Matched Betting for beginners

For the second article in my matched betting series, I will be explaining the complete process of matched betting for beginners. I found it very hard to grasp the concept when I was first starting out. It’s important to note that there are some really amazing guides out there like the ones on Oddsmonkey and they even have a free trial to get you started.

What is matched betting

Matched betting is a technique that allows you to make money from the free bets and deals offered by online bookmakers


In simple terms, matched betting is a system in which you are able to remove the luck out of gambling and learn how to extract money from the bookmakers without risking anything (or very little if you chose)

Using matched betting formulas or software you are able to work out exactly how much you need to spend on a single bet in order to make a profit. They even tell you how much your profit will be before you even spend any money.

How does matched betting work?

Matched betting uses some rather specific terminology that I will discuss and add in as we go along. I found all the new words rather tricky to get to grips with intitally, but the more you hear them, the more they make sense!

Matched betting is based on online bookmakers offering up free bets. These are usually part of a welcome offer that gets would-be gamblers to sign up for an account and get a taste of gambling. The idea behind this is that the bookmaker now has a new customer it can extract money from!

Matched betting works by snapping up these welcome offer free bets and betting on them. Instead of leaving the outcome to chance, we do something called “backing and laying” which ensures that we can’t lose money. This means that we bet on an outcome to happen and an outcome not to happen.

Backing and laying

Its important to explain here what these two terms mean as they are the really important ones.

When a gambler places a bet at bookmakers (bookies) whether online or in-person there are usually betting on something to win ie Everton V Liverpool. The bet would be that either Everton wins or Liverpool wins.

Obviously if they bet Everton wins and in fact Liverpool wins then they have lost the bet and the bookie keeps all the money they placed as a bet.

If luck is on their side and Everton wins then they get their bet back along with money from the bookies. The amount they get depends on the numbers that bookmakers used to say how likely they thought this would happen (called odds) that they placed their bet on.

High odds mean that they don’t think it’s likely to happen which means if it does you “win” more money. Low odds means they pretty sure it will happen so you would win a smaller amount

Bookies make their money by taking it off their customers who fail to win. Where does this leave us with trying to extract money from them?

Matched Betting uses something called “laying” A lay bet is when you bet the opposite of what you did at the bookies. So using our example earlier you could bet with a bookie that Liverpool would win – this is your back bet (your backing the fact you think they will win) Leaving it like this means if they lose, so do you!

The way to balance this out is to also bet that Liverpool won’t win – this is your “lay” bet. No matter the outcome your money is safe!

Lay bets can’t be placed at bookies though as then they will figure out what you are doing. This is where “betting exchanges” come in. The most well known are Betfair, Smarkets and Betdaq.

These exchanges are like reverse bookies where you can place “lay bets” The process of matched betting is basically backing and laying bets. Then your money moves from either bookie to the exchange (if you lose with the bookie) or goes from the exchange to the bookie (if you win with the bookie) There is also a profit in there too that you get to keep for your trouble!

Playing the odds

It’s worth getting familiar with the different types of odds formats as it can be rather confusing! Odds are shown as either decimals or fractions. Old school betting is done using fractions (such as 5/1) but when your matched betting, its easier to read the odds in decimal format (such as 6.0)

Having the odds in decimals makes it much easier to read at a glance – matched betting can get fairly fast-paced. All you need to know about odds when in decimals is the bigger number the less likely it is to happen.

Odds can move pretty quickly, even more so the closer it is to the event starting!

Do you really need software?

Earlier in the article, I mentioned using betting formulas or software to assist with your matched betting. You can do matched betting manually using a spreadsheet and some formulas but it gets rather tricky, not to mention a complete-time zap!

You would need to search the bookies for offers, then get the back odds and wait until the lay odds are fairly close to each other. This takes a lot of patience and research. Finally, you would need to calculate how much you would need to bet and then lay in order to make a profit and not lose any money.

Using the software is by far the easier option! I use OddsMonkey who created the worlds first odds matching tool that automates the whole matched betting process. They created Oddsmatcher that finds and matches back and lay odds from a whole heap of bookies. It also pulls the lay odds from the betting exchanges (Smarkets, Betfair and Betdaq in case you’ve forgotten!) It tells you what to bet on and you can use the handy calculator to find out how much to bet, lay and what your profit is – easy right! They also offer a free trial!

Over to you

I’d love to hear if you’ve tried matched betting and what your experience was like? Are you new to matched betting or an expert? Comment below to let me know.

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