So, you’ve heard that matched betting can be an excellent way to make some extra money… But you’re not sure what it actually involves, or if it’s right for you.
No worries! I’ve put together this quick matched betting for dummies guide to answer all your questions about matched betting for beginners. I was there too, a few years ago!
Let’s find out if matched betting could be the solution you’ve been looking for to make some extra cash.
What is matched betting?
Simply put, matched betting is a way of making money from betting sites by taking advantage of their free bets and other special offers.
Matched betting is not gambling, because the aim is to remove the element of risk as far as possible.
In matched betting, you always place bets in pairs: one for an event, and the other against it. This means the two bets cancel each other out and you don’t lose.
Let’s say you are betting on a football match, England v Spain. You place a bet at one bookie for England to win. Then you place another bet on a different site that England won’t win (this covers Spain winning, or a draw).
Whatever the result, the two bets have cancelled each other out so you win one, lose one.
The profit comes in when betting sites run special offers such as ‘bet £10, get a free £10 bet’.
When you place your two ‘matched’ bets, you will come out even. You didn’t win money, but you didn’t lose money either. But now you’ve qualified for the special offer! And all the profit from the second (free) bet is yours to keep.
In matched betting, we do not just place random bets and hope for the best. All bets are calculated using special calculators that tell you exactly how much to bet and where.
If you follow the instructions and use the proper calculators, you can’t go wrong.
Oh, and did I mention the best thing about matched betting? It’s tax free! Betting winnings are not taxed in the UK and you don’t have to declare them.
Quick matched betting glossary
|Matched betting||A system for making money from the special offers on betting sites. Not gambling!|
|Back bet||A bet that something will happen (what we think of as a ‘normal’ bet).|
|Lay bet||A bet that something will not happen (e.g. if you place a lay bet on a team to win, you are betting that they will lose or draw).|
|Bookmaker||Also known as bookie, betting site. A site where you can place bets.|
|Betting exchange||A site where you can place lay bets.|
How to do matched betting step by step
Want to understand exactly how does matched betting work? Here’s how to do matched betting for beginners, step by step.
Important note: This guide is intended to give you more information about the matched betting process only. The full process is a little more involved than set out here. If you want to give matched betting a try, I strongly recommend you use a service such as Outplayed.com for full instructions!
1. Open a new bank account
This is not essential but highly recommended!
Firstly, it will keep your matched betting separate from the rest of your money, so you can keep an eye on all transactions and won’t accidentally go over budget.
Secondly, in case you are thinking of applying for a mortgage, or any other situation when people might want to review your bank statements, it’s a good idea to keep betting transactions out of the way. This is because matched betting is still not widely understood and some people might interpret it as a gambling problem!
It’s very quick and easy to open new banks accounts now, especially with the app-based banks such as Starling.
2. Join a matched betting support service.
Again, not essential, but HIGHLY recommended, especially for beginners!
There are a few of them about now but the only one I have experience is Outplayed.com (formerly Profit Accumulator) and I cannot fault them.
They will hold your hand through the entire process, from how to know which bets to place, to how to keep your accounts healthy.
PA have training videos that walk you through placing your bets step by step, they have a list of offers to do in order, update new offers daily, and they provide the all-important calculators and software so you know exactly what to bet.
They also have live support 7 days a week, so if you ever get unsure about the next step you can give them a ring/email/message and they will talk you through it!
It is a paid service but you should easily make back the monthly membership in just 3 or 4 bets – with the potential to make several hundred profit on top of that.
You can also take a free trial with Outplayed to try out your first two bets, no commitment necessary. You can make up to £40!
3. Join a betting exchange
A betting exchange is a site that lets you place ‘back bets’. These are bets against an event happening – which is the opposite of most betting sites, where you bet that an event will happen. This is the magic that makes matched betting possible.
There are plenty of betting exchanges but the best one for beginners is Betfair because it’s the biggest.
4. Join a betting site
There are dozens, if not hundreds of betting sites, and as a matched better you will probably end up with accounts at most of them at some point! But let’s start small.
Choose one bookmaker to start with. Choose one that has a good introductory offer for new members – something like ‘bet £10, get £20 free’. Note: it will need to be a bookie that you haven’t had an account with before.
The best ones for beginners are the big names, like Coral, Ladbrokes or William Hill.
Sign up with your chosen bookie and be aware of any T&Cs. For example, do you have to enter a code when you sign up to be eligible for the free bet?
5. Find your first bet
Remember, matched betting works because we place two bets for each event, for and against. These are called back bets and lay bets. We need to locate an event to bet on, both on the bookie (where we will place our back bet) and on the exchange (where we will place our lay bet).
