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Make Money

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 using matched betting. And I've got company too after walking a good friend through this technique.

The result is this guide, where I'll share the exact steps with you too. It includes screenshots and a free oddsmatcher tool.

Why should I trust this guide?

What I'm teaching you here is a completely legal, tried-and-tested method called 'matched betting'. Matched betting 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 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 if unsure of anything.

I'll be taking you through the 'need-to-knows' then showing you how I made £17.73 in 20 minutes in a full-blown example.

matched betting article in The Guardian

Piece by The Guardian on making money from free bets

Positive comments

One of many comments on this page by other readers

What is Matched Betting?

Matched betting is a technique that mathematically generates a profit from free bet promotions offered by betting companies. Almost all bookmakers advertise these offers to entice new customers to place bets with them.

For example, "bet £25 with us and we'll give you a £25 free bet!".

free bets matched betting

How does matched betting work?

Firstly, you don't need to know all the betting terminology if you follow the steps below. But it's important 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, Betfred 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) at a betting exchange. In other words, you are 'matching' your bet.

Following your first or 'qualifying' real money bet, you will 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 will be in 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 £30 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.

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 you need to double-check everything and follow the steps exactly. On rare occasions free bets do not always come through right away, so be patient and always abide by the promotion's terms.

Once you've understood the process and successfully followed the steps below, you can continue matched betting at other online bookies with free bet offers (see my table at end) which can help you earn extra money.

It's also worth knowing that depositing at gambling websites does not affect your credit rating.

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7 steps to matched betting profit

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 often results in costly mistakes for novices. Below I outline exactly the steps I follow, using the practical example of one 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. You'll also find using a desktop computer far easier than on mobile!

  1. Open a Betfair exchange account

    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

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  2. Open a William Hill account

    Free bet

    One of the best offers right now is with William Hill who are offering £30 free bets on new sign ups when you bet just £10 (don't worry we'll be matching this too). So we'll be using this 'bookie' in this practical example.

    Always check the full T&Cs of receiving free bet offers. There may be some restrictions on what you can bet on or an expiry date.

    New customers only, min £10 stake, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 3 x £10, free bets credited after settlement of first qualifying bet, free bets will expire 30 days after the qualifying bet is placed, payment method/player/country restrictions apply.

    During registration, enter the promo code R30. You will be prompted to make a deposit. Choose one of the many payment types and deposit just £10 (needed to unlock the free bet).

    Register on William Hill

  3. Use decimal odds

    Once you've logged into William Hill, change your odds display from fractions to decimal for easy comparison with Betfair. You can do this from the link in the top menu across the site. This is essential!
    Choose Decimal Odds

  4. Find and place your qualifying bet

    Ideally you want to find a sporting bet (I recommend football) which has the closest odds on both William Hill (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 "Exchange".
    Betfair ExchangeFor this free bet offer, William Hill'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 4.0 if possible.

    See my example below then use the Oddsmatcher tool which does everything for you!

    My example

    I used the Oddsmatcher below which suggested a football match between Bolton and Cambridge. So I went to find this game on William Hill and Betfair (we want the "90 Minutes" market on William Hill and "Match Odds" on Betfair).

    Tip: Use the search functions to find a game quickly (side menu on William Hill, top menu on Betfair).

    I will back Bolton to win at William Hill with odds of 2.15 and lay that same bet on Betfair with odds of 2.14.
    Choosing the odds
    In my example bet, the difference is 0.01 which the Oddsmatcher calculated as giving me a small acceptable loss of 23p on this qualifying bet.

    Here are my betting slips on both websites for my qualifying bet:
    Matched Bet Betslips

    Oddsmatcher tool (Qualifying bet)

    Use the Oddsmatcher tool below. This will save you a LOT of time and maximise your overall profit.

    It fetches live odds from William Hill 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.

Mobile users: The widget may not work properly. Use on a desktop if possible or open widget in a new window.

