Welcome to my Ultimate Matched Betting Guide where I have explained in simple terms for complete beginners exactly how it works and how you can start making money from free bets and many other promotions as soon as possible.
Matched Betting is not gambling. It’s a method of intentionally making money without the risk of losing.
I’ve personally used the many elements of Matched Betting to make well over £40,000+ side income over the last 3-4 years and best of all, all profits are tax-free!
I’m hoping I can help get you started in doing the same.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate or referral links that earn me some commission if you sign up through them. However, this is at no extra cost to you. Read more here. Thank you if you do use them as they help to support my blog.
Table of Contents
Matched Betting Guide 2023
In this post, I fully explain the basics of Matched Betting, how best to get started and set yourself up as well as answering some of the most commonly asked questions.
Everything you need to know is in this guide, including how to start for free and make your first £40 Matched Betting profits.
My aim to explain Matched Betting in the most simple terms, basically Matched Betting for Dummies.
What is Matched Betting?
Matched Betting in it’s most basic form is a way of exploiting bookmakers free bet offers and other promotions for profit.
The very phrase “Matched Betting” can be immediately misleading and possibly off-putting for many people right from the start. So, let me make clear from the very beginning, Matched Betting is not gambling.
As mentioned in the references on the Matched Betting Wikipedia page it has been hitting the headlines since 2010.
It is often referred to as “no-risk matched betting” because the intention is to place multiple bets on which the final outcome will guarantee you a profit. This is assuming everything goes as intended and no mistakes are made.
Some people believe Matched Betting only applies to the initial bookmaker sign up offers.
However, they couldn’t more wrong. Bookies offer many more free bet offers to existing customers and a multitude of other promotions you can profit from even without free bets.
All the offers, simple instructions on how to complete, plus any easy-to-use tools and calculators are all provided by using simple and readily available instructions and tools found at sites such as market leader and by far my favourite Matched Betting site Outplayed.
You can read my Outplayed Review here which includes tips on maximising profits even further.
>Related post – Matched Betting Tips Maximise Profits from the start.
How Does Matched Betting Work?
The most common free bet offer is the Sign-Up offer. Now the exact offer will vary from bookmaker to bookmaker. However, as a pure example, it might be something like this:
- Bookmaker Offer: Bet £20, get £10 free bet.
To get the £10 free bet, the Matched Bettor has to first bet £20. This first bet is called the qualifying bet. It’s the £20 bet that qualifies you for the £10 free bet.
However, the qualifying bet will, in fact, involve Matched Bettors placing 2 separate bets (a back and a lay bet). They do this so there is no risk of losing that £20. The Matched Bettor will have all outcomes covered whatever the result. In doing so, they will make a very small loss, in this case, a loss of about £1.00.
This will then qualify you for the £10 free bet. It’s with the free bet that we make our profit.
To profit from the free bet, again, 2 bets in total will need to be placed, so all outcomes are covered and we make ourselves a profit.
From this type of offer, “Bet £20, get a £10 Free Bet”, you can expect to make an overall profit of £7+.
£7 might not sound much, but it really doesn’t take very long.
Some sign up offers alone offer the potential to earn £30-£70+.
Plus consider there are approximately 70 sign up offers, and even they are just the start.
Matched Betting Explained for Beginners
Most people are completely new to all aspects of Matched Betting.
So here I breakdown some of the basics and explain what they are.
What is a Back Bet?
A back bet is your typical bet. You’re backing the winner by placing money on it. Whether it’s a £10 bet on Chelsea to win, £5 on a horse to win a particular race or £1 bet with a friend on the toss of a coin being heads or tails.
If you are betting on it, you’re backing it to win. It’s a back bet.
When you go to a bookmaker, you place back bets. You bet on the outcome you expect to win.
You’d normally just call it a bet, but being a Matched Bettor, it’s important to understand the differences between the 2 types of bets you’ll be placing.
What is a Lay Bet?
The Lay Bet is the key ingredient to Matched Betting. This is what makes Matched Betting so easy and possible.
Take your time understanding this type of bet. Even regular sports gamblers may not have heard or understand what a lay bet is, even though it’s relatively simple. So don’t worry this would be new territory for many people.
