The Beginner's Guide to Matched Betting

What you’ll learn in this guide:

  • What matched betting is
  • Why bookies give out free bets
  • Why matched betting is not gambling
  • The difference between a bookmaker and a betting exchange
  • How you can get started
  • How to start earning more and fast

So you’ve stumbled across matched betting and you’ve got a few questions that need answering. Does this actually work? Can you really make money from placing bets? How on earth is it risk-free?

This guide will be the perfect starting point for you. You don’t need any prior knowledge of betting or bookmakers to start bringing home the bacon.

What is Matched Betting?

When matched betting, you place opposing bets on the same event meaning you cover all of the potential outcomes – win, lose or draw. You can guarantee profit with this method when making use of free bets that are offered to new and current customers, completely risk-free.

Why Do Bookmakers Give Out Free bets?

Bookmakers offer welcome offers to lure new customers in, and also give out offers to their  existing punters in order to keep them happy. 

These offers include:

  • Bet £5 get £10 free bet
  • Bet £10 on England v Brazil, get £10 free bet for England v France.
  • Deposit £50 get £50 as a bonus

We’re going to focus on the Welcome Offers to get you started.

Is Matched Betting Gambling?

Matched betting is NOT gambling. You do use gambling sites, but it’s the ‘matched’ part of matched betting that makes it risk-free, and here’s why…

When your average bettor places a bet they are ‘punting’ their money in the hope that what they think will happen does indeed come true . But, if it doesn’t happen, they lose that bet and the bookie keeps the money.

With matched betting you’re not putting your money at risk. Rather than placing only one bet with a bookmaker (the back bet), you actually place two; you ‘match’ that bet with another one at a betting exchange, known as a lay bet.

What's the difference between a bookmaker and a betting exchange?

A bookmaker (aka ‘bookie’) such as Paddy Power, offers odds on a vast range events to people who want to gamble. They accept bets and then pay out if they win!

A betting exchange is a website where gamblers can bet against each other, rather than against a bookmaker. Essentially, you can take the place of the bookmaker against someone else’s bet, so you can end up paying out someones winnings. The most well known one is Betfair Exchange.

Backing v Laying

Back bets are placed at the bookmaker when you want to back an outcome, such as England to win. With a back bet you are betting on what you think will happen.

Lay bets are placed at the betting exchange and are the opposite of back bets. You are essentially betting against an outcome. If you lay England to win then you’re saying that you don’t think that will happen – instead you expect them to lose or draw (not win).

How does matched betting work?

Let’s go through an example where the bookmaker offers a £20 free bet if you stake £5 of your own money, step by step:

  1. Sign up to the bookmaker, depositing £5 of your own money
  2. Sign up with a betting exchange and deposit some money to cover liability
  3. Find a suitable qualifying bet. This part will qualify you to use the free bet
  4. Place the back bet at the bookmaker (England to win)
  5. Place your lay bet at the exchange (England not to win)
  6. Repeat 4 and 5 with your £20 free bet
  7. Enjoy roughly £15 profit for only 30 minutes of “work”!

How do I get started Matched Betting?

Read through our New Customer Offers guide.

Try your first sign-up offer – Coral is perfect for beginners.

If you’re looking to speed up the process, we recommend using our favourite matched betting software, OddsMonkey