Get instant bonus tips & more free bets:

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  1. Claim your free bet

    In my Bolton v Cambridge game, Bolton won 2-1. So my profit of £11.50 ended up in William Hill. Meanwhile I lost the "Liability" amount of £11.73 on the lay bet with Betfair.

    The total amount between the accounts is therefore 23p, the "acceptable loss" as predicted by the Oddsmatcher.

    As I have placed and seen through the £10 qualifying bet, I now have a £30 free bet! I also have my £10 stake and £11.50 profit sitting in my William Hill account (£21.50).

    My Betfair account is down to £8.27 (my initial deposit of £20 - £11.73).

    The free bets of £30 will be credited to your William Hill account.

  2. Find & place a new bet

    We're basically going to repeat the process in step 4, but using the £30 free bet instead of the £10.

    The £30 free bet will usually be received as 2 x £15 or 3 x £10 free bets, so simply place them on the same event as separate bets.

    This time it's worth picking odds greater than 2.5 to maximise your profit. 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 Oddsmatcher (embedded below) which suggested a football match between PSG and Barcelona. The odds are above 2.5 and happen to be the same for both websites.

    You'll see below that I am backing Barcelona to win on William Hill (2.62 odds) and then I'm laying that bet (for Barcelona not to win) at Betfair (2.62 odds).
    Choosing the odds again

    On Betfair I already had £8.27 remaining from the first bet, so I deposited £25 to more than cover my calculated Liability (total £33.27).

    Here are my bet slips on both websites for my free bet (I placed 2 of the same bet on William Hill since they split my £30 free bet into 2 x £15 bets):

    betting slips using free betThe Oddsmatcher below calculated that I'll make a clear profit of £17.96, whatever happens. Nice.

    Oddsmatcher 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.

    Mobile users: The widget may not work properly. Use on a desktop if possible or open widget in a new window.
  3. Withdraw the profit

    Whatever the outcome, you will now be in profit to the amount calculated in the Oddsmatcher. Now it's time to cash out!

    In my example of the PSG v Barcelona game, the score ended in a draw at 1-1. This means my lay bet on Betfair won (because Barcelona did not win) with a return of £18.91 (the "Lay Stake").

    Meanwhile I lost the £30 free bet on William Hill (which obviously wasn't my money).

    After Betfair's small 5% commission on my £18.91 winnings, I'm left with £17.96. This is exactly the amount of profit calculated for me by the Oddsmatcher.

    My matched betting profit
    My total profit from both matched bets, accounting for the 23p loss on my £10 qualifying bet, totals £17.73. I spent just under 20 minutes on the whole process, as I move onto the countless other free bets out there (best listed below). Beats stacking shelves…

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Matched betting offers

If you are confident enough with the process of matched betting and eager to make more profit, 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. All offers are 18+. Always check the full T&Cs.

Important: Unlock ALL free bets

The table below is just the tip of the iceberg. Lots more free bet offers come and go, never making it to this page. Every day I scout around for any new ones, and share them only with those on my email list.

You'll also be invited to my Private Facebook Group. Don't miss out, join now:

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Current free bet total: £420

Free bet offers

BookmakerDepositFree betMin. oddsGuide
cor £5 £20 1.50 Claim »
lad £5 £20 1.50 Claim »
willhill £10 £30 1.50 Claim »
Smarkets £20 £20 1.01 Claim »
PP £10 £10 1.50 Claim »
bw £20 £20 1.50 Claim »
8sport £10 £30 1.50 Claim »
10b £50 £50 1.60 Claim »
betw £10 £10 1.75 Claim »
boy £10 £20 2.00 Claim »
unib £40 £40 1.40 Claim »
sky £5 £20 2.00 Claim »
b36 £10 £50 1.20 Claim »
fred £10 £30 2.00 Claim »

Click for even more free bets »

Note: Although the greatest care is taken and these free bets are reviewed 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.

