Make Money with Matched Betting

Price: Free to sign up
Suitable for: Anyone over 18, living in a country that allows online betting and anyone looking at ways to make money online

You may know that I am keen to stress that this site is all about totally legit ways to make money online. I’m talking about ways that almost anyone can do and require little to zero start-up cash. Well with all that being said, I’m going to be talking about a way to make money right now and anyone can do it. I am talking about matched betting.

Matched betting is a form of betting where you bet on an outcome with one bookmaker and bet on the opposite outcome with another one. This means that you have all outcomes covered and will win at least one of your bets.

However, the odds between the bookmakers, or ‘bookies’, means you will make a slight loss by matching the odds.

Why would you bother matched betting if you’re guaranteed to lose?

Here in UK, there has been an explosion of online betting over the last 10-15 years. Ad breaks in TV programmes are filled with bookies vying for your attention, trying to get you to sign up and part you from your well earned cash.

Bet365 sign up offer
Part of all this attention grabbing also includes billboard ads, sponsoring sports teams and sports competitions. More importantly for us, these bookies also offer loads of great offers when you open an account online. Matched betting is the way for you to make money from these offers.

Bookies will offer £100s of free bets to get you to sign up as a customer online because there is so much competition from all the other bookies. It costs so much in marketing to sign up a customer.

There is nothing to stop you from signing up with 20-30 different online bookies and taking advantage of all their sign up offers.

These offers are usually along the lines of being offered free bets for meeting certain qualifying requirements. They are usually very simple and I have made over a £1000 from these sign up offers alone.

An example could be, if you open an account, deposit £25 and bet that £25 then the online bookmaker will credit you with a free £25 bet for you to use.

Sounds great! What’s the catch?

There’s no catch per se, but this will only be available in certain countries and will depend on the gambling laws in your country. It will also depend if these offers available there. You will also have to be old enough to bet in your country and meet the bookies’ terms and conditions.

One point I can’t shout from the roof tops loud enough is that, this is not gambling, it is totally risk free. Also, I’m not talking about going down to the local bookies to do you matched betting. This can all be done online, on your computer or even your smartphone.

Another important point to make, is that this is completely legal – well in UK, anyway.

Guardian matched betting article
I understand that this might sound a bit confusing, especially if you are new to this whole concept. However, with a little bit of work you will easily learn match betting. I should say it is very important to take this time to understand matched betting.

So, what is matched betting?

I talked earlier about placing two bets with two separate bookies on the same betting market to guarantee winning one of the bets. Whilst this may be possible to do this with traditional bookies on certain betting markets, the best way to match bets is to open an account with an online betting exchange.

An online betting exchange allows you to bet against other people by betting on both outcomes of an event. You can both back and lay a bet.

To back a bet means you are predicting it will happen and is sort of the equivalent of going long on a position in banking parlance. An example of a back bet would be ‘I bet England to win’. In this instance, you will win your bet if England win.

To lay a bet means you are predicting the opposite will happen and is sort of like going short on a position in banking parlance. An example of a lay bet would be ‘I bet England to not win’. In this instance you will win for any outcome other than an England win.

With a traditional bookie, you can only back an outcome. So, with matched betting, you place a back bet with the online bookies and on your online betting exchange, you place a lay bet for the same outcome.

There is likely to be a difference in odds between the back and lay bets. The larger the difference, the greater your losses. You should only lose a small amount of money if you match the right bets and this will be offset by the money you make from the free bets you are going to receive.

Alright so how do we go about taking advantage of this?

You must sign up with two accounts to start;
• An online bookie with a sign up offer – almost all of them have them
• An online betting exchange to place your lay bets and match your back bets with the bookies
We are going to focus on betting on sports events as they tend to be the easiest to carry out matched betting on.
Remember to check if online betting is allowed in your country or state. Also check that the bookie you want to sign up with will allow you to sign up.

