Matched Betting – Guide, Tips, How-To & FAQ

Our comprehensive guide to risk-free matched betting and the strategies to take advantage of bookmaker offers to make a guaranteed return.

Matched betting can appear to be too good to be true. The words "risk-free" and " betting" being associated with each other mean that many will dismiss risk-free matched betting immediately. However, matched betting has been thriving for years and if you are a complete beginner to this concept then you might be surprised how easy and profitable the process is.

What Is Matched Betting

Matched betting is the act of taking advantage of bookmaker offers to make a guaranteed risk-free return. This is done by placing bets on a bookmaker and an exchange site to trigger free bet promotions and using these bets to tie up a guaranteed profit. Because of the free bets, you can make nearly twice your stake with each matched bet.

Initially, the offers to take advantage of will be traditional welcome offers from bookmakers that entice customers to join their sites. However, there are many reload offers that can be taken advantage of when all of these offers have been completed.

Manual Matched Betting

Manual matched betting involves placing matched bets that have been searched for and placed without any help from independent parties. This is not something we personally recommended as there are many offers to be taken advantage of and this will cost you so much time and money in the long run.


An auto-matcher is a piece of software that will scan several bookmakers and compare the odds to that currently set on an exchange site to show which bets could be placed.

An example of this would be that team A has odds of 3.0 to win their game on Bet365. Meanwhile, the odds to lay against this outcome are also 3.0 on Betfair. Therefore if you were to place a qualifying bet on these two selections you will break even. On these auto-matchers, it is possible to filter your search to include specific bookmakers or exchange sites.

Matched Betting Services

Matched betting services provide great software and valuable information. The first one being their own auto matcher. This is crucial for anyone who wants to take matched betting seriously. They will also provide a comprehensive list of offers that can be taken advantage of as well as a daily list of reload offers. They scrape matched betting sites to filter through the offers and deals automatically in a matter of seconds.

The most popular matched betting services in the UK at the moment are ProfitAccumulator and Oddsmonkey. It will cost you about £17.99 to have a monthly subscription with this company.

How Does Matched Betting Work

Matched betting revolves around taking advantage of promotions that are offered by bookmakers. These offers range from welcome offers for new customers to reload offers such as a money-back offer if your horse finishes second.

Using an exchange site it is possible to place a qualifying bet on a bookmaker and lay against this bet on an exchange site with the aim of breaking even. When this bet has been completed we shall repeat a similar process with the free bet. Only this time because we are using a free bet we will be looking to lock in a guaranteed profit.

The Back Bet

For matched betting purposes a back bet will refer to the bet placed on a bookmaker. Therefore if you were to place a bet on horse A, you will be betting for the horse to win. In matched betting, we should always place the back bet first. This is because if the odds change at the exchange site we will lose less money.

The Lay Bet

When you place a lay bet you will be betting against a particular outcome occurring on an exchange site. For matched betting purposes you will be betting against the bet you have placed with the bookmaker.

The exchange site will take some commission from the bet but if you use a matched betting service this money will be factored into their calculations. Currently, Betfair's commission stands at 5% while the Smarkets commission stands at 2%. It is worth noting that Oddsmonkey has a deal with Smarkets that means none of their customers have to pay commission. Over the course of 1000's of bets, this can add up to a significant amount of money.

Mathematics of Matched Betting

It is important to know what to do differently when placing a qualifying bet and a free bet. The purpose of a qualifying bet is to break even and trigger a promotion. Therefore the only thing you will need to consider is the qualifying loss.

Qualifying betStakeOddsProfit
Exchange site (Lay)£10 (Liability, £20)3.0£0.00
Example of how exchange liability affects matched betting.

As you can see from the table above a bet of £10 will return a profit of £20 if the bet is successful. You will break even however because on the exchange bet you will lose £20 because of your liability. This works the other way round. If the bet loses the £10 stake at the bookmaker will be lost but you will win £10 from the exchange and your liability will be returned to your account.

Free betStakeOddsStake Not Returned (SNR)Profit
Bookmaker£1010Not applicable£8.18
Exchange site£101181.8%£8.18
Example of a break-even.

