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Matched betting explained
If you’re a newbie to the world of sports gambling, then you’re probably finding all the terminology a bit exhausting. The same goes for the different types of bets, bonuses and how odds work, for example.
We recommend that you familiarise yourself with all the basics to make the whole process easier to manage.
Over the next few minutes, our matched betting guide will show you that it isn’t overly complicated. And it’s all just basic maths. But you don’t have to worry about all the figures if you’re savvy…
One thing that you will want to get your hands on is a matched bet calculator. The last thing you want is to sit working out sums to see how much to bet and at what odds. Time is of the essence with this style of betting. And you don’t want to miss out on the perfect bet pairing because the odds move against you while you are busy revising your elementary algebra!
What is matched betting?
Matched bets are like hedging an investment to ensure that you benefit regardless of how the results go. You place bets both for and against the same outcome. And through the wizardry of mathematics, you get to make a profit.
This style of gambling will get you the desired outcome when using bonus funds from a betting site. Or to get you those bonus funds in the first place. It’s not intended as a betting method when using just your own money as you’re about to discover.
The qualifying bet
To get your hands on a welcome bonus at a sports betting website, you’ll often need to place a bet first. This bet will qualify you for receiving the bonus bets or funds. The problem is that you might lose your qualifying bet in the process. And this can put a big dent in the potential profitability of the deal.
In order to mitigate the potential loss of your first bet, you can bet against the original outcome somewhere else. And if the odds and stake values are correct, then you’ll neutralise that qualifying bet and pretty much break even.
This means that you’ve got your hands on the freebies and you didn’t risk your own cash to do it.
Once you access your free bet, it’s time to find a suitable wager that can win you cash whether the free bet goes your way or not. To do this, you follow the same methods that we’re about to share with you.
It’s all about maximising the potential profit by using a free bet for one side of the outcome. You then offset the potential loss with your own cash for the reverse outcome. You usually do this at a betting exchange like Betfair, for example.
We’ve got a working example for you coming up in just a moment.
The history of matched betting
Matched bets came about thanks to betting exchanges allowing punters to back and lay bets against each other rather than against a bookie.
The original contenders started out in the late 90s/early 2000s and now there are a few to choose from. The main ones are Smarkets, Betfair, BetDaq, Matchbook, and Ladbrokes Betting Exchange.
Is matched betting legal?
Yes. Matched bets are perfectly legal and you can use your free bet promos to make a profit using this method in the UK. Bonus deals still have plenty of stipulations attached to them. So there is always a chance that the bookies will break even from their bonus funds in the long run. Plus, they attract loads of new customers and not all are savvy enough to utilise the matched bets to their advantage.
Example of a matched bet
Looking at an example will always help give the idea some context. So let’s use 2 football matches to shed some light on the inner workings of this method.
Matched betting with your qualifying bet
Let’s say you want to qualify for a £20 free bet promo at a new bookmaker. And imagine that you need to make a £5 qualifying bet first. To minimise the chances of any losses, you’ll be using the matched betting UK method. This means placing a £5 bet at the sportsbook and an opposing bet at an exchange to cover your losses.
Remember, you aren’t worried about making a small loss here as you stand to get £20 as a promo reward. And we’ll be turning this into a profit in the second part of our example.
Before you place any bets, you need to find a match with the odds of a team winning being very close to the odds of them not winning. This will all make sense in a moment. And you’ll often find that the qualifying bet must be at odds of 1.5 or greater.
So, in this example, we’re going to look at a match between Arsenal and Man Utd. Arsenal are the favourites for this match with 1.5 odds to win the game.
Placing your bets
You place £5 on Arsenal winning. You’ll get £7.50 back if they win. But if they lose, then you’ve just lost a fiver. So it’s time to go and hedge the bet at a sportsbook such as Betfair, for example.
At Betfair, you are looking to bet against Arsenal winning this game. This means that your Betfair wager will come good if Arsenal lose or draw the match. And you want those odds as close to 1.5 as possible for this to work.
Betfair are offering the lay bet at 1.51. So this is about as close as you can get.
You now need to know how much to place on that lay bet in order to maximise the potential. And that’s where a matched bet calculator comes in.
We’ve done the calculations, and the wager needed is £5.14. This will result in a 12p loss regardless of how the match finishes.
So you’re 12p out of pocket. What now?
The free bet
You might have just lost 12p but you’ve gained a £20 free bet. And this was all thanks to minimising your risk by matching the bet. If you hadn’t, then you might be £5 down by this point.
Now, you want to get as much profit as possible from your free bet. You could just have a punt on any game you like. But there’s no guarantee that you’ll win. So let’s take the guesswork out of the equation.
Wolves have odds of 8.0 to win this game. So the bookies don’t fancy their chances. They also have lay odds of 8.4 at Betfair, which is pretty good for our purposes.
If you place your £20 free bet at the bookies on Wolves winning, you would stand to win £140. You won’t get the stake back as it’s a free bet.
We’ve run the figures through the calculator. And the lay bet needs to be £16.77 to give you a profit of £15.90 if Wolves win and £15.93 if they lose or draw.
The reason why your back bet takes a big hit is because of the liability on your lay bet when you lose.
A Wolves win = £140 winnings at the bookies – £124.10 loss at Betfair (£15.90 profit).
A Wolves loss or draw = lose your free bet but gain a £15.93 win at Betfair (£15.93 profit).
The bookmaker and the betting exchange
Key things to remember here are that the bookies is where you’ll place your back bet using your free funds. Or the funds you’re spending to qualify for your free bet.
You’ll need an account open at both places to use the matched bet method.
The back bet
As you’ve seen in the example, the back bet is you saying you think that team will win.
Key takeaways: Choose low odds for a qualifying bet and high odds when using a free bet.