Let’s say you sign up with SkyBet

I’ve chosen SkyBet because they have a really good, simple sign up offer that I think you will like.

SkyBet Sign up offer

SkyBet welcome offer terms and conditions – boring I know, but very important!

You do this by,
• Clicking on ‘Sign Up’ on the home page
• Entering in your details
• Depositing the required amount of money – none required with this SkyBet offer
• Submitting any promotion code required – none required with this SkyBet offer
• Completing any other qualifying requirements, such as betting a certain amount of money – none required with this SkyBet offer
• Get your free bet and place it!
There. You’ve already made a £10 free bet out of me, not bad!

Let’s say you sign up with Ladbrokes

Here is another example of a sign up offer, Ladbrokes’ sign up offer,

Ladbrokes sign up offer

Ladbrokes’ welcome offer is for a free bet to match your first deposit once you bet it, up to £50.

Let’s talk about this Ladbrokes’ offer;
• You sign up with some of your information and entered the promo code ‘F50
• Deposit and bet £50 to get the maximum free bet you can – note that has to be your first deposit and first bet
• This first bet to receive the free bet is called the qualifying bet
• Also, there are minimum odds of 1/2 (1.50) for your qualifying bet – make sure these are met

Great! I set up an online betting account with SkyBet/Ladbrokes/Another online bookie! Now what?

Now you need to open an account with an online exchange. There are a few exchanges to choose from and you can sign up to them all, as they all have their own sign up offers, just like the online bookmakers.

I would say to sign up to all of them to make the most of their sign up offers, but to use one for the vast majority of your lay bets. My recommendation for this would be Smarkets for this. Smarkets isn’t as popular or well known than Betfair, but does charge a 2% commission compared to Betfair’s 5%.

Smarkets online betting exchange screenshot
Betting exchanges charge a commission whenever you win a bet, as they don’t bet against you like bookmakers and provide the platform for you to bet against other people as a service.

Now I’ve signed up to SkyBet, Ladbrokes and Smarkets, what do I do with my free bet?

You can’t just withdraw the free bets as cash, that would be too easy. What you can do is place a bet, backing an outcome on a sporting event and then matching it at Smarkets.

There is a way of maximising the minimum amount you can guarantee from betting on an outcome.

This is where matched betting calculators come in very handy. Matched betting calculators will tell you the amount you should lay bet to get this minimum amount for your free bet.

I would recommend the matched betting calculator at Matched Betting Blog, which I use all the time.

Matched betting blog calculator

There are some other good calculators that I have used on other sites and some MS Excel spreadsheets but this is the easiest and quickest to use.

There are different types of bets that this calculator will work for;

  • Qualifying bet –  you may have to place a bet, before you are awarded your free bet. Here you would match the bet and try to minimise the amount you will lose. Note that no qualifying bet is required with the above SkyBet welcome offer.
  • Free bet – in most cases a free bet will not be returned if you win your bet. So, if your bet was £10 at odds of 5/1 (6.00 in decimals) you would win £50. If the bet was your own cash, you would get that £10 stake back and get a total of £60. When the free bet is not returned you would not get the stake and receive £50.
  • Risk-free bet – there is a case where a bookie might offer you to refund your bet if you lose. You win, you win, lose and you get a free bet.

Show me how to make the most out of these free online bets!

Earlier I discussed signing up for an account with an online bookie and opening one with an online betting exchange. Now I am going into a bit more detail to make the most money out of these free bets.

Let’s start with the qualifying bet.

The object of the qualifying bet is to match the requirements to qualify for the free bet and make a small a loss as possible.

Now the reason you make a loss is because when you place a bet at the bookies i.e. Ladbrokes and then you lay the same outcome at the betting exchange i.e. Smarkets, 99% of the time the bookies’ odds will be shorter than the exchange’s.

The reason for this is that the bookies are a business and have what they call vigorish to give them an edge for providing a service that allows you to place a bet on their book.

