Matched Betting – My story
Matched betting is one of the best things that I have ever discovered. As a student, getting by on a budget can be tough. Even having a part-time job sometimes doesn’t cover your rent as I discovered in my first year of university. I was working in a bar on a zero hour contract and the essentially night-shift hours were awful and I often got home post-6am. Some people enjoyed the lifestyle and it was fine if you were totally committed to it, but it totally took over my weekend and holidays as well completely destroying my body clock for university come Monday morning. I’ll admit, I met some great people there and learned a lot but after I finished my first year, I was determined to not go back and find another way to pay my way.
Enter matched betting.
I came across the concept in that summer, after trawling through the internet looking for alternative ways to make money. I dug deeper as I was naturally sceptical of a way to make a consistent income via a technique that uses the word ‘betting’. I googled every question you can imagine: what is matched betting? Is it gambling? Is it safe? Is it legal? After it passed all of these questions, I took the plunge (which actually wasn’t that deep!) and have not looked back since.
Right now, I spend about 6 hours a week doing it making around £100. I could scale it up and have done in the past, spending more time on it but at the moment I am content with my hours-to-return ratio. If you are like I was and looking to make some decent money in your spare time, then I really encourage you to read on and try it out for yourself. You don’t even have to like betting or sports to make it work!
What will this blog post cover?
- In this guide we take a look at what is matched betting?, Is matched betting legal?, How it works and how the money is made.
- I have uploaded a video tutorial about how to make around £23 in 20 minutes from Betfred’s New Customer Offer.
- I provide further examples of New Customer Offers from the world of matched betting.
- I include my exclusive matched betting walkthrough. It comes in a step-by-step, ‘matched betting for dummies’ sort of format with pictures and notes from the Betway sign up offer. This not only gives you an extremely simple walkthrough of another matched betting scenario but I also share some tips & tricks that I have picked up over the last couple of years! My walkthrough also digs a little bit deeper into some of the concepts that the Oddsmonkey guides perhaps do not cover as extensively.
- I discuss other great features of the Oddsmonkey premium service.
- I set out my long term view of matched betting and even the skills that you can pick up that can be put on a CV!
- I finish with my final thoughts and personal view on the subject.
As you can probably already tell, this guide is pretty extensive and detailed so take your time to read through it, click the links and understand it all. There is a lot to digest at the beginning, trust me I’ve been there, but this is a long term investment and as is the case with most things, you are going to learn by doing!
If you do have any specific questions though as you go along, feel free to email email@example.com and I’ll be happy to help!
I am also looking into launching a more advanced matched betting course in the future which would cover all of the types of offers that are out there and how to do them, so let me know if you would be interested in that. Stay tuned!
What is matched betting?
In its most basic form, matched betting is betting on every outcome of an event and using free bets as a part of this to guarantee a profit. Yes you read that right, guarantee a profit from betting.
Is matched betting legal?
Matched betting is 100% legal and a spokesman from one of the giants of the gambling industry, WIlliam Hill, claimed ‘the betting industry does not have a problem with this use of free bets’. Matched betting has even had featured stories in The Telegraph and The Guardian to name just a couple.
How does matched betting work?
As we have just found out, matched betting is betting on every outcome of an event in order to guarantee a profit. Well, thankfully that doesn’t mean betting individually on win, draw and lose in a football match or betting on all 16 horses in a race. In essence, all we have to do is place a BACK bet and a LAY bet.
A BACK bet is our bet FOR the winner. This is your standard bet at a bookmaker, an organisation that takes bets at given odds. If you have watched any sporting event ever, you have probably heard of some of them as they usually litter the adverts. Some of the more well-known ones in the UK are Paddy Power, Bet365 and Ladbrokes.
An example of a BACK bet is ‘I bet £20 that Chelsea will win.’