With a free bet, your main consideration should be how much profit you will be making. You will need to find odds with the highest SNR available. SNR refers to how much value you will extract from your free bet.

In this example, the SNR is 81.8%. Meaning that from a £10 free bet you will make a profit of £8.18 regardless of the outcome of the match. Using a matched betting calculator it is possible to change it so that you will break even if the bet wins and make more money if the bet loses. This can be done both ways.

Qualifying Loss

A qualifying loss refers to how much money is lost when placing an initial bet to trigger the free bet promotion. Ideally, we will find odds that mean there will be no qualifying loss but it can be the case that you will lose a small percentage of money when placing your qualifying bet. You should seek to lose no more than 3% of your stake.

How Does Matched Betting Work (Infographic)
How Does Matched Betting Work - Infographic

Matched Betting Calculators

Even if you are great at maths you will need to use matched betting calculators. As you develop as a matched better you will discover that it's possible to place more complex matched bets and playing with these calculators will help you gain a better understanding of the whole process.

  1. Matched betting calculator - This calculator allows you to place qualifying bets and place your free bets with ease. It will also tell you how much money to stake at the exchange site.
  2. Risk-free calculator - Sometimes you will only receive a free bet when your qualifying bet loses. A risk-free calculator will ensure that you make a profit either way. This is why free bets allow you to make no-risk matched betting.
  3. Free bet calculator - A free bet calculator will let you know how much profit you will make from placing a free bet. With free bets, it is important to place bets with a high SNR. This will usually be high when the odds are too. It is very difficult to know this without the use of a calculator.

Matched Betting Examples

Technically you can do matched betting on any sport but due to the popularity and the promotions bookmakers tend to offer we shall be focusing on soccer and horse racing for our examples.

Soccer Matched Bet Example

Betting SiteStakeOddsProfit
Exchange site£9.772.2-£0.23
Example of football matched betting.

Manchester United have odds to win their game at 2.15 at the bookmaker we are betting with. The odds for them to not win on the exchange site are 2.2. This means to place this bet we will need to accept we will make a slight loss. This is the type of bet we can place to trigger a free bet.

Horse Racing Matched Bet Example

Betting SiteStakeOddsProfit
Exchange site£104.3£0.47
Example of horse racing matched betting.

Horse C has odds of 4.5 to win the race. Currently, the odds on Smarkets are 4.3. This means that this time our qualifying bet will result in a very small profit.

This is what we would do if we had the exact same bet but only this time our bet on the bookmaker will be in the form of a £10 free bet. As you will be able to see the amount staked at the exchange site is different. This particular bet was placed with the help of a matched betting calculator.

Betting SiteStakeOddsProfit
Bookmaker£10 (free bet)4.5£8.14
Exchange site£8.144.3£8.14
Example of horse racing matched betting (with a £10 free bet).
Live example: matched betting walkthrough!

How Profitable Is Matched Betting

The answer to this question will depend on the amount of time you have available to commit to matching betting and if you desire to continue after you have used up all the welcome offers.

When all the welcome offers have been completed it is possible to make between £500 and £1,000 per month every month. This will be a combination of free bet clubs, random reload offers, and money-back scenarios.

Just to give a few examples:

  • sites like William Hill and Coral give money back if your horse fails to finish the race, and
  • Bet365 pays out in selected games if your football team goes 2-0 up.

These offers will not be successful that often but when they are the profit made can be huge.

Matched Betting Income Reports

Many gamblers have decided to log and document their matched betting journey by publishing regular income reports:

  • "Matched Betting for 3 Years: Income Report & Future Profits" by FoxyMonkey
  • "How much money I made matched betting each month for 2 years and why I quit" by Lylia Rose
  • "My Matched Betting Journey - One month in" by Matched Betting Today

Are Matched Bets Risky

The whole concept and attraction of matched betting is that it's risk-free. If done correctly it is exactly that but there are things you will need to be aware of.

The most common mistake will be not backing and laying correctly. If you do many bets every day it can be very easy to make this simple mistake and in the worst-case scenario, you could lose two bets. This is much less likely to happen with the aid of a matched betting service!