Here is an example of a qualifying bet in the matched betting calculator,

Matched betting blog calculator

The odds are 3.3 and 3.45 for the bookie and the exchange, respectively and leads to a loss of £1.43 from a £25 bet. Obviously, it makes sense to find odds as closely matched as possible to reduce these losses. The matched betting calculator works out the lay stake for the maximum guaranteed loss. It also shows the working out below as well.

You except the qualifying loss because you are going to get a £25 free bet or whatever, depending on the sign up offer.

I would recommend aiming at odds around 2.00 (evens) as they are likely to be closely matched between the bookies and the exchange. Also, the higher the odds, the more cash you need in your exchange.

If you place a £25 bet at 2.00, you need about £25 in your exchange account.

If you place a £25 bet at 5.00, you need about £100 in your exchange account.

Matching of free bets

You will notice the odds are in decimals instead of fractions. It is much easier to deal in decimals only. The matched betting calculators work in decimals, so do the exchanges. It is easy to switch to decimals in the bookies’ accounts and this is something I recommend.

online betting decimals

Now the strategy with the free bet is to make up for the free bet stake not being returned. As a quick and dirty example if you placed a £10 free bet on an Evens (1/1, 2.00) and then laid it at the same odds, then not you would make the following,

Matched betting blog calculator

Only £4.95 from a £10 free bet?!

Make more from your free bets

Because of this, it’s best to go for quite high odds, say, 4.00 or maybe a bit higher. The aim is try to match the bookies’ and exchange’s odds as closely as possible. You should be aiming for about 80% profit from a free bet.

Now if you found odds at 4.0, you would make the following,

Matched betting blog calculator

£7.39, almost 50% for the same amount of work, only issue is you need to have more money in your exchange to make this work.

Once you have placed the free bet and the outcome has been completed, you will have your free bet winnings in your bookie account or your exchange account.

In most cases, you can now withdraw that money from your bookie or exchange account and in a few days it will be money in your bank account!

In other instances, you may have ‘roll over’ requirements to meet. These bookies roll over requirements may mean you have to bet the amount of your qualifying deposit, say, three times before being able to withdraw your money.

However, if you have lost your back bet with the bookie, the money from the free bet will be in your exchange account. Then you won’t have to worry about rolling over more bets.

If the back bet ends up winning then you will have to just keep doing matched bets to satisfy the roll over requirements or hope the money ends up in the exchange.

Pro tips for matched betting

I’ve shown you the basics to making money in a legit manner. Here are a few tips that will really help you out,

  • Try to bet on sporting events that are coming up shortly, as your money is tied up between placing your bets and the outcome of the bet being completed.
  • Football is really good to bet on. It’s easy to understand and there are plenty of matches in UK, Europe and the whole world!
  • Keep track of all of this with a spreadsheet. If you are signing up for lots of different bookies, you’ll have money in all sorts of accounts. Keep a record of all your bets and with which bookies. It will give you an idea of where your money is and how much you are making.
  • Make sure you understand all of this about matched betting as it is risk free, as long as you are diligent enough and don’t make any mistakes.
  • There are some great websites that go into more detail about this like;


Matched betting is a great way to make some money, you can make £1000 easily. You just need a little bit of cash for the qualifying bets and exchange lay bets. Remember, you won’t lose any of this.

Anyone can do this, as long as there are bookies offering these promotions in their country and, of course, that it is legal to do so. Remember – you must be 18 to bet in UK.

There’s plenty more I could talk about making money online from matched betting. However, I have said enough here for you to get started.

Let me know what you think about this post about matched betting and if you’ve got any questions or comments. Let me know how you get on trying it out and, most of all, let me know how much you make!

Also, share this with your friends if you got something out of this guide, so they can make some money online as well!

Updated list of sign up offers

I keep an eye out for new sign up offers from online bookies, sign up if you would like an up to date list of all sign up offers.

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