Some people struggle to understand what a lay bet is, so I explain it in 2 ways.
A lay bet is
- The bet that bookmaker receives when you place a bet is them actually laying a bet.
- A bet on an outcome not to win
So firstly, when a bookmaker accepts a bet, they are in fact laying a bet.
We as punters and Matched Bettors can also lay bets via betting exchanges. effectively acting as a bookmaker.
Alternatively, if it helps in the understanding, you can think of a Lay Bet as betting on the outcome not to win. (Or if you prefer, it’s a bet on the outcome to lose or against it happening).
You can’t place lay bets at bookmakers. This is probably why people generally haven’t heard of them or understand them. We are backing a bet at bookmakers and they are laying the bet to us.
Example of a Lay Bet
The best way to explain a lay bet is with examples:
Premier League Football Match: Chelsea V Manchester United.
There are 3 possible result outcomes:
- Chelsea Win
- Manchester United Win
At an exchange, you could lay bet any one of those 3 possible outcomes. Remember, when you lay bet you are betting on the OUTCOME NOT HAPPENING.
So, if you lay bet Chelsea, you are betting on CHELSEA NOT WINNING.
You would win your lay bet if the end result of the match is a draw or Manchester win the game. If Chelsea wins the game, you would lose your lay bet.
So, in this instance, your lay bet covers 2 match results, the draw or the Manchester United win.
More On Lay Betting: For a more detailed explanation of the lay bet, including an infographic see my post on lay betting. I call the lay bet the key to Matched Betting because once you understand it you’ll see how it all works together and you can use for profit.
What is a Bookmaker?
A bookmaker is where you typically place your back bets. You might have seen them on the high streets and they all have online websites. In fact, there are lots more bookmakers online that don’t have high street shops. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go to any betting shops. All Matched Betting can be done from the comfort of your home.
The most common examples of well-known bookmakers you might already know of are William Hill, Coral, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power.
What is a Betting Exchange?
A betting exchange is exactly as it sounds, an exchange of bets. You only find betting exchanges online.
On a betting exchange, people are placing back bets at an odds price they want. Other people are placing lay bets at a price they want. If there are people willing to back and lay at the same price, the bet is matched and your bet is placed.
The betting exchange is basically matching bets with people who want to back an outcome of winning, with people who are lay betting that the outcome won’t win at that odds price.
The betting exchange is effectively a marketplace of bettors. The exchange is between individual people’s money pooled together in a market for specific outcomes on sports events. You are not betting against a bookie.
When you are on the betting exchange you will see how much money is currently available to be matched for each specific bet.
Qualifying Bets Explained
So, now you know what a back and lay bet is and a bookmaker and a betting exchange, we can get back to the mechanics of Matched Betting, starting with the Qualifying Bet.
When we place our qualifying bets, we will make a very small loss. This is fine as we make more than enough profit from the forthcoming free bet.
In order to keep the loss as low as possible, we need to find the ideal sporting event and end result to bet on, that have really close back and lay odds. To do this we use what is known as an Odds Matcher.
We take the odds info given in the Odds Matching software and put into a Matched Betting Calculator. This will tell us how much our lay stake at the exchange should be and also the qualifying loss.
What’s An OddsMatcher?
The Odds matching software is what you use to find the best matches for your qualifying bets to keep losses low and then to maximise profits from your free bets.
The Odds Matcher pulls odds data from hundreds and thousands of sporting events. It combines the back bet odds and exchange odds giving each match a rating.
The higher the rating the better the match between the bookie back bet and exchange lay odds for your qualifying bet or higher odds free bet (higher odds gives more profit for free bets). The better the match, the lower your qualifying loss will be.
OddsMatching software is really simple and easy to use. You’ll soon get the hang of it.
In the screenshot above you can see events for Bet365 bets that are close odds with what’s available at the betting exchanges. This was taken outside the football season, so there are not many bets you would recognize. Don’t worry about all the data columns for now. You will learn all that easily in time.
What is a Matched Betting Calculator?
As you can see the Matched Betting Calculator is very simple and easy to use. It’s just a matter of selecting bet type, inputting odds, stake and commission rate. The training guide and accompanying videos explain all you need to know as you go along.
