Matched betting (sometimes referred to as ‘back bet matching') is a process used by people to make returns from free bets and the gambling incentives offered by bookmakers. Commonly matched betting would be seen as risk-free, this is due to matched betting being calculated using a mathematical equation instead of probability like regular gambling.
So, before you ask; no — matched betting is not gambling.
My experience: I did some matched betting several years ago for a bit of extra cash on the side. It was a bit more time consuming than I’d have liked and at the time I had a lot of work on, so I primarily capitalized on all the ‘signup offers’ (where you can make the best money) and then faded off a few months later.
I did make over £2,000 tax-free though – and that's one of the big advantages; no tax to declare or pay. I might just give it a go again!
How do you actually do matched betting?
Instead of depending on your luck, with matched betting, you cover all possible outcomes using bookie promotions.
So instead of only betting on one outcome you bet on all of them. Now you’re probably wondering but surely I’m going to lose more money than I gain.
No not at all.
By using a matched betting formula and promotional offers (such as free bets eg ‘Bet £10 and get a free £10 bet’) or arbitrage, you can ensure you have placed the correct amount into each bet allowing you to make a return.
An example of using a free bet to make a quick, risk-free buck;
You find a bookies with a promotional offer and use it to place a bet and then place the opposite lay bet (an ‘against’ bet) at an exchange:
- I bet £10 Ireland will win (this qualifies you for a free £10 bet)
- I bet Ireland will NOT win (this would be done at an exchange eg Betfair)
The two bets essentially cancel each other out and you end up with a free £10 bet.
You use this £10 bet to do exactly the same thing and end up with the £10 in your pocket (minus any fees and possibly a small difference due to odds – usually you’ll see 80-90% of the value of the free bet back in your pocket).
Best of all, it’s tax-free!
And thankfully, there are tools to help. I’ll list them at the end of this article.
Who is best suited to matched-betting?
The prime type of person for matched betting is some who is logical, methodical and organised. You’ll be setting up multiple accounts at the bookmaker and placing bets.
If you’re dizzy and can’t concentrate, you’ll end up in a bit of a muddle pretty quickly!
Ideally, you also won’t have registered on any/many gambling sites before as some of the biggest bonuses are promotions for new users.
How much can I earn with matched betting?
People can make up to £1000 a month for a couple of hours per day once you get into the swing of things.
Now I know what you’re thinking this can’t be all this good. Well, you’d be right. I’ll lay out some of the pros and cons of matched betting below.
Matched betting pros
Its totally flexible. However, to maximise you’ll want to pay attention and plan your time in order to snap up any bookie promotions and deals and ensure you have enough cash flow.
Everybody loves to beat the bookie and as such, there’s a great online community! If you get confused or need help from anywhere in the world simply post your problem on to one of the countless forums and you’ll get a speedy reply.
There are also a large amount of high-quality online resources and articles (mainly because they earn good affiliate income from betting site signups!).
So long as you have a computer and internet connection (and possibly a VPN), you can do matched betting from anywhere.
You’ll also often get random bonuses for slots and casino credits. You just might get lucky – but never be tempted to gamble!
And yes, it’s tax-free; no need to declare any of your ‘winnings’
Matched betting cons
It does take some time to do and you’ll likely spend a few hours a day in the beginning, collecting deals and placing bets. However, once you get the skill of matched betting down to a fine art you should be able to reduce the time it takes massively each day.
Another con with matched betting is that it can be seen as complicated and have a steep learning curve to get started. This is mainly due to foreign terms such as back betting; however you get used to it pretty quickly…and your math skills will improve greatly!
If you don’t pay attention, you could lose money by placing the wrong bet.
Also, you'll need a bit of a pot to get started. The more, the better as the cashflow allows you to mover through the deals faster.
Why is this?
When you register for the bookies the new user deal might be for a £50 or £100 free bet. In order to avail of this offer, you’ll need to have enough cash to make this bet AND the lay bet (ie. you need at least double the free bet amount)…
Then you need to wait for your ‘winnings’ (it could be a few days before the race or match you have bet on even takes place) and claim them, for which there might also be a delay.
Hence, you need a pot!
You can start with the smallest offers, however obviously it will take you longer.
Best to save and have a decent pot first, especially if you want to take advantage of some of the free trial offers below.
In general, you’ll need to build up and keep a decent sum of money your pot to be able to capitalise all bookie offers.
Another major con is that eventually, you might get your bookmaker account limited, or even banned by the bookies.
This is not uncommon.
If you get an ‘account limited’ email, tone it down for a while and place a few ‘mug bets’ – match-bets that are not based on promotions (and thus should earn you no money) and bets based on promotions that don’t always use the minimum (ie if you get a $10 free bet, don't just bet $10 — bet $20). Be wary of always going for the ‘best deal’ as they will soon crack onto this.
Despite these cons, let’s not forget that you’re doing all this from the comfort of wherever you are in the world chilling in your van! Not a bad way of earning a few extra quid tax-free.
Van life and travel considerations
Internet access is crucial keeping up to date with latest offers and gambling incentives from brokers so no net means no income.
Be careful about roaming charges and lack of WIFI when on the road. Roaming charges can mount up and could eat up those healthy returns your will be producing.
Bookmakers may not allow you to access their websites from different countries. This is not a major concern as purchasing a cheap VPN can spoof your location to allow you to access your brokers websites, so you can keep making large returns from anywhere. You should use the same VPN and IP address where possible.
Matched betting in the United States
Due to differing gambling laws, I believe the ability to matched-bet varies from state-to-state. Best to check where you are.
If you can access exchanges such as Betfair, Smarkets or Matchbook and a bookmaker you should be able to match-bet from the United States. There’s even a new tool specific for the US which I’ll link to below.
Matched betting tools & instructions
Whilst in theory you can do this manually by yourself and without any tools, I can’t imagine it would be much fun nor very profitable.
Bottom line is you need a tool that will make you aware of all the offers, what bets to place and the best exchange to place them. They also have tools to help keep you organised and partially automate the process, saving you time.
- Oddsmonkey: this is the one I used. Awesome tools. [£19.99/mth. Free trial]
- Profit Accumulator: great reviews, hugely popular in the UK. [£24.99/mth. Free trial]
- Trademate: has a cheaper version of their core, specific for the US. [$49/mth. Free trial]
These tools all come with free trials.
Test a couple out and see what you think. Remember to browse around first and make sure you have enough of a starting pot (I’d recommend minimum £100….ideally £200+) to make the most of your trial — there is no point in wasting a free trial by having no cash-flow/money to bet!
Tip: test only ONE tool at a time — that way you can maximise the free trial period and really get a feel for which tool you prefer.