Can matched betting go wrong?

Matched betting is a fantastic way to turn bookmaker free bet offers and bonuses into real profit. It’s often claimed that there is little-to-no risk involved and is a win/win situation. But is this really true? Is it a risk-free path to success or can matched betting go wrong?

The answer is a little from Column A, and a little from Column B. When compared to traditional betting, or gambling, matched betting is a low risk method of betting. Let’s take a look at what that means.

What is matched betting?

By using maths and a specific betting methodology, you can eliminate the element of luck upon which gambling relies. Instead of hoping that your bet will win, you can cover all potential outcomes of an event to ensure that you win at least one of them. For more information about how matched betting works, check out our introduction or give it a go for yourself.

However, as with most things, there is room for error. And therefore matched betting cannot be labelled 100% risk-free. As you’ll see in this post, the majority of potential mistakes are usually due to human error. But don’t worry. Whilst matched betting could go wrong, there are ways to mitigate the damage or even reverse mistakes completely.

Let’s look at some of the ways in which matched betting can go wrong.

Can matched betting go wrong?

As we said above, the idea of low/no risk matched betting is based on its core methodology. Using particular betting techniques to minimise qualifying losses and unlocking real value from offers. Unfortunately, mistakes can happen and matched betting can go wrong in some instances. Usually these mistakes are a result of rushing, misreading, or misunderstanding. However, sometimes things happen which are outside of our control, such as fluctuating odds and unmatched bets. We’ll look at some potential matched betting mistakes in more detail next.

Rushing through things

This is possible at whatever stage of your matched betting journey you’re at, from beginner to expert. Being careless or not taking your time is often the most common reason as to why matched betting goes wrong.

There are a number of points at which you could rush, including:

  • Not double-checking stake amounts, odds, or market information before placing any bets.
  • Rushing through the written guides or not watching training videos properly. Everything you need to know is in the training section, so don’t skip anything.
  • Not taking the time to read through the terms and conditions of offers prior to doing them. We’ll look at why this is so important in a moment.
  • Not keep your matched betting records up-to-date or being disorganised when it comes to offers and bets.

Not reading offer terms and conditions properly

All bookmaker promotions come with their own T&Cs. And you’ll only qualify for the offer if you meet all of the listed criteria. So make sure you read them carefully before placing any bets. Here are some examples of reasons you might not qualify for an offer:

  • Most offers require you to deposit funds using a debit card rather than an e-wallet. Therefore, using the ‘wrong’ payment method to deposit funds into your bookie account will make you ineligible for the offer. E-wallets hold customers’ payment and password details for a range of sites. Examples include PayPal, Skrill, and Neteller.
  • Some promotions are exclusive to certain customers. These are known as ‘invite-only’ offers. If you try to do one of these you most likely won’t be eligible for the terms of the offer. If you’re ever in doubt about an offer, ask our Support Team or check in the Community Forum.
  • Most offers come with a start and end of promotion date. Again, if you complete an offer outside of this period, you won’t be eligible to receive the stated terms. OddsMonkey’s Daily Offer Calendar lists all current offers along with their respective T&Cs.
  • In the T&Cs of some offers, you will see something called ‘minimum odds’. Free bet promotions will often come with the caveat of needing to be placed at or above a specific level of odds. If your bet is placed at lower odds than those stated, you won’t be eligible to receive the offer.

Using the wrong setting on the calculator

Within OddsMonkey’s OddsMatcher tool, you’ll find a calculator which helps you work out stake amounts at particular odds. This calculator has four settings or modes:

  1. NORMAL which is used for qualifying bets.
  2. FREE BET (SNR) or ‘stake not returned’ which is used for free bets where your stake amount is not returned with your winnings.
  3. FREE BET (SR). Rarer than the previous offer type but sometimes your initial stake will be returned along with your winnings.
  4. RISK FREE BET for working out equal profits.

With matched betting, you’ll usually set the calculator to use one of the first two modes. It will then work out your back and lay stake amounts as well as your expected profit or loss. Remember, a minimal loss is normal for a qualifying bet; matched betting profits are made from your free bets.

Obviously, if you have the calculator set to the wrong bet type, the figures shown won’t reflect the necessary bet amount or what you’ll receive for a win or loss. Therefore, you may bet the wrong amount at the betting exchange and expect a different amount once the event has taken place.

Don’t worry though as mistakes can usually be fixed or the effects at least lessened. For example, if you lay in Normal instead of SNR, you can ‘trade out’, and then re-lay at the correct odds in SNR mode.

Placing bets in the wrong order

Yes, it does matter which order your matched bets are placed in. Always place your back bet first and make sure you wait for the confirmation message to make sure your bet has gone through. Once it’s confirmed, check the lay odds haven’t changed and then place your bet.

