As part of our meet the members series, we talked to OddsMonkey Premium member, Christina. Christina’s a matched betting veteran, having been doing it for 20+ years! In this guest post, she talks us through her weekly profits, starting bankroll, and favourite offers to do.
Meet the members: Christina
So, I’ve been asked to answer ten questions. There will be much diversion along the way, but here we go…
What is your average weekly profit? Does this include a partner’s profits?
Not an awful lot, nowadays. Probably between £50-£100 a week. And yes, this includes my partner’s profit, but that isn’t actually very much. The only bookie we both use is Betfair, nowadays. He did have a William Hill account, but WH went through a phase of confiscating balances in accounts. Although I think everyone DID get their money back, I decided to stop using hubby’s account. We were both pretty much gubbed by that point anyway.
What do you do with your matched betting profits? Any exciting purchases or stories to share?
Oh dear, it mostly just goes into the bank. When I was making a lot from sharbing, I bought a few frivolous things. And I still use the fact that there is plenty of matched betting money in the bank to justify anything I really want but feel a bit guilty about. I bought a baritone sax at auction in lockdown, sight unseen. I think the whole auction was online because of Covid, but it was a ‘real’ auction rather than eBay. Delightfully, I got it at a bargain price, even after the exorbitant postage. My husband always tells people that I am a semi-pro gambler, and bought my car with gambling winnings! Not quite accurate, but fun…
What is your bankroll? How much did you start with?
I started by depositing £300 in Betfair, which I think was the only betting exchange existing at the time. Certainly the only one I knew about! I was such a wimp that I delayed and delayed starting and finally bet at a social for mystery shoppers, where somebody else sat beside me while I found a football bet where the lay was the same odds as the back. Manually as I’m not sure there were ANY oddsmatchers around in those days. Ha! I think the match was about 6 days in the future and I was SO scared that the odds would change between placing the back and the lay. Very unlikely to happen at that sort of timescale.
I usually keep £2-3k in each exchange account. But I am happy to use more in my bankroll if necessary. The largest bet I ever did was a 3-way Dutch. I can’t remember the offer, but it tied up £35,000 for the afternoon and made me approximately £350. I thought a 1% return for less than an afternoon’s investment was well worth it, but of course, I was completely paranoid, checking and re-checking that my figures were right…
How long have you been matched betting?
A very long time, but I’m not sure exactly how long. I can see that the most recent version of a spreadsheet I used to use to record profit is dated 2003. But I think I started before that.
How much time do you spend matched betting?
Probably far too long. And probably more than I realise! But I spend longer giving advice and helping others than I do actually making money for myself. I’ve made a lot over the years. I don’t keep count anymore but it’s definitely more than £50,000, and that includes a £10,000 loss at one bookie – more about that later! The enjoyment for me is honestly more about giving the brain cells a workout and taking money from bookies who deserve to give some back, than about making money. I spent years and years as the Board Guide on MoneySaving Expert (MSE) helping people to start off and make money, and still like to contribute where I can.
What type of offers do you focus on? Why?
I am gubbed almost everywhere, and so the main matched betting I do nowadays is sharbing. It can be EXTREMELY profitable, although the best years are probably behind us. The days when I could go out on a good afternoon and make £300 profit from a visit to 6 or 7 shops. I get gubbed and restricted in shops as well, of course. I don’t think I’m actually BANNED from any shops, but for example, my local Fred will only take SP bets and restricts me to £25 on football. But remember this: gubbing online lasts forever. Gubbing in a shop lasts as long as the staff remember you, or until they leave. Or there’s a shift change. It’s a real disadvantage being female, though.
Tell us more about your background and how you came across matched betting.
Most of my professional life was spent as the CEO of small- and medium-sized charities. Mostly in the mental health sector although I have also headed up a national charity for younger people who have had a stroke, and worked with addiction issues, and community ventures.
At times in my life, I have challenged myself to live on very little money. And during these times I noticed that one of the things I missed most was eating out and having really delicious food. So it was a natural progression to do a bit of mystery shopping. Which is very poorly paid but gives lots of opportunities for free eating out and free experiences you might not otherwise choose, or bother, to have.
