Matched Betting

What is Matched Betting?

In its simplest form Matched Betting is a way of turning free Bookmaker (Bookie) Bonuses, you know those things always filling your inbox or advertised on TV!,  into cash in your pocket – without gambling!

I’m not going to attempt to explain it all here on this page, it would take me forever.. but I will instead link to places that explain it a lot better than I can if you want to find out more.. links to follow at the bottom, or in the content

I will say that despite the word ‘betting ‘in it’s name – it’s also know as Scalping, Betting Arbitrage or Surebetting, or in the US as “Double Betting” – Matched Betting is not considered gambling, which is good as that wouldn’t really fit with the frugal, thrift theme now would it ;) – and you needn’t take my word for that as I first came across it on Martin Lewis’ site and even I knew it wouldn’t be on there if involved either not making money, or taking a risk to do so!!
From there I found that there have been articles in the national newspapers about it.. one, for example, was The Guardian.

Guardian Money newspaper logo

Free World Cup bets offer chance to Beat the Bookies!!

The Guardian first covered matched betting in the June 2010. The article begins with a typically attention grabbing headline and then a brave statement:

Free World Cup bets offer chance to beat the bookies

With bookmakers offering ‘free bets’ to tempt new customers, you can play the system and pocket hundreds of pounds – with little risk to your own cash.

WOW! Beat the Bookies huh, who wouldn’t like to do that? Anyway someone, an ex financial advisor no less, decided to put the Guardian to the test about their claims, and a few weeks later another article appeared - Free bets mean you can clean up as bookies meet their match – backing up the first one…

Jason Shearer was curious when he read Guardian Money’s article on free bets. Could you really beat the bookies at no risk? He followed our advice, made £770, and reckons it’s even simpler than we said….

….The money I have made has been absolutely risk free, it’s not been about gambling but about playing the system – and it was inspired by Guardian Money. I don’t even have to pay tax on my winnings.

Now after that I really was intrigued, I do so love playing with numbers, they always work out -  so I set out to find out more. Nearly 3 weeks later, though I did have some holiday time in there, here’s where I’m at..

I should point out that before starting this you do need “a float” but think about it as an investment!  You can start with as little as £100 for the smaller offers, but ideally you should have between £300-£500 to be able to work on some of the tiered offers.. i.e. where a bookie keeps offering you yet another free £10 if you place just 4 more wagers.. don’t worry I will explain my first go, a little later.

You also should have an account at a betting exchange, an exchange is not a Bookie, it’s where you, in effect, become your own Bookie, you need this so you can “match” any bets you make at bookmakers.. hence the name matched betting :) – The biggest, most liquid betting exchange is Betfair  – now again if you sign up to them you can use the code RDTVWJ4RK we both, but definitely you, should get a bonus for that if you meet their sign up terms – and I suggest if you’re going to give any of these methods a try (online or manual) that you sign up to Betfair, using that code, before you take any other offers  – which don’t usually give you anything back!

  • I found out there is a couple of sites that walk you through getting started, one of them, (you can use 11870 as a Refer-A-Friend code should you decide to join up to the site to give them a try), even offers you a moneyback guarantee should you not make money on one of their offers after following their step by step instructions.

My personal view on the above site is that it’s great  – it’s completely no risk, what with the guarantee and all, and it walks you through the process in a way you can’t fail. However, the big but if you like,  signing up to Bookies via them severely limits your potential bonuses and it’s these bonuses that we, as matched bettors, need to turn into cash.  So even if you start out with them, to help get you started, I would recommend you don’t stay with them but instead follow along with me or the (MSE) site and learn for yourself.. you’ll make way more.  Or at the very least follow through their steps but make the effort to sign up with Bookies yourself, by shopping around (and using some CashBack sites!), then just clicking the fixtheodds site’s “continue” button when you’ve done it your way :)

By way of an example by the time I joined I had already realised it was going to work, I have a very handy spreadsheet now too, and I just wanted to see what they were making from me.. LOL I’m like that,  so  I  walked through the first offer but didn’t actually do any of the steps, I just agreed I’d done them as and when I did it for myself.. the surprising result?

