What is Matched Betting?

Matched Betting
We discussed in our post on making money on the road how we are able to live and travel full time in our van and the method which drew the most amount of questions was matched betting. Since we released the article we have taught our friends and family how to matched bet and have been emailed to explain further what matched betting is. Therefore Olivia has set out to write a step by step guide that anyone can understand so that you too can take advantage of matched betting to fund your adventures.
This is part one of her guide:

What is matched betting?

Matched betting is NOT gambling! Matched betting takes advantage of bookmaker free bet offers to guarantee you a profit. The most profitable and easiest offers you’ll do are sign-up offers, so the first few months can guarantee you a few hundred pounds with very little effort.
In matched betting, when we make a bet, we bet to cover all outcomes of an event (a horse race, a football match etc), where each outcome has similar odds. So, we make a back bet with a bookmaker (e.g Coral, William Hill etc) on one outcome and an opposing lay bet with an exchange (e.g. Smarkets, Betfair etc) against that outcome. This means no matter what happens we can’t lose.
So, for example, in a Chelsea vs Manchester United match we could bet for Chelsea to win with the bookie and Chelsea to not win with the exchange. By betting against Chelsea to win with the exchange this covers all outcomes, including a draw. It’s very important to note that you always bet against the outcome you have bet on with the bookie with the exchange, not on another outcome (e.g. you would not bet on Manchester to win rather than Chelsea with the exchange in this example, if the match ended in a draw you’d lose both bets and be seriously out of pocket).
It’s important to note at this point the role of the exchange. To keep it simple, when using an exchange, you are essentially acting as the bookmaker. So, if using the example above and Chelsea did win, you’d then pay out to someone who has bet on Chelsea to win. If the odds were 3.0 and you placed a £10 bet against Chelsea you’d be looking at paying out around £30. (Remember of course, you also placed a bet for Chelsea to win with a bookie, at similar odds, and they’ll also be paying you £30, so you aren’t losing out!) Because of this, you need to have enough money in your exchange account to cover what is called the liability of the bet if you lose. To get going in matched betting you need to have enough funds to deposit a minimum of £50 into the exchange. The more you can deposit the better, as higher odds mean higher liability, but more money to be made. However, I started out with just £50 and gradually built up this amount with each offer and now keep a minimum of £500 in the exchange, whilst regularly taking money out for myself.

So how do we make money from Matched Betting?

So we’re covering all outcomes, how do we make money? A bookie will normally have an offer such as bet £10, get a £20 free bet. So the £10 bet is our qualifying bet, this is real money that you’ll need to deposit with the bookie. Using oddsmatching software (see section below) we can find matches of close odds between the chosen bookie and the exchange. The closer the odds are to being the same, the better.  The point of the qualifying bet is not to make money, but to qualify you for the free bet.
Normally when placing a qualifying bet you’ll make a small loss depending on the size of the bet, and the closeness of the odds. This is because the odds are rarely exactly the same and the exchange charges a commision on your winnings.
Once you’ve placed this bet, you’ll get the free bet. This time, as we’re placing a bet with free cash, we can make a small profit. You repeat the process again, but instead of using your money to make your back bet with the bookie we use the free money they have given us. Using a slightly different calculation when we make our lay bet with the exchange we stand to make around 70-80% of the free bet value (so a £20 free bet would see you at £16 in profit). The value you make from your free bets depends again on how closely matched and how high your odds are. If you’re starting with a smaller amount in your exchange and need to use lower odds a £20 free bet should still get you about £14 in profit.
It sounds pretty complicated, but as with everything it all becomes very self explanatory once you have a go yourself. There’s no need to try and wrap your head around the algebra or manually comb through for closely matched odds as luckily there are plenty of websites who find these odds and do all the math for you.

Which Matched Betting website is best for you?

If you plan to do matched betting long term and you can devote enough time a month to make more than the subscription, it’s worth paying for one! (We currently make around £500 each per month spending around 10 hours a week doing it) Any matched betting website worth it’s weight does charge a subscription but by far the most popular is Profit Accumulator.
Profit Accumulator give step by step instructions on every single offer, there’s a forum full of experts in case you get stuck and they email you new offers every week. The oddsmatching software is easy to use and covers many more sports and websites than any free oddsmatching software, plus they provide a multitude of calculators to make the most out of each bet and for the more tricky stuff later on so you can keep money coming in once you’ve done all the lucrative sign-up offers. The subscription is £17.99 a month but easily pays for itself!
You can sign up to Profit Accumulator for free and they will give you video guides on 2 sign up offers which made us around £45 each (more than enough to pay for our first 2 months subscription) if you want to give the whole thing a try.
However if you want to keep it casual and just do a few sign up offers and you don’t mind doing more of the legwork there are a few free blogs and websites devoted to matched betting. Try freebets4all.com. This is the best free website I have found. It’s list of sign up offers are limited but it does explain each offer in detail, has it’s own free oddsmatcher (the odds are less up to date than with the paid subscription software) and their beginners matched betting guide is excellent.
Freebets website offers just a list of free bets, as it is aimed towards actual gamblers, but is useful for finding offers for free.

Continue to part 2 of the guide: How to Start Matched Betting