If you’re looking for an answer to the question, “what is matched betting?” then you’ve come to the right place.
You don’t need any experience at all to make money from matched betting. You don’t even have to be able to name a bookmaker or have placed a bet before. Seriously, you don’t even have to like sports.
A list of things we’ll cover in this guide:
- Why trust OddsMonkey
- What is matched betting?
- Is matched betting risk free?
- Is matched betting legal?
- Is matched betting gambling?
- What do you need to get started?
- How does matched betting work?
We’ve also got a handy ‘jargon buster’ throughout the guide. Just look for boxes like this one. Or, download our free matched betting glossary here.
If, after reading this guide, you still don’t understand matched betting, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our FAQ section.
Why trust OddsMonkey?
We’re British, so it’s not really in our nature to blow our own horn…
…but we did create the original matched betting software. And it feels pretty good to know that OddsMatcher has been used throughout the matched betting community since 2011, helping tens of thousands of people earn real money.
Since then, we’ve put together a strong team of matched betting experts and top developers. All of this means we’ve been able to add new tools, training, video tutorials and customer support to the OddsMonkey site.
While we did build the first odds matching tool, we didn’t create matched betting itself. People used to have to search for odds and betting opportunities manually, which was tricky, time-consuming and pretty tedious. What OddsMonkey did was turn the process automatic, making it quicker and easier for anyone and everyone to use matched betting to add to their monthly income.
But don’t just take our word for it…
Matched betting’s also been covered in a number of UK newspapers:
- HuffPost | Is Matched Betting the Answer to Student Prayers?
- The Guardian | Free bets mean you can clean up as bookies meet their match
- The Guardian | Free World Cup bets offer chance to beat the bookies
- The Telegraph | Is this a bet you can’t lose?
- Wikipedia | Matched Betting
What is matched betting?
Q: What is matched betting?
A: Matched betting is a way to turn the free bets offered by bookmakers into real money. The technique relies on maths rather than chance which means the risk is low.
BOOKMAKER: A bookmaker, or ‘bookie’, offers odds on sporting and non-sporting events to people who want to gamble. They accept bets and then pay out if they win! For example, if you bet on England to win, and they do, you get money. The amount you win depends on the odds you took.
Traditionally, bookmakers were located in shops on the high street and at racecourses. You’ll have seen them on any high street you’ve walked down. Examples include, Coral, Betfred and William Hill. You can walk in, place a bet and (if your bet wins) return with proof of your bet to collect your winnings.
These days, bookmakers are online too. Online bookies offer the same service as shop ones but with the obvious convenience of being able to ‘visited’ whenever your internet connection allows. Choose and place a bet and if it wins, your funds will be added directly into your bookmaker account. It’s then up to you to withdraw these into your bank account. Depending on the bookmaker and/or your payment type, withdrawals can take 2-5 working days.
Not all bookmakers are created equal, so make sure you know who you can trust. It’s your money, after all. OddsMonkey looks into bookmakers that are licensed to operate in the UK & Ireland and who have a good reputation. But we’d always recommend doing your own research too. And if you’ve got any doubts or reservations, don’t hesitate to ask.
OK, so that’s the short, sweet and simple answer. Let’s go into a bit more detail…
Q: What is no-risk matched betting?
A: Lots of bookmakers use promotions and incentives to attract new customers to their sites in the hopes of encouraging them to sign up. They’re a kind of welcome gift. And like most of us, these offers come in all shapes and sizes:
- Bet £X, Get X
- £X no deposit
- X% free bet refund
- Deposit bonus
By removing the risks associated with gambling, you can ensure that your money is protected and you win no matter what the outcome of your bet is.
Q: Is matched betting risk free?
A: If you’ve Googled matched betting at any point, you might’ve seen it referred to as ‘no-risk matched betting’. This is when you compare it against traditional betting or gambling.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) considers the claim of matched betting being 100% risk-free “misleading because although theoretically sound, the process was open to human error”.
If done ‘properly’, the risk is minimal. However, with the ASA ruling in mind, let’s look at some of the potential risks of matched betting:
- Human error: If you leap before you look and start placing bets before you understand exactly what to do, the chances are that you’ll make a mistake. There are a few steps to get your head around at first so just take your time, double check everything and make sure you’re comfortable with how it works before you do anything.
- Changing odds: So you know how Ussain Bolt’s pretty fast, right? Well, odds move faster – sometimes much faster. Again, to minimise the chances of making a mistake, just make sure you check the odds before you place any bets.
ODDS: The way the likelihood of a particular outcome is shown in betting. Odds are shown as ‘fractional’ (10/1) or ‘decimal (11.00). 10/1 means that you’d receive 10 ‘units’ for every 1 units you staked (put on), plus your original bet amount too. If you stake £1 and you win, you’ll get £11 in back. Find out more in this post.
Q: Is matched betting legal?
A: In a word: yes.