A LAY bet is our bet AGAINST the winner. This is not your typical bet and must be done at an exchange (a place where they take AGAINST the winner bets). E.g. I bet £20 that Chelsea will NOT win. This covers the other two outcomes, both a draw and Chelsea to lose, and therefore we have all outcomes covered.
How is the money made?
This is a very good and important question. If we are backing every outcome with our BACK and LAY bets, then surely we are guaranteed to lose as well as ‘win’? Aren’t we essentially cancelling out our own bets? This is where the free bets come in.
Free bets are the key to everything and your whole matched betting journey will be more or less based around trying to obtain them, especially at the start. We first place a QUALIFYING bet (which we will cover how to do). This is where our money more or less cancels out on both sides, often with a very small overall loss. This QUALIFYING bet then unlocks the FREE BET where we can guarantee ourselves profit. Free Bets mean you are not betting your own money on the BACK part of the bet, which enables us to make the money. If you follow this method, there is absolutely no gambling involved.
This is how it works in a very basic way. When you are just starting out it can be confusing about what you have to do exactly. Here is a short video from the matched betting software company that I use, Oddsmonkey, that will bring you up a bit further up to speed:
Before continuing on with this guide, I encourage you to read about the basics in more detail here by signing up for free with Oddsmonkey and then working your way through the ‘Start’ tab. This tab contains 6 Free Guides including more concepts explained and tried and tested tutorials to make around £40 in 30 minutes work.
Oddsmonkey Tutorial Video – Betfred New Customer Offer
Below is one of the video tutorials from Tutorial Number 6 on their website, just to give you a snippet of a worked example. Work through it by watching the video below or through the Oddsmonkey website full guide at your own pace. Again I encourage you to at least skim read through the guides to understand what is going on in the video. Take your time and try to follow along if you can.
Further Examples of Matched Betting
The offer that we have just seen is a New Customer Offer from Betfred. At the beginning, whilst signing up to new bookmakers, you are going to see a lot of similar New Customer Offers:
Here is the one from Betway at the time of writing:
Here is what Coral’s looks like and is the other free guide on the Oddsmonkey website, alongside Betfred.
And that is just the beginning, check out just a few of the other bookmaker Sign Up offers out there:
These sign ups are the ones that you should be targeting first. They are the lowest-hanging, juiciest fruit on the whole matched betting tree. They build up your bankroll fast, lay the foundations for more matched betting down the line and are the simplest offers to tackle. They simply involve becoming a new member of all the bookmakers while taking advantage of their new customer offers.
So hopefully by now you have signed up to a free Oddsmonkey account and have managed to make around £40 from their two free guides. Awesome. If not, then I hope that by now you are at least starting to see the potential of matched betting.
My Matched Betting Walkthrough Example – Betway New Customer Offer
Right now I am going to take you through an even more simplified, step-by-step version. This will benefit especially those who prefer guidance, tips, images and how-tos every step of the way. There is another £22-£24 nailed on here for another 20 minutes or so work so tune in! We are going to be tackling the Betway New Customer Offer as seen above in the further example section. This guide can still be followed with a free Oddsmonkey account so long as you manually search for close odds between Betway and the exchange and are comfortable with putting them into the calculator. If not, then I highly recommend you get Oddsmonkey Premium which gives you access to all of the live bookmaker’s odds and offers via the Oddsmatcher as seen in the above videos as well making life a whole lot easier when you are just starting out.
So we start with the promotion page and the Terms & Conditions. As we can see above, the offer is a 100% Match based on our first deposit. This means that if we deposit £10 we will get a £10 Free Bet. If we deposit £30 we will get a £30 Free Bet. £30 is the maximum Free Bet that we can receive so this is what we will be going for.
We can then scroll down to find some more important information. See the first underline: we must bet the value of our 1st deposit. I.e. we deposit £30 and then bet the £30 (and lay it of course). Odds must also be a minimum of 1.75 for us to qualify.
