting at many other online bookies with free bet offers (see my table at end) which can quite quickly land you a lot of money without risk.
It's also worth knowing that depositing at gambling websites does not affect your credit rating.
Your First Profit in 7 steps
Note: This is literally a step-by-step, hold-your-hand kind of guide. There's lots of fragmented information out there on forums etc, which can often result in costly mistakes for novices. Below I outline exactly the steps I follow, using the practical example of one PaddyPower free bet. So long as you follow word for word, you can't go wrong. I strongly suggest reading through all the steps first before making any bets. Leave a comment at the bottom if you need any help.
Sign up for Betfair.com
Unlike traditional bookmakers, Betfair is a place where you bet against other people.
They sometimes even offer free bets for new customers too (if you're lucky).
Sign up for PaddyPower.com
The best offer by far right now is with Paddy Power who are offering £20 free bets on new sign ups when you bet just £5 (don't worry we'll be matching this too). So we'll be using this 'bookie' in this practical example.
Always check the T&Cs of receiving free bet offers. There may be some restrictions on what you can bet on or an expiry date.
They will also tell you whether or not the free bet is returned with winnings. In this example and generally speaking it is not, but we'll still be making a nice profit.
During registration, you will be prompted to make a deposit. Choose one of the many payment types and deposit just £5 (needed to unlock the free bet).
Use decimal odds
Once you've logged into PaddyPower.com, change your odds display from fractions to decimal for easy comparison with Betfair. You can do this from the selection in the sidebar across the site. This is essential!
Find & place your qualifying bet
Lay odds on Betfair are the red boxes, not the blue. If you cannot see any red boxes, you need to go to the exchange by clicking the top left link "Go to Exchange" or "Exchange".
For this free bet offer, PaddyPower's terms state you must pick odds of 1.5 or greater. It's better to choose a bet with low odds for this step, between 1.5 and 3.0 if possible.
See my example below then use the automatcher tool which does everything for you!
I used the automatcher below which suggested a football match between Everton and West Brom. I will back Everton at PaddyPower.com with odds of 1.61 and lay that same bet on Betfair.com with odds of 1.60.
In my example bet, the difference is 0.01 which the automatcher calculated as giving me a small acceptable loss of 7p on this qualifying bet.
Here are my betting slips on both websites for my qualifying bet:
Automatcher tool (Qualifying bet)
Use the automatcher tool below (which replaces my spreadsheet). This will save you a LOT of time and maximise your overall profit.
It fetches live odds from PaddyPower and finds the equivalent lay odds on Betfair for thousands of upcoming football matches.
The hardest part is also done for you, which is to calculate the best matches for your qualifying bet based on the closest possible odds and smallest loss. Feel free to switch between them and the steps and calculations will be updated (below the table).
Just click the blue refresh icon to start and then follow the 4 steps.
Claim your free bet
In my Everton v. West Brom game, Everton won 2-1. So my return of £8.08 ended up on my PaddyPower account. Meanwhile I lost the £3.11 (my "Liability") on my Betfair account. The total amount between the accounts is therefore £4.97, which is a loss of 3p (marginally less than the 7p estimate, due to some tiny differences we don't have to worry about).
Now I have placed and seen through the £5 qualifying bet, I now have a £20 free bet!
This gives me a total credit of £28.08 in PaddyPower, but I'm only going to use the £20 free bet and will withdraw the rest later. My Betfair account is down to £6.89 (my initial deposit of £10 – £3.11) and will need topping up for the next bet (see below).
So whatever your outcome, because you matched the bets, you will have close to your £5 back between the 2 websites (minus the small loss we expected).
The free bet of £20 will be credited to your PaddyPower account (if not after 24 hours, contact customer services 08000 565 275).
Find & place a new bet
We're basically going to repeat the process in step 4, but using the £20 free bet instead of the £5.
Update: If you receive 4 x £5 free bets, simply place all of them on the same event but as separate bets.
This time it's worth picking odds greater than 3.0 to maximise your profit, but just bear in mind that the higher they are the more you'll need to have in your Betfair account to lay it (see the "Liability" amount in the tool below).
I used the next step of the automatcher (embedded below) which suggested a football match between Algeria and Ivory Coast. The odds are above 3.0 and have only a 0.1 difference between the websites.
On Betfair I already had £6.89 remaining from the first bet, so I deposited £58 to more than cover my calculated Liability (total £64.89).
Here are my bet slips on both websites for my free bet:
The automatcher below calculated that I'll make a clear profit of £15.67, whatever happens. Nice
Automatcher tool (Free bet)
Just click the blue refresh icon to start and then follow the 3 steps.
Once again, feel free to switch between the matches in the table and the calculations will be updated.
Cash out the profit
Whatever the outcome, you will now be in profit to the amount calculated in the automatcher. Now it's time to cash out!
In my example of the Algeria v. Ivory Coast game, the score ended in a draw at 2-2. This means that I lost my £20 free bet on PaddyPower (because I backed Algeria to win) and the winnings of the matched bet totalling £16.49 ended up in Betfair. Once you deduct Betfair's 5% commission on winnings I'm left with £15.67 profit, which is exactly the amount of profit calculated for me by the automatcher.
