How to start Matched Betting

If you haven’t read our previous article What is Matched Betting? then I recommend that you take a look at that first as it gives you an introduction into the world of matched betting. Once you’ve read that you can carry on with this article and learn how it is we make £500-£1000 a month to fund our van life.

I’ve discussed matched betting and what it is and now you’re probably staring at your screen wondering “where do I even start?” Below I’m going to talk you through an introductory offer for matched betting. Although I’m discussing it here I very much recommend that you do the introductory free trial at Profit Accumulator as they have an excellent video series talking you through.


The most important part of matched betting is keeping track of your money. A spreadsheet is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL. I use google docs as it means I can access my spreadsheet on any computer. You’ll find a spreadsheet example in profit accumulator under ‘keeping track of your money’ but my own spreadsheet looks like this:

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It’s also a good idea to keep a log of how much money you have in each bookie account. Quite often you’ll do a sign up offer and never touch that bookie again, so make sure you’ve made a note of where your winnings are or you might forget them! Also make a note of any deposits and withdrawals.

There’s going to be a lot of money moving around between bookies and exchanges so make your spreadsheet so it works best for you, just make sure you can keep a clear track of all your bets, it’s the only way you’ll know how much money you’ve made.

Finding Your Offer

To get you started I’d recommend choosing an easy, lower value offer. I’ll use the Stan James sign up offer as an example; they offer a £10 free bet when you bet your first £10.

Open an account with Stan James and deposit £10. Make sure all your details are valid and you have documents as evidence of the address entered. It’s a good idea to take a picture of e.g. a bank statement proving your address, a picture of your ID and a picture of the front and the back of your bank card (you can blank out all but the last four numbers).

Not all bookmakers ask for verification but it’s a good idea to have these saved somewhere for easy access as you will not be able to place bets or withdraw money on some bookies without them. Having them saved somewhere means you don’t need to keep asking family or friends back home to scan and send documents out to you!

Also note if any other members of your household are already signed up to a particular betting website you will not be eligible for their sign up offer unless you use a different address. 

Next, you’ll need to open an account with an exchange in order to place the lay bet we discussed in the What is Match Betting article. In regards to which exchange you use I recommend Smarkets as they offer the lowest commission rate at 2%. They also offer a £10 refund on your first losing bet, which is easy money! Later you may need to use other exchanges, such as Betfair, on more niche markets, but for your basic markets Smarkets is more than adequate and it’s better to keep one healthily financed exchange than several poorer financed exchanges. Open an account with Smarkets and deposit a minimum of £50.

Qualifying bet

To take you through this example I will be using the oddsmatching software on Profit Accumulator, if you are using their guides show you how to use the software on their website. Both give you essentially the same information but the layout is a little different and the Profit Accumulator software refreshes quicker and so has more up to date odds.

Before you place a qualifying bet you need to double check what the minimum odds are for the bet, which you can check in the terms and conditions of the offer. If you are subscribed with Profit Accumulator they will have this information in all of their explanations of each individual offer. In this example your minimum odds are 1.8.

We always want our odds in decimal format, but unfortunately all bookmakers give you the odds in fractional as default. Every time you open an account with a bookmaker you’ll need to change the settings to show you the odds in decimal format. This is my biggest pet peeve as every website is different and it can take a while to find how to change it! Check your account settings or it can sometimes just be in a drop down box somewhere on the home page.

To find the best odds for the qualifying bet select ‘filters’ at the top of your oddsmatcher. I’ve limited sports to not include tennis as Profit Accumulator states Stan James’ tennis odds to not match up with exchanges. You’ll generally mostly be working with football and horse racing. You may need to limit the market type for some bets if certain markets are excluded in the terms and conditions (e.g. over/under markets are commonly excluded), but in this example any market is valid.

Limit your bookmaker to Stan James and the exchange to Smarkets (or whichever exchange you have decided to use). Enter the minimum odds here as 1.8 and I’ve also limited the maximum odds as I’m assuming we have limited funds in the exchange. You may also want to limit the time frame of the results if you want the money returned into your exchange as quickly as possible in order to do another offer.

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The most important aspect of the results is the rating. The rating shows you how close the odds of the bookmaker and the exchange are. In an ideal scenario the back odds would be greater than the lay odds (rated as over 100), this means we would not lose any money on the qualifying bet and may even make a small profit. This is rarely the case however, and bookmakers are not keen on you using odds with very high ratings (as it makes you look like a matched better!) but stick to odds above 96 if possible on your qualifying bet.