So then go ahead and register an account with Betway and deposit your £30…
Once you have opened an account with Betway, and assuming you have already opened an account with Betfair Exchange whilst doing the Free Oddsmonkey guides above (if not, then now is time to open a Betfair account too!)we head over to Oddmonkey and use the Oddsmatcher tool to find out what to bet on.
We change the bookmaker search to Betway, we click the ‘Filter’ button to change our exchange search to just Betfair since that is what we will be using. We also change the minimum BACK odds to 1.75 as per the T&Cs.
Here is the page of results that the Oddsmatcher brought up for me. I click the ‘Rating (%)’ tab to filter from highest to lowest. The closer we can get to 100%, the less money we lose on the qualifying part.
I decided to go for the second selection ‘Charlton vs Bradford’. This is because it was a same-day result (I did this on 13/02) unlike the top result and also is from a much better-known football league. I definitely couldn’t tell you where Zulte-Waregem are from! I would also avoid any horse racing results when starting out as the odds can move quite quickly.
Once we have decided on our match, we click on the little ‘i’ button on the row to bring up more information.
Once you click on the ‘i’ button, a summary screen of what event you have selected like this will appear. We will be backing and laying against the football team Charlton in their football match aganst Bradford. Click on ‘Show Calculator’.
Okay, this is our main matched betting screen and what we will always refer back to as we place our bets. Since we are going to be placing the Qualifying part of our bet, we make sure ‘Normal’ is selected in the top left. If you remember from the ‘how is the money made?’ section of the post, we are doing the Qualifying bet first, where we lose a little bit of money, in order to unlock the Free Bets where we can profit.
Our Betway stake will be £30, as this is what we deposited and need to bet to unlock the free bets. Our Betway Odds for Charlton to win are 2.15. Betway commission is 0% and this is the same for every bookmaker.
We then jump to Betfair, our exchange. The Lay odds against Charlton to win are 2.16 and Betfair commission is 5%. The calculator automatically knows this.
It is important to note that the 2.15 back and 2.16 lay can change by the time we get round to placing the bets. This would be the case if we were to go to the Betway website, the bookmaker, find Charlton to win vs Bradford and their odds were no longer 2.15. Or if we were to go to Betfair Exchange and the odds against Charlton were no longer 2.16. If this is the case, then simply click the odds that have changed in the screen above and put in what they have changed to. The calculator does the rest of the work for you. If the odds have changed considerably, then you might want to consider looking for a different event to bet on.
In the blue and pink boxes, we have what we need to bet. In blue, it tells us what we need to bet at Betway. In pink, it tells us what we need to lay at Betfair.
If we take a closer look at the bottom box, we will see all of the calculations. In my instance, as well as betting £30 at Betway, I will be LAYING £30.57 at Betfair and my liability will be £35.46. Remember with liability, this is the minimum amount of money I need in my Betfair account ( my case £35.46) to be able to place my lay bet. This is the money that I stand to ‘lose’ if Charlton win…
BUT, as you can see at the bottom, if Charlton do win, then I will lose my liability of £35.46 but I will also ‘win’ £34.50 at Betway. Resulting in a loss of 96p. If Charlton don’t win, then I lose my back bet of £30 at Betway but my ‘against Charlton’ lay bet wins at Betfair giving me +£29.04 (my £30.57 lay – 5% Betfair commission). Likewise, this will result in a 96p loss.
This is the magic of the calculator, no matter if Charlton win or lose, we will lose 96p but unlock our £30 in Free Bets. Now though, it is time to place our qualifying bets….
We head over to the Betway website and change the odds from Fractional to Decimal. Decimal odds are much easier to work with when matched betting.
I went ahead and found my chosen match on the website: Charlton vs Bradford. I click on the odds for Charlton to win at 2.15 as we saw in the calculator. They haven’t changed from before so there are no adjustments needed in the calculator. I click on the 2.15 and it brings up a ‘Betslip’ window. I enter the £30 that we need to bet at Betway. It will return £64.50, which matches with the calculator’s +34.50 if Charlton win.
