Have you heard of matched betting?
It’s one of those things that sounds silly when you first hear about it, then after a few more times it sounds intriguing, then once you finally look into it you realise it should have made sense all along.
So while researching new side a couple of years ago, I decided to give it a try.
It didn’t even feel like work. It was like a game, and heaps of fun (if you enjoy following sports, you will love it).
I cleared $1,000 AUD profit in my first week.
With more practise, I then cleared $4,000 in my first month.
After 24 months, I’m sitting on a total profit of $42,000.
Sound too good to be true?
Keep reading and see for yourself.
HOW DOES A MATCHED BET WORK?
I know, this is what you’re thinking right now:
There’s no such thing as a guaranteed profit in gambling!
But despite the name, this is not gambling. If you do it right, it is 100% risk free, and impossible for you to lose money.
Stay with me.
You probably know that bookmaking is super competitive. In Australia, there’s about 20 different major bookies. In the UK, there’s hundreds. Because it’s so competitive, most bookies give out promos every week.
For example, they will say, after your first bet of $100, we’ll give you a second $100 bonus bet free!
If you bet regularly, you’ve probably seen these specials often.
Why do they do this?
First, to get your business. Second, it’s low risk to them.
We know the odds are always stacked in the favour of the house. That means the house always wins, so they know there’s a good chance you’ll lose one or both of those bets anyway. And then you’ll try and win that money back, so you’ll bet even more, and lose even more. Again, the odds aren’t in your favour, so over the long run, you always lose.
This is how the TAB makes a profit. It’s impossible for them to lose when you bet the regular way.
With matched betting, we can turn this equation around. With simple mathematics, we can turn the odds into our favour. Meaning over the long run, we always win.
In betting, you have two types of bets.
- Back bets
- Lay bets
Let’s say New Zealand is playing Australia in rugby.
If I bet on New Zealand to win, that is known as backing New Zealand.
If I bet on New Zealand not to win, that is known as laying New Zealand.
We’re going to bet on both sides.
Let’s say we’ve gotten a free $100 bet at the TAB. We use that bet to back New Zealand.
Then we’re going to lay New Zealand on another betting site.
Now that we’ve bet on both outcomes, it doesn’t matter what happens.
Let’s say the odds look like this:
New Zealand to win: 1.5
New Zealand not to win: 1.6
Remember, we’ve bet $100 on both sides.
This means if New Zealand wins, we’ll win $150.
If New Zealand doesn’t win, we’ll win $160.
Normally, this isn’t a great bet. We’ll put up $200, and we’ll only be getting either $150 or $160 back, meaning a loss of $40 or $50.
But here’s the kicker: One of our bets was free.
So since the back bet was free, we only had to fund the lay bet, which was $100.
Amount put up: $100
Guaranteed winnings: $150-$160
Guaranteed profit: $50-$60
What if it’s a draw, you ask? A draw is the same as New Zealand not winning, so we’ll win the lay bet.
Now if one free bet can net us a guaranteed $50-$60, imagine if you’re able to get one free bet every day.
That’s $350-$420 every week.
$1,400 to $1,600 every month.
That’s matched betting.
Note: I’ve simplified those numbers a lot to make the idea easier to understand. In an actual matched bet, the numbers will look slightly different, but the result will be the same.
HOW THIS WORKS IN REAL BETTING
Now that you know the concept, let me show you how to turn it into regular profits.
Matched betting is extremely popular, and it’s 100% legal.
There are many blogs and matched betting sites out there for us to learn from.
There are people who do it as a full time job, mostly using more advanced strategies, especially around horse racing. And because betting is so popular and competitive, most bookmakers put out new bonuses every week in the form of double ups, boosts and free bets, so there’s never a shortage of promotions to leverage off.
Since it’s so popular, this means there are plenty of matched betting sites that have already worked out the whole process for you — which promos are profitable, how to use them etc.
This means you don’t need to be a maths genius to make matched betting work. Pre-made matched betting calculators will tell you exactly how much to back and lay and how much profit you will get in every type of matched bet. You just need to fill in the boxes. It really is that simple!
Here’s an example of a full matched bet, using their calculators.
We’ll start with the standard sign up bonus at a betting site:
This is a great offer, because we don’t even need to place any bets to qualify. Some bookies will say, “Deposit and bet $100, and you get $100 free”, but in this case, we just need to make the deposit.
So, we deposit $100. As soon as we make our deposit, we’ll get given a $100 free bet. This will be pretty standard at most big bookies.
Now, let’s say we’re going to use $50 of that to bet on Liverpool vs Chelsea.
Now remember, we want to bet on both sides of a bet. That means we’re going to back a team (means we’re betting for them to win) and also lay a team (betting for them not to win).