Matched betting services

Since I first wrote this tutorial, there has been a massive growth in other websites dedicated to helping you maximise earnings from matched betting.

They have really active communities, dozens of automated and tracking tools, multiple sports and most importantly daily existing customer offers to sustain the potential to keep making money beyond new customer offers.

Head over to my review of the best matched betting sites to see what’s on offer.

Matched betting FAQs

Is matched betting legal?

Matched betting is completely legal in the UK. It takes advantage of a loophole between betting exchanges and bookmakers, but neither of them lose out because not backing or laying elsewhere has no influence on their result from your matched bet.

Some people assume matched betting is illegal because it’s almost too good to be true. But it’s legit (assuming you’re over 18)!

How can I keep track of my bets?

You can signup here for information on some nifty software we are about to launch that tracks all your matched betting activity!

How do I find more free bets?

Bookies also offer existing customers free bets and bonuses, called ‘reload offers’. These are designed to keep their customers coming back to them.

There are also more signup offers that come and go. I check for these daily but don’t add them to this page as it’d get even longer!

To get the latest offers simply subscribe to my email list or see matched betting sites.

Why does Betfair say my bet has been “Unmatched” or “Partially Matched”?

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:

unmatched bet

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.

Can I enter my own figures in the calculator tool?

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 Matched Betting 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.

How does a bet refund offer work?

You’ll notice some promotions refund your qualifying bet if it loses (‘risk free’), rather than giving you a free bet after making a qualifying bet.

The calculations are a little different, so use our special bet refund calculator.

Most refunds are given in the form of a free SNR bet, but occasionally it can be given as cash. Each needs its own strategy which we’ll cover below.

Cash refund

The calculator is straightforward to use: type in the stake of the bet, the back/lay odds as usual and the full refund value in the ‘Refund amount’ box.

Free bet refund

Here the idea is to lay less on the exchange than we normally would as we have something to gain if the bookie bet loses (ie. a free bet).

If it wins, we’re done. If it loses, we need to use the free bet to compensate for our losses. Either way we’ll make roughly the same profit.

Typically we’ll be able to extract 70-75% of the free bet value into cash and so we’ve pre-adjusted the refund amount to 70% in the calculator to reflect this.

Can I register multiple accounts?

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.

Do existing users get free bet offers?

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 (‘reload offers’), 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.

Join my list to get these reload offers each week here.

A bookie's offer is different to what’s in the guide. Help?

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.

I haven’t received my free bet. What do I do?

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).

Will matched betting affect my credit rating?

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).

How can I lay accumulators?

If you’re looking to lay off accumulator bets you’ll need this spreadsheet.

Pick events that are at least half an hour apart because you’re going to lay each selection of a bet one at a time, depending on the outcome of the earlier leg.

The idea is if any leg on the accumulator bet loses you stop laying on Betfair. If it wins you keep going.

  1. Enter your bookmaker stake under “Back Stake”.
  2. Under “Multiple Type” select what kind of bet it is (e.g. treble, four-fold etc).
  3. In cells E4 to E6, enter the description of each leg on the accumulator bet – ideally in chronological order. (So you don’t confuse yourself!)
  4. Enter the bookmaker odds for each selection in cells F4 to F6.
  5. Enter the exchange lay odds in cells G4 to G6.
  6. Enter the lay commission in cells I4 to I6.

The required lay stake for the first leg the acca will be shown in cell K4. If it loses (on the bookmaker side), you’re done. If it wins, continue to lay off the second leg as calculated in K5.

Keep going until a leg on the bookmaker side loses, and remember to lay as advised between each leg. Forgetting to lay between legs (even just once) could be a very expensive mistake!

How do I report incorrect information or bugs?

Please use the contact form.

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 matched betting steps then you use it at your own risk! Whilst matched betting is mathematically risk free, risk can be introduced by human error and in some rare instances bookmakers may withhold bonuses if they believe you have breached their terms so always read them carefully.

gamcare     gambleaware


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