Make More Money

Matched Betting Explained?

Written by Richard Thwaite

Is this a bet you can’t lose?

‘Make £1,000 – £2,000 risk-free profit every month by matched betting’. This is the type of claim I have been hearing from various sources. To me, the words “risk-free” and “betting” do not belong in the same sentence, and because of this I immediately discounted this as a viable money-making strategy. However, I have adjusted my money mindset. Read on to find out why.

At the recent FIRE Escape meeting I got chatting to Weenie from the very helpful and informative “Quietly Saving” blog and she explained the concept to me. It was one of those lightbulb moments.

Since that initial discussion with Weenie I have been doing a lot of research on the subject. Just to be absolutely clear from the start, matched betting is completely legal and is a tried and proven method of making money that is free from risk as long as the correct steps are followed. On top of that, all bet winnings are tax free.

At this stage, you are probably thinking what I was thinking – “this all sounds too good to be true”. As a fairly sceptical and cautious person myself (especially where money is concerned) I’m always looking at things from the point of view of finding the traps and pitfalls and let’s face it, there are a huge number of so called “opportunities” out there in the forms of scams and “get rich quick” schemes that can soon separate us from our hard-earned cash. Of course, this viewpoint can also stop you from taking advantage of fantastic opportunities staring you right in the face. My advice would always be proceed with caution, do your research and be responsible for your decisions. This is my story and my experience and I hope that sharing it will be helpful for you.

So what is matched betting and how does it work?

Matched betting is a simple strategy that allows you to benefit from bookmakers (or “bookies” as they are commonly known) free bets and incentives. For example, if you’re betting on a football match, you place a bet with a bookie such as Coral for a team to win and then bet on that same team not winning with another bookie (a bet for a non-win is typically placed with a betting exchange like Betfair). In the event of a draw, this result is classed as a “non-win” and so is covered in your second bet. This approach covers all possible results and means that you make guaranteed profits, free of risk regardless of the result.

What do you need to know?

As with most activities, there is specific terminology associated with the world of betting and matched betting is no different. What I have found is that as long as you follow some pretty simple but essential steps you only really need to understand a couple of betting terms which allow matched betting to work:

1. A ‘back’ bet (regular bet)

Here you are betting on a team/player/horse etc. to win. e.g. “I bet Real Madrid will win this football match” is a backing bet. If it happens, you win the bet and the winnings are calculated on the odds you were given for the win. If Real Madrid lose or draw, you lose your stake. You can place a back bet at any bookmaker, such as Coral, 888sport, bet365 etc.

2. A ‘lay’ bet

Here you are betting on a team/player/horse etc. to not win. e.g. “I bet Real Madrid will not win” is a lay bet. If they lose or draw, you win the bet. You can only place a lay bet at a betting exchange such as Betfair.

Bookies and Free Bets – how does this work?

Bookies permantly have a whole range of free offers to entice new customers to sign up. These offers usually come with certain conditions that you have to meet before you can get your hands on the free offers. The common scenario is that you have to place a bet with your own money in order to qualify for the free bet.

First Stage – The qualifying bet

To get your hands on the free bet from the bookie you need to place a qualifying bet. Depending on the bookie you are dealing with the conditions will vary but will usually mean placing a bet between £5 and £25 of your own money. For example, Coral’s sign up deal at the time of writing is bet £5 get £20 worth of free bets. Lets take an example of a football match between Arsenal and Chelsea.

  1. You make your £5 qualifying bet for this football match with Coral for Arsenal to win.
  2. You then make another bet on this match with Betfair for Arsenal not to win (i.e. a draw or Chelsea wins). This is the lay bet.
  3. No matter what the outcome of the match is you are covered by your two bets.
  4. If Arsenal wins, the winnings are credited to your Coral account, but you lose the same amount at Betfair.
  5. If Arsenal doesn’t win, the winnings are credited to your account in Betfair, but you lose your stake at Coral.

From this first matched bet you don’t win and you don’t lose but you do qualify for Coral’s £20 in free bets because you met their free bet requirements.

Second Stage – The guaranteed profit bet

Now that you have a free bet you want to make a profit from that free bet. To do that let’s take another example of a football match this time between Liverpool and Newcastle to illustrate the process.

