On the Summer break of my second year at university I made myself a promise, if I could earn £250 a week from matched betting then I wouldn’t get a job and would spend the next few years building my own business. I succeeded and never looked back.
At the time I had never come across anything like matched betting before. I always dreamed that one day I will start an awesome company that would be the answer to all my fantasies and makes me a multi-millionaire. But it was only a pipe dream. In my more truthful moments, I knew that it would involve a tremendous amount of work with a great deal of risk attached and no guarantee of reward.
Matched betting is nothing like that. In fact, it sounds way too good to be true: a simple system where the profit is totally risk and tax free. With an hourly rate rewarding enough to make even the most handsomely paid lawyer’s eyes water. As I said, it sounds too good to be true.
But it is true.
If you live in the UK you will have seen adverts from bookmakers everywhere, offering stuff like:
Sign up to William Hill and get a £50 free bet.
Apply to Bet365 and get a £200 bet.
This “free bet” must have a value to someone. I’m not a gambler and personally don’t want to bet, but surely there is someone out there who does. Is there a way to pass on or sell the free bet to someone who would use it? Well as a matter of fact there is a very easy way to do this. Betting exchanges are marketplaces where people buy and sell (the technical terms are to back and lay) bets.
By using the “free bet” to buy a bet at the bookmaker and then selling the same bet on the exchange, we can be sure that regardless of the bet’s outcome we will be able to keep most of the value of the free bet.
Matched Betting – A Worked Through Example
Once you understand matched betting it is very simple, but originally getting your head round it can be quite tough. The simplest way to explain it is to follow along with me as I actually do some matched betting. I already have accounts at most bookies, so for the sake this article I introduce a friend.
My favorite sign-up bonus is at Bet365 and a quick check of their website shows that the offer is still there. Simply deposit £20-£200 and they will double your balance. Let’s take a look at the terms and conditions.
After signing up to Bet365, if you deposit £200 and enter a bonus code they will give you a £200 bonus bringing the balance to £400. That’s free money! But there is a downside. You need to jump through some hoops before you can take any of the money out. In this case you need to have placed bets totalling at least £1,400 (3 times the deposit plus bonus). That sounds like a lot but let’s work through and see what it takes.
We signed up and immediately received an email with the offer code in it. After depositing, we entered the code and the bonus was added immediately.
You can see from the screenshot that there is a bonus of £200 added to the account. To activate it I need to place £200 worth of bets (the deposit). And then to withdraw total bets of £1,200 need to be made.
When buying a bet on bet365 we want to choose one that can be sold for similar or lower odds at Betfair. This used to take a lot of manual searching but now there are plenty of calculators online that do all the hard work for you. I headed to the free odds comparison service at Oddsmonkey to search for a match. You need to sign up for a free account to be able to access it.
I am looking for a bet that has low odds, which will reduce the amount of money I need to deposit at Betfair. But they need to be over 1.5 as that is a requirement from the terms and conditions. I also want a bet that is happening today, because I am lazy and want to make my money as quickly as possible.
Crawley Town v Gillingham stood out. The odds you can bet at are 2.15, and you can trade them off at 2.12 on Betfair.
Think about this for a second: you place a £10 bet at bet365 and ‘lay’ a £10 bet at Betfair. If the bet wins you will get £21.5 (10 x 2.15) from bet365 but only have to pay out £21.2 (10*2.12) at Betfair. A 30p profit, on top of the free bet! Unfortunately, you also have to pay a commission to Betfair which erodes that profit, but you are still reclaiming most of the value from the bet.
Now let’s place the bets.
At Bet365, I had to place the balance in two £200 bets. One with my own deposit and once again with the bonus funds.
The simplest thing to do now would be to lay (sell) £400 at Betfair. That is risk free, but it does mean that we’d make more money if the bet wins at Betfair. If you want to find out the exact amount to lay to make the same amount regardless of outcome Oddsmonkey has a handy calculator.
I am pretty experienced with matched betting so I decided to guestimate the amount to bet based on how much I wanted the bet to win at Betfair. If the bet wins at Bet365 I will have to make another bet in order to finish the £1,200 wagering requirement but if it wins at Betfair I can withdraw immediately. To compensate me for that extra effort I skew the outcomes so that if I win at Bet365 I will make more money. I lay (sold) two bets of £180 at Betfair to match the two bets of £200 I made at Bet365.