Now I am retired, and don’t need to make an income, I do mystery shopping and auditing as my main source of income. However, mystery shopping forums back in the day were full of people pointing out that matched betting brings in FAR more money for FAR less effort! I knew I could do maths, so it was a natural progression. Although it took me a while to actually get started. I started through MSE, made my first bet at a mystery shopping social with the help of another mystery shopper, and read obsessively about all the techniques and offers. I asked millions of questions and then transitioned to one of the people answering the questions. The rest, as they say, is history…
Can you give us a breakdown in % of where your profits come from?
I’ve never got into 2Ups and EP, although I am considering them when I have time! Nowadays it’s 95% shop offers with the occasional new bookie and casino offers.
Do you do low-risk casino offers? If so, tell us more about that.
I haven’t done very much casino, although I am open to it. I hate losing money, though, even though I understand the EV (extra value). For example, I won’t do ‘bet x on slots for free spins worth 10% of x’, which seems to be the most common sort of offer. But I will do it for 30% free spins or upwards.
My most dramatic low-risk casino offer was an ancient one from Betfair, which involved betting £36,000. I forget the details, but the expected win was £300. I was talked into it by a persuasive match betting friend and I understood the maths. It seemed too good an offer to let pass. I bet £36,000 painfully, on a very horrible hi-lo game, a tenner at a time. It took over two days but made me £360 odd. The game was very low risk but not *no* risk, and obviously over 3600 hands I lost sometimes. The times when you lost, the whole screen flashed red at you. It scarred me for life, I think!
I’ve also done a lot of bingo (which I loathe) in my time. One of the casinos used to have a hi-lo game where you could see the number you were betting on before you decided whether to bet. So if you always chose a King (high) or Ace (low, in this case) you could be certain of winning the hand. I bet £100 a day for years on this site, getting loads of loyalty points (which turned into free bets) and good offers. They regularly had a ‘deposit £300, play it through once and we will give you £75’ offer, so the no-risk game was great for that. They also had tournaments where the person who spent most on that game would win £1000, and others £25. I never managed the £1000 but regularly got the £25. Remember: I was only betting twice in every 13 hands, on average.
Can you tell I miss the old days? I still get sent occasional offers from bingo sites though and use them.
Do you have any advice or tips to offer to other OddsMonkey members?
The best advice I can give people is to understand what you are doing fully. Don’t just follow the instructions blindly, but think about it. That will help you avoid 99% of mistakes.
My biggest mistake was letting liabilities build up too much at a bookie. A bookie that, with hindsight, was obviously too good to be true. I lost just under £10,000 when they went bust. I coped by thinking that at that point I had made £30,000 profit. Would I have done matched betting in return for £20,000, rather than £30,000? Of course I would! So I went on and made the money back – and more.
You will make mistakes and lose money occasionally. You will even make mistakes and GAIN money occasionally! When you lose money, I find it helps to think of it as coming out of the training budget of your matched betting business. Just make sure you learn from the experience and don’t make the same mistake again!
Stand your ground
If things go badly wrong it is worth fighting your corner. I have taken bookies to court, threatened to take them to court, and had bookies back down and pay their liabilities to me in full, having tried to avoid paying me. Ask questions of your helpful friendly colleagues on this journey, and offer your own advice when you can.
If you’re sharbing, keep photos of your bet slips. You never know when these might come in useful. If you’re not sharbing, keep screenshots of the offers you are doing, so that when the sneaky bar stewards change the T&Cs, you have proof of what you signed up to. If you are really organised, you can also take screenshots of your bets. These have saved me a couple of times by making me realise I haven’t actually confirmed the bet. Ladbrokes, I am looking at you here – why the extra step?
Matched betting isn’t gambling
Also, long-odds horses (and other things) win. You are match betting, not gambling. You’re not in this to LOSE money! Having said that, you don’t have to lay for equal profit. If you find yourself praying that an event ends a specific way, there is something wrong with your lay. For example, I sometimes hope that my bet doesn’t win at the bookie shop because it will be a pain cashing it in. In that case, I should consider laying slightly less so that if I have to trek to the shop, I am picking up more profit!
Remember to enjoy yourself and celebrate your success in having such a profitable and fun hobby!
If you’d like to have a go at matched betting like Christine, start your OddsMonkey free trial today. Or, check out the rest of our meet the members series to see what other OddsMonkey Premium members have to say about matched betting.