IMPORTANT: Before we click ‘Place Bets’ however, it is important to first check the next part…
We then head over to Betfair Exchange to get ready to place our Lay Bet. We find the same match as we had for Betway, for me this was the Charlton vs Bradford game. I am betting AGAINST Charlton this time so will need to use the pink lay column. The odds are still 2.16 as per the calculator so no adjustments need to be made.
If you remember from the calculator before, we are going to be betting at odds 2.16 with a liability of £35.46. This means that I need to have at least that in my Betfair account to be able to place the lay bet. Note in the far top right I have more than enough to cover this.
IMPORTANT: in the circled box we have 2.16, the lay odds. Underneath there is a number, in this case it is £1998. This indicates the amount of money in that market. As per the caluclator, we are going to be staking 30.57 at odds of 2.16. Therefore we always need to check that there is more money in the market than what we are told to bet, otherwise the bet will remain UNMATCHED. In this case, £1998 is more than our £30.57 stake so there is no problem. There is hardly ever this problem if you bet on matches that are happening on the day that you bet.
In the event of there not being enough money in the market, you will just have to wait until there is to be able to proceed or find a new event to bet on in the Oddsmatcher. This is why we don’t click ‘Place Bets’ at the bookmaker until we know there is enough money in the Exchange too to lay it off against. We can now go ahead and click ‘Place Bets’ on Betway as per below.
We then head back over to our Exchange page…
Once we have placed bets at the bookmaker and are happy with everything at the Exchange, we can go ahead and click the box with our event and lay odds. In my case it was the 2.16 pink box (always the pink ones for lay bets) with £1998 in the market. A side box will appear like the one above and all you have to do is enter your lay stake in the ‘Backer’s Stake’ box as per the calculator(see below). Liability will be automatically calculated, but it is always worth checking that it is the same as what the calculator said it would be. In this case, everything matches up and we can click ‘Place bets’.
This screen will then appear. You can see in the top right that my liability has been deducted from my account balance. As we discussed before, if Charlton win we will not get this back at the Exchange but will gain money at Betway, the bookmaker. If Charlton don’t win, we will lose our £30 at Betway but regain our liability + the exchange stake at the Exchange.
In the screen above, you can check everything has gone through correctly by looking at all of the numbers circled under each outcome. If you have made a mistake such as typing in the wrong stake or forgetting to check the money in the market, then a nifty little trick you can use is to click the ‘Cash Out’ button circled. You will lose a few pennies but it will allow you to opt out of your lay bet and do it over.
Once the Bets are placed then that is us done for the Qualifying Bet! We have made our qualifying bet at the bookmaker (in this instance Betway) and layed against the same result at Betfair Exchange. Either way we will lose 96p but gain our £30 in Free Bets. Betway generally give the free bets after your bets are settled i.e. after the Charlton game is finished, in this instance.
As it so happened, Charlton didn’t win so I lost £30 at Betway but gained £29.04 at Betfair Exchange. Free Bets are then credited and it’s time to make the money!
Once the free bets have been credited in Betway, it is time to open up the Oddsmatcher again. We filter for Betway again and this time for our Free Bets, we click SNR (%) instead of Rating (%).
We used Rating (%) for our qualifying bet which tries to get the odds at the bookmaker and exchange to be as close as 100%, so we lose less in our qualifying bet. SNR(%) stands for Stake Not Returned, which just refers to the type of Free Bet that the bookmakers generally give out.
We want to go for another well-known match with an SNR (%) of at least 80. When I first searched, as you can see above it only returned 4 matches above 80, and they were all horse races which I don’t recommend when you are just starting out as the odds can move quite quick.
A trick I use to counter this is to click ‘Filter’, click on ‘Limit Markets’ and then tick ‘Correct Score’. This will bring up just football correct score results and they usually have good matches over 80. Click ‘Apply Filter’ when done.