When placing your bets the odds can change on the exchange site meaning that on occasion you will have to take a heavier qualifying loss than you originally planned on. This is especially true for horse racing events that are due to begin as the odds can fluctuate significantly.

Matched Betting Free Bets

When you place a qualifying bet you are breaking even as you are placing money with a bookmaker. When there is a free bet available however there will be no stake with the bookmaker. This is how money is made from free bets.

When using a free bet we should look to extract about 80 percent of value from this bet. Meaning if we have a £10 free bet we should look to make around £8. Also when using your free bet you should seek higher odds at this is more likely to have a higher SNR.

Matched betting is completely legal. All you are doing, in theory, is placing two separate bets with two different bookmakers

The best way I can put this is if one bookmaker were offering odds for Roger Federer to win at 3.0 and another bookmaker was offering odds for Rafael Nadal to win at 2.5 would you consider it illegal or unethical to take advantage of this? In my opinion, you are just doing business with two separate companies so there is nothing to worry about.


In the UK and the US money that is won from activities classified as 'gambling' is exempt from being taxed. Once again the act of matched betting does not need to be declared and in the eyes of the law you are simply placing bets on legal betting sites. Therefore any money you win is 100% yours.

How To Place a Matched Bet?

To place a matched bet you will need a few things such as an exchange account and a matched betting subscription service. After these things are accumulated the process of matched betting will get easier and easier until the point where it will feel like second nature.

Open a Betfair exchange account

opening a betfair account

To begin you will need to open an account with an exchange account. Betfair and Smarkets being the two most popular exchange sites out there. To sign up all you will have to do is go to the respective sites and go through the registration process and deposit some money into your account.

Subscribe to a matched betting service

subscribing to oddsmonkey

Matched betting services like Oddsmonkey or Profit accumulator for a monthly subscription will offer software to help you place your matched bets. They will also offer a daily calendar of offers that can be taken advantage of.

Sign up to a bookmaker

signing up to william hill sportsbook

There are many bookmakers available on the market. Firstly choose the ones that have the simplest welcome offers and work your way through them. To sign up for a bookmaker you will have to go through a registration process.

Change the odds format to decimals

change odd to decimal format

This is essential as all matched betting calculations will be done using decimals. This will make the process a whole lot easier and makes it more unlikely that mistakes will be made.

Find and place your back bet

placing a back bet

Use your matched betting service to find a good bet that you can place using the bookmaker you have just signed up to. Make sure that you bet enough money on the site and you are betting above the odds required for you to trigger a free bet.

Read the fine print for the bookmaker's free bet offer.

Find and place your lay bet

placing a lay bet

Place your lay bet against the outcome you have just bet on at the bookmaker. This can be done through your matched betting service.

Make sure that both the back bet on the bookmaker and the lay bet on the exchange site match up and then wait for your free bets to come in.

Claim and use your free bet

claim and use your free bet

When your free bet is available. Look for a bet with a high return. You will go through a similar process only this time you will need to use the free bet calculator to know what amount to stake at the exchange site.

Cash in the profit

cash in your profits

This will be dependent on if the bet wins or not.

If the bet loses the money will end up going into your exchange account. If this occurs there is a sense of leaving the money in this account so you can place more bets.

If the money wins it will go to the bookmaker you have placed the bet with. If this occurs then it is up to you if you want to leave your money in this account to potentially use another day or withdrawal the money you have made.

Matched Betting Questions

Our answers to the most common questions about matched betting.

Is matched betting illegal?

Matched betting is legal as it strictly involves the process of placing legal bets on legal betting sites.

The reason this question is often asked is that it may appear that you are cheating the system but in reality, you are just taking advantage of odds and offers that exist at bookmakers and there is nothing illegal about this.

What makes matched betting unethical?

With matched betting, you are placing bets with odds that have been determined by the bookmaker or some user of an exchange site. Therefore these odds will be bet on regardless of the purpose of the bet. There are those who will hold a different opinion but I believe it can be easily argued that there is nothing unethical about matched betting.