How To Profit From the Free Bets
We then use the Odds Matching software and Matched Betting Calculator again, this time to calculate the lay stake for the free bet, using a different mode on the matched betting calculator.
We should expect to aim for a 75-80% profit from the value of the free bet. So, if it’s a £10, free bet, expect to profit £7.50 to £8.00
Here’s an example:
You can see have inputted the following into the free bet calculator image above:
- Bet Type: Free Bet (SNR)
- Back Stake: £10
- Back Odds: 8.0
- Lay Odds: 8.6
- Commission: 2%
The results show your lay stake, liability and the final profit position based on which bet actually wins.
So in this instance, you are guaranteed at least £7.98 profit, possible £8.00 if lay exchange bet wins.
You can find a more in-depth explanation and examples in my how to make money from free bets post.
How Many Matched Betting Offers Are There?
There are two types of Matched Betting offers.
Sign Up Offers
At any one time, there’s approximately 70 sign up offers to take advantage of and make a profit from. These offers involve you signing up to each individual bookie or casino and taking advantage of the initial, and usually quite lucrative sign-up offer. However, that is just the start.
When most of the “Sign Up Offers” have been completed, you move on to what are known as “Reload Offers”. At any one time, there might be 40-50+ individual reload offers available a day. All with full instructions on how to complete them.
A typical reload offer might be something simple like “Bet £20 get £10 free bet”. However, there are a wide variety of possible reload bets.
In addition to the individual reload offers there are also groups of offer types all of which you can take advantage of. For example:
- Horse Refunds
- Football Refunds
- Accumulator Refunds
- Sharbing Refunds
- NFL, NBA and other American Sports Refunds
- Golf, Tennis, Rugby, Darts Refunds
Attempting these will open up the opportunity to take advantage of many more reload offers. All using the easy to use software provided. Match Catcher for horse refunds and Acca Catcher for accumulators.
Check my Bet365 Free Bets post to see a guide to how much you can make from the sign-up reloads from just this one online bookmaker.
Matched Betting Casino Offers
Although we usually start out with sports there’s also a whole range of casino and bingo offers both in the form of sign-ups and reloads.
Many of the offers are risk-free such as 10 free spins keep winnings. Risk-free is a great starting point to get into them. Once you feel more confident and have built your bank a little, low risk can also be extremely worthwhile doing.
Over time, casino offers have typically become a much bigger % of my monthly profits. Some months I have made hundreds and even thousands, see my October 2018 £4905 Income Report.
Check out my casino guide How To Make Money From Risk-Free Casino Offers and Bonuses.
Again, full instructions for each offer are provided at Outplayed.com.
Best Matched Betting Sites For Beginners
Outplayed.com is the matched betting service of choice for me and the majority of people who undertake Matched Betting.
There is a monthly or annual fee. However, you get to do 2 trial offers for free first. These will give you a feel for how easy it all works. You will make a profit from these 2 offers simply following the instructions. You can then put this profit towards a monthly or annual membership and begin your Matched Betting journey. Or alternatively, decide it’s not for you and just pocket the money and move on.
Monthly or Annual Membership?
For me, the annual membership of Outplayed.comwas a no-brainer. I paid it, then worked on just making that money back as soon as possible. Obviously, I’d already made some money from the first 2 sign up offers.
However for others, the initial smaller monthly payment might feel more comfortable to start with, and you can easily get that back from just completing 1 or 2 offers, with plenty more offers left to choose from.
The membership is cheaper now than when I joined and they have added new matched betting software, such as Acca Catcher and Match Catcher all for the same fee. Both of those and many other software tools will be of use further down the line and add greatly to your profits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully, the above guide is enough to inform most people as to whether Matched Betting is a form of extra income they want to pursue.
However, some people may have some extra questions based on things they’ve seen or heard about it from others. Here are a few of the most common questions answered.
How Much Can You Make?
It’s typically possible to make £300-£500 a month from just an hour or 2 a day’s effort. I made £800+ on average and in a result survey of results the average earnings were again in the £800 a month range.
How Much Do I Need To Start Matched Betting?
Ideally, start with at least £60+. You don’t spend this money, you use it to make more.