It’s just a different way of using the promotional offers. As long as you’re over the age of 18, matched betting is completely legal. And the betting industry’s fine with it, too. In an article with The Telegraph, Graham Sharpe, former Media Relations Director at William Hill, said that “There’s no illegal element,” and that “It’s a free bet and you can do what you like.”
(from an article by: Murray-West, Rosie. “Is this a bet you can’t lose?”, The Telegraph. Dec 2010.)
Q: Is matched betting gambling?
A: Not technically, no. Even though you’ll be using a gambling site (the bookmaker) to do it. It also benefits from the fact that winnings from gambling activities are not currently taxed in the UK. So why isn’t matched betting gambling? With gambling, you take a risk when you play games of chance in the hopes of winning money. You’re ‘taking a punt’ on the outcome ending up in your favour.
PUNTER: (Traditional) Also known as a ‘bettor’ or ‘gambler’. A person who risks money by gambling or placing a bet on something.
However, with matched betting you’re not putting your money at risk. Instead of placing just one bet with a bookmaker, you actually place two; you ‘match’ that bet with another one at a betting exchange.
BETTING EXCHANGE: An online website, platform or marketplace where gamblers can bet against each other, rather than against a bookmaker. Essentially, you can take the place of the bookmaker against someone else’s bet. There are currently 4 online betting exchanges available to UK customers: Betfair, Smarkets, Betdaq and Matchbook.
The very nature of matched betting means that you’re placing bets without actually gambling. We’ll talk about exactly how that works in this guide.
BET: In sports, this is the act of predicting the outcome of a race, game or event and agreeing to forfeit money if you’re wrong. Betting isn’t just limited to sports though. Bets can be placed on anything from TV shows to the date Man’s going to land on Mars.
What do you need to get started?
To be 18+
Although matched betting isn’t gambling, you’ll open accounts with online bookmakers, so you do need to be aged 18 or above. This is the minimum legal age in the UK.
Some bookmakers may ask for ID to check your details. This is completely normal, so don’t worry. And the sooner you get everything verified, the sooner you can start making money matched betting!
To live in the UK
Because we’re located in the UK, most of the offers we find and post on OddsMonkey are UK-based. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that if you live outside the UK you can’t matched bet, it just means that you’ll need to check the terms and conditions of individual bookmakers and offers to see if you’re still eligible.
The availability of offers depends on the bookie. Some of the larger bookmakers operate in countries across the world and may have similar offers available in your country. It’s a slightly more manual process, finding these offers. But there’s still money to be made.
A laptop and the Internet
Depending on your budget, experience and level of matched betting activity, your setup could vary greatly. It could be anything from a smartphone and a notebook to a multi-screen arrangement with a minimum of two screens.
However, at this point, all you need is a computer with a good internet connection. It doesn’t matter if it’s a laptop or desk top. The most important thing is that you need to able to move between tabs and windows quickly without worrying about your connection dropping out. Odds can change quickly and your internet needs to keep up as much as it can.
- Like OddsMatcher:
OddsMonkey created the first odds matching tool specifically for matched betting. Matched betting can be done manually, but it’s time-consuming and tricky. Sometimes you can miss the perfect opportunity as odds can change while you’re still looking. OddsMatcher does everything automatically. It finds, sorts and ranks the best odds for you and its built-in calculator works out how much you’ll need to bet in order to make money. Find out more about OddsMatcher here.
- and Profit Tracker:
Another one from OddsMonkey, this tool is available to both Free and Premium members, so you can start tracking your profits as soon as you give matched betting a go. When you sign up as a Free member, you get guides which show you how to use the OddsMatcher, open an account with a betting exchange and walkthroughs for your first two welcome offers. The money you make from these is yours to keep. And Profit Tracker will help you see how much you’ve earned straightaway! Find out more about Profit Tracker here.
A separate bank account
This one’s completely up to you. The main argument for having an account especially for matched betting is so everyday spending doesn’t get in the way. It’s as simple as that. With a separate bank account, you can keep track of your incomings and outgoings more easily. Without having to trawl through all those Just Eat orders and bills…
Joking aside though, most of us have direct debits set up for things, so we need money in the bank on a certain date. Withdrawal times differ between bookmakers and sometimes there’ll be extra delays that are out of your control. It can be a bit of a waiting game. And this all means that you won’t always be able to guarantee when you have the amount of money you were expecting. Or that you’ll have enough money for those bills.
Another one that’s up to you. Well, it depends on your circumstances and how much money you can afford to set aside for matched betting. We’d recommend a minimum bankroll of at least £50, but the more you start with, the more you can earn. A larger bank roll means you can do more offers at once, without having to wait for your money to transfer between bank, bookmaker and betting exchange accounts.
Some OddsMonkey members start with between £100 and £300 but really it’s up to you and how much you can afford.