Is matched betting dead in 2021?

No. As bookmakers have become more aware of matched betters it has been more difficult to find repeating offers but most bookies still offer bonus offers to entice customers and there are still many promotions to make a profit from in 2001.

Does matched betting still work in 2021?

Yes. Most bookmakers still offer new customers welcome offers and there are still numerous reload offers to take advantage off.

Are matched bets risky or safe?

Matched betting is risk-free. The only thing that you will need to be concerned about is making mistakes. Like most forms of gambling, though it is wise to only bet an amount, you are comfortable with losing in case any of these mistakes occur.

How much money can you make from placing matched bets?

This will be dependent on the offers in question. Sometimes you will be making a few pounds from an offer other times you will be making substantially more.

Can you lose money with matched betting?

It is very unlikely that you will lose money when matched betting. This can only occur when mistakes occur.

Is matched betting free?

Yes. You don't have to pay any money to match bet although it is extremely helpful to have a paid service. This will make you a lot more money is very worth it.

How long will matched betting last?

There is no exact answer for this but there is no reason to suggest that bookmakers will stop offering bonuses to its clients.

Is matched betting worth it?

If you desire to make a steady amount of money and enjoy the act of placing bets then matched betting is certainly worth it.

How long does placing matched bets take?

The standard matched bet should only take a few minutes to place. If you use a service you can place the bet at one of the bookmakers and then place the lay bet on the software.

Can matched betting go wrong?

Yes it can. It can be easy to make mistakes so before you get started it is essential that you understand how matched betting works.

Can matched betting be sustainable?

Yes. The most profitable time for a matched better is the beginning as this is when its possible to take advantage of all the welcome offers. However it is possible to make consistent money every month from matched betting.

Does matched betting affect credit rating?

As with any form of gambling it is possible that your bank might have questions regarding your habits. To avoid any chance of this it is good to set up a second bank account that should be completely devoted to matched betting.

Do you need separate bank accounts for matched betting?

This is not needed but it is recommended. This will help prevent any problems with a credit rating as well as being easier to account for all of your matched betting activity.

How much money is needed to get started with matched betting?

It is possible to start matched betting with an amount of roughly 20. Although this will mean that you have to wait until the bet settles and goes into your account before you can continue with other offers. Therefore the more money you have the better and the more offers you can take advantage of at once but there is no need to have a big budget.

Is matched betting a scam?

No. Matched betting is a completely legit way to make money. The reason this question is asked is because the idea of making risk free money sounds too good to be true but after reading about how matched betting works it should appear obvious that it is legit.

Why do betting sites allow match betting to take place?

Technically they don't. When you place a bet on a bookmaker account they do not know that you will be placing a bet on an exchange site to cancel out this bet. As far as the bookmaker is concerned they will see no effect from this strategy.

Exchange sites no off this practice and have even partnered up with matched betting services such as oddsmonkey. This is why it is very unlikely for your account to be restricted.

How hard is matched betting?

Matched betting can be very easy if you are only interested in completing standard offers to unlock free bets. There are more complex strategies though that range in levels of difficulties.

Where to find free bets for matched betting?

There are many sites and services available online that talk you through these offers. It is worth looking around to see if you can get a more attractive bonus by using someones referral link.

Where can you find reload bonuses?

Reload bonuses will often be advertised on the bookmakers promotion pages or you could find random reload offers specifically for you in your email inbox.

What is no risk matched betting?

No. risk matched betting refers to bets that are placed on a bookmaker and an exchange site to trigger free bets. When done correctly no money will be risked to activate

What is the best free matched betting system?

The most consistent form of income from matched betting is earned through free bet clubs and price boosts. These can be taken advantage of daily or weekly dependent on the bookmaker's terms and conditions.

Matched betting is easy to learn and from personal experience, I can tell you that when you talk to other people about it you will be met with some skepticism as gambling has never been associated with the words "risk-free".

After you take the first steps you will then need to make a decision as to if you are willing to learn new methods to increase the profit you can potentially make or if you want to keep your matched betting limited and just take advantage of selected offers.