We’ll look at the next result down which is a bet on Coventry to win against Crewe rated at 99.10. If we click on the little calculator on the left it will bring up the stats.

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As it’s our qualifying bet we want the bet type in the drop down box to be ‘normal’ and your bookmaker stake here is £10. The calculator shows you how much you need to lay with the exchange, how much your liability is (how much money you need in the exchange) and your overall position depending on which bet wins. There is one problem you can see with this result as there is only £7.07 available to match. For the time being make sure that there is enough in the ‘available’ column to match the lay bet you are placing (in this instance the minimum we need available is £10.11)

Have a play with your results now, checking different ratings and odds to see what effect these factors have on your losses and the liability. Once you’ve found a good match we can move on to the next step.

Back to the bet.

We next need to check that the odds are the same as the calculator shows us. So in this example I need to find the bet on Stan James under English League 2 (if you hover over the event name on the results table it will tell you which league to look for).

If you’re unfamiliar with football betting, the order the team names are given corresponds to how the results are given. So here the match is Coventry vs Crewe so Coventry is 1, X is draw and 2 is Crewe.

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Next check in Smarkets. It’s a lot easier to find what you need in Smarkets, just type the name of the match into the search bar and it will come straight up.

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In Smarkets you always bet on the blue! Blue is the lay bet (green in for back bets but you won’t need to place back bets in Smarkets). You can see again the odds against Coventry are 1.8 so we don’t need to make any changes in the oddsmatcher. If you do find that the odds are different either in the exchange or with the bookie you can change the back odds and lay odds in the calculator and it will update your results. This can mean the match is not as favourable and you may lose more money than you wanted, if that’s the case then check the results again for a better match.

Now we can place our bets. Add your chosen bet to your betslip on Stan James, enter £10 and select ‘place bet’. Always place your back bet first.

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Next we can place the lay bet. The calculator will show you how much you need to lay for your chosen bet. In this example the lay bet is £10.11. Enter your lay bet amount under ‘back stake’, select ‘place bet’ and then ‘confirm’ (make sure you click confirm!)

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Now update your spreadsheet, entering the information as I’ve shown you in my example spreadsheet, or however you’ve decided is best for you. In this example you’d make a loss of 9p whatever happens. Make sure you enter what you’d win or lose for both the bookie and the exchange when you place the bet. When the bet is settled delete the relevant entry. You can check your bets in Smarkets on the right hand side of the page by selecting ‘all activity’.

You can see below an example from my own account.

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On the top row you can see your balance that includes potential losses; this is the amount you have available to place any further bets with. Next is the total exposure, which means the total amount of money you stand to lose from the exchange including all of the active bets. Next is the total 30 day profit or loss (which is in red here as I made several winnings with a bookie at the beginning of the month), and then finally the total you stand to win including all of the current open bets.

The table shows you the exposure for each individual bet as you place it, and the balance column on the right hand side shows you your true running balance, i.e. your balance without the hypothetical losses.

I’ve not made the Coventry bet with Stan James but you can see I’ve just made a bet on Cardiff City. It was a £10 qualifying bet that I made with Coral and I’ve laid £9.86 in the exchange. If the bet wins with the bookie I’ll lose £11.83 from the exchange and if it loses with the bookie then I’ll gain £9.86 into the exchange.

You can see below this how a settled bet is displayed, which is important for keeping your spreadsheet updated. In this instance I lost the bet with the exchange so I would delete the ‘exchange win’ amount in my spreadsheet leaving the ‘bookie win’ amount.

The free bet

The next thing we need to do is just repeat the above process again with some sight differences. Stan James will credit your account within 24 hours of the bet being settled. Some bookies e.g. Coral will credit your account with the free bet instantly.

Go back to your oddsmatcher and set the filters to show minimum odds of 4.0. The higher odds you use for your free bet, the more money you stand to make, so 4.0 is a good minimum. However, remember the higher the odds are the more money you need in the exchange. If you have limited funds in the exchange perhaps keep the odds for the free bet between 4.0 and 6.0.

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The best results in this instance are horse races, as I’ve said horse racing odds are extremely volatile so check them and get the bets on as quickly as possible.

Again, click on the calculator to bring up the stats. This time select ‘free bet-stake not returned (SNR)’ from the drop down box and make sure £10 is entered as the bookmaker stake.