And so I found the Villareal vs Girona match, a game from the Spanish football league, from the new list which had a rating of over 80. The key thing to remember is that you don’t even have to know anything about the teams, just that they have a good rating and that you are going to bet on them!
As you can see from the information, to back and lay 2-1 to Villareal. We click the little circle box FREE BET (SNR) this time instead of the NORMAL we had selected for our qualifying bet.
We set the Betway Free Bet stake to £30 since that is what we have and then adjust the Betway odds and Betfair odds as necessary.
In the same way as before, the calculating box at the bottom shows our lay stake, our liability and all of the possible outcomes. This time though, we will be guaranteed £23.36 no matter the outcome.
Once we know what we are staking, we head over to Betway and find our match. Mine was in the Villareal vs Girona game. I scroll down to find the Correct Score market and find Villareal to win 2-1 at odds of 8.50. This is exactly what the Oddsmatcher said so there is no need for adjustments. Like we saw earlier, before proceeding to place bets here we need to check we are also good to go at the Exchange…
Before placing the Free Bet at Betway, I check that the odds are the same as I expect on Betfair Exchange. I type in Villareal to find their match, click on the Correct Score market and find 2-1 at odds of 9.2. I also note that there is £381 in the market. I am only laying £24.59 so this is fine in terms of money in the market.
I also neded to make sure that I have enough money in my account to cover the Liability of the bet otherwise it cannot be placed. The calculator for this event as seen before showed us a liability of £201.64. I have more than this in my Betfair Exchange account (top right corner, £369.53) so all the boxes are checked and I can proceed.
If you don’t have enough to cover your liability, you will have to deposit that money into your exchange account to cover it (recommended) or find a new event which has lower odds and therefore requires a smaller liability (not recommended as going for lower odds for free bets usually eat into your profit).
After confirming I’m good to go on both the bookmaker and Exchange. I jump back over to Betway, click on the 8.50 odds for 2-1 and my Betslip, the window at the side, will pop up like before. This time I am not betting any of my own money at Betway, I click on the Free Bet (£30.00) and check the return matches with the calculator (£225.00). You can proceed and click ‘Place Bets’.
Once that goes through, I head back to Betfair to lay it off. I click on the 9.2 lay for Correct Score 2-1 and then type in the Lay stake in the Backer’s stake box as per the calculator (below and above a few pictures back). My liability is automatically calculated. Note that for the Free Bets it tends to be much larger, in this case £201.44. So, as mentioned before, make sure you have at least the liability amount in your Betfair account before proceeding. Once you are happy, click Place Bets and you are all done and officially in profit, no matter the outcome of the event!
As before, if you make a mistake you can always click the cash out button on the Exchange as seen above and do your lay bet over (E.g. if you typed in wrong stake, bet is unmatched). You can also see in the top right that like with the qualifying bet, my liability has been deducted from my account balance until the market is settled (this is why you need enough money in your account to cover the liability). But now it’s time to sit back, relax and see where the profit falls!
As so it happened in my example, Villareal didn’t beat Girona 2-1 so I made £23.36 in my Betfair account and lost nothing in Betway since it was a Free Bet.
My total profit from this offer being £23.36 – 96p qualifying bet = £22.40
Not bad at all, and although for a newcomer that most likely seems like a tonne of work, with a bit of practice you can race through these type of offers in about 10-15 minutes, often less.
What else does a matched betting software company like Oddsmonkey offer?
Before I get a bit more into the details of Oddsmonkey, I just want to clarify that I have never used any other matched betting service. I joined Oddsmonkey through a recommendation and haven’t felt the need to change since. I know there are other top services like Profit Accumulator and Matched Bets but I have never used them so unfortunately cannot cross compare.