  1. You make a bet using your Coral free bet of £20 for Liverpool to win.
  2. You then make another bet on this match at Betfair for Liverpool not to win (i.e. a draw or Newcastle wins). This is a lay bet.
  3. You are then covered if Liverpool wins or loses. Regardless of the result, you make a guaranteed profit!
  4. If Liverpool wins, the winnings end up in your Coral account, but you lose the same amount at Betfair.
  5. If Liverpool doesn’t win, the winnings end up in your Betfair account, but you lose your stake at Coral.
  6. Since you used the bookmaker’s free money to do one side of your bet, you have made a profit! (Of around 50% to 70% of the bookmaker’s free bet).

My experience of doing it for real

First Stage – The qualifying bet

To make it simpler to understand I will now go through my actual first bets using this technique to show you how it works. I signed up to Coral and deposited £5 with them. After I made my first £5 qualifying bet I got four free £5 bets. I also opened an account with Betfair and deposited £50 to cover my lay bets.

When matched betting, it is very important to look for selections with close back and lay odds. The closer the odds are, the less you will lose on your qualifying bet and therefore the more profit you will make overall.  Also, for qualifying bets, you need to look for selections with low odds, ideally as close to the minimum odds requirement as possible. The higher the odds the greater the money you need in your betting exchange account (Betfair). The qualifying bet is not about making money but simply placing a bet to qualify for the free bets, you only need do the minimum required to achieve this.

Searching through the odds on offer from each bookie manually is very time consuming, however, help is at hand with programs such as Profit Accumulator which find suitable selections for you.

For my qualifying bet Profit Accumulator had Skylark Lady at the top of its Oddsmatching screen.

As you can see from the screenshot below from Profit Accumulator Oddsmatching the back odds for Skylark Lady at Coral is 5 and the lay odds at Betfair are also 5 making it a suitable “matched” bet  (although in hindsight for my qualifying bet I should have gone for lower odds for reasons explained above).

Oddsmatching Skylark Lady

I decided to place a back bet of £5 on Skylark Lady at Coral, then needed to work out the lay stake at Betfair

I entered the back stake and odds for Coral into the blue section of Profit Accumulators calculator (see below). The lay odds and the commission charged by Betfair to make the bet are entered into the pink section.

Qualifying Bet Calc

As you can see after entering the relevant information into the calculator it told me that the lay stake needed to be £5.05 and that I would make a loss of 20p.

It was then a simple matter of placing the £5 bet with Coral and the £5.05 lay bet with Betfair (I needed to ensure that I had a minimum of £20.20 in my Betfair account to cover this lay bet should Skylark Lady win).

Coral Bet Skylark Lady
Betfair Bet Skylark Lady

Let’s have a look at the potential profit/loss for the possible outcomes…

Potential Outcome 1st Stage

The process of extracting profit from a free bet is pretty much the same as the qualifying bet we have just done.  Again, find close back and lay odds because the tighter they are, the more profit you will extract. The only difference with placing free bets is that you need to place them at higher odds to account for the fact that your stake is not returned with any winnings. Put simply, the higher the odds, the more profit you will make, but also the more money you will need to deposit in your Betfair account to cover the liability. The option is always there to go for lower odds if you prefer, which means you won’t need to deposit as much with Betfair, you’ll just make slightly less profit. It depends on your financial situation and starting slowly with a small amount is a good way of testing if this is for you and getting more familiar with the process. I knew that regardless of whether Skylark Lady won or lost, I would incur a small maximum loss of £0.20, but the good news was that I had qualified for £20.00 worth of free bets in the form of 4 free £5 bets.

Second Stage – Now Lets make some money

Once your account has been credited with the free bets, it is time to extract your profit. Note: as with the vast majority of free bets, the Coral free bet stake is not returned. This means that the £20.00 free bet stake will not be returned with any winnings. It’s important therefore, to check the terms of each free bet offer, so that you know which option to select when using the matched betting calculator. You may want to select higher odds to offset not getting your stake back.

It can be difficult to reconcile that you are depositing money for the purpose of losing it but this is balanced by knowing that your losses are covered plus you make a profit on the other side of the bet. The key is that you use the free bets to make a profit and not your own money.

Again I used Profit Accumulators Oddsmatching to find a suitable selection.

