I finally got round to putting some money into a matched betting experiment. Al the talk on various blogposts, MSE forums, and in person at the last FIRE Escape meetup got me thinking, and after several months, I decided to give it a go in April. Read on for an explanation of what matched betting is, what the risks are, and how much you can expect to make…
What is Matched Betting?
Matched betting is a way to make guaranteed profits from the many free signup or bonus offers given out by online bookmakers. You see, bookmakers want to entice you into becoming a regular gambler, so they give away free money in the form of bonuses or signup offers. Much like the big supermarkets, such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco, give out free money vouchers e.g. ‘£5 off when you spend £30’, bookmakers give out offers such as ‘bet £10 and get £30 free’. Matched betting allows you to gain most of that free money by balancing your bets off against each other, by putting money on both sides of the bet.
Now, to illustrate the two sides to every bet – You are round at your mates’ house watching football. Bob might say: ‘I bet I can eat 5 snickers bars in a row’, to which Steve says: ‘No way, I bet you can’t. You just ate a whole packet of digestive biscuits!’. Bob is backing himself to win by eating all 5 snickers bars. Steve is laying that Bob cannot eat all 5 snickers bars in a row. Thus, you have two sides to the bet – the back and the lay.
In normal gambling, if you think Bob can eat all the bars, you would back Bob by betting £10 he could eat all 5 snickers bars. In matched betting, you put money on both sides – Bob winning and Bob not winning. If you placed a normal bet on Bob, and Bob eats all the bars, you will win some money. However, if he eats only 4 of the bars, you will lose your £10. If he eats only 1 of the bars, you will also lose your £10. In other words, you can only win money if Bob eats all 5 snickers bars. If you had money bet the opposite way, a lay bet, you would win money for any other outcome, apart from Bob eating 5 snickers bars e.g. eating 2, eating 1, or even eating none – in all these cases, if you had a lay bet, then you would win some money. How much you win depends on the odds.
In order to make profits through matched betting, you place a back bet with a normal bookmaker, e.g. Ladbrokes, and you place the opposite bet, a lay bet, with a betting exchange, such as BetFair. In normal gambling, when you place a bet at the bookmakers, you are backing and the bookmaker is laying. If you are using the free bonus money given out by bookmakers to make bets in both directions, i.e. backing with bookmaker and laying with the betting exchange, you can then make guaranteed money. You are basically becoming the bookmaker as well as being the punter. You will, however, not receive 100% of the winnings, as you will pay a 2-5% commission at the betting exchange.
So, if you place that £10 at each place, £10 to the bookmakers and £10 to the betting exchange, then if one wins, the other must lose. You are therefore even. The back bet has cancelled out the lay bet. So you are no better off… BUT, due to the free signup bonuses offered by the bookmakers, you will have some free money at the bookmakers. This is where you make the guaranteed profits. You repeat the process again with the free money. Richard has a really good post on matched betting over here at livehappysavemore. Also, check out this guide for a step-by-step walkthrough with screenshots.
Why Do Matched Betting?
To gain a little bit of extra money on the side. To get some extra income, particularly if you are a housewife, unemployed, part-time worker, or a student. I can relate to all those things, I only wish I’d heard about matched betting when I first became a student. I did hear about a guy who got sent down from Cambridge, so he spent the rest of the year doing something we all heard was rumoured to be ‘quite dodgy’ with credit cards and gambling. I’m pretty sure now, that he was matched betting. Also pretty sure he came back to restart his degree the following October with a small fortune in his pockets.
How to Get Started with Matched Betting
There are plenty of free tutorials on the web. Profit Accumulator is really good for an absolute beginner, like me. I used their free trial to get started. It gave me two weeks to use their site and get to grips with matched betting, before having to pay for a subscription service. Having investigated a few alternatives, I decided that it wasn’t worth the £150. Another service called OddsMonkey (*) also has lots of tutorials which are easy to follow, and in fact, Profit Accumulator is actually powered by OddsMonkey (*) anyway so you may as well just go there instead. That’s what I did, I signed up to OddsMonkey’s (*) free trial too, and felt that they provided a lot more tools for the same price of £150. They also offered a monthly version for £15 instead of Profit Accumulator’s £22, which is perfect if you want to get started with a low amount of money. This is what I am doing. When I have built up some more profits, I’ll switch to the annual service.
How Much Can I Expect to Make with Matched Betting?
I started on the 17/04/16 and after exactly a week, I’d made £115.26 – not too shabby! Less the £15 I paid for OddsMonkey’s service leaves still more than £100. I’ve deposited £323 so far, so that’s about a 35% This is for only a few hours’ work. I basically spent about 20-30 minutes in the evenings and about 90 minutes over the weekend and I didn’t do it every day either. In total, I think I spent around just under 3 hours on actually doing the matched betting. I tried to go quite slowly to make sure I didn’t make a silly mistake, which is one of the main risks of which you have to be aware.
What Are the Risks with Matched Betting?
There two main risks in matched betting:
- human error;
- getting banned, or ‘gubbed’ from the bookmakers.
1. This is basically the only real risk in matched betting. If you make a mistake in the process, you can lose the money you put on the bet. Maybe you forget to make the lay bet, or you mistype something at the bookmakers. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but you might lose some money on that particular bet. If you take things slowly, you should be fine. Don’t do matched betting when you’re really tired, or hungover! The best thing to do is make a spreadsheet to track your accounts and transactions, or if you can’t do that, download this one.
2. Many people talk about being banned, or ‘gubbed’ in betting speak, from various bookmakers. Apparently, this happens a fair bit, but it’s also not the end of the world. You should still be able to withdraw anything left in the accounts, you just won’t be able to bet through that company anymore. There’s nothing much you can do about being banned, just move on to the next offer and be glad of your profits!
Final Thoughts After a Week of Matched Betting
I would say, just go for it. You probably need about £50 to get started, but you can make larger profits if you start with a higher amount. There’s not much stopping you if you’ve got £50 and an internet connection! Just take it slowly and try to understand the process as much as possible. Read and re-read the tutorials on whichever site you sign up to. Oh and shout out to Weenie (again) at Quietly Saving for sending me this link, check it out for some hidden offers that you might not find elsewhere!
What do you think? Have you tried matched betting? How much are you making per month? Let me know, leave a comment below!
(*) = affiliate link