I feel very nostalgic writing this post: matched betting was the start of my independence. It was these humble beginnings that convinced me not to get a regular job and, many years down the road, to start this blog.
During the Summer holiday of my second year at university I made myself a promise: if I could make £250 a week from matched betting during the holiday then I wouldn’t get a job but would spend the next few years building my own business. I have never looked back.
I had never come across anything like matched betting before. In the back of my mind, there had always been the idea that one day I will start an awesome company that would be the answer to all my dreams and make me a multi-millionaire. But it was really 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: risk-free profit, earned by following a simple system where the profit is totally tax free and has 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.
I first came across these offers while taking advantage of the cashback offers (a topic for another post). There would be one along the lines of: “sign up and deposit £20 to William Hill and we will give you £50 in cashback”. This was free money in itself, but when I deposited my £20 I would normally be given a bonus as well. There must be a way to make money out of them, right?
In keeping with the concept of arbing, this “free bet” must have a value to someone. I personally don’t want to make a bet, but surely there is someone out there who does. Is there a way to pass on or sell my 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 are brought together independent of a bookmaker to 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
Matched betting paid for a lot of my time at university, but that was quite a while ago and there have recently been some legal changes in the UK on how bookies are taxed. Is it still profitable? To find out, I walked a friend through an offer.
My favourite sign up bonus used to be at Bet365. 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.
So 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. The downside is that you can’t just withdraw that money, before you are allowed to withdraw you need to have placed bets totaling at least £1,200. 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.
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! 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.
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 would be to lay (sell) £400 at Betfair but we don’t favour the two outcomes identically. If the bet wins at Betfair I will have a large balance that I can withdraw immediately, but if it wins at Bet365 I will have to make another bet with the winnings in order to finish the £1,200 wagering requirement. In order to compensate me, 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.
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.
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.
|Deposited at Bet365||Current Balance at Bet365||Loss at Betfair||Current Profit|
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.
|Outcome||Starting Profit||Gain/Loss at Bet365||Gain/Loss at Betfair||Gain/Loss from Bet||Overall Profit|
|Win at Betfair||£259.6||-£800||£800-£40 commision||-£40||£219.6|
|Win at Bet365||£259.6||£920||-£896||£24||£283.6|
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 should take 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 offers’ or ‘reload offers’: A ‘sign-up offer’ is one that is similar to the Bet365 example above – you are taking advantage of an offer 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 with the bookie.
To begin with you will 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 for a long time, other people have done all that hard work for you and there are enough offers around to keep you satisfied for many months.
Perhaps the most popular way to find these matched betting suitable offers is to get involved in a forum – for instance Money Saving Expert (which is free) or The Gambling Times (which is£4.99 a month). They are very good for finding ‘reload offers’ or recently changed ‘sign-up offers’ and for discussing tactics. You can read my full review of the different matched betting forums here. The biggest downside is that any ‘sign-up offer’ that has been around for a long time will be buried deep in the forum and can take a long time to find and dig out.
The next most popular method is to use a matched betting subscription service that will spoon feed you offers in exchange for a small monthly fee.
Here is an in-depth look at what the best matched betting subscription services available are.
In summary, they cost a bit of money but mean you don’t need to spend your valuable time digging through forum post after forum post looking for offers. These services didn’t exist when I started out, and most are still in their infancy, but even so they can be a worthwhile investment. They are great for finding the basic ‘sign-up offers’ and for offer specific tutorials.
There are a few out there: Oddsmonkey is my favourite and costs £15 a month.
In exchange for your subscription fee, you get access to all the offers in their catalog, including video/written tutorials on how to do each one. Just as usefully they all also have good support services where you can get help and ask any questions you want. If you’re nervous about doing your first offer, this could be the support you need.
I actually think they’re a bit of bargain. Perhaps because they’re so new. I reckon once they get some traction I wouldn’t be surprised if they start upping their prices…
Matched Betting was a gateway drug for me, a gateway into the world of professional gambling. After working my way through the first 20 or so bonuses I quickly moved on to:
Just as most bookies offer an incentive bonus to sign up to their site, so do most casinos. And just like with matched betting, a smart punter can profit from them. Check out my introductory guide to making money from casino bonuses.
If you were paying close attention above you may have wondered what happens if the odds had been even lower at Betfair so that the profit outweighs the commission? It does happen and you can make money out of it. That’s right you can make risk free profit without needing a bonus at all, I’ll tell you all about it in another article.
*WARNING* When done correctly matched betting is risk-free. But if you do it wrong it can cost you real money. Make sure you research it properly. Below are all the resources you need. I know this is a complex topic that I have whizzed through, so if you have any questions or want any clarification please leave a comment
What do you do when you have signed up to all the bookmakers?
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 fo 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, which you can get access to for £15 a month.
At the time when that screenshot was taken (19 April 2016), there were 16 different offers just for today totally over £200 of expected profit.
Oddsmonkey, is the same company who provide the free service which we used in the above guide. If you sign up to the premium service (£15 a month), you’ll also get access to their better and more premium oddsmatcher.
FAQ and Useful Links
- My review of the best paid for bonus services. These sites find the offers for you and provide detailed walkthroughs, for a price.
- A more detailed step-by-step guide on Money Saving Expert. The forum is also very good for both support and finding easy offers.
- A paid for service (£14.99 a month) where they research and find all the currently available offers for you. Each offer is provided with step-by-step instructions on how to make as much as possible. A good service if you to take a hit and run approach to bonuses.
- My summer betting diary where I made £250 a week throughout the summer holidays.
- The longest running most detailed diary I have found. Unfortunately, it stopped a few years back, but it is still very helpful. He made £57,467 from just risk free offers.
- The best smart gambling forum. If you’re serious about getting into it you should probably subscribe and check out their “UK Sports Bonuses” thread.
- Another beginner’s matched betting guide.
- An introduction to making money from casino bonuses.
Will matched betting affect my credit rating?
Matched betting won’t affect your credit rating since bookmakers don’t perform credit checks.
I have a question that is not answered here?
Drop me an email at email@example.com and I will do my best to get back to you.