Free bets: How to beat the bookies at their own game

There are a load of bookmakers around in the UK. And they’re all desperate for your custom. Online bookmakers, in particular, offer potential customers numerous incentives. The idea of these is to entice you into joining them and they usually take the form of free bets.

But things aren’t always as they seem, and these free bets aren’t always truly free. In some cases, they can lead the customer into throwing their own money away, leaving them out of pocket!

We’re going to take a look at how these free bets work. Also, we’re going to show you how you can turn the tables on the bookmakers and use these free bets as your own personal money generator!

How Free Bets Work

A bookmaker typically displays a big banner that advertises ‘£50 FREE BET’. Then in tiny, tiny words at the bottom of the banner they write ‘terms and conditions apply’.

Terms and conditions certainly do apply – lots of them. Soon, that £50 free bet looks to be anything but free.

Here’s a quick example of some T&Cs for a free bet:

Free bets T&Cs example

Acquiring the free bet

To get the free bet, you usually have to deposit an amount equivalent to the amount being offered. So for a £50 free bet, you might have to deposit £50 into your bookie account. This changes, depending on the bookmaker, so always read their individual T&Cs.

Then, you have to place that £50 of your own money on a bet. But not just any old bet. There are normally stipulations which say that you must place it on a bet above evens (2.0). Or, that you can only place it on accumulators, and so on.

The goal of the bookmaker here is to increase the chances of you losing your initial £50.

Once the ‘qualifying bet’ has been settled, the bookmaker will then credit your free bet into your account within 24 hours.

Placing the free bet

Once you have the free bet in your account, it should be as simple as placing it on whatever you want to, right?


Again, there are numerous stipulations which say what you can, and what you can’t place your free bet on. These could be things like placing it at odds of above evens, or only being able to place it on certain sports or events.

The bookmaker tries to stack the odds as heavily in their favour as they can. So much for a warm welcome, huh?!

Withdrawing the free bet and winnings

So, you’ve managed to find two winning bets for your qualifying deposit and free bet. You probably have a nice amount in your account, and you want to withdraw it.

Think again!

Another sneaky T&C that bookmakers sometimes slip in, is that you have to roll over the qualifying deposit and free bet amount anywhere between 3 & 20 times before you can withdraw it.

By ‘rollover’ they mean you must place that amount as a bet. So, if your qualifying deposit was £50, and your free bet was £50, and they say you have to roll it over 3 times, then you must place £300 worth of bets.

If you choose one of the bookies that has 10x rollover requirements, well, you’ll need to place £1000 worth of bets.

Oh, and there are usually minimum odds that you must placed the bets at.

But the good thing is, if you manage to place £1000 worth of bets at minimum odds of 2.0, you should have at least £2000 sat in your bank account by the end of it, right?

Unfortunately not. They even cap the maximum winnings sometimes too.

Free bets are a myth

As you can see, free bets – at least in the form that the bookies advertise them – are anything but free!

They’re huge money generators for the bookmakers, and they use simple psychology to grip customers.

They paint them as a promotion, a present for new customers. A way of saying “thank you for joining up” and using their service.

But what they’re actually doing is making it difficult for you to win. If you were to win, most people would just smile, say “thanks for the free money”, and run for the hills, never to be seen again.

You see, by making it very easy for you to lose your money, they are increasing their chances of keeping you as a customer.

People don’t like being losers. They lose that initial money and they want to get back at the bookmaker and so they generally place even more bets to try and win their money back.

And so on…

If you insist on doing free bets

If you’ve read this far and for some strange reason still want to do free bets in the way the bookmakers want you to, here are a few tips to ensure you don’t lose your money ultra quick:

  1. Check the terms and conditions, and read them in depth. Make sure you understand every word and know exactly what you are getting yourself into. The terms and conditions vary from bookmaker to bookmaker. So, just because you’ve done one free bet with one bookmaker, don’t assume that things will be the same with the next.
  2. Once you lose your money, don’t chase it. The odds are stacked in favour of the bookmaker and the chances of you coming away from your ‘free bet promotion’, not only empty handed, but out of pocket, are very high. It is important that you don’t fall for the classic hook and try to chase your losses.
  3. Make use of the full amount of time you have. Bookmakers typically give you 30 days to complete your rollover requirements. This should give you enough time to place your bets carefully. Bet only when you want to and not just for the sake of it just to complete the rollover requirements.

It’s time to fight back

As we mentioned earlier, there is actually a way to turn these free bets into real cash. The best thing is, it doesn’t involve any actual betting.

It’s called matched betting, and a growing army of people are taking part. To make things better, it’s done by people from all walks of life. Betting experience isn’t necessary at all.

Watch our video to find out how it works.

So what is matched betting?

So, you already know about the free bets that bookmakers offer to try and lure customers into betting with them.

There are thousands of pounds worth of these free bets that are waiting for customers. Almost every bookmaker in the industry uses this technique to tempt customers.

With matched betting, you place your qualifying bet and free bet at the online bookmaker as normal. But you then offset the liability of these free bets with an online betting exchange by laying the selection that you backed.

To find out more about betting exchanges, check out this post: what is the betfair exchange?

Laying is an option that is available at an online betting exchange where you play the role of the bookmaker. Instead of placing a bet on a selection to win, you are effectively placing a bet on it to lose.

How do you do it?

  1. Sign up for an online betting exchange, such as Betfair. This is crucial, as you need this account to offset your liability.
  2. Choose an online bookmaker that’s offering a free bet as an incentive and open an account.
  3. Find and place your qualifying bet. It’s important to find a bet that is between 1.5 and 4.0. You also need to ensure that the price with the bookmaker is similar to the lay price (pink box) on Betfair.
  4. Place your bet on the online bookmaker and then immediately lay it on the betting exchange. The goal here is to cancel the liabilities out. This means that if you win on the bookmaker, you’ll lose on the exchange – and vice versa. But your overall loss will be pennies. This isn’t the step where you make the money, the goal is just to qualify for your free bet.
  5. Now find a similar bet on the online bookie and the exchange as you did in the first step. Place your free bet on the selection with the online bookmaker, and then lay that selection with the exchange. But the key is to adjusting your liabilities with the exchange so that whatever the outcome – you are in profit!
  6. Withdraw your winnings, and move onto the next bookmaker!

How much money can I make?

Initially, you can make around £1000 by signing up to accounts with online bookmakers.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. These bookmakers then offer ongoing promotions to try and tempt you into betting with them again.

Things can become a bit more difficult at this stage. But you’ll have learned enough with the new account offers. So, you will have the skills to complete the more complicated offers.

Some people are making up to £1000 per month with these ongoing offers, and it has become a great side income. Others are making even more and have quit their jobs and started doing this full time!

What are the risks?

Honestly…there are very few risks with matched betting. Although it has the word betting in the name, you’re not really betting; It’s more like trading.

The only real risk is due to human error. You need to make sure that you’re careful with every step of the process. Mistakes are the only way that you can lose money. To avoid this, just prepare yourself with as much knowledge – and as many useful tools – as possible.

Introducing OddsMonkey

OddsMonkey is a site dedicated to providing matched betting service, software and support. To find out more, take a look at what we offer. For a full introduction to matched betting, why not download our free guide, which you can find to the right of this post.

Or, if you’d like to have a go at matched betting, you can try it for free by clicking the button below.

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Start making profits now for free!

About the author:

Ian OddsMonkey

Ian OddsMonkey

Wondering how to make money from matched betting once you run out of ‘welcome’ offers? Ian’s here to document his journey on life after sign ups.

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