After both matched bets, I now have £8.08 in my PaddyPower account and £80.56 in Betfair. PaddyPower will only let you withdraw a minimum of £10 (even though I didn't have to) so you may need to top it up first. I then withdrew the full Betfair balance back onto my debit card.
My total profit from both matched bets, accounting for all factors such as the 3p loss on my £5 qualifying bet, totals £15.64. I spent just under 30 minutes on the whole process, giving me an hourly rate of £31.28 if I move onto the next of many free bets out there (best listed below). Beats stacking shelves…
Please share with your friends!
If you enjoyed and profited from this guide, sharing it is the best thanks you could give. And I'm sure they'll appreciate it too
If you are confident enough with the process of matched betting and eager to make much more profit, then work through the free bet offers in the table below (ordered by ease).
The same key steps above still apply, and I've written a mini guide for each one. As always, check the terms of each offer.
Subscribe for new free bets
As you can imagine, free bet offers come and go. Most weeks I scout around for any new ones, and if I think they're worthwhile I'll add them to the table below.
But subscribe to my free bet offers list and I'll share the best ones with you before anyone else, as well as the odd extra tip.
Current free bet total: £533
|Bookie||Deposit||Free bet||Min. odds||Claim offer|
Note: Although the greatest care is taken and these free bets are researched regularly it's important that you check the full terms and conditions of each free bet offer after clicking through to the bookmaker's site.
Need help? Got a question?
What it means:
An unmatched (or partially matched) bet on Betfair basically means that you’ve ‘offered’ the lay bet but there isn’t enough money being backed to cover you in full at the odds you chose.
How to avoid it happening:
It’s a pretty rare scenario, however it’s worth checking how much money is available for any odds/price by looking below the decimal odds for the £XXX amount (in the pink boxes). You may need to click “View full market” to see this:
The amount of money shown needs to be higher than the “Backer’s Stake” figure you put in the betting slip, otherwise it won’t be fully matched. Generally speaking you want the figure to be much higher (ideally over a few hundred pounds) just to give you a nice cushion.
You also need to be quick in placing the bet, as the amount available can change in the time it takes to confirm the bet (particularly if the event is starting soon).
If the displayed amount is less than required:
You can either move on to another event/bet (recommended) or select the odds to the right at a higher price and update your calculations.
If the whole bet is unmatched:
You’ll get this notice after placing your bet if there isn’t any money available at the odds you chose.
Firstly it’s important you cancel this bet immediately, otherwise it could still be (partially) matched!
Then go back to the event page and select different odds which have enough money, ensuring to update your calculations (calculator here).
If the bet is partially matched:
In this case, you have no choice but to keep the partially matched bet and will need to match the remainder at the next odds available (check there’s enough money this time!).
It’s important to cancel the unmatched part of the bet in case it matches later without your knowledge.
If you don’t match the full amount you won’t cancel the risk of the bet with the bookmaker and could lose money. Going for slightly higher odds will have minimal impact on your total profit.
The bottom line is to make sure you’ve bet the full liability amount on Betfair to cancel out the risk with the bet at the bookmaker.
Yep you can click the settings icon (top right) to alter the Stake/Stake Not Returned/Commission amounts.
For more advanced usage, or just to play around with outcomes, use our Manual Calculator. You can also get to it via the dropdown on the tool.
I assume most people want to get the maximum free bet amount, so by default we automatically set the stake amounts etc for each bookmaker.
Yes. Whilst the free bets listed on this page are strictly for new users, every so often bookies will email you with more free bets, especially if you haven’t been on their site for a while or a big sporting event is on the horizon.
I have a separate email folder for bookmakers and scan through their promos every few days.
No, don’t do it. The bookies are extremely strict on this nowadays, and will ban you if they suspect you doing this.
They’ll check your IP, cookies, name, address and payment details at the very least. For actual terms check their site.
I do my best to maintain current offers in the table on this page, so start there. You may come across others not listed but they tend to be overly complicated or risky.
To save you checking back subscribe to my free email list here.
They can change every so often, simply adjust the figures by clicking the settings button in the tool (top right). The calculations will be updated for you.
For more flexibility, use the Manual Calculator.
Oh, and please give me a shout to update the guide.
Firstly check the terms on the bookmaker’s website. If you believe you’ve followed them you’ll need to contact their customer services (with your account details).
No it won’t since bookmakers don’t tend to perform credit checks
Nothing has ever shown up on my credit report. Whilst bookmakers may sometimes carry out a credit check on you (rare), it isn’t recorded and has no effect on your overall score.
If you want to check your credit score at any point, you can do so for free (see our guide).
Please use the contact form or leave a comment below.
For anything else, please use the comments below and I'll get back to you.
Disclaimer: Please note that neither the author nor this website accept any liability for how you use the advice given on this page. So read it carefully, and if you decide to follow the steps then you use it at your own risk! Gamble Aware.