I am sorry if that’s really confusing. If you can’t wrap your head around it don’t worry, just use the Oddsmonkey calculator, they also have a bunch of guides explaining the maths more thoroughly.
The next day I logged in and found out that Crawley did not win. I had £0 at Bet365 and £342 of winnings in Betfair. As I had only deposited £200 at Bet365 that is £142 profit which I withdrew and had in my bank account withing 24 hours.
But what would have happened if Crawley had won? I would have lost £410.40 at Betfair, but would have made £460 at Bet365. That is a straight up £59.60 profit, which means that including the £200 free bet we are currently up £259.60.
Then we would have had to place another bet of £800 to finish the £1,200 betting requirement.
Let’s assume that the odds were the same as the first bet and we placed a £800 bet at odds 2.15 at Bet365 and an £800 lay (sell) bet at odds of 2.13 at Betfair.
We had 3 possible outcomes with different profits:
- Bet 1 wins at Betfair. Brilliant! Withdraw and spend the £142 profit.
- Bet 1 wins at Bet365. Bet 2 wins at Betfair. Brilliant! Withdraw and spend the £219.6 profit.
- Bet 1 wins at Bet365. Bet 2 wins at Bet365. Brilliant! Withdraw and spend the £283.6 profit.
You can change the amount made in each scenario by fiddling with the amount layed (sold) at Betfair.
Pretty simple, eh? That took about 20 minutes and made a profit of £142. That’s £426 an hour! If you can find anyone who makes more than that, then please send them my way so they can write a guest post on how they do it. If the second bet was needed it would have taken another 10 minutes, but the profit would have much higher.
Yes, this is just one example and I already knew what I was doing. You’re not going to be able to replicate that hourly income day in day out. To make consistent money from matched betting you need to research the subject to find the opportunities. Your first few offers will probably be quite slow as you don’t want to make any mistakes, but it is certainly worth while.
If I’ve got you excited about matched betting and you have done the Bet365 offer, you might well be thinking “what’s next?”. You can only do that introductory sign-up offer once, so how do you find other offers? Well, that is the hardest part of matched betting…
Generally offers can be split into either ‘sign-up’ or ‘reload’ offers: A ‘sign-up offer’ is one that is similar to the Bet365 example above – you are taking advantage of a free bet that is there to encourage people to sign up to the bookie. Once you have registered an account and done the offer, you can’t do it again. It’s a one-time only deal. ‘Reload offers’ are different, they are offered to people who already have an account.
To begin with, you will want to do all the best ‘sign-up offers’, and then once you have a lot of bookie accounts you can start working on the ‘reload offers’.
Not all promotions offered by bookies can be profited from through matched betting, so the work involved is sifting through the terms and conditions looking for loopholes. Luckily you won’t need to do that until you are deep into your matched betting career, other people have done all that hard work for you and there are enough offers around to keep you satisfied for months.
The next most popular method is to get involved in some matched betting communities – for instance the matched betting forum on Money Saving Expert (which is free). They are very good for finding ‘reload offers’ or recently changed ‘sign-up offers’ and for discussing tactics.
I suggest using these forums once you are already familiar with matched betting and have some offers under your belt.
How do you find reload bonuses?
The most lucrative and easy offers are what we call sign-up bonuses, the ones you get for first signing up to the bookie. But at some point, you are going to have accounts at every bookie. Don’t worry, that is not the end of the journey. There are also what we call reload-offers.
You can often find them on the forums or you can pay for access to a service that will find them for you. Below is a screenshot of the ‘daily offers calendar’ page of Oddsmonkey.
At the time when that screenshot was taken, there were 16 different offers just for today totally over £200 of expected profit. I know I’ve mentioned Oddsmonkey a lot in this article. That is because both their free and paid tools are excellent. I was using them 10 years ago when I first heard of matched betting and I still use them now.
Can You Do Matched Betting In A Friend’s Name?
Once you have done all the free sign up offers you will probably start wondering if you can just do it all again using a friend’s account. This is called gnoming and is a very controversial topic filled with greyness.
The short answer is that there is nothing wrong with introducing a friend to matched betting and they pay you for the advice (although you will owe tax on the earnings). After all that is what services like Oddsmonkey is already doing. Where the problems lie is if you start using their accounts or creating accounts in their names. I am not a lawyer so will not go into it any further. If you have got the point in your matched betting career where this is your only option, then make sure to seek legal advice to confirm you are not doing anything illegal.
Remember that bookies will often ask for proof you are who you say you are and can withhold your winnings if you turn out to be lying.