FLOAT: The amount of money you have available to you before you start betting. Also known as a bankroll. The idea is to build this up by completing all of the welcome offers so that you can boost your earnings later on in your matched betting journey.
Free bet offers
Free bets and promotional offers are where your matched betting profits come from. Bookmakers need to find bookmakers who are running promotions or sign up offers. But searching for offers could take up quite a bit of time, couldn’t it?
Fortunately, OddsMonkey’s already done this bit for you and you can start your matched betting journey with 40+ sign up offers when you join OddsMonkey Premium.
How does it work?
This one takes a bit of explaining but read this section through a couple of times and you’ll be ready. Here’s a quick example, but we’ll also take you through a real offer step-by-step in a minute:
How matched betting works
There’s an offer to ‘Bet £10, Get £30’. To get the £30 bet from the bookmaker, you have to stake £10 of your own money. This is known as the ‘qualifying bet’.
QUALIFYING BET: The first bet you have to place at the bookmaker in order to qualify for and unlock the advertised free bet amount. In matched betting, you’re not aiming to make any money from this bet. That comes from the free bet itself.
Place a £10 ‘back bet’ at the bookmaker on England to win a game.
BACK BET: A type of bet placed at the bookmaker. When you ‘back’ something, you are betting ‘for’ the team (or horse, or player, etc) to win. Another way to think of it is that you believe it will happen.
With matched betting, you match this at the betting exchange by placing a ‘lay bet’. In this example, a £10 bet that says that England won’t win. This covers both a loss and a draw:
LAY BET: Just a complicated way of saying you’re ‘betting against’ something. Lay bets are placed at the betting exchange and are the opposite of back bets. If you ‘lay’ England to win, then you’re saying that you don’t think they will. Again, this covers both a loss and draw outcome.
Now, because you’ve placed two bets which cover all possible outcomes, you won’t win any money. The important thing is: you won’t lose any either – the two bets cancel each other out. So where does the money come from, then? It comes from the £30 free bet, which you’ve unlocked by doing the qualifying bet.
FREE BET: The type of bet often ‘given away’ by bookmakers. In gambling, you’ll have to risk some of your own money in order to unlock the free bet, but with matched betting, you can unlock it and protect your own money at the same time.
How does matched betting work?
5 steps to making a profit from matched betting
In this section, we’ll go through the bare bones of how matched betting works.
#1. Sign up with a bookmaker
Find one offering a welcome bonus and deposit some money into the new account. Check the T&Cs of the offer to make sure you’re meeting the criteria.
#2. Open an account with a betting exchange
…and deposit some money. You’ll need to put in more than you did in the bookmaker account to cover something called ‘liability’.
LIABILITY: This is probably one of the most confusing things you’ll come across when you’re starting out matched betting. But stick with us. In traditional betting, liability is the amount of money that the person you’re betting against with Betfair stands to win from you. However, it’s different with matched betting. Don’t worry if they win it from you because you’ll win the same amount from the bookmaker. You won’t lose the liability amount.
The liability of a lay bet depends on the odds taken when you placed the bet. If you’re into the maths side of things, this formula shows how to calculate your liability: Liability = (Decimal Odds -1) x Stake.
Here’s a quick example: if you were to place a lay bet using £10 stake with decimal odds 6.5 your liability would be:
Liability = (6.5-1) x £10
= 5.5 x £10
#3. Use OddsMatcher to find an event to bet on
The original odds matching software sources and sorts the best odds for you. Use the filters to finds matched betting opportunities which fall within the T&Cs of the offer you’re doing and use the built-in calculator to work out how much you’ll need to back and lay, as well as how much money you’ll make.
#4. Complete your qualifying bet
Find and place your back bet at the bookmaker and do the same for your lay bet at the betting exchange. Don’t worry – we’ll show you exactly how to do this. Sign up for Free now and get the guides for two sign up offers! Once the event you’ve bet on has taken place, the bookmaker will credit your account with the free bet. Depending on the bookmaker, this could take up to 48 hours.
#5. Complete your free bet
In matched betting, you’re looking to keep around 75% and 80% of the free bet amount. For a £20 free bet, this is around £15 to £16. Using almost exactly the same method you’ve just completed the qualifying bet with, find and place the back and lay parts of your free bet. Again, we’ll show you exactly how to do this with written and video guides.
How much money can you make from matched betting?
The answer to this question is a bit ‘how long is a piece of string?’. But that just means that matched betting’s a flexible way to make money and can fit around your lifestyle.
Based on the expected value of each of the initial signup offers, you can probably make between £1000 – £1500. Obviously this is reliant on a few things, such as odds taken and float, but it’s a pretty nice chunk of money.
Then once you’ve opened all of your bookie accounts, there are many ongoing and daily offers you can take advantage of. OddsMonkey has guides and tips for these offers, as well as the support available in our thriving Community.
Matched betting isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme but with a little time and effort, you can earn tax-free money each month.