I entered “4” in the filter above the “Back” column to find odds equal to or greater than 4. As you can see from the screenshot below the back odds for Evervescent at Coral is 9 and the lay odds at Betfair is 8.8.

I decided to place a back bet of £5 on Evervescent with Coral and then needed to work out the lay stake with Betfair. As this was my first attempt at this I only used one of the free £5 bets. (When I went to place my bet the odds had moved slightly in Betfair to 9).

I selected “Free Bet (SNR – stake not returned)” in the calculator and entered the back stake and odds for Coral into the blue section of Profit Accumulators calculator. The lay odds and the commission charged by Betfair to make the bet are entered into the pink section.

Calc Evervescent

As you can see after entering the relevant information into the calculator it told me that the lay stake needed to be £4.47 and that a profit of £4.24 or £4.25 was available depending on the outcome.

It was then a simple matter of placing the £5 free bet with Coral and the £4.47 lay bet with Betfair (ensuring I had a minimum of £35.76 in my Betfair account to cover this lay bet should Evervescent win).

Coral Bet Evervescent
Betfair Bet Evervescent

Lets have a look at the potential profit/loss for the possible outcomes…

Potential Outcome 2nd Stage

Regardless of whether Evervescent won or lost, I knew that I would make a minimum of £4.24 from the free £5 bet.

I went on and placed my other 3 free £5 bets with Coral in exactly the same way as shown above and made a profit on all of them.

Below is a screenshot of my Coral bets. As you can see every one of them lost (red dot), however, I only had £5 of my own money on the first bet the other 4 were my free bets. Therefore, my end result with Coral is -£5.

Coral Total

Below is a screenshot of my Betfair bets. As you can see all 5 of them won. My end result with Betfair is +£22.19.

If we deduct the -£5 from Coral for the qualifying bet that gives an overall profit of £17.19.

Betfair Total

Once the initial bets had been placed and I had learnt the process the other 3 bets took just a couple of minutes to place. What is exciting is that there are many different bookies offering these sign up deals. But it doesn’t end with the signups, to entice you to make more bets the bookies will offer ongoing offers and with major sporting events such as the Football Euro Championships and the Olympics coming up I would imagine there will be plenty of new opportunities.

In all the above examples I have been using the free trial at Profit Accumulator. This gives you the Oddsmatching program for Coral & Betfred. They offer a subscription service for 100+ bookies but this comes at a cost of £150 each year. Based on what I have seen in my research and my results with my first bookies free bet it looks like a good deal. I will try the second bookie in the Profit Accumulator free trial and if that is as successful I will sign up to the subscription service.

This concept is completely new to me with my only previous foray into betting during a stag do to York races many years ago where I allowed myself £10 of fun bets and lost the lot. As a complete novice I plan on posting regular updates on how I am getting on, any issues, and generally letting you see first-hand if this really does work.

The Profit Accumulator site has some great information about matched betting and also walks you through the process of matched betting in useful video tutorials at

I hope having read this blog post that you now understand the potential to profit from matched betting.  Please note that I am not recommending this as a guaranteed money making scheme, I’m simply illustrating my experiences in the hope that you find it helpful.

Thanks to Weenie for removing my blinkers and seeing this opportunity.

Please always bet responsibly and let me know how you get on. If you are currently using matched betting I’d be really interested to hear if you use Profit Accumulator or other programs and how it’s working out for you.

Thanks for reading this post and as always, I’d welcome your comments.

Update on 28-03-16. After success on the second bookie (Betfred) I have now signed up to Profit Accumulator.

Please note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links and will earn Live Happy Save More a small commission if you sign-up to the services. This adds no cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.

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Leave a Comment


  • Great write up, Richard and thanks for the link!

    It’s funny, when I was talking about matched betting the other weekend, I think most people were interested in the topic, but I swear I could see that ‘light-bulb’ going off in your head as you realised that it was something you could make money from! I’m glad my mentioning it has opened your eyes to something new!

    I read up a lot about it too before I dived in (again) and see people talking about making £1k-£2k a month. These must be people with serious sized pots in their exchange accounts to be able to lay off lots of (large) bets at the same time.

    The good news for you is that as you are not a gambler, you’ll be able to pretty much take advantage of all the new account sign up offers with all the bookies. As a gambler in a past life, I already had accounts with the main bookies, eg Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, William Hill etc (7 in total!) so missed out on all those ones but there are others for me to go for.

