Profit so far: £21054.04
End of 2017 target: £24,500

Matched Betting Intro

Hi newbies! My name is Matt and I’d like to welcome you to my matched betting blog!

It’s great that you’ve found my site and want to know more about how matched betting works. You’re in the right place!

The following guides will take a short while to read, so make yourself comfy. I’ll explain how matched betting works, what a betting exchange is, and how you can use them to make risk-free profits from bookmaker offers and incentives.

An Introduction to Matched Betting

Matched betting is not a new concept. It’s been around for a few years now, having featured in The Guardian and The Telegraph back in 2010.

Matched betting has exploded in popularity over the last couple of years, which is probably why you’ve only just heard about it.


The popularity of matched betting since 2004, based on Google searches

In a nutshell, matched betting is a strategy that uses simple maths to extract risk-free profits from free bets and bonuses offered by bookmakers.

All you need to get started is a means of placing the bets, so a laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone and obviously, an internet connection.

You’ll also need a small bankroll to get started. The bigger your bankroll, the faster you can build it up, but £50.00 is sufficient to get started on the smaller offers.

What is Lay Betting?

Put simply, a lay bet is the opposite of a back bet.

For a bet to take place, we need a backer and a layer.

A back bet is where we bet that something will happen, like betting that Germany will win the World Cup.

A lay bet is where we bet that something won’t happen, like betting that Germany won’t win the World Cup.

Whenever a punter goes into a bookmakers to place a bet, they are placing a back bet and the bookmaker is laying their bet.

What is a Betting Exchange?

Betting exchanges are the platform that make matched betting possible. By understanding how they work, you are unlocking the door to massive earning potential!

Betting exchanges are not too dissimilar to bookmakers. There are just a few small differences.

At a betting exchange, users bet against each other. This means that we can be the backer or the layer.

smarkets betting exchange

Let’s imagine for a moment that we are the only two people using the betting exchange…

I don’t think Andy Murray will win Wimbledon, so I choose to place a lay bet on the exchange. I’m effectively playing the role of bookmaker here. You, on the other hand, think he’s got a great chance of winning Wimbledon, so you decide to back my bet at the odds chosen by me. Our bet is now matched. You are the backer and I am the layer.

If Andy Murray wins Wimbledon, you win your back bet and I have to pay you your winnings, just as a bookmaker would. If Andy Murray fails to win Wimbledon, my lay bet has won and I get to keep your stake, just as a bookmaker would.

I’ll explain things in more detail shortly, so don’t worry if that hasn’t quite sunk in for now. Things should become clearer as we move on.

Decimal Odds

If you’re familiar with placing bets at a bookmaker, you’ll no doubt be familiar with fractional odds, such as 4/5, 2/1, and 10/1.

When it comes to matched betting, we need to use decimal odds, as they are far easier to compare at a glance. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s much easier to compare 3.75 and 3.80, than it is to compare 11/4 and 19/5.

The betting exchanges use decimal odds automatically. Changing fractional odds to decimal odds at the bookmaker is pretty straightforward…


There is usually an option at the top of the homepage to change our odds preference to decimals. Alternatively, this can usually be changed in the settings of our accounts.

Decimal odds always include our stake. For example, if we place a winning £10.00 back bet at odds of 6.00, we would get £60.00 back including our £10.00 stake, so £50.00 profit.

How Does Matched Betting Work?

The betting industry is hugely competitive. You’re probably familiar with the big name bookmakers, such as Coral, Ladbrokes, William Hill and Paddy Power. Their betting shops are no doubt scattered about your local Town/City centre. There are actually many more bookmakers who operate solely online.

In a bid to gain new customers or engage existing customers, bookmakers will regularly run offers and promotions. This usually involves giving us a free bet or bonus if we stake a certain amount of money on a particular sport or event.

Say, for example, Ladbrokes will give us a £50.00 free bet if we place a £50.00 bet on Chelsea v Manchester United.

Step 1:

Our first step is to place our £50.00 qualifying back bet. It’s known as a qualifying bet because we are placing it to qualify for a free bet.

Place £50.00 at Ladbrokes on Chelsea to win at odds of 2.00

If Chelsea win the match, our bet will return £100.00, including our £50.00 stake, so £50.00 profit.

Step 2:

Our next step is to place a lay bet on (bet against) Chelsea at the betting exchange.

Lay £50.00 at the exchange on Chelsea to win at odds of 2.00

We’ll lose £50.00 to the backer if Chelsea win the match.

Step 3:

The final step is to await the outcome of the match…

Outcome Ladbrokes Exchange Profit/Loss
Chelsea win + £50.00 – £50.00 £0.00
Chelsea lose or draw – £50.00 + £50.00 £0.00

As you can see, if Chelsea win, we make £50.00 profit at Ladbrokes and lose £50.00 at the betting exchange. If Chelsea lose or draw, we lose our £50.00 stake at Ladbrokes and win the backer’s stake of £50.00 at the exchange. So, regardless of the outcome, we break even on our qualifying bet.

So, you can see that by matching our back bet with a lay bet at the betting exchange, we have covered all outcomes.

We now have a £50.00 free bet!

We can then use the same matched betting strategy to extract around 80% cash from our free bet, giving us a profit of around £40.00!

Again, don’t worry if that hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I’ll be taking you through a fully worked example in my matched betting guide!

Before that though, I just need to show you how to use Smarkets to lay your bets…

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  1. Steven Taberham

    March 17, 2017
    / Reply

    Wow.... my friends slowly introducing me into this getting me to put bets on while he lays them... i am slowly getting my head around it and look forward to getting confident enough to go alone so all the profit goes to me (not split with my mate lol). I am currently with Ladbrookes, bet365, paddypower, betway, bet victor, corals and william hill. Can you tell me which other sites offer the most free bets/qualifying bets please. Thanks in advance and keep up the great work. SO EXCITED !!!!

    • Matt


      March 19, 2017
      / Reply

      Hi Steven. It's great to hear you're getting to grips with things. Just take your time and your confidence will build with each bet you place. Have a look at my Profit Log as that should give you a good idea of which bookmakers run regular reload offers.

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