First they asked me to sign up to Betfair, but as I was already signed I skipped this step, but if I were a new customer and had signed up via them I would have received no Bonus, (which I think should be £25 for a new customer who meets Betfair’s sign up terms) so  remember if you’re going to sign up, please please do yourself a favour and just go direct to and input RDTVWJ4RK where it prompts you to when you sign up, or if you don’t trust me then search for a Betfair signup offer (also known as a SUB , sign-up bonus).. you get the account and if you use it you eventually get a bonus! I may get something too.. if I do I will give you something extra back via PayPal or whatever other means suits  -  (I had my original bonus a few years back when I first opened the account though so I don’t feel put out on this one ;) )

so a potential free £25 already just by finding another way to sign up – note: I didn’t mind this one  as I  had mine a few years back when I first opened the account though it’s just here to point out some free money you might miss out on!

Paddy Power image

Paddy Power!

Next they present you with a page of ongoing offers, pick one and off you go.. I was lucky in that decided to pick PaddyPower for my first go round.. their offer was to “Bet £10 get £20 freebet” and they advertised a return of 140% – while this looks fantastic what it means is that you lose about 50p from your original £10 wager but then make about £14.50 turning the £20 voucher into cash.. in other words you’ve turned your original £10 investment into £24  (their way of getting to 140% ;) ) -Anyway the technique does work so at this point you would be +£14.00

– but I wouldn’t call that a 140% return – I’d call it a 70% extraction rate - i.e. you’ve managed to extract into your pocket £14 from the free £20, and your original investment is safe to play another day- but no more from PaddyPower, unless you get sent bonuses via your email at a later date

Beat those Bookies! image

Beat the Bookies! turn your footie punts into cash in your pocket!

Anyway, needless to say, I didn’t do it this way, and here’s why I was lucky I’d chosen Paddy Power (I’m part Irish..).. first I went to Quidco to see if they had an offer for signing up at PaddyPower.. they did! – not only were they offering CashBack of £20, which is only ever a bonus anyway in case of tracking issues.. the deal they were offering if you signed up to PaddyPower via them was “Free £50 Bet“.. so already we’ve got more of a bonus to turn into cash – and at a 70% extraction rate like above I should be able to turn that into at least £35 and if the cashback comes through possibly £55.. So I duly cleared my cookies for PaddyPower and signed up to them by visiting their page via Quidco.

so before I’ve even started I have a potential free £20!

The only issue I realised was that I may need more of a float to cover the liability (investment) on matching a £50 bet.. however when I saw the deal I thought yippee.. this will give me plenty of practice for little risk, and I don’t need a bigger float.

In short I had to make a series of 20 x £10 bets to qualify for 5 x £10 Freebets, i.e. I got a £10 freebet for approx. every 4 qualifying bets  so it was just a case of taking them one at a time and extracting the freebet when I got it, using the betting exchange to “lay off” (bet against) the same bets placed with bookie..At least until I got more confident to do 2 or 3 or more at once! Long story short, as that’s the trade-off when doing it yourself.. I had to spend (a lot of) time looking for favourable Odds, but for research and finding the pitfalls of this new “hobby” – I duly did.. over the period of about 4 days I made my 20 Qualifying Bets at Odds around evens (2.00 in decimal)  – I learned that the only errors that can be made are human error, clicking the wrong button, not getting the bet matched at the odds you want so having to settle for bigger odds, or using the wrong spreadsheet page to work out the “match”.. Oh there’s more but in the interest of keeping it as short as possible and not detailing every single transaction I made, I managed to turn the £50 into £47.90!!- that’s an extraction rate of 95.8% – WooHoo! (I could now do better if I had to do over again!) – now in there was bit of luck, a couple of mistakes that even if they’d gone wrong would not have stopped me profiting but Hey Ho

so in all  from one bookie, and by a bit of canny shopping around and doing it myself rather than going through an automated process  – I could possibly make £67.90 (135%) - free and clear from this deal, if the cashback also get paid – as we speak it has confirmed in my Quidco account that it’s being tracked.. but I won’t count it until it’s actually in the bank :)

So now you know how I spent my holidays :) – the ongoing total from my Matched Betting activities will show in the sidebar, at the minute it’s all under Aim #1 (£63 at time of writing) but I’ll try to detail just the matched betting progress from time to time in the blog.. no I’m not going to detail every single transaction but my handy spreadsheet does keep me up to date with how much I make from each Bookie so I can tell you that at times if you like.. I’m not about to make this into a full-time job, it’s too time consuming and I suppose in theory you could eventually run out of offers, but even fix the odds reckon you can make £1000-£1500 using their method if they can do that at a 70% extraction rate.. hmmm what can I do?

Helpful Links, or further reading..