The lay bet
The lay side of the bet happens at the exchange. You are effectively finding another punter who wants to bet against you. The lay bet states that you don’t think the team will win. This covers the loss and the draw.
Remember that you have to have enough cash in the betting exchange account to cover your liability. Also, they will probably charge 5% commission when you win.
Getting started with matched betting
So now you know the principles of matched bets, it’s time to move on to the next step. Here are a few helpful hints and tips to get you started.
Use our lists to find free bets
To continue making profit from this kind of betting, it’s essential that you always seek out the best offers and bonuses around. And the great thing is that it isn’t only welcome bonuses that you can use.
Bookmaker promos throughout the month also present opportunities to get your hands on some matched bet action.
All of the sites shown here on this page are able to offer you fantastic deals. And this gives you a chance to take your first step on the road to trying out this top gambling action.
Use a matched betting calculator
As we mentioned before, you’re going to need a calculator that can tell you exactly what you can win from your matched bets. These calculators are essential as they will tell you what your lay bets should be over at the exchange.
Without this info at your fingertips, it is very difficult for you to work out exactly how much you need to place on both sides of the bet. It all depends on the odds, commissions, type of free bet you’re using and other variables as well. Clever calculators have all of this info pre-programmed and ready for you to simply add the basic figures.
Make sure you fully understand how it works
Before you go off placing your bets, it is essential that you understand exactly what you are doing. We have tried to be as thorough as possible with our above examples. However, if you are still in doubt, then reread our guide to make sure there’s nothing you have missed.
Start out small
It can be tempting to go for huge bets to try and maximise the potential profits. Although you need to remember that lay betting involves you covering the cost of the losing bet. And if you are placing a large lay bet with some pretty big odds, then you may have to pay out a lot of money to the person on the other side of the deal.
Pros of matched betting
Let’s take a look now at a few of the advantages of placing bets in this way. And we can safely say that there are plenty of benefits.
No risk of losing money
Usually, gambling involves risking your cash. But the great thing about betting in this way is that you don’t stand to lose anything. Even though you will perhaps make a small loss on your qualifying bet, using your free bet will get you a guaranteed profit.
You will profit if you do it properly
But making a profit only comes your way if you calculate your bets carefully. And of course, you need some form of freebie in your hand to make it all worth your while.
Can work great as a side hustle
As we mentioned before, it isn’t only welcome deals that make this kind of risk-free betting possible. As such, you can pick up bonuses from sportsbooks all throughout the month and this presents a great side hustle opportunity.
There are many players who use all of the regular deals and monthly promos to make a fairly decent profit each and every week.
Cons of matched betting
But of course, there are always downsides to every type of betting. Nothing is without its flaws after all. Here we outline a few of the disadvantages that you may come across while going down this route.
It’s quite time consuming
The main problem with this method is that it can take some time to find the matches to bet on. You will need those close odds for the back and lay bets to make it possible.
It can mean plenty of searching around for the perfect opportunity.
In addition, you will also have to keep signing up for regular offers in order to have free cash to play with in the first place. All in all, it will take a bit of time investment on your part.
There’s a learning curve
In the beginning, you may find it a little tricky to get the hang of. But this is the same with most forms of betting. After a few goes, you will be well on your way to finding all the best bets and knowing exactly what wagers to place.
Finding the best bookies for matched betting
When deciding which bookmakers to use, it is essential that you take certain things into account. You can’t simply go with the biggest bonus on offer. There are many other things to take into consideration to make sure that your data and money are safe while gambling online.
Make sure the bookmaker is UK licensed and reliable
One of the first things that we always look out for here at Casino.xyz is a valid licence. A bookmaker needs to offer their services in a fair and controlled way. And this means that they comply with the laws in your area. If you are playing online in the UK, then it’s important that a gambling operator holds a valid UKGC licence.
Look for the best possible offer
The biggest offers aren’t always the best. Sometimes you may find an enormous cash bonus. But due to the terms and conditions, it can be very difficult to profit from the promotion.
Make sure you understand exactly what you have to do to receive your freebies. And how you can use any of the profits that come your way as a result.
The best matched bet offers are usually those that don’t require you to wager the winnings from free bets too many times. And you want some freedom when it comes to placing your bets. Too many restrictions can put a real dampener on a promo.
Use as many offers as you can find
And when it comes to matched betting sites, you are relying on free bets and other promotional cash. So you want to take advantage of as many of these deals as you can.
And as we mentioned before, it isn’t only the welcome offers that you need to look out for. You need to take a look through the bonus offerings of any operator to make sure that they can supply you with some deals throughout the month as well.
Matched betting calculators
Having access to a calculator with this style of betting is essential. You need to know exactly the size of the wager that you’re going to place on the lay bet. Without it, you don’t know where to position your stake.
And that would make it impossible to successfully profit from matched bets.
Matched betting is not technically gambling
Many people consider this method of gambling a sure thing rather than luck. By taking away the possibility of losing from either side of the bet, you aren’t gambling with your money at all. You may be gambling with the free bet, but that’s free cash anyway and doesn’t affect your bottom line.
No risk involved
No-risk matched betting is an amazing form of gambling entertainment. You get all of the excitement of waiting for the match to finish to see what the result is while knowing that you are going to make some money one way or another. It is the perfect solution.
What bookmakers have to say about matched betting
There’s nothing wrong with this type of betting and many bookmakers have come out and publicly stated that they are fine with their customers using free bets in this way. They are happy to receive the new customers when they claim a promo. And it doesn’t make much difference to them if free bets all go on results with quite wide odds that are unlikely to come in any way.
Hopefully, we’ve covered everything you need to know about ‘how does matched betting work?’ But check out the FAQ below for a little last minute info if you need it.