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In general you want to aim for an 80% return on your free bet including your losses. This bet on Hurricane Rock exceeds 80% so is a great match, but let’s double check the odds are the same.

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The back odds are still the same, so no changes here. Now let’s check Smarkets.

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You can see the lay odds for ‘Hurricane Rock’ have increased from 6.4 to 6.6. This means I’ll have to update the calculator.

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Your winnings here are still over 80% so this is still a good match.

Once you’ve found a good match for yourself repeat the process just as you did before. This time though, when you place the bet with the bookie make sure you select the option in the betslip to use your free bet. Some bookies require you to enter your bet amount and then also select ‘use free bet,’ others allow you to just select the free bet option without entering an amount. Just make sure you don’t put on a £10 bet of your own money plus the free bet when you do this!

Once again enter your potential winnings in your spreadsheet as well as your bet details and update once the bets have settled. Whatever happens here, you’ve made instant profit. This is because we are betting using the free money which the bookie has given us as a free bet instead of betting against our own money.

Keeping the money coming in

The first few months of matched betting are the easiest and the most lucrative. Once you’ve completed all the easy lower value sign up offers you should have enough in your exchange to tackle some of the bigger offers. Bonus offers (e.g. Bet365 offer a £200 bonus) are very lucrative but require around £1000 in your exchange to pull off. Don’t worry though, you’ll soon build up your exchange and you don’t need to have this much in your account all the time. If you’re using Profit Accumulator the sign up offers are presented in a logical order in order for you to build up your cash reserves.

Reload Offers

Once you’ve completed the sign-up offers, and even whilst you’re doing sign-up offers, you can move onto reload offers. Check your email regularly as bookies will often email you offers to keep you interested. You can also find reload offers on the Profit Accumulator website and a few of them in the ‘daily offers’ section on Bet clubs are offers you can do every week e.g. Coral and Skybet have a weekly ‘bet £25, get a £5 free bet’ bet club.

You may also wish to move onto more complicated offers such as accumulator offers and offers that are not guaranteed profit (e.g. a free bet if your chosen horse comes second). Be sensible with these offers when deciding whether they are worth doing. There is an article on Profit Accumulator on working out expected value for these cases. Any more complicated offers and tricks are also explained on the website, which is why it is worth paying a subscription if you want to make profit long term.

Profit Accumulator has a wonderful forum full of helpful people who will not only post any of these reload offers and how to make money from them but also suggest matches you can use them on and how much money they have made on the offer.

Casino offers

Casino offers can also be lucrative, but are usually not risk free (i.e. you could lose money) and require a lot more patience and free time. A few casino websites offer a free sign-up bonus or free spins without having to wager any of your own cash. These offers usually don’t make you much, if any, money but are worth a try as they are totally risk free. Try 888casino for a risk free offer.  Note: watch out for wagering requirements on casino offers. A 100x wagering requirement for a £5 bonus means you have to play through £500 before you can withdraw any cash. Again, casino offers are explained in detail on the Profit Accumulator website.

Keeping your accounts healthy

As matched betting continues to gain popularity, bookies are becoming more savvy to matched betters and it is becoming more difficult to keep your accounts open and not get closed, or ‘gubbed’ as it’s known in the matched betting world. The idea is to look like a regular punter and not a matched better! If you plan on using a bookie for more than their sign-up offers (e.g Coral, Skybet, Paddy Power, Bet 365 and Betway are great bookies to keep healthy) then it’s a good idea to regularly place ‘mug’ bets. This is just like placing a qualifying bet, but you don’t get anything in return, except of course staying in the bookmaker’s favour! If you regularly do a betclub, don’t just place the required amount every week. Space it into several bets or bet over the required amount. I usually place three £10 bets each week on Coral and Skybet rather than one £25 bet.

Also note, you can place as many bets as you want on any particular event in your exchange with no issue, but never bet a conflicting result with a bookmaker. You can’t, for example, bet for one team to win and also bet on the draw! Also, if you use Betfair as an exchange don’t also use their sportsbook for the same event.

Other activities bookies like is using their casino, accumulator bets and in-play bets. Once you complete sign-up offers you’ll naturally progress onto these offers anyway. For more tips on keeping a healthy account you’ll find an in-depth article on Profit Accumulator.

Best of luck in your matched betting journey. If you have any questions you can email us at and we will be happy to help!