Personally, I’d recommend starting with a £100. It just makes it a little easier to find bets and maximize profits with slightly higher odds free bets. However, I’ve seen mention numerous times of people building decent pots of £500+ from starting with £60.
Although Outplayed’s First 2 Offers Are Free you need the money, £60+ to cover both placing the bookie bet and the liability for laying a bet in the exchange.
Does Matched Betting affect my Credit Score?
When you open a bookmaker or betting exchange account, they will as a matter, of course, carry out a “soft search” on your credit file as part of their standard anti-money laundering checks.
Although your soft inquiries do not affect your credit score. See confirmation of this from Experian Hard vs Soft searches.
Can Matched Betting Affect a Mortgage Application?
Lenders won’t see the soft searches by bookies on your credit file.
However, your own bank will see individual bank account transactions if they chose to look at your recent statements. This is something to bear in mind if you intend to get a mortgage with a bank you currently bank with.
It shouldn’t be an issue getting a mortgage with any other bank that you don’t use for Matched Betting.
This can be totally avoided if you set up a new bank account at some point solely for Matched Betting as per tip above.
Does Matched Betting Still Work In 2021?
Absolutely. Although popular offer types are always evolving, it’s easier than ever to profit because Outplayed.com has created easy to use tools for each type.
So, although in some cases the free bet amounts might be smaller than a couple of years ago, we can complete them a lot more quickly.
If you can also take advantage of 0% exchange commission offers, this also boosts the profit for every offer.
Can I Do Matched Betting If I Have Previously Opened Bookie Accounts?
Even if you have an account already with a bookmaker, although you won’t be able to do the signup, you will later be able to do Reload offers and that’s the bulk of where the long term profit comes from.
There are usually over 70+ bookmakers to sign up to and new offers for others come and go, so even if you have a few bookie accounts there are plenty more to profit from.
What If I’m Gubbed?
Gubbed is matched betting jargon for when a bookie informs you that you’re no longer entitled to free bet offers or other promotions. For a beginner, this can be heart-wrenching as they think it’s the beginning of the end of their side hustle.
This is by no means the end, in fact, I’ve made some of my best profits from gubbed accounts.
I’ve written a post here that details a least 7 ways to make money from gubbed accounts.
Is Matched Betting Legal?
As long as you are over 18 and therefore of the legal age to place a bet, Matched Betting is totally legal for you in the UK.
Not only is it legal, but any profits you make are tax-free because profits from gambling aren’t taxed in the UK. If they were, people could offset their gambling losses!
Can you lose Money Matched Betting?
The only way to lose money Matched Betting is if you yourself make a mistake. If for example you back and lay bet on the wrong bets. Or if you bet an incorrect amount at the exchange.
You can reduce the likelihood of this happening by always double-checking your bets. If you do realise you have made a mistake there are specific calculators you can use to help you fix it and significantly reduce any loss to just the minimal cost of backing and laying.
Mistakes will happen. Outplayed.com has a specific “Help With Mistakes” forum thread for posting any mistakes you may have. You could also tag a member of the admin team on an offer post and see if they can help. Other members may also assist you in rectifying your error.
Most errors you will soon learn to fix yourself.
Do I Need Any Knowledge of Sports?
Prior to starting you don’t need to know anything about any sports. Anything you do need to know will purely relate to you making a profit. You learn all you need to know as you go along.
You don’t need to watch any of the sports you matched bet on either.
Can My Partner Do Matched Betting?
Yes, 2 people from the same household can both do Matched Betting with partner-friendly bookmakers.
Some bookies won’t allow more than 1 customer per household but most do. However, it is generally not as lucrative for the 2nd person. Bookmakers might be quicker to gub, restrict or close the accounts.
If you do both use the same bookmaker, make sure you both know which offers you are completing as some reload offers are one per household only.
However, it is possible. My partner has done some offers. For peace of mind, we checked with each bookie first if it was okay.
Matched betting is new to most people considering it as a new-found form of extra income. So it goes without saying there will be questions and apprehensions.
For me Matched betting really is one of the best ways to make money from home in the UK and is ranked No1 accordingly.
For anyone new to this method I hope the above answers have helped you decide whether it’s time to get started.