The trick is that the odds on both should be as close as possible. If you are on Outplayed you can use their Oddsmatcher tool to find these close matches for you. Otherwise, you can look for a match manually but it will just take a bit more time.
6. Place your qualifying bets
Now you’re ready to place your first bet! The first set of bets are called ‘qualifying’ bets because you need to qualify for the offer.
First, place the back bet on the bookmaker’s site. This should be in accordance with any T&Cs to qualify for the offer; usually they will specify that you bet a certain amount at certain odds.
And here’s the most important part: placing your lay bet. This is where the ‘matching’ comes into play that makes matched betting work!
To calculate your back bet, you need to use a special matched betting calculator. There’s a free one here.
For a qualifying bet, the bet type should be ‘normal’. Enter the back odds and lay odds. (Make sure you switch the odds on the site to decimal (not percentage) if they aren’t already.) The calculator will tell you exactly how much to lay in the exchange (the ‘lay stake’).
As you can see, you will lose a few pennies. This is because it’s almost impossible to get an exact match, and also the sites take some commission. But that’s ok! You will make it back in the next step.
7. Use your free bet
Once the qualifying bet has settled, your account should be credited with your free bet! You might be tempted to just put that on whatever you fancy, but that would be gambling. Remember, in matched betting we leave nothing to chance. So again, you need to back and lay a bet so that you can’t lose.
Again, find an event to bet on. Again, the odds should be as close as possible between the bookie and the exchange – but this time you want to go for higher odds, because this means more profit.
Now go back to the matched betting calculator. To use your free bet, the bet type is typically ‘SNR’ (stake not returned). The ‘back stake’ is the amount of your free bet. Enter the odds you found, and find out how much to bet.
As you can see, this time you make a profit – whether the game wins or loses! We got to keep around £16 from the £20 free bet, and we knew how much we’d make before the bet even settled. This is the real magic of matched betting.
8. Withdraw your profit
Once the bet has settled, the money in your account is yours to keep. Enjoy!
9. Rinse and repeat!
Sign up offers are generally the quickest and easiest offer, and luckily there are dozens of different bookies to sign up for! So repeat this process until you’ve done them all. That should keep you busy for a while – and net you a few hundred pounds in the process.
And once you’ve finished the sign up offers, no worries – there are constant offers called ‘reloads’ for existing customers. You will have to learn advanced techniques for different kinds of offers, but the profit will still be there if you want it.
Honestly, not many people will understand how it all works first time just by reading about it. The best way is to walk through a bet and try it out for yourself.
For my first bet I had no clue what I was doing, but I watched a video walkthrough and literally paused the video and copied every single step. And after the first time, it just clicked!
You can take a free trial at Outplayed to access video walkthroughs for your first two bets. You could make up to £40!
Does matched betting actually work?
Yes, matched betting really works!
I earned over £1000 in my first 12 weeks, and went on to make between £300-£600 per month. You can read more about my own experience starting matched betting here:
But don’t just take my word for it!
Outplayed, the matched betting service I use (the one that provides the special calculators I mentioned) claims to have had over 150,000 members over the last 6 years. That’s a lot of people matched betting!
Every month Outplayed publishes a round up on their blog of how much their members earned over the last month. Here’s a snapshot from March 2022:
You will also find plenty of active discussions on major forums such as Reddit and even Mumsnet. Search them and see for yourself how much people are making matched betting.
Is matched betting legal?
Matched betting honestly sounds too good to be true, so it’s not surprising many people wonder if it’s legal.
The short answer is yes, matched betting is perfectly legal in the UK! It has been covered in loads of mainstream publications from The Guardian to the Financial Times.
Bookies might not like matched betting, but that’s only because they lose money. There’s absolutely nothing they can do about it (other than restrict your offers – but there are always more bookies to join!)
For more reassurance, see this post:
Is matched betting risk free?
You often hear people talk about ‘risk free matched betting’. Matched betting is designed to be very low risk, but it’s important to point out that it is not completely risk free.
The biggest risk factor is human error. If you aren’t concentrating and you bet on the wrong thing or enter the wrong numbers, you risk losing money.
Personally I did make a few small mistakes when I was starting, usually because I was rushing and not paying attention, but overall the profits well outweighed the losses!
Another possible risk factor is that some people are tempted to ignore the matched betting process and slip into gambling. It is important to follow the matched betting process exactly and stop if you are feeling the temptation to gamble.
If you have a history of issues with gambling/addiction, you should stay away from matched betting altogether.
A third possible risk is that sometimes bookies might do things outside of your control, such as change the odds when you’re midway through placing your bets, or they may even decide not to honour a bonus.
There are things you can do to mitigate all these risks, but be aware!