In this case, I can see the odds to back Chelsea are 3.50:
And the odds to lay Chelsea are 3.85:
(Note: To place lay bets, you use a betting exchange. The one I use is Betfair, which is the most popular exchange worldwide).
So this is easy. Just punch these figures into the calculator and it will tell us what to do:
This is telling if we back Chelsea at 3.5 and lay them at 3.85, we’re going to make a guaranteed profit of $31.25.
So let’s go ahead and do that.
Back Chelsea for $50, at 3.5:
The pink section of the calculator is telling us to lay Chelsea for $32.89 at odds of 3.85.
Let’s go ahead and place that bet at Betfair:
The calculator summary below is telling us if Chelsea wins, we make a $31.25 profit. If Chelsea doesn’t win, we still make a $31.25 profit:
Because we’ve leveraged the free bet in our favour to bet on both sides, we can’t lose.
Simply run 10 bets like this, and you’ve made $310.
Run 100 bets, you’ve made $3,100.
Run 1,000 bets, you’ve made $31,000.
It may take time to accumulate that volume of bets, but in the end, yes, the process really is that simple.
What happens when you run out of free bets?
You will never run out of free bets. Bookies give out free bets every week. It’s how they keep you betting. I placed around 75 bets in my first week. Half of them were free bets.
Here are two really common examples:
They might say something like, bet on any NRL game this weekend, and we’ll give you a bonus bet of equal value for free!
Now you might be thinking, “Hah! I knew there was a catch! We have to place bets first, which means we’ll be risking losing money!”
Well, not exactly.
To not risk any money, we can simply employ the same tactic we used before. We’ll bet on both sides. In fact, we have a special name for these kinds of bets. In matched betting, this is called a “qualifying bet”.
For example, let’s say we take the Storm vs Bulldogs game.
We’ll simply back the Melbourne Storm at the TAB:
And then we’ll lay the Melbourne Storm at Betfair:
We can put this into our Bonusbank calculator to make sure our qualifying bet won’t lose us any serious money.
In this case, you can see this particular qualifying bet will lose us a maximum of $1.24 no matter what happens.
And of course, that’s not a problem at all, because that $1.24 loss will give us our $100 free bet!
Then we take that $100 free bet and turn it into some real money!
As we saw in the Chelsea example earlier, the $100 free bet should make us a lot more than $1.24 (probably about $75 to $80, on average).
As you can see, doing this process a handful of times will rack up hundreds in profits rather quickly.
The best part is, this is only one of many ways we make money in matched betting.
Here’s another example:
HORSE RACING EXAMPLE
Horse racing is a huge money maker for matched bettors.
Let’s look at a how a horse racing matched bet might work (this one is a rather advanced matched betting technique, so if you don’t get it straight away, don’t worry!)
The promotion might be, back a horse to win, and if they come 2nd or 3rd, we’ll refund your stake as a bonus bet:
Once again, we’re going to play this risk-free, meaning we have no chance of losing.
Yes, this means you will win money on every single bet.
Here’s the play:
- Bet #1: Back any horse to win.
- Bet #2: Lay (bet against) that same horse to win.
- Bet #3: Lay (bet against) that same horse to place
Note: “to place” means to come 1st, 2nd or 3rd.
- Our horse wins: We win Bet #1, lose the other two.
- Our horse doesn’t win but places: We win Bet #2, lose the other two (but we also win a bonus bet).
- Our horse doesn’t place: We lose Bet #1, but win the other two.
These are the only 3 possible outcomes, and we profit on all of them.
Let me show you how.
For more complicated bets like this, you definitely need a matched betting calculator. This is the horse racing calculator from Bonusbank:
Don’t be overwhelmed by all the numbers because it’s simple once you understand it.
First, you put in the odds.
In this case, odds for our back bet are 6.0 (for the horse to win), our lay odds are 6.5 (for the horse not to win), and lay odds are 2.0 (for the horse not to place). So you can see I’ve punched all those into the calculator.
Then in the red circles, you can see it tells you exactly how much you should place for each bet. So we simply back the horse for $50, lay the win for $40.31, and lay the place for $20.51. All the maths is done for you.
Then you can see at the bottom, it tells you all the outcomes. No matter what happens, we win $7.78 (highlighted in green). It might not sound like much, but place 100 bets, and you’ve won $778 risk-free.
Why does this work?
The maths works because of the possibility of winning the free bet. As I showed you above, we know we can turn free bets into a guaranteed profit at any time.
In Outcome #2 (horse doesn’t win, but places), we would normally lose all our money. But, because of the free bet bonus when our horse places, this puts us back into profit.
Still doubtful how matched betting is possible? Still think it’s too good to be true?
Don’t worry, it took me a while to sit down and connect all the dots to why and how this can work too. In the end it comes down to two key pieces that make it possible:
THE FREE BETS
You can’t do matched betting without the free bets.