    My exchange account has pretty much zero in it right now as my bets this weekend won at the bookies so now I’m going to have to wait to transfer the money out. I hope that once I build a big enough pot, I won’t need to keep doing this.

    I’m going to do a little update on my matched betting earnings next week, it’s not in the thousands but it’s a sum I’m happy with! 🙂

    Hope you and Alison enjoy the rest of your Easter weekend!

    • Weenie

      Pretty much all my spare time this past week has been reading up on matched betting and writing the blog post. I learnt as much from writing the post as I did from all the online research.

      I have signed up with some other bookies and can see that if I am not careful it can quickly get confusing so I have created yet another spreadsheet to add to my arsenal of finance spreadsheets.

      Do you use a company like profit accumulator or odds monkey to help find the best odds? This element looks like a lot of leg work particularly when you have are signed up to a few bookies.

      Thanks again for opening my eyes to this. It highlights one of the great values of the FIRE Escape meetings as without it I would have been oblivious to this.

      Enjoy your Easter weekend.


      • Hi Richard
        Yes, I use Profit Accumulator, which as you say, does a lot of the leg work.
        And yes, a spreadsheet is a must to keep track of not only the sign ups but of your profits! 🙂

        • Thanks Weenie

          Profit Accumulator looks to be the cleanest and simplest site I came across. It is reassuring that you use it and that is good enough for me.


  • Hi Richard,
    Thanks for the article – it was very interesting. From your experince so far how much money would you think is realistically needed to get started? Looking at your figures in the article it looks like you started with under £100 or so?

    Also, is any knowledge of the sport in question necessary, e.g. abot rules and teams etc., or is this purely optional?

    Regards, Pinch

    • Hello Pinch

      To start off I only deposited £5 into Coral and £50 into Befair. From this I made a profit of £17.19 which is sat in my Betfair account.

      I see no reason why you can’t remain at this level and let your winnings accumulate over time. You may have to juggle the money between the accounts depending on your betting outcome as Betfair remains a constant (it is one of few betting exchanges). The only constraint I believe you will come across is that some of the offers require you to place large bets which will require a few hundred pounds to be deposited. Plus you will be limited to the amount of bets you can place at any one time. The answer is to simply use the bookies that allow small bets of which there are many and take it one bet at a time.

      It is not a race and as far as I can tell there are no time restrictions where you have to sign up before the year is out or you will lose the benefits forever. You can take it slow and steady.

      All my bets to date have been on horse racing. I know absolutely nothing about horses which I see as a good thing as it keeps me impartial. I would imagine that someone who had knowledge of horse racing and had been betting before may be swayed to taking a punt here and there which I guess is the reason that the bookies offer these deals.

      So to answer your question Pinch I would say that no knowledge of the sport is probably a bonus. I am not a massive football fan but know a little and would never have guessed that England would beat Germany 3-2 last night.

      All the best my German friend.


      • Hi Richard,
        “would never have guessed that England would beat Germany 3-2 last night.”

        Oh, did they? Well, it is a new century after all – taking a long-term view it was clear that those minor slip-ups of the German team are bound to happen at some point during the early years… 😉 And who’s counting Friendlies anyway?

        I am looking forward to your next posts about how you get on with matched betting and any results you feel comfortable sharing online – while I will see that I get some money together to give it a go myself. If successful I might bet during the Euro 2016 and the Olympics in Rio.

        Regards, Pinch

        • Pinch

          Where Germany & football is concerned it is such a rare occurrence to beat you that we need to make the most of the situation when we do.

          I plan on being 100% transparent with my matched betting results and will share all on here. The frequency of the updates I am not sure of at present but will most likely be monthly.



  • Hi Richard,

    Thanks for a really informative article on matched betting. This is the first time I’ve heard of it and it’s fascinating to think that it’s possible to make guaranteed money from betting! I’d never have thought of that.

    I’m not sure whether I’m quite ready to have a go at it myself just yet, but I shall look forward to your future updates to see how you’re getting on, and maybe consider it in the future.

    • Hello OR

      I agree it is counter intuitive but became clearer when Weenie explained it to me properly at the FIRE Escape.

