Make money from Matched Betting (full guide)

bag of moneyNow, 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

student thinking
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.

Article in the Guardian on matched betting

Piece by The Guardian on making money from free bets

Positive comments

One of many comments on this page by other readers

I make no apologies for the length of this guide! You'll need some patience and about 30 minutes to spare. Bookmark it if you want to come back later.

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!".

Matched Betting Header

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.

smiley_faceFollowing 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.

poundsign_shakyIn 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?

question_markAnyone 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. Join my free mailing list and leave a comment at the bottom if you need any help.

  1. Sign up for

    Betfair logo whiteBetfair is a betting exchange where you can 'lay' bets to cancel out your risk at the bookmakers.

    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).

    Register on

  2. Sign up for

    Paddy Power betThe 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).

    Register on

  3. Use decimal odds

    Once you've logged into, 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!

    Choose Decimal Odds

    Found bottom of left sidebar

  4. Find & place your qualifying bet

    Ideally you want to find a sporting bet (I recommend football) which has the closest odds on both (the bet to back) and (the lay 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".

    Betfair 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!

    My example

    I used the automatcher below which suggested a football match between Everton and West Brom. So I put "Everton v West Brom" in the search boxes on PaddyPower and Betfair which quickly threw out the Match Odds (ie. Win-Draw-Lose) on both sites.

    I will back Everton at with odds of 1.61 and lay that same bet on with odds of 1.60.

    Choosing the odds

    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:

    Matched Bet Betslips

    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.

    Get bonus tips & notifications

  5. 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).

  6. 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).

    My example

    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.

    You'll see below that I am backing Algeria to win on PaddyPower (5.0 odds) and then I'm laying that bet (for Algeria not to win) at Betfair (4.9 odds).

    Choosing the odds again

    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:

    betting slips using 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.

  7. 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.

    My matched betting profit

    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 :)

More Free Bets

chart risingIf 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

BookieDepositFree betMin. oddsClaim offer
William Hill£10£201.20Claim Now »
Sky Bet£5£202.00Claim Now »
Ladbrokes£100£1001.50Claim Now »
Coral£5£251.50Claim Now »
Betdaq£30£302.00Claim Now »
Betfred£25£252.00Claim Now »
WinnerSports£5£202.00Claim Now »
888sport£10*£882.00Claim Now »
188Bet£50£501.50Claim Now »
Tote sport£5£102.00Claim Now »
Betway£50£501.75Claim Now »
BetAtHome£30£151.70Claim Now »
Betfair Sportsbook (not exchange)£10£301.20Claim Now »
Paddy Power£5£201.50Claim Now »

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?

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.

Leave a comment

615 Responses to “Make money from Matched Betting (full guide)”

  1. Tom

    18. Nov, 2014

    Hi Jake,

    Great guide and I was thinking of trying this for the first time. What would you consider a good profit for one of these free bets?
    e.g. if the best showing up at the moment is £13 profit or so for paddy power, or £70 for ladbrokes, is it worth waiting until something better is available, or is this as much as I can reasonably expect to make?


    • Jake Butler

      18. Nov, 2014

      Hi Tom, around £13-15 for PaddyPower and £70 for Ladbrokes is pretty decent.

  2. Steve

    17. Nov, 2014

    If I have already signed up to betfair exchange to do previous bets then is it still possible to get the free £30 from betfair?

    • Jake Butler

      17. Nov, 2014

      Hi Steve, unfortunately not.

  3. Thomas

    16. Nov, 2014

    I am just wondering why you need to ‘lay’ the first bet? If you are guaranteed to make a loss on it by ‘lay’-ing it then why not just use the qualifying bet on a normal match (e.g Chelsea to win) and then only lay the resulting free bet? You cant then make a loss on the first bet at all as worst case is you go back to 0 and still have the free bet to use later? Or am i missing something?

    • Jake Butler

      17. Nov, 2014

      You lay the first bet so that you minimise your potential losses (and therefore take away the gambling aspect). If you didn’t match it you could potentially lose the whole bet (as opposed to a few pennies) and then end up without an overall profit (or a lower overall profit) at the end.

  4. Hanny

    15. Nov, 2014

    I was just wondering what was the best way to use my qualifying bet for betfair (I have to bet £10 at 1.2 to get my freebet)
    I am told to put my £5 qualifying bet using paddy power but only £4.85 with betfair which means I won’t qualify for free bet on betfair. or should I just place a random bet first to qualify before I start match betting?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Jake Butler

      16. Nov, 2014

      Hi Hanny, to get the free Betfair bet I believe you have to use the “sportsbook” section of the site. It’s best to treat this as a seperate bet. In other words you will need to make a £10 sportsbook bet and then match it in the Betfair exchange.

      After that bet has settled you can then move onto the Paddy Power bet.

  5. Oliver Bayer

    14. Nov, 2014

    Is there a reason Bet Victor were left of the list with their free £25 bet or? Thank you very much for a very helpful guide!

    • Jake Butler

      17. Nov, 2014

      Hi Oliver, we chose not to list the offer for now as the T&Cs changed regularly. We’ll look into adding it in future though.

  6. Magda

    14. Nov, 2014

    Hey! I wanted to try this method but for some unknown reason betfair insists that I already have an account on their site??? And I DON’T??? Any idea what’s up with that??

    • Jake Butler

      16. Nov, 2014

      Hi Magda, I’d suggest talking to their customer support about this.

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