The only reason you are able to bet on both sides and still make a profit is because one of the bets is free.
If you had to fund all the bets with your own money, you would lose overall (obviously). Using a free bet cuts your risk in half, which allows you to beat the odds.
There is also the fact that for matched bettors, a free bet is not really just a free bet — it’s actually more like receiving real money (because we know we can turn these bets into guaranteed money at any time).
This completely changes the economics of the wager.
THE BETTING EXCHANGE
The second key ingredient is Betfair.
You can’t place lay bets at a bookie.
Therefore, we need to use a betting exchange to place lay bets.
A betting exchange is a site where people bet against each other, rather than against the house. The betting exchange is the middleman, and simply takes a commission on each bet.
For example, I can go on the betting exchange and say I want to back New Zealand for at odds of 2.5.
Then if you also go on the betting exchange and want to lay New Zealand at 2.5, we get matched. A bit like how the stock market works.
The betting exchange is a key piece of the puzzle, because the ability to place a lay bet is what allows you to effectively bet on both sides. If we can bet on both sides, we attain the ability to place as many bets as we want (risk free) to qualify for bonus bets.
So yes, maybe there is a catch…but not a big one
While going through this process, what I found is that while matched betting is extremely lucrative, there were a lot of speed bumps along the way. It’s risk-free, but it does require some diligence, and some resources.
The first is capital. You actually need quite a bit of capital to get started. I would say, at least $500, but $1,000 is ideal.
For example, one of the bonuses I got was deposit $250 and get a free $250. That meant I needed to have $250 available to be tied up in a betting account.
Then to cover the subsquent lay bets at Betfair, I needed around $300 in Betfair.
Example: If you place a $50 bet at 10:1 odds, you can potentially win $500 at the bookie. However, since it’s a matched bet you’ll lose around $450 at Betfair.
Of course you are still in profit, because you won $500 on one bet and lost $450 on the other (giving you $50 profit overall). But you still need to have $450 in your Betfair account to cover the losing side.
This meant after a few days I was up around $500, but I had around $1,000 in my Betfair account, and around $200 in various bookies, which was quite a lot of cash to be tied up in betting sites. I was never at risk of losing any of it, so it was fine, but just be aware you will need some level of capital to make the system work.
Matched bettors refer to this chunk of capital as their “float”.
Another thing is fine print. Lots of bookmakers have shitty fine print, for example, it might say you need to place at least 4 bets before you can withdraw any winnings. This isn’t a huge issue, you can just place 4 qualifying bets and hit the quota. But it is annoying.
Note: This doesn’t happen in Australia, as Australian gambling laws are quite strict on bookies.
Then you have the red tape. This is the other side of strict gambling laws. Lots of bookies are required to verify accounts with utility statements or passports before you’re allowed to withdraw any funds. Again it’s not a dealbreaker but it’s kind of annoying sending a power bill and a copy of your drivers license to every bookie you sign up for.
And finally, you need to learn how to bet! There’s actually quite a lot to learn, and if you’re not really into sports it might be hard for you to understand everything right away. On the other hand, if you love betting on sports, this will probably be the most fun (and profitable) hobby you’ve ever had. I know I got addicted super quickly!
Want to get started?
Ready to start your matched betting career?
Getting started is easy:
- Sign up for Bonusbank — this is such a good resource and an account is free! The free account will give you access to the basic calculators and a lite version of the betfinder which is amazing.
Update! Nico from Bonusbank has kindly offered all readers of this guide a discount if you later decide to go premium. Use the code BL123 and get 25% off your first month! Premium gives you full access to all odds calculators and saves you so much time. It probably tripled my profits in the first month. It also gives you access to the premium Discord where experienced bettors discuss the current promos and how to leverage them. That chat room has easily made me thousands of dollars and is worth the subscription alone! Check out the premium subscription by clicking here.
- Sign up for Betfair — EVERYTHING runs through Betfair. You cannot matched bet successfully without the ability to place lay bets. Get your Betfair account set up and running before you start hunting for bonuses — the bonuses are useless without a Betfair account!
- Sign up for Simple Bets! — My course Simple Bets is designed to walk complete matched betting beginners step by step to making their first $10,000 profit. It is designed for absolute newbies who know absolutely zero about sports or betting, and the lessons are written so it feels like someone is holding your hand throughout the entire process. The initial chapters focus on getting you to your first $1,000, from there you will be taught more advanced matched betting techniques to help you make sustainable profits over the long run. The course details everything (literally) on how I made my first $10,000, including the exact number of bets, types of bets, which bets were most profitable and so on. It’s priced to be super affordable and designed for anyone and everyone to understand. Click here to check out the full course and what others have been saying about it!