      It occurred to me that there are probably many more people out there who have the same initial thoughts I had so decided to give it a go and document the process in a blog post.

      Even if you don’t have a go yourself it is good to know about the different opportunities there are.


  • Hi Richard,

    Great walk through of the basics there, this is great for beginners!
    I am going to write a more advanced guide on matched betting soon, actually that is overblowing it a bit… more likely just some random thoughts I’ve had on the subject since giving it a proper whirl a few months ago… But will definitely link back to this article for people to get a really good sense of what the process involves in a “nuts and bolts” kind of way.

    Cheers and good luck with your matched betting activities in the future (not that you actually need it 😉 )

    • Hello TFS

      Thanks for your kind words. Matched Betting is completely new to me and thought I would share my journey with everyone on my blog.

      I look forward to reading your guide as I realise as I am progressing through the different free bets the nuances for each bet type. I have had a sneaky look at the advanced, reloads, bingo offers etc. on Profit Accumulator and can see I have a long way to go.

      I appreciate you linking back to my post. I will do the same when you post your guide.



  • Hi Richard, Great article explaining the basics and how it works. I will point others too it as I’m getting fed up explaining to sceptical friends about the opportunity to make easy money through this route. From my experience, I’d add the following: (1) to realistically make £50 to £100 a week, you’ll need a balance in Betfair of about £500 to cover the bets you’ll need to place. Otherwise you’ll be on the sites doing small singular bets several times a day, every day. On a Saturday, when most offers are available, you might want to have ten bets placed. To cover the liability of these, you might need £1000 in Betfair. Or place two bets per hour over the course of the day, but that’s quite a commitment and schedule to follow. (2) Having a good mobile phone is an asset. Many of the football offers are “in play” and you might not be in front of your PC at the time. (3) Start slowly and methodically. It’s easy to get carried away and to misplace a bet, or forget to lay one. (4) Manage your expectations. On the forum I joined I get really tired of the people who claim to make £500 a week from Matched Betting. In my view, to do this they must be running multiple accounts with different IP addresses and are making it their full time job. I feel a target of £50 a week over a year is at the top end of realistic for most people. Still, that’s a very nice little earner and fun too! Good luck with it.

    • Hello Jim

      Glad you liked the article. As you can tell it starts out with the basics because that is where I am. I have quickly found that you need a few hundred pounds in your exchange if you are to take advantage of the offers.

      I am taking it very steady at present with only one or two bets a day as it appears easy to make a mistake. Making notes and tracking all the bets, what money is in what account etc. is critical to keep abreast of things. I am slowly building up my balance and have not taken anything out. I will probably do a similar thing to you and let it build up although I am conscious that the account may be closed down.

      I will write an update post in a couple of weeks on my progress, the money I have put in, the time taken and hopefully the size of my nice big profit.



  • An excellent introduction and great to see that you’re now seeing the potential.

    I’m one of those “Im making XXXX from matched betting!!” people but only because I am making that much and I see no reason why others can’t. Personally I started with a bank of £300 back in October and have since made over £6000. Realistically on a single set of accounts and putting in a few hours of work each week anyone should be able to make £500 a month.

    To add some context to other commentators: I made £2200 last month with about £2000 in my lay accounts being used at the busiest times. I do run 2 sets of accounts however I also have a day job so all of my betting is evenings and weekends. Today alone I’ve earned £200 in free bets which I’ll convert to about £160 in profit tomorrow.

    • Thanks for your comments ERG

      It is encouraging to read how well you are doing.

      In a little over a week I have made a 41% return on the money I have put into Matched Betting. That kind of return in such a short time is to me, mind blowing.

      I would be interested to hear about the 2 accounts you run. Are these in yours and your partners names? I have looked into setting up accounts in my wifes name and can see that in the TOC’s for many of the bookies you are limited to one account per address. Before I venture down this road I need to get a proper handle on what I am doing in my own accounts first.

      Thanks for stopping by.


      • Yes all accounts need to be totally separate with individual bank account, address and IP. My partner still has her student loan registered to her parents address so we use a statement for that as proof of address along with a laptop and 3G dongle. I’ve been doing this for 3 months before I started with another set of accounts.

        • Thanks ERG
          I was hoping it would be as simple as that. We already have all those things in place so setting up a 2nd account for my wife should be straightforward.