Beginner •  New Customers  •  Quick & Easy

What is Matched Betting or Bet Matching?

Matched betting, or bet matching is a betting technique used by people to profit from free bets and cashback offers made available by bookmakers. Bookmakers entice new customers by offering them free bets when they register a new account, and deposit money. Matched betting uses basic maths, and some calculations to convert the value of a free bet into profit or cash.

It is generally considered risk-free as it is based on the application of a mathematical equation rather than chance.Wikipedia

How much money can I make?

By signing up to bookmakers and converting the free bets you obtain just for signing up, you could realistically make anywhere around the £1000 mark within a few weeks. Remember that introductory free bets given to you for signing up to a bookmaker are only available once, limited to new customers only. By taking your matched betting to the next level, and capitalising on ongoing offers and cashback specials, you could make around £1000 in additional income each month.

The best part is that this is all tax free, as stated by HMRC. If you master both of these levels and are very serious about your sports trading, you could make anywhere in the region of £25,000 to £100,000 a year as a sports arbitrage trader. We provide advice for everyone on this site, from a novice who has just become aware of this technique to an advanced sports trader, who has been banned by bookmakers but makes money from odds drifting and shortening.

Is it Legal?

Yes, its 100% legal, provided that you are over 18. Please also be aware that you are not allowed duplicate accounts with the same bookmaker. And you are only allowed to bet in specific countries, with the UK being one of them of course!


What’s the risk?

Our biggest pet hate is when people on the internet say that matched betting is 100% risk-free. We disagree, and we want to set the record straight. For as long as you deposit money, and place your money on a betting outcome, there are risks. Granted, these are ever so minimal risks, as you cover all possible outcomes with matched betting, but they still do exist. This is why it is so important that you gain a understanding into how odds are calculated, why they might change, and a basic understanding in the sport you bet on. On this site, you will find many resources clearly explaining many different ways to make money from matched betting, and training you into becoming a better sports trader, all free of charge.

How does it work?

A ‘back’ bet

Betting for a certain outcome to happen. Eg. “I bet Man Utd will win” is a backing bet. If this happens, you win and receive your winnings. If Man Utd lose or draw, you lose your stake. You place a back bet at any bookmaker, e.g. Bet365, Stan James, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes etc.

A ‘lay’ bet

Betting against a certain outcome to happen. Eg. “I bet Man Utd 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 or Betdaq.

Matched betting uses these basic principles to cancel out the risk, by covering all possible outcomes. When you sign up to a bookmaker, and place a bet you risk your ‘back’ bet. However, if you ‘lay’ against your ‘back’ bet, then they cancel each other out. We will go into this in further detail, explaining how odds affects things.
After placing your first ‘qualifying’ bet with a bookmaker, you will be given a free bet by the bookmaker. This is where the profit is made. If you repeat this process, using a matched betting calculator (available on this site) you will guarantee yourself a profit.

Step by Step Guide


Sign Up to a Betting Exchange

A betting exchange is a marketplace where you can bet on events to happen with other people. It’s peer to peer, and odds are determined by the flow of money. Betting exchanges do not set odds.

Whilst you can ‘back’ and ‘lay’ selections on a betting exchange, we are only concerning with ‘laying’ a selection.

Recommended betting exchanges:

Register on Betfair*

Register on BetDaq

* Important note, Betfair have two separate sections to their business. They are a bookmaker ( betfair sportsbook) and a betting exchange ( betfair exchange)


Sign Up to a Bookmaker (for a free bet)

Most bookmakers give new customers a free bet for joining their site. They state terms & conditions that you need to meet in order to obtain your free bet. These terms include; entering a bonus code e.g. CASH25, depositing a minimum amount of money, the minimum odds you can bet on, and rollover requirements.

We have read through the terms and conditions provided by each bookmaker and made it simple for you to see how you can obtain your free bet.

Please join bookmakers recommended by us, as they are tried and tested. Some bookmakers (not included in our list) have created sneaky ways to make it hard for you to profit from a free bet or bonus funds. They do so by having high rollover requirements on bonuses, meaning you have to bet through your bonus several times before you can withdraw it.


Change odds to decimal odds

The terms odds and prices will be used interchangeably throughout this site, as they mean exactly the same thing. In simple terms, they are numbers representing the probability of an event happening.

Odds are presented in 2 major formats in the UK; fractional, decimal

Fractional Odds (traditional)

Favoured by bookmakers in the UK & Ireland, these traditional odds have been around for many years. They quote the total amount to be won by the backer, not including their stake.

For example 2/1, 3/1, 4/1

Decimal Odds

These odds differ from fractional odds in that they include your stake used to calculate your total return. As the number ‘1’ represents your stake in decimal odds, you will never see decimal odds below 1.01.

For example 1.61, 2, 2.5, 2.87

Bookmakers usually automatically set all odds to fractional. We recommend to go to settings on your account, or on the home page. And change odds from fractional to decimal.

Betting exchanges use decimal odds to display the latest prices. This is why we recommend changing the style of odds on the bookmaker side.


Find & place your qualifying bet

 Now you are ready to back and lay a selection. You want to back something with the bookmaker that has similar odds to those available to lay on the betting exchange.

Most bookmakers say that you have to bet at odds of evens or greater, which in decimal odds is 2.0.

For example

Back £50 @ 5.5 on Encantar to win

Lay £52.5 @ 5.2 on Encanton not to win

Possible outcomes: 

If Encantar WINS

‘Back’ bet wins = £50 x 5.5 (including stake) = £275

£50 x 4.5 (not including stake) = + £225

‘Lay’ bet loses = £52.5 x 4.2 (not including stake) = – £220.5

TOTAL PROFIT / LOSS = £225 – £220.5 = £4.50

If Encantar LOSES

‘Back’ bet loses = – £50

‘Lay’ bet loses = +£52.5 minus commission of 5% = £49.88



Claim your free bet

After placing the qualifying bet and risking a very minimal amount of money, you will now be given a free bet.

Now, the important bit, converting the free bet into profit. Please bear in mind that with free bets most bookmakers do not return stakes with winnings. With your qualifying bet, your stake was returned to you with any winnings. This affects how we convert the free bet into profit.

When you choose a selection to back with our free bet, you want the odds to be high, such as above 5.0. This is because if you choose a selection with low odds of 2.5, your stake (which won’t be returned) will represent a large part of your total returns. Whereas, by choosing a selection with high odds, your stake will then represent a small part of your total returns. This affects the profitability significantly.

You will also need to use our Matched Betting Calculator, to calculate the size of your lay bet. As a general rule you can convert around 75% of the total value of a free bet into actual profit.

In the below example, a £25 free bet is converted into £19.91 total profit.


Repeat the process with another bookmaker

Simply find another bookmaker offering an introductory free bet, and make sure you check their terms and conditions. Repeat this process, and you will soon be well on your way to £1000.

Best of Luck! If you have any questions, please either comment below or drop us a message!