If the lay bets have changed, just use the calculator to recalculate the stake amount you’ll need to place at the current odds. Mistakes can be more costly if it’s the back odds which have changed rather than the lay odds. This is why it’s important to place bets in the right order. On top of this, a confirmed, but unmatched, lay bet can be more costly than a back bet, due to the associated liability cost.

Unmatched or partially matched bets

Unmatched or partially-matched bets usually happen when there is low liquidity in a market or the odds are moving quickly. To avoid having an unmatched or partially-matched bet, always check the level of liquidity in a market, prior to placing any lay bets. For example, if you want to place a lay bet of £25 at odds of 5.2, make sure that there is £25 available at the betting exchange. You’ll find this information on the exchange site.

A partially-matched bet is a little trickier to fix, but it is still possible to limit the damage. In this scenario some of your bet will have been matched, but the remaining, unmatched amount will be queued. If there’s still time before the event begins, the bet may be matched. However, if there isn’t much time, you may need to move quickly.


One of the biggest misconceptions around matched betting is that it is gambling. So if that’s one of your concerns, let’s talk about matched betting and gambling.

Is matched betting gambling?

Whilst you do use sports betting sites and online casinos to do matched betting, it is not gambling. Stick to guaranteed profit offers and follow the instructions to ensure you use the correct matched betting method of backing and laying your bets. By doing this, you eliminate the risk associated with traditional gambling. Instead of relying on luck, you use maths and methodology to cover your bets and turn free bets into money.

However, if you have an addictive personality or previous gambling experience, you could find yourself taking this road. For help and advice, please contact a service such as Be Gamble Aware or GamCare. Set deposit limits, take a break completely if necessary, but do not chase losses if you do find yourself in this position. Gambling will most likely eat into your matched betting profits. Stick to matched betting and your earnings will build with each offer you complete.

There are occasions where you may gamble ‘accidentally’. For example, forgetting to place a lay bet would mean that you only had a back bet in action. Because you don’t have both a back and lay bet placed, you haven’t covered all potential outcomes of the event. Unfortunately, this is gambling and not matched betting. If you realise in enough time, you can easily solve this problem by placing a lay bet.

Similarly, you could place a lay bet on the wrong event or market. Sometimes, you’ll see two horses with very similar names running in the same race, for example. Unfortunately, these would count as two separate bets. This shows why it is so important to take your time and check everything before confirming any bets.

Account restrictions

Your bookmaker accounts are essential to your matched betting activities. Not only do you use them to place back bets through, you also receive free bet offers and other similar promotions. All of which can help you make profits. At some point, however, you may find that you no longer receive promotions. Or that you can no longer place bets above a certain amount. If this happens, you’ll most likely receive an email from the bookie notifying you of their decision. Unfortunately, their word is usually final.

Another reason as to why people face problems with their bookmaker accounts is through trying to open multiple accounts with the same bookmaker. Sign up offers may be one of the most lucrative sources for matched betting income but you have to stick to the rules. Opening multiple accounts is noted as fraudulent. Best case scenario, you just don’t receive the free bets. Worst case is that they close all of them, including an authentic one that you may use.

This is why we have a list of X ‘new customer’, or ‘sign up’, offers for you to complete. There are so many online bookmakers out there. It makes sense to use as many of them as possible. Thereby increasing your earning potential.

Moving or fluctuating odds

We touched on this briefly before, but fluctuating odds are often par for the course when it comes to placing bets. Although this is completely out of your control, it can impact your earnings. So whilst you can’t control the odds, you can take the time to check that there hasn’t been a major shift between placing your back and lay bets.

Fluctuating odds are more common in sports like horse racing or greyhound racing. Especially as the starting time for the race gets closer. Remember to stick to football for more stable odds.

A shift in odds will mean that your initial calculations are no longer right. If you’ve placed your lay bet without checking for changes in the odds, you may be able to cash out. Then, use the calculator to find out the new stake amount you need to place at the new odds and place a lay bet.

Matched betting success stories

As you can see, the answer to the question ‘can matched betting go wrong?’ is unfortunately yes in some instances. But hopefully, this post has shown that the majority of those instances are down to operator error. Which is why it is so important to take your time, check everything you do, and stick to the rules of matched betting.

We’d love to be part of your matched betting success story. Join the thousands of OddsMonkey Premium members who use matched betting to earn money.

Sign up for your FREE TRIAL now.

Start making profits now for free!

About the author:

Jenna OddsMonkey

Jenna OddsMonkey

Word up! Jenna makes sure we say it right with engaging copy and a handful of monkey puns thrown in for good measure.

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