Starting matched betting was a bit of a stab in the dark for me and although I learnt the majority of the concepts on my own, I would not have been able to turn this into a ‘part-time job’ without the website. Some of its stand out features for me include:
The Community and its Forums
The community is made up of matched bettors from complete newbies to experienced members that are making it a full time living! The forums and pages here are the place to discuss offers, ask any questions and where I find out what all the recent and best offers are as well guidance on how to tackle them.
Arguably the best piece of software that Oddsmonkey owns, and it owns quite a bit. As we have seen in this guide, it does all of the searching, filtering and calculating for you. Life as a matched bettor would otherwise involve endless trawling for good odds matches and a head-hurting amount of manual calculations. Not ideal.
The Offers and Guides
Their premium service is £17.99 a month. And it will never change for as long as you are a member. If you have followed the two starter guides on their website as well as my premium Betway guide in this blog post, you will have already made around triple the monthly price that Oddsmonkey charges for all of its services. Nice.
Is Matched Betting sustainable – My Long Term View
You may well be thinking: well what about the long term status of matched betting? There are only a certain number of bookmakers I can sign up with, right? That is very true. However to keep punters coming back and betting their money, they provide Existing Customer Offers very frequently. Matched bettors can also take advantage of these offers as well as regular punters. This means that as a customer after signing up, you will be able to take part in all of these ongoing offers. If you have signed up to 40+ bookmakers like I have, not only have I made a tonne of money from their sign ups but now I have a never-ending stream of offers. What’s more, what we have covered today is just the tip of the iceberg. As well as New and Existing Customer offers, there are accumulator offers, casino offers, bingo offers, games offers… Matched betting is flexible, you work from your computer anywhere and you can put as much or as little time as you want into it.
Can you put Matched Betting on a CV?
Whilst I don’t recommend putting the exact words ‘matched betting’ on a CV, there are certainly transferrable skills that you can pick up. Even if you try it out for a month or two and then decide against continuing, you will be surprised about what skills you pick up and can add to your CV anyway:
-understanding markets –> This involves our use of exchanges such as Betfair and all of its fancy-sounding but important details such as volatility, liquidity, etc. These are a big part of markets all around the world and can certainly be applied elsewhere.
-autonomous learning – we shouldn’t play it down: learning a new skill is never easy and getting started with matched betting is certainly no exception. The concepts can be extremely difficult to grasp at the very start but if you persist and make it through, you are not only likely to make a lot more money from the process but will have demonstrated being able to learn a lot of difficult concepts on your own.
-Finance and numbers – Most people don’t like maths. However, most people like counting the money coming in. This is a broad category and matched betting can actually be pulled into many parts of it. You will learn how to move and handle your own money between bookmaker accounts, track your profits with profit-tracking sheets and then possibly even take what you have learned to begin budgeting for more nights-out! That’s tough to argue with.
Summary – A Final Word From Me
Don’t get me wrong, matched betting isn’t for everyone. Some people get bored, some people don’t take the time to learn the concepts and quit, some people never take a look because it contains ‘betting’ which they aren’t comfortable with. That’s perfectly fine. I just hope that no matter who you are, that this blog posts serves as an eye-opener to what else could be and most likely is out there for you, whatever your interests are or situation is. I felt stuck in a part time job that I wanted to change so I looked and looked and eventually stumbled across matched betting. It has literally been a game-changer in my life at university but even if matched betting doesn’t turn out to be your personal solution, don’t be satisfied with being stuck, unhappy or lost in whatever you are doing; whether that be in a job, in university, whatever or wherever. Find another way. Make something work. Most importantly, enjoy what you do or at least find a way to make more time to do the things you enjoy. Thankfully, for me matched betting ticks both of those boxes and long may it continue.
*As matched betting obviously involves betting, you need to be 18+ to do this
**Whilst this guide does encourage matched betting and guaranteeing profit across two bets, a qualifier and a free bet, it does not encourage gambling outright. If you do